When we got the car, the fan control chip was corroded so the first two fan speeds wouldn't work. After the third one failed, dad pulled it out of the dashboard as we only had the highest setting left, and saw how badly corroded the fan speed chip was. We replaced it in 2009 for about $50.
The rocker panels are made very cheaply. There is a seam where the front and back of the rocker panels meet towards the back of the rocker panel. This seam had rusted out very badly, and what remained resembled paper. I filled it with expanding foam, and covered it with as much paint, then rocker guard, as I could, after grinding all the rust away. It was in pretty bad shape. The same had begun on the left side, but not near to the extent on the right. Repaired that in the summer of 2010.
In 2009, our mechanic had to do something called, "turning down" the brake drums. I'm not exactly sure what it entailed, but apparently it was cheaper than replacing them... it was still fairly expensive to do. It's still pretty sad that the brake drums themselves needed work like that...
In April 2011, the windshield above the front passenger seat had begun to leak where the rubber met the roofline. Fixed it in the driveway with a bead of silicone. Simple fix, but not something you should have to fix.
In the summer of 2009, while cleaning out the trunk, I noticed about two inches of water sitting in the spare tire well. I pulled the plug in the spare tire well, removed the plastic guard which protected the trunk floor pan from the spare tire, and found a good deal of surface rust. I also found that the trunk had only been primed and not painted. I scraped out all the rust, primed and painted the spare tire well, then coiled up an old garden hose, before putting the spare tire back in to protect the metal from the tire.
In 2009, some kind of valve in the filler neck failed. It is about half the size of my palm, and the connections on the end of it corroded, so when you went to put gas in it, the handle kept clicking off, because air couldn't get out of the tank. Rather than spend $140 to replace it, we just took it off the car, and it fixed the problem.
Ride is very rough. For what we paid for the car, I expected better quality.
The automatic transmission in my opinion is geared very poorly. The shift from first to second makes the car lurch unless your foot control is perfect. There are times where the transmission seems lazy, as even feathering the throttle while running through the gears, it would rather rev higher for a few more seconds before lurching into gear.
The ride is quite rough compared to other cars. The rear of the car is basically just a steel bar with a strut in the middle. The lack of independent suspension in the rear of the car makes you feel every bump and pothole in the road, and not a very pleasant town car to drive. To give you an idea, my 2003 Hyundai Elantra VE with independent suspension all the way around the car feels like driving on a cloud compared to the Sentra.
Plenty of interior room, but the seats feel like sitting on a rock after about an hour of driving.
Not much to say about how the radio is set up except crap. It's confusing.
The engine lacks power. The car just feels too heavy for the engine when you accelerate.
The headlights suck, however the plastic headlights don't seem to be prone to that yellow oxidization that clouds the lights... it's a good thing too, because if that happened, you wouldn't be able to see anything at night.
The good: The engine is a very sound, good running motor that Nissan made. Great fuel economy. Once you get a little time behind the wheel and get use to the car, it's not hard to keep it in overdrive on the highway to get the best fuel mileage.
We paid about $5,000 for the car when we got it with 100,000 kilometers on it in 2008. In my opinion, my 2003 Hyundai Elantra VE that I paid $3,100 for with 124,000 kilometers in 2010 is a better buy, and I think better quality.