The Nissan Sentra is a popular car that has been available in North America since 1982. Originally presented as the Japanese automaker’s subcompact model, the Sentra replaced Nissan’s Datsun 210. Multiple size increases saw the Sentra grow into the compact car category, and the Nissan Versa became the subcompact model. The Sentra’s focus on safety and reliability makes it a solid competitor to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
The Nissan Sentra is a dependable car with many fantastic features, but there are some years you should avoid. We ranked the best and worst years of the vehicle by utilizing data from FIXD devices installed in thousands of Nissan Sentras. In addition, you’ll find we have taken into account NHTSA safety scores, MPG, owner surveys, and a few other perspectives to highlight the good and the bad of the Nissan Sentra model years.
We distilled the important notes into this table, with more details below about the best and worst years of the Nissan Sentra in the sections below.
|Best Years||Why?||Worst Years||Why?|
A low number of recalls, high safety ratings
>> See 2009-2010 Nissan Sentras for sale
Low safety, low fuel mileage, expensive DTC repairs
>> See 2001-2002 Nissan Sentras for sale
Great reliability scores, stylish ride with a spacious interior, no recalls
>> See 2012 Nissan Sentras for sale
Low miles per gallon, lousy safety rating, a lot of expensive engine codes
>> See 2003-2004 Nissan Sentras for sale
Excellent fuel economy, low annual repair costs
>> See 2014-2015 Nissan Sentras for sale
Low safety score, poor fuel efficiency, a large number of recalls
>> See 2005-2006 Nissan Sentras for sale
A low number of recalls, good reliability, good safety ratings
>> See 2016-2017 Nissan Sentras for sale
The first year of 6th generation, a large number of severe DTCs
>> See 2007-2008 Nissan Sentras for sale
Low maintenance costs per year, low number of recalls, excellent safety scores
Above average amount of days spent in the shop, a large amount of DTCs
Minimum ownership costs, great safety scores and good fuel economy
Extremely high repair costs, a high number of recalls and complaints
Nissan Sentra Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs – Year by Year
We interpreted data from multiple sources to sort the best and worst years of the Sentra. Two of the most influential, the FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score, come from FIXD devices and owner surveys.
We also looked at safety ratings in published National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, fuel efficiency according to fueleconomy.gov, market value from Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com), and annual maintenance costs reported by owners. Then we graphed it all below.
Finally, we review some of the most common Nissan Sentra diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and safety recalls.
If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USAs’ most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.
Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years
When determining our list of best and worst years for the Nissan Sentra, reliability takes the lead. We’ve devised two unique scores using our exclusive data, making it easy to compare. Both scores use the same scale: 1 being the lowest, 5 representing average, and 10 denoting the highest level.
The first score is the FIXD Reliability Score (shown as a green line on the graph). We calculated this score by tracking the number of check engine lights (CEL) reported by our app users and dividing it by the number of cars. We then weighted the score based on an average of 12,000 miles driven annually.
The second score, the Owner Reliability Score (the gray line), comes from surveys by Nissan Sentra owners. These surveys capture their firsthand experience and provide subjective opinions on reliability. We translated these responses into numerical scores. For more details on the question asked and our methodology for determining this score, please refer to the note about data and information section located at the bottom of this article.
While comparing the two scores, you’ll notice the overall trend is the same. Newer years typically have a higher reliability score than older ones. However, exceptions exist.
There are also instances where the Owner Reliability Score is much higher than the FIXD Reliability Score, such as in 2003. A car’s reliability is often worse than an owner might want to believe. We hypothesize that owners of older models slowly become accepting of higher than average check engine lights being thrown because they have owned the car for a long time. They are either a frog in a pot of boiling water, not realizing the car is deteriorating slowly and getting worse. OR they simply haven’t compared the reliability of their older model to the often newer and more reliable models of today.
Loyalty to an older vehicle may also affect the Owner Reliability Scores. If a car has lasted 20 years, it would be immensely reliable in the owner’s eyes, even if it had to have repairs and triggered many CELs along the way.
