hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,722 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Honda Element accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2003 Honda Element Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Jun 132009


  • 185,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Element. The contact stated that the vehicle would not recognize the key remote unlock feature. In addition, the key would not unlock the driver side door even when it was manually inserted. In order to unlock the driver's door, the passenger door had to be unlocked to get to the driver's door inside the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing, but the results were not provided. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 185,000.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #23

Jan 242015

Element 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
Driver's side door lock tumblers seized my key when I tried to unlock the car. They key was stuck midway - I could not remove the key nor turn it either way. Since the key was caught in the lock, the key fob would not open the passenger's door or rear latch. I was locked out of the car with my little girl trapped inside. After a pop-A-lock visit, I was able to get my spare key to drive the vehicle, but I still had the original key stuck in the door lock. I drove to Honda service center; they were unable to remove the key also. They said I would have to pay $450 to have the lock tumbler replaced. I asked them if they would remove the door panel because the key in the door was a theft issue. They said I would have to pay $112.50 for them to remove the panel. When I asked if they would remove the panel for free so I could try to remove the key, they refused, citing liability issues. The service center is only willing to help when paid astronomical rates like $112.50 to remove a door panel (without being asked to put it back on) and $450 to replace a $40 part that is malfunctioning. I have never heard any other car manufacturers' cars seizing a key in the door lock ever in my life! we could have been in great danger if we had been in a remote area of if it had been nighttime. Honda customer service refuses to fix my problem because there is no recall, despite the problems of others. Even when I asked that the repair be done as "goodwill' the representative refused to consider. Poor quality workmanship on door locks -- something as inexpensive and low tech as a lock, yet so critical to safety and theft -- reflects poorly on Honda and draws into question their reputation for quality. That Honda refuses to stand by their work when their poor quality endangers drivers and passengers, demonstrates their disregard of human beings safety. Profit over people is Honda's motto.

- Catonsville, MD, USA

problem #22

Dec 012014

Element 4-cyl

  • miles
Driver's side door lock has malfunctioned and would not unlock. Sometimes would not lock. I had same problem several years ago and had lock replaced at Honda dealer however recently it started again. Apparently this is a common Honda problem. I really like the Element however these types of problems leave me to probably never buy another Honda. Now the airbag recall which has not even recognized the need to replace in wv.

- Lost Creek, WV, USA

problem #21

Jun 122012


  • miles


The driver side lock stopped working from the outside. First the alarm and automatic door lock stopped working. It would arm and unarm the alarm and unlock the back and side door but not the driver side door. That was annoying but I have the key and would then just unlock the driver side door but the lock would stick and not allow the key to turn. I would then have to take the key out and try again. Over a few weeks it got worse and worse eventually not allowing the key to even completely enter. It would also get stuck in the locked position and I would have to manually unlock it to get out. Eventually it stopped working all together. To get in I would have to unarm the alarm and from the passenger side use an umbrella to reach access the seats to manually unlock the door. I would then have to walk around the car to get in. I would also have to manually lock the door before driving as it would not lock on its own. To get out I would have to do the whole process again but in reverse order. If I locked the door with the door open it would not shut completely. It progressively got worse over about a year. I had it repaired almost two years ago and have not had issues since. I did not have to change keys, electronic locks, or alarms. This was some time ago so I do not remember what they had to do to fix it but I remember it not being cheap and taking much of the day as they had to take the door apart. I am not sure if the dealer or my regular repair place fixed it but more information can be requested from them if needed. The repair guys had not mentioned this being an issue with 2003 Honda Elements but after seeing multiple reports on here I decided to add my information for more context and details in how the problem started and advanced.

- Coppell, TX, USA

problem #20

Aug 012006

Element 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
Driver side exterior door lock does not accept a key. This is extremely problematic due to the fact that the Element did not include auto locks. This is a safety hazard because I have been in a parallel parking situation where my driver door was facing a busy street. I was trying to get into the car when the light behind me turned green and the cars came whipping by. It is also scary at night walking to my car in a parking lot as I don't know if my lock will work and someone could easily follow me out to my car and have plenty of time to attack me. I have a daughter and her safety is most important. This issue needs to be fixed not only for convenience but also peace of mind.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #19

Apr 122013

Element 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The lock on driver side door no longer accepts the key. I have to unlock from the passenger side. When trying to lock or unlock from the driver side, my key gets stuck in the lock and does not turn.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #18

Jan 012013


  • 98,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Element. The contact stated that the electronic door system failed to open or lock the doors, and the doors could not be opened with the key. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 98,000.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #17

Sep 012013


  • miles
Front door lock will not work. It is jammed and will not accept the key going in. This needs to be recalled and fixed. It's unbelievable.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #16

Jul 012014

Element 4-cyl

  • 190,000 miles
Both door locks (driver and passenger) are jammed. At times the key goes in and others it doesn't but do not turn. I have two keys and neither of them open either door. I have to enter through the back door, climb over the back seats to get to the driver's seat. This appears to be an issue with many Honda Elements made in 2003. I have read many reviews and see that many people have this same issue. I have back problems and cannot be climbing in through the back of my car to open the driver side door to enter my car. I think Honda should be responsible for replacing these locks.

