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The 8 Most Common Problems in the Nissan Sentra

nissan sentra common problems

The 8 Most Common Problems in the Nissan Sentra

The Nissan Sentra is a great budget car that falls into the compact sedan category. It has been running for a long time with several upgrades made over time. As such, it can be frequently seen on the market as a tempting purchase. But before you decide to buy this car, you need to know the common problems that come with the Nissan Sentra.

Alas, no matter the generation of car you choose to go with, you are bound to face some of these. The most common problems associated with the Nissan Sentra are related to the engine and the transmission. Occasionally, you do have other problems like the suspension or the brake pedals acting up. The saddest part is that Sentra is infamous for facing such problems at very low mileages, around the 25,000 -100,000-kilometre mark.

Fortunately, most of these have simple solutions and can be fixed by replacing some parts. However, you usually have to take it to the dealer to get it fixed. Let’s dive deeper into these problems to get a better understanding of them.

Head gasket

head gasket
Cylinder Head Gasket | Picture Credits: Youtube – The Engineer’s Post

One of the most serious problems you can face is the head gasket blowing out for the engine. This refers to a tear or a leak in the head gasket. Regrettably, this problem isn’t too uncommon either. It can have some serious ramifications like the engine seizing.

Unfortunately, the exact cause hasn’t been figured out yet. The only fix to a problem like this is to replace the part. While the part itself is a relatively inexpensive one, it takes a lot of effort to disassemble the engine to get to it. Thus, the best option is to take it to the dealer and let them change the head gasket. At the end of the day, they charge you for the labor rather than the part itself.

Ignition coil problems

replacing the ignition coil
Photo by Envato Elements

Continuing with the engine theme, you might face an issue with the ignition coils. These coils are responsible for generating the spark that helps combust the air-fuel mixture. Thus, when a malfunction occurs in these, you might feel the engine is vibrating too much due to misfiring. Furthermore, you might notice lower mileage and power than usual.

Fortunately, this is the easiest fix on this list, and it can easily be done at home. All you need to do is replace the ignition coils which you can find at the top of the cylinder head. You could replace the sparkplugs as well as an added safety measure.

MAF sensor

maf sensor
MAF Sensor | Picture Credits: Youtube – Motorservice Group

Malfunctioning MAF sensors are a common problem in Nissan cars, no matter which model they are. This can lead to a decrease in performance usually. You can usually avoid this by ensuring that the air filter of your intake system is regularly cleaned or replaced. Alternatively, you might have to check the airflow sensor itself. They require specialized cleaners to clean them. So, you could just replace the part yourself (a relatively simple process). Or, if you want to play it safe, you can take it to the dealer.

The latter can often prove to be a better option as the On-Board Diagnostic System (OBD) starts popping up a MAF warning sometimes even though there is nothing wrong with it. This would require a recalibration or a reset of the ECU which the dealer can help you with.

Transmission problems

auto mechanic inspecting faulty transmission
Photo by Envato Elements

Another frequent problem noted in most of the Nissan Sentras is some form of transmission issue. The Sentra comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Customers frequently complain that they feel jerks when reversing or even when driving normally. Sometimes they believe that the CVT is making a lot of noise. This is quite strange as the whole point of a CVT is to have a smooth power flow without much noise.

Another problem identified by users is that sometimes the transmission suddenly fails, causing the car to stop abruptly. Sadly, just like the head gasket problem, it is hard to find the root cause for this. The only solution is to get the CVT replaced in such cases. Though, if you change the transmission oil regularly, you could avoid this problem or at least delay it.

Car Battery

12v battery charge warning light
Battery Warning | Picture Credits: Youtube

Moving on to the auxiliary systems, another regular complaint about the Sentra is that the car battery dies often. You would also see the battery warning light at an abnormal rate. Some people claim that the battery dies almost every week. This problem could be associated with the alternator malfunctioning. Alternatively, the battery could be self-discharging at an alarming rate. If it is the latter, your battery might be at the end of its life, and it is best to replace it then. In any case, it is best to take it to the dealer to let them sort this problem out.

Brake pedal malfunctioning

replacing brake discs
Photo by Envato Elements

This next problem is related to safety. One of the most common problems in a Nissan Sentra is that the Brake Pedal does not function properly. As a result, you need to literally put the pedal to the metal (the brake one, remember) to get any braking action.

This is generally caused due to a problem with the brake cylinder not delivering enough hydraulic pressure to the brakes. Any air in the brake lines can be a reason for this occurring. You could attempt to bleed the brakes and refill the fluid to remove any air bubbles. However, if this does not work, you might want to ask your local dealer to give it a once over.

Engine stalling

a car engine
Photo by Jorge César on Unsplash

Engine stalling is another common issue faced by Nissan Sentra owners. This could be a sign of a faulty fuel pump, a bad fuel filter, insufficient fuel, or a vacuum leak causing the air/fuel mixture to be wrong.

If your check engine light is on, we recommend plugging an OBD-II scanner into the car which should display a code with any faults. If you’re experiencing symptoms of engine stalling and there is no check engine light displaying, you will need to bring your car into your nearest garage for inspection.

Front suspension issues

front suspension
Front Suspension Struts | Picture Credits: Unsplash – Joshua Vialdores

Finally, you might face a problem with the front suspension with the Nissan Sentra. They aren’t built as ruggedly as one would like. Thus, drivers often face jerks over minor bumps or hear their struts making noise sometimes. The solution is to replace the strut. While it is a fairly simple process you might need a lift to raise your car to a considerable height. You could always take it to the friendly neighborhood dealer to get them replaced if you lack the tools.


Just like any other car on the market, the Nissan Sentra comes with its own set of common problems. However, when you get past this, you will realize how great a car it is for this price range. As always, you can find the solution to some of these problems in the owner’s manual of the Nissan Sentra. But remember to be careful while working on the car! Hopefully, this article gives you an idea about the risks of buying this car or the fixes that you might have to make if you end up buying one.

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