That starting problem sounds REAL familiar. My 2002 Sentra started having the problem that once in a while I would go to start it, all lights on, etc. but when I turned the key absolutely nothing would happen (except the usual dash lights). My suspicion is some sensor thinks the car is in gear. I've had two previous Sentras (1988 & 1993) and they were great, however this 2002 has put me off Nissans permanently.
This car gave me problems from the very beginning since I bought it in 2005. The directional lights go crazy when plugging in my cell phone in the car lighter for charging. The speakers from the left hand side stopped working a month or two later. When I took it for emission inspection, the car DID NOT PASS, since there was a problem with the ECM computer.
Now the car is overheating, and there's no heat too. All of this is happening in spite of having the car properly serviced in order not to void the extended warranty (General Electric) I purchased @ the dealership (Kings Auto Show). The warranty covers everything, but the part braking down, and the dealer in my opinion sold me this piece of junk knowing what they were doing, very dishonestly. You are warned, and my advise is to avoid this car, the GE insurance company and a dishonest dealers as Kings Auto Show.
For all those people who have complained about the cars sensors tripping off the lights, & certain other electrical systems, I just want to say that there was a recall on the 2002 Sentra's & the sensors were the issue. So it makes sense that the sensors are not functioning properly. Take it in to a dealer & let them know that you want to fix the 'recall' problem on the car.
I have had similar problems to those stated by other consumers. Fortunately, my Nissan ran great for the first 100,000 miles and the only thing I had to repair was the shocks and the thermostat. Other than that, all I had to do was routine maintenance, and I did it all according to the book.
This past December (2009) my engine began to overheat, but the heating system would only blow cold air. I had the thermostat replaced twice, the water pump was replaced and the air pocket emptied multiple times.
Just recently the heat stopped working again, and I think it will start to overheat again.
In addition, the car will not start all the time. Occasionally I will try to start the car, and the engine cranks, but the car will not start. If I leave it where it is for a day or two, and then try it again, it always works. I have taken it to several mechanics, and they are not able to troubleshoot the problem. It has been a very frustrating experience, and is most likely the only Nissan I will ever buy.
A 2002 Nissan Sentra GXE is basically a MIM piece of junk. Stay away from this vehicle.
First problem, a bad, corroded ground cable made the car highly erratic. A head gasket after that. The CD player does not work. Heater blower fan resistor shortly after. Now I'm having electrical issues again with tail, dash and brake lights.
This car is a lemon, definitely my first and very last Nissan. I feel sorry for owners of high end, expensive Nissans. I hope people from Nissan read these forums.