2004 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V 2.5L from North America


Fun, fast, marginal build quality and dependability


Last month the ECU died; cost $1K to replace.

Stereo died after 2 years.

Subwoofer amp died last year.

Evaporative purge solenoid at 75K miles -- easy fix.

Evaporative control wiring at 100K miles -- fixed myself for pennies; would have been pricey at a dealer.

Evaporative tank shield brackets, exhaust heat shield rotted off at 110K.

Battery lasted 5 years.

4 warped rotors so far, brake pads lasting 50K miles.

Fuel pressure regulator at 150K.

Several intermittent rattles in the dash.

Paint is very soft.

General Comments:

This is a very odd car. Fun, but odd. It puts a smile on my face every time I drive.

It also has about the longest learning curve of any car I have had to get the most performance from it. The suspension is crude, the shifter lacks (short shifter helps so much), but the 6 speed, the 200 hp (she responds so nicely to an intake and headers), and the factory (and my DIY) suspension tweaks make for a car that delivers performance FAR in excess of its price ($14500).

The interior is pretty basic, but well laid out and functional. I like the seat, which is important as I spend a lot of time in it. Driving position is good. Clutch is excellent, braking is good, much more fade resistant than the Civic Si and Toyota's I have owned.

I get 28 MPG around town, and 32 MPG at 65 mph, but mileage drops off a lot at higher speeds. Oil changes are super easy, as the oil filter is just inside the R wheel well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 27th July, 2012

2004 Nissan Sentra 1.8 from North America


Overall quality could be a lot better


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.

General Comments:

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.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 28th April, 2011

28th Apr 2011, 20:11

Wow, you sure this wasn't a 1981 Nissan? Shouldn't have all that rust for a car that's a few years old.

29th Apr 2011, 11:06

Very good review on the Nissan Sentra... your review shows the good and the bad of buying a buying a used car... and it's a tough decision for many people to make putting the 5000.00 down on the new car and make payments on it... or take the 5000.00, and go out and look for a good used car.. tough choice...

My advice to anyone that is looking for a new car or used car would be to research on this website and buying the Consumers Report Annual Auto Guide that comes out every April... it will give you the information on the good cars and bad ones out there... it even has a section for good used cars to fit any budget out there... buying a used car nowadays is not always a wise choice if you don't do you research on it... The manufacturers that make cars/trucks/SUVs, and the people and organizations that feed off of them, are a multi trillion dollar industry, and like Las Vegas, they're in it to make money...