Home Model Specific Issues Nissan Sentra Problems – Can It Be Considered A Reliable Car?

Nissan Sentra Problems – Can It Be Considered A Reliable Car?

by Kelvin Yates

Established in 1933, Nissan has been pioneering as automobile manufacturers. Fast forward 70 years, Nissan is one of the leading car manufacturers in the world. With over 2.4 million units sold every year, Nissan has a solid base underneath and a respectable amount of satisfied customers, despite the looming threat of Nissan Sentra problems. They control almost 5% of the automobile market.

The Japanese manufacturer has always been consistent on the reliability ratings. Can the same be said about the Nissan Sentra? What are the Nissan Sentra problems that have surfaced over the years?

This sedan offers good looks and is not too flashy at the same time. Nissan has always been one of the reliable cars in the market. Though it does not top the list, it has always been in the average rankings. Nissan has the biggest following in Japan being only second to Toyota. Even in the US, it has been attracting a lot of customers.

The Nissan Sentra has been on the market since 1982 and has been going strong throughout the timeline. The fact that it has stood the test of time surely means there is something special about it. When it comes to the reliability of a Nissan Sentra, it varies. No car is perfect and neither was the Nissan Sentra. The problems were spread out all over the place.

Reliability Of Nissan Sentra

The reliability of the Nissan Sentra is all over the place. In 2021, the Nissan Sentra ranks in an impressive 4.0/5. This is a good score and certainly above average. It enjoys its place at 14th out of 36 compact car models. But on average through the years, the score is closer to a 3.0.

When looking at the Nissan Sentra and what it costs, it is cheaper than most other cars in the category. It is cheaper to own, drive, and maintain. The fuel economy of the Nissan Sentra is unmatched. It is cheaper to buy and most of all maintenance costs are lower than most of its competitors. That is a testament to its reliability as well.

The problems that do occur with the Nissan Sentra are average in terms of severity. Of course, there are some exceptions. But often, when a problem arises with the Nissan Sentra, it is not going to blow a hole through your wallet. The Nissan Sentra can last if cared for well. With proper maintenance and prompt replacement of faulty parts, it could last upwards of 100,000 miles.

Nissan Sentra Problems

Nissan Sentra being in the market for as long as it has is bound to run into trouble. It has had almost every problem in the book. In most cases, it is just an easy fix but Nissan Sentra is also known for some crazy problems.

The issues vary in severity and frequency with different models. With the 7th generation being the latest, it is consistently squashing bugs along the way. But this hasn’t been without new problems popping up along the way. Here are some of the most common Nissan Sentra problems.

Engine Problems

This is the most frequent problem with the Nissan Sentra. Engine problems are never good. But it has been consistently popping up with the Nissa Sentra. The worst it is not focused on a single year. The frequency changed with different generations but was never eradicated.

The most common was the engine cooling system failing. The issue looks to be with the crankshaft sensor. The problem starts at around 75,000 miles which is not good for the reputation of the car. Mostly, it occurred while driving at cruising speeds. The issue is not that frequent with newer models.

This hasn’t been the only problem. Reports on stalling, fuel pump failure, burning oil, check engine light malfunctioning, and radiator problems have also been piling up. Though most of the engine-related problems aren’t that severe, when ignored, they caused much more issues.

Transmission Failure

Transmission issues are daunting and often a costly repair. These issues are among the most common and serious problems that can happen to a Nissan Sentra. This was more frequent between 2013 to 2017 models. They are known for consisting of faulty continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

In most cases, transmission failure causes the car to stall while speeding. People reported that the transmission was jerking and revving which eventually led to losing power.

Nissan CVT Transmission

This was more common among the 2013 and 2014 models. Apart from a malfunctioning CVT owners also reported unpleasant pulses and vibrations while the car was idling.

Faulty Airbags

Malfunctioning airbags are among the Nissan Sentra problems. This has plagued the 2010 Nissan Sentra. This has model has had numerous complaints about its airbags.

Most customers had a problem with the airbag lights. In some cases, the light was the issue. The light was fixed when taken to the dealership. Airbag replacements were also needed for some users.

