2003 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V 2.5L from North America
Runs well with some careful TLC
Large paint chip from front bumper at 5,000 miles. Nissan claimed that the paint was caused by a rock and a 2" diameter loss of paint was 'normal.'
Transmission seal leak at 8,000 miles. Replaced under warranty.
Front struts went bad at 12,000 miles. Possibly due to driving on rough ice-covered roads for a couple weeks after a bad snowstorm. Replaced under warranty.
Soft foam strip started coming out of front defroster vents at 20,000 miles. Dealer said this happened a lot and just pulled it out.
Airflow control knob stopped wouldn't turn to defrost position at 24,000 miles. Repaired under warranty. Now the temperature knob won't turn completely to the right, but it gets close so I didn't take it back.
Fuel pump (filter) bad at 36,500 miles. Symptoms were hard start after vehicle sat for awhile. If key was turned to 'on' position for a couple seconds before staring engine, it would start up immediately (gives pump time to build up pressure). Replaced under warranty since the service rep had the same issue with his Spec-V, and I was just beyond the 36k warranty period.
Front rotors badly warped at 40,000 miles. Possibly due to dealership not properly torquing the lugnuts after rotating the tires. Replaced rotors and pads myself.
Battery shorted at 65,000 miles. Caused vehicle to immediately lose all electrical power (no engine, no lights, no power anything). Fortunately I wasn't on the highway when this happened, since it would had been hard to control, and there's and no way to indicate anything. Battery was 6 years old though, so it was ready to go.
Cam position sensor cracked and getting oil on it at 65,000 miles. Noticed at the dealership when diagnosing the shorted battery issue. Previous recall reprogrammed ECU to avoid this issue until sensors were out of warranty. Had cam and crank position sensors replaced for a couple $100.
Front rotors badly warped at 75,000 miles. Again probably due to the tire company not properly torquing the lugnuts at rotations. Replaced the rotors and pads again, and bought a torque wrench to tighten them myself after any service.
Rear wheel hub bearing dead at 75,000 miles. Super loud road noise prior to replacing it. I noticed this when I was replacing the rotors. Replaced the hub myself and the car runs quieter than when I bought it (hub probably damaged from day 1).
Fuel pump (filter) going bad at 75,000 miles. Same symptoms as before. Currently just living with it to avoid the $500-ish repair. If Nissan didn't design the fuel filter to be permanently attached to the fuel pump, it would be much easier (and less costly) to repair.
Transmission seal leak at 83,000 miles. Noticed by local service station at last oil change. Repair pending at next oil change.
Pinhole oil leak from oil pan seal at 83,000 miles. Noticed by local service station at last oil change. Repair pending at next oil change. Switched from natural to synthetic around 72,000 miles. Not sure if this caused the leak or it would have happened anyways.
Coolant reservoir nearly empty at 85,000 miles. Not sure how long it has been this way. Temp gauge never gone beyond its 'normal' position. Filled reservoir with coolant and am monitoring the level weekly.
Car is fun, fast, and has served me relatively well since I bought it nearly 8 years ago. I wish Nissan would take recalls more seriously and actually solve issues, rather than do ECU reprograms to hide issues until the vehicle is out of warranty (cam and crank position sensors and precat issues). I haven't encountered the precat killing the engine issue yet, but it's always in the back of my mind that it could happen in the future.
The vehicle performs well and I think the body looks much better than the newer-model boxier-looking Sentras.
Something I don't yet understand is recently (in the last couple 1,000 miles) I've seemed to start getting better fuel economy than previously noted. I used to get around 23-25mpg typically, and now I seem to be getting 27-29mpg. I don't know if this is an indication of impending doom, or I just started driving it less aggressively than normal, or if it's related to the coolant possibly disappearing. I guess time will tell if this ends up being a good or bad result.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 23rd November, 2010