I’ve had my beloved Honda Element (affectionately known as the Rallement) for 7 years now. I bought it used with 33K miles on the odometer. I now have 330,600 miles on it. It’s dying now. It needs a heart transplant. And I’m sad.
It’s funny how one can drive so many miles, yet never really leave too far from home. The Rallement has visited California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. It’s literally never been any further than those states. Even though I’ve driven enough miles that I could be nearly halfway home on my return trip from the moon. I could have driven the Rallement to New York City and back 57 times. I could have driven around Earth just over 13 times. There’s so many places I could have gone, things I could have seen. Cultures I could have immersed myself in. People I could have met. Friends, experiences, and memories I don’t have because instead of driving around the Earth 13 times, I simply drove back and forth through the 6 states I mentioned.
I used around sixteen thousand five hundred and thirty gallons of fuel in the Rallement. I’d say the average price of fuel since the Rallement and I have been together has been around $2.50. Often more. Sometimes less. That means at about 20mpg combined on average, I’ve spent over 41 thousand dollars in petrol since I took ownership of her. I’ve filled up at gas pumps all over the west coast roughly 2000 times. I fill up so often with as much driving as I do that I have gas stations memorized all over the west coast…which ones are the cheapest, what times they close, whether it’s the same cashier that’s been there for years, which ones have the cleanest bathrooms. I have filling schedules, even. I know where I need to fill up in order to be able to make it to the next service station while driving across the barren landscapes of Nevada and Utah.
I’ve changed the oil around 85 times in the Rallement and used nearly 100 gallons of synthetic 5w-20 oil in doing so. I go through about 1.6 sets of tires per year as well. I hope the EPA never finds out what my carbon footprint is.
I camp in my little Honda Element around 40 days per year instead of staying at hotels. The average cost of the hotels I do stay at is $57 per night. The Rallement saves me about $2300 per year in hotel costs. And it’s comfortable. My front and rear seats fold flat and butt up against one another making a sort of lumpy cot. It works perfectly for me. Sure, I don’t have flushing toilets, but I’m typically stopped somewhere 5-20 miles off the side of i80, or highway 395, or 95 in the middle of no where, surrounded by only the sights and sounds of nature. I’ve woken up in some of the most beautiful places in the little Honda Element. Places I likely wouldn’t have seen or been to had I not had the convenience of my little 4×4 “micro camper.”
Another thing I love about my Element is it’s versatility. I’ve moved several times from household to household and the stuff I can fit in it is no less than amazing. I’ve carried around my Suzuki GSXR in the back of my Element. I’ve had an R6 in it. I’ve carried my scooter in it, bicycles, camping equipment…and I’ve driven my family and friends around in it.
I put a class III receiver on it some years ago, and I’ve travelled close to 100,000 miles with my Versa Hauler on the back. Usually, I have my little Honda CRF150 on the back, equally ready for Joe’s next adventure. I’ve used my Element to tow an 8×6 enclosed trailer with as many as 3 sportbikes in it to the track, and 4 dirtbikes into the woods. It’s actually sitting in my driveway, as I type this, with my CRF on the back.
As far as I know, I’ve been singly handedly responsible for at least 6 people buying a Honda Element as their own personal vehicle based on my experience with my Element and my recommendation alone. Though the Element is no longer in production, I still have people asking me about it and where to get one. The Rallement has taken me so many places that I’ve documented…and so many that I’ve not.
I’ve driven several racetracks in the Rallement, doing 4 wheel drifts… and even used the Rallement for a off-road dirt school for 9 months.
I imagine that if there was such a thing as bug genocide, I’m convinced I would hold records for bugs killed on a non commercial vehicle.
My little Honda Rallement has been good to me. It’s had it’s share of typical issues you’d expect from a vehicle to heavily used, and used in rough terrains and conditions. With the help of my friend Jay at Infinite Velocity Motorsports, I’ve replaced the struts and axles. I’ve replaced the catalytic converter, the starter motor, control arm bushings, brakes, rotors, a thermostat…you know, all the stuff that simply needs to be replaced over time anyhow. Normal wear and tear. I’ve always been hard on the Rallement, but I’ve always treated her to the good stuff as well.
Today, it’s the head gasket. With so many miles on the clock, it’s hard to justify the cost of a new head gasket. It’s due for a new motor entirely. I can’t afford to buy one and have it installed though…and I’m not savvy enough to do it myself.
I really don’t want to see it go. I don’t really know what to do. I’m sad.