Airbags not inflating upon impact were also among the reports. This is much more serious and often led to major injuries to the driver.

Electrical Problems

Electrical problems can start early in a Nissan Sentra. The lights were known to blow as early as 15,000 miles. But this is not that severe and only requires a bulb replacement.

Another common problem with electronics was with the AC compressor. Though this is not known to happen early on, it is more severe. It usually starts after 100,000 miles under the hood. The AC failure costs upwards of $1000 to fix.

Malfunctioning Brakes

This is another common problem with the Nissan Sentra. It was seen mostly with the 2013 model. Many owners complained that the brakes weren’t sensitive. They mentioned that unless the brake pedal was floored, the brakes did not engage. The reason was the master brake cylinders failed prematurely.

This was not seen only in the 2013 model. This is common with the entire fleet of Nissan Sentra. Models as new as 2020 suffer due to their brakes. Some units have anti-braking lock systems that can stop working without warning. This is a serious issue. Though it doesn’t cost much to repair, if your brakes give out at high speeds, the consequences could be fatal.

Suspension Problem

The 2017 Nissan Sentra was affected by this more frequently. When going through relatively small speed bumps, even at lower speeds, it often made thumping noises. This was more evident in colder climates.

The suspension issues received the least amount of complaints. Most models did not have a problem with the suspension. But when affected, the drive will certainly be bumpy and unpleasant until the suspension is fixed.

Power Steering Concerns

The most prevalent issue regarding the steering was broken struts. Most complaints were received about the strut bearings making a popping noise when the wheel turned left or right.

Some 2012 Nissan Sentra owners report that their vehicles pull to one side while being driven on the road. This was not the cause of misaligned wheels. The wheels were inspected before pointing the fault at the steering.

Strange Noises While Driving

This complaint was more regular between 2016 Nissan Sentra owners. They reported hearing loud howling or screeching noises during windy days and when driving at high speeds.

In some cases, the problem was caused by faulty or loose weatherstripping. There were also cases where the root of the problem was not identified. Even the dealership couldn’t find or fix the issue. The car could also vibrate enough to make noticeable noise at highway speeds.

Bad Paint

Again, the 2016 model was the most affected by the issue. The paint quality was poor. The paint was known to fade early and even flake off in cases. The chrome trims were also known to rust. Mold also formed in the joints and this sometimes caused the chrome trim to fall off.

Wheel Problems

The 2008 model has been popular with the issue. The same can’t be said about the other years. They have not had many issues with the wheels.

The most complaints were regarding the tire pressure monitor. Drivers mentioned that the tire pressure light was on even though the pressure was completely fine. This warning light normally indicates that the air pressure in one or more tires has dropped below recommended levels. The problems, on most occasions, were found in the sensors. Problems with wheels also surfaced with the 2014 Nissan Sentra.

Another issue was with rust. The hubcaps were known to peel off and rust early. Other than the fact this affects the appearance of the car, this also affects the structural integrity of the wheels.

The Nissan Sentra problems have accumulated in different criteria over the years. If you decide to buy a Nissan Sentra, it is all about picking the right year. While the quality of some models of the Nissan Sentra was very poor, there are some models with an exceptional record.

Worst Year Of Nissan Sentra Problems

As mentioned, there are some really bad models when it comes to the Nissan Sentra. If you are planning on purchasing one, it is better to stay away from these years. There is no way to predict what might go wrong with a car. But often, the stats don’t lie. So here are some of the worst years for Nissan Sentra.

2005 Nissan Sentra

This was no doubt one of the worse model years for the Sentra. The problems started to surface as early as 100,000 miles. And in a few cases, fatal!

The problem is that the head gasket would blow off. This is on the top of the list when it comes to bad things that could happen to your car. The average mileage at which this happens is 77,000 miles, which is crazy. And the reason for this being so frequent is yet to be identified.

A blown head gasket repair cost could get really expensive. It often costs over $1500 to fix. In severe cases, a repair is not even an option. You might have to go through a much costly engine replacement or a rebuild.

Another common problem with the 2005 model is the fuel pump. The average mileage at which you could encounter a broken fuel pump is around 84,000 miles. Which is in the neighborhood of the blown head gasket issue. The fix could cost upwards of $400.