- Belleville, NJ, USA

problem #15

Jul 012013


  • 180,000 miles
Driver's side door lock began to not unlock the door on first attempt. After approximately one year the lock became stuck at a 45 degree angle and would not release the key. Forced the key out of the lock by placing my knee against the door and pulling on the key until the key finally came out. Lock continues to be at about 20 degrees and will not allow the key to enter and/or turn. Have tried liquid wrench, but no improvement. Have to unlock the driver's door by entering through the passenger door.

- Flower Mound, TX, USA

problem #14

Nov 152013


  • 62,524 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Honda Element. The contact stated the front driver's side door was inaccessible because the door could not be locked or unlocked. The contact stated that she had to enter the vehicle through the front passenger's side door. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician stated that the cylinder lock would have to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 62,524.

- Lake Hughes, CA, USA

problem #13

Aug 102011

Element 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Like many others, driver side door key was difficult to insert. Then it inserted and was unable to turn; despite greasing lock. Now using passenger side door lock. I am hoping this does not get stuck on me too like it has happened with many others. Lock costs ~$33 on ebay and $55 from dealer, but this does not include installation and it lock will have a separate key. I was quoted around $350-375 to have a matching lock installed. I am worried to even do this because it sounds like it is a recurring problem even after replacement. This needs to be made a recall.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #12

Oct 212011


  • miles
The drivers side and passenger side door locks will freeze up and not allow the keys to be removed. This keeps the car from being able to be locked. Honda will not honor a warranty or recall on this item they charge $250 per door to fix the problem. This happened to both the drivers side and passengers side doors, and is a very common complaint among Honda Element owners.

- East Patchogue, NY, USA

problem #11

Jan 022010

Element 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
Driver's side door lock started to "stick", key would not unlock door from time to time, until it would no longer unlock at all. I've had to open the lock from the passenger side and crawl over the seats to unlock the vehicle. I have very limited funds at the moment and can't afford the repairs, which were estimated at over $300 by a local shop. My fear is that the passenger lock will eventually fail and I'll have to crawl in through the back as has been reported by other 2003 Honda Element owners. I only have 56,000 original miles on my Element, the lock started failing at 52,000 miles. Has there been a recall on this that I'm unaware of?

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #10

Aug 012010

Element 4-cyl

  • miles
I also have a drivers side door lock that is completely unusable from the outside. The key will not go into the lock and the remote doesn't work for that door. I crawl in from the passengers side every time.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #9

Jun 012010

Element 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
The lock on the driver side door will no longer accept the key to unlock it. This problem was sporadic originally, but now is a permanent problem. It appears to be an on-going problem with the 2003 Honda Element. Honda should issue a recall to fix this problem.

- Greencastle, PA, USA

problem #8

Dec 312009


  • 145,000 miles
The key first stopped working in my drivers door and I then had to use the passenger door to enter and exit the vehicle until the key actually got stuck in the lock on the passenger door and still cannot be removed and I am forced to crawl in and out through the back hatch if I wish to lock my vehicle, however it seems the back door lock is showing signs of failure now as well.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #7

Nov 012009


  • 78,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Honda Element. The driver side door lock would not lock or unlock even with the key. The contact had to enter the vehicle through the passenger side door. The vehicle taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that she would be responsible for repair costs. The manufacturer had not been notified. The failure mileage was approximately 78,000.

- Uniontown, PA, USA

problem #6

Jun 122010


  • 104,000 miles
1. the event leading up to the failure was usage. 2. the failure occurred as locking mechanisms failed to allow key entry to driver side door (entrance to vehicle). 3. what was done to correct the failure was nothing but to crawl to the driver side door via opening the passengers door with a locking mechanism progressively failing on it's door as well. (many - many other owner's of Honda Elements have complained of this issue - please, please, please - look into it.) the car is great minus this and it's' gas mileage.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #5

May 212010


  • 146,000 miles
I have a 2003 Honda Element and the keys are not working in the doors correctly. They work sometimes and now the ignition will not work with the keys. I have been reading for two hours on complaints for this same problem and wondering why there are not any recalls on this matter. What do I have to do to get this resolved. My Element will not crank now because of this. I am stuck. What do I do now? I do not have any warranty either.

- Monroe, LA, USA

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