‘My Honda Element makes noises in the winter and stays silent in the summer.’

The Car Doc weighs in.

Honda Element. Percent of original owners holding onto cars for 10 years: 23.1. Compared to average (13.5 percent): 1.7x
2011 Honda Element. –Honda

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Q: My 2007 Honda Element makes all sorts of noises, particularly during cold weather. When summer temperatures arrive, the noises go away. I hear the noise when I place the car in drive as well as when the car is moving. If I shift it back into park or neutral, the noise goes away. My mechanic thought it was a loose heat shield that was rattling; he secured it and some of the noises were resolved. However, the central noise remains. His next guess was a bad driveshaft bearing. Could that cause a noise when the car is in drive but not moving? I had a transmission specialist take a ride in my car and he clearly heard the sound. He did not suspect it was the transmission. Any advice?

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A: I don’t suspect a driveshaft bearing or transmission issue. I am leaning toward an internal baffle in the muffler that is affected by both air and engine temperature. This engine can also have a characteristic buzz when coming down to an idle; it is especially noticeable in park or neutral. This is a normal characteristic of the engine oil pump and balance shaft assembly.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years’ experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. He answers reader’s questions each Saturday. You can tune in to his radio program Saturday morning from 8:30-10 on am950 WROL or www.wrolradio.com. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com. Follow John on twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on facebook mrjohnfpaul.

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