2013 Nissan Sentra

And then we have the 2013 Nissan Sentra. Another bad year for the Nissan Sentra. This time, it is even worse than the 2005 Nissan Sentra. Again, the problems start before 100,000 miles.

As mentioned earlier, this was plagued by transmission issues. Many owners reported that the 2013 Sentra would rev and jerk while driving. Driving with a bad transmission could be horrible. The worst about the failing transmission in the 2005 model year is that rarely can it ever be repaired. Almost all the time it required a replacement.

On average a transmission replacement could cost $3400. It can easily go upwards of $4000. This averages at 73,000 miles. Many owners mentioned that theirs did not even last 50,000 miles. It broke just a few months after starting to drive.

You might be able to endure an uncomfortable ride, but that is not all. Averaging at 84,000 miles, your transmission could just, fail. Again repairing this is not going to be cheap. The average cost for a transmission repair is $4000.

2014 Nissan Sentra

By far the worst Nissan Sentra of all time. You would imagine that Nissan would have learned after the multiple complaints about its transmission in 2013. But no, 2014 was much worse with the transmission problems.

This time, people did not mention any revving or jerking, they directly faced a failed transmission. This happened before 100,000 miles as well. Again, it was not cheap to repair.

On average the 2014 Nissan Sentras transmission lasted up to 79,000 miles. Replacing a transmission was the cheapest solution. Even that costs $3500 on average.

This was not the only issue with the 2104 model. The other problem was with the airbags. If you can’t trust your airbags, then driving is going to be tense. With the 2014 Sentra, the airbag lights were faulty. But in worst cases, the airbag failed to inflate when needed.

Nissan received a lot of lawsuits against their problem with these airbags. Many users were affected badly by this. While an airbag is supposed to cushion the impact during a crash, without one your life is on the line. Nissan ended up recalling the 2014 Nissan Sentra regarding the airbag issue.

Nissan Sentra vs Competition

Before deciding on buying a Nissan Sentra it is best to check out the competition as well. Depending on your needs, maybe something from the competition might suit your needs better. Let us look at what Sentra is up against.

Nissan Sentra vs Chevrolet Cruze

The reliability of the Chevrolet Cruze is actually better than a Nissan Sentra. The repair costs add up to an average of $545 annually. This is much less than a Nissan Sentra.

When taking a peek at the fuel economy, the Nissan Sentra has a decent average. But the Chevrolet Cruze offers much better fuel economy with over 45 mpg on a highway compared to the 30 mpg average of the Nissan Sentra.

With the price of both the cars being almost the same the Chevrolet Cruze might be better.

Nissan Sentra vs Honda Civic

The Nissan Sentra packs a bit less power under the hood than the Honda Civic. When looking at the fuel economy, the Honda Civic edges ahead with close to 40 mpg.

When talking about reliability, the Honda Civic is one of the most reliable sedans in the market. With an average annual repair cost of close to $300, it beats almost every other car in the category.

Honda Civic Type R

If you can get the right price, a Honda Civic is cheaper than a Nissan Sentra. And with commendable handling, the Honda Civic should take the win over Nissan Sentra.

Nissan Sentra vs Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is at the top of the list when it comes to reliability. It outperforms a Nissan Sentra at almost every turn. The fuel economy of a Toyota Corolla is slightly better than a Nissan Sentra. It even has a slight advantage on power. On paper, the Toyota Corolla is better than the Nissan Sentra.

But according to customer reviews, the Nissan Sentra is a much better drive than the Corolla. The Nissan Sentra supposedly handles better and simply feels better than a Corolla.

With the Toyota Corolla pricing a bit higher than the Nissan Sentra it is a tough pick.

Nissan Sentra vs Ford Focus

When considering the reliability, both the cars are neck and neck.  Both cost an average of close to $500 on an annual basis.

The fuel economy on a Ford Focus is fairly better than the Nissan Sentra. Also to be considered is Ford’s 2.0L 160 horsepower engine. The Ford Focus packs a lot of power under the hood compared to the Nissan Sentra.

