1989 Nissan Sentra Base 1.6 SOHC from North America

Summary:

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing

Faults:

Honestly, just about everything you could possibly think of has been replaced on this car. Not because it was prematurely defective, but because they just plain wore out with normal wear and tear.

I've changed the engine twice and transmission once.

I've repainted the car twice and had to fix 3 small rust spots over the years.

It's not the fastest looking car on the block, but wow is it reliable! I was stranded only once in 20 years, and it was because I left the lights on. I push started her and she fired right up.

General Comments:

I normally don't write reviews for anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading others experiences with their 1989 Nissan Sentra. Truth is, I'm in my 40's now, and my friends still laugh at me for my driving my 89 Sentra. I bought the car new at the end of 1989, and my mother said if you take care of it, it’ll take care of you. Well, she wasn't kidding.

I've done every oil change myself every 3,000 miles and she's still running strong with 3/4 million miles on her. Perhaps I'm too simple minded, but the purpose of a vehicle is to take you from point A to point B. I don't care that I can't accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. I can't go over 75 miles on the highway, so why do I need a car with a top speed of 200 mph?

If I add up all the money I spent for maintenance on the car over the past 20 years, it would still be less than the cost of a newer high end car at today's prices. Why buy new if it's still working? I wonder if I'll ever reach a million miles...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th December, 2014

29th Dec 2014, 15:34

Loved your review. I can't believe you've owned this car that long! It's just unheard of in today's society where we use cars as disposable items. You really know how to take care of things!

29th Dec 2014, 19:18

That's commendable, and glad you got a car from an era of reasonably simple cars, which don't get written off because they're too dear to keep on the road.

There is one reason for you to eventually consider getting a newer car though: safety. I'm not talking airbags and ABS - try Googling the terms "youtube 5th Gear Volvo Modus crash". From memory, a Volvo 940 wagon was crashed frontal offset vs. a much newer Renault Modus hatchback, and the results were very surprising.

The Volvo, certainly no lightweight in its time (the car was an early 1990s one), was designed at a time when computers were not powerful enough to make the calculations used for designing the body of the much smaller Renault Modus.

I for one don't like today's overcomplicated cars (if I could go back in time, I'd love to pick a new Mercedes 190 or 260E), but there may still be good reason for buying a much newer car.

30th Dec 2014, 15:41

I think when you said 20 years, you meant 25 years. Your car should be an antique classic by now. I know it must be a bit uncomfortable riding in your Sentra all the time (especially if you're going for a long drive), but it's amazing that you have kept up with the maintenance and replaced almost everything imaginable. If I were a mechanic, I would probably had done the same thing to my pristine 1990 Sentra. Instead, I let my teenage son drive it and he totalled it!

1989 Nissan Sentra 2 door sedan 1.6 TBI overhead cam 12 valve from North America

Summary:

The most reliable car I have ever owned. It's been everywhere

Faults:

Still own the car; it has been well maintained. The head gasket blew at 196,000 miles. I rebuilt the engine at 211,000 miles. Needed new pistons and rings. Rebuilt the cylinder head, but did not even install new valve guides in the cylinder head, just a basic valve job using the old valves, springs, camshaft, lifters, etc.

Otherwise have installed one clutch kit, front end ball joints and tie rod ends, new brakes and brake hydraulics, replaced the radiator, and finally new shocks about 20k miles ago. Reupholstered the front seats, and have since worn out the replacement seat covers. Replaced the front axle CV boots, but still running the original axles.

Did replace the distributor because it started leaking engine oil into the distributor cap.

The 5 speed transmission has never been apart; just fluid changes. The TBI fuel injection has never been apart; replaced the fuel filter twice.

General Comments:

This has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. I have worked coast to coast, and the little Sentra has taken me everywhere, sometimes with a mattress and box spring tied to the roof. We once tied an entire apartment full of furniture on the roof and trunk, then traveled over 1000 miles in the winter.

The fuel injection starts the engine quickly, even at -30 degF, with 5w-30 engine oil. Fuel economy is actually getting better with age; maybe the TBI is starting to plug up with sediments. Typical highway MPG is 36-44 at 75 mph, and we once obtained over 50 MPG with an exceptional tank of gas.

The electronic ignition has never failed; still has the original computer and ignition coil.

The body is finally starting to rust away. Nine years of salt road winters in Kansas did not help.

The Sentra was faster than a Mustang II according to the repair shop that installed the replacement head gasket.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th December, 2014