When it comes to comfort and handling, the Nissan Sentra definitely wins. The interior is one of the things that Nissan Sentra got right. Though it might not be couch-like comfort, it is pretty close.

The Ford Focus has a million different variations which allow you to choose what suits you better. This is a huge advantage for the Ford Focus. With the price of the Ford Focus being cheaper, it is something to put your thought into.

Nissan Sentra vs Mazda MAZDA 3

Mazda’s MAZDA 3 is considered a quality car. It is one top 10 reliable sedans on the market right now. With an annual maintenance cost of just over $400, it is quite better than a Nissan Sentra.

The fuel economy of the Mazda MAZDA 3 is almost similar to the Nissan Sentra. The Mazda MAZDA 3 wins the battle of power though. With an engine of 150+ horsepower, it is one of the most powerful sedans in its class.

The Sentra takes a conservative approach to compact transportation, emphasizing grown-up design and solid value. In contrast, the Mazda3 leads with its zippy performance and expressive styling.

Even though the Nissan Sentra excels in comfort, it cannot overtake the Mazda MAZDA 3.

Buying A Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra’s problems are many. But the car can not be judged by the problems. It has been in the market for almost 3 decades and problems should be expected. It is not like other cars do not have any problems of their own. Like every car, the Nissan Sentra has its pros and cons.


Looking from the outside, the Nissan Sentra might not be that appealing. But on the inside, it is a whole another story that could easily turn the tides for this Japanese machine. For starters, the boot space with a capacity of 510 liters is already one of the best in the segment. Thanks to the 2.7-meter length on offer, it gives ample legroom in the rear. As for the seats, the comfort offered is hard to match. It could keep you cozy even in the longest drives.

The fuel economy should also be mentioned. In city traffic, it could run up to 29 miles per gallon. On the highway or the empty streets, it is a different story altogether. Per gallon, you could get up to 39 miles on average.


Other than the fact that it has a lot of problematic models, there are a few more things to be considered.

The looks of a Nissan Sentra arent the best. With newer cars arriving with sharp, edgy, bold, muscular, and jaw-dropping silhouettes, the Nissan Sentra is found nowhere near the top picks.

The engine power is also not that good. With a measly 130 horsepower from its 1.6-liter engine, it is at the bottom of the list when it comes to power.

If you do decide to buy a Nissan Sentra, you cannot overlook the problematic models. While some can be overlooked, it is best to stay away from the 2005, 2013, and 2014 model years. They are plagued with a ton of issues and repairs are very pricey.

The Nissan Sentra is, without a doubt, a great sedan. But the competition such as the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla and many others just might be better. It is best to do your research about the other options before settling with the Nissan Sentra.

Nissan Sentra: What You Need To Know Before Buying One – Facts

  1. The Nissan Sentra is a reliable family car that has been in production since 1982, with over 6 million units sold to date.
  2. Repairpal ranks the Nissan Sentra with a reliability score of 4.0 out of 5.0, placing it at 14th place in the compact cars department.
  3. The 2005 model of the Nissan Sentra is the worst model year due to a high number of complaints about the engine and fuel pump issues.
  4. The 2013 and 2014 Nissan Sentra models have transmission problems, with the 2014 model being worse for having higher repair costs and more problems occurring at lower mileages.
  5. Other issues with the 2013 model include malfunctioning brakes and revving and jerking, alongside transmission failure.
  6. The 2014 Nissan Sentra also suffers from costly transmission problems, poor CVT response, mass airflow sensor issues, and problems with the brakes.
  7. The Nissan Sentra can last up to 300,000 miles with proper maintenance, although after 200,000 miles, it may become more expensive to repair than to replace.
  8. Essential services for maintaining the Nissan Sentra include oil and filter replacement, tire rotation, brake system inspection, battery replacement, and engine air filter replacement.
  9. The average annual cost of repairing and maintaining a Nissan Sentra is $491, which is less than the average cost for compact cars.
  10. To avoid buying a lemon, it’s important to avoid the problematic model years of the Nissan Sentra and to check the vehicle’s maintenance history and have a trusted mechanic inspect the car.

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