There are usually examples where the first year of a new generation has lower reliability scores. This is only prominent in the 2007 Sentra, where the FIXD and Owner Reliability Scores dropped due to the introduction of the 6th generation. The first year of a new generation typically has new features or upgrades, leading to new problems. The following year is usually better, but not by much in the case of the Sentra.
You can use our reliability scores whether you’re shopping for a used Sentra or already own one. You can use it to decide what car to buy or if the older model year you own is worth repairing.
If you are curious to see the most common codes for each Nissan Model, take a look at our article on Nissan check engine lights.
One last note on the reliability graph – we don’t have enough owner surveys for 2001 and 2002 to include their Owner Reliability Score on the graph.
NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years
We considered the NHTSA’s safety data while ranking the best and worst Nissan Sentras. The gray line represents the average safety rating for all vehicles we have data for, and the green one is the Sentra’s safety rating.
The name “Sentra” was created by Ira Bachrach when Nissan hired his company, NameLab. Nissan wanted to portray the vehicle as safe even though it was small. Ira combined the words sentry and central, supposedly making people think of safety.
Despite the name, the Nissan Sentra doesn’t have outstanding safety scores. Overall it is less than the average safety score more often than not. It even dipped below 4 out of 5 stars in 2002-2006 (3.5) and 2011-2012 (3.6). Its best years are 2007-2010 and 2020-2022, which all scored 4.6 out of 5 stars, above average.
For comparison, the Toyota Corolla scored 4.8 out of 5 stars in 2020-2022 but only 4.4 and 4.2 in 2007-2010. The Honda Civic scored 4.6 from 2007-2010, 2020, and 2022. It scored a perfect 5/5 in 2021. Therefore, the Nissan Sentra is generally competitive with other compact cars in safety ratings.
Safety ratings are a critical factor when shopping for a used vehicle for two reasons. First, 50% of surveyed Sentra owners use their car as a family vehicle. Keeping your family safe while driving should not be overlooked.
The second reason to consider safety while used car shopping is its effect on insurance premiums. Higher safety ratings translate to finding cheaper car insurance, helping you save money when you buy a used car.
If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.
|What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:|
MPG – Over The Years
The graph above represents the average combined fuel mileage for all trim levels of the Nissan Sentra. The information was retrieved from fueleconomy.gov and can help you see which years of the Sentra will save you money at the pumps.
The early years of the Sentra don’t have exceptional fuel efficiency, averaging in the mid-twenties. Still, a significant increase from 26 mpg in 2012 to 32 mpg in 2013 can be attributed to a new 1.8-liter engine and continuously variable transmission that improved overall efficiency and performance.
The fuel economy dropped below 30 again in 2017 before returning to 33 mpg in 2020. Recent years have proven to be fuel savers. The 2020-2022 Sentra reported 33 mpg, equivalent to the Toyota Corolla of the same year range.
Current Market Value of All Nissan Sentra Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
We graphed the Kelley Blue Book market value data (shown by the green line) for the Nissan Sentra and compared it to an owner-reported annual repair and maintenance cost (the gray line). The data follows the expected overall pattern, with newer years having a higher value and lower repair costs. There are a few points that stand out.
The 2008 Nissan Sentra is worth more than the newer 2009 and 2010 models. This is mainly due to the reported average mileage of each year, with 2008 having 91,667. 2009 has an average of 167,857 and 2010 reported 160,714. This is a big difference; higher mileage inversely impacts the car’s value, even if it is a newer year.
Fortunately, the average repair and maintenance cost owners report spending on their Nissan Sentra is low, at $534. However, in 2013 there is a big jump from the surrounding years at $1,023.
The 2013 Nissan Sentra is the first year of the 7th generation, and it would seem it has the issues to prove it. The first cars of a generation often have brand-new problems that accompany their brand-new features and technology.
When shopping for a used Nissan Sentra, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Important Features Timeline
1995: First year of 4th generation, came in sedan only
1996: Unchanged from previous year, new color available
1997: Minimized noise by reducing the number of rear suspension mounting points and using a larger muffler
1998: Sporty Sentra SE model introduced, boasting a 2.0-liter engine and 140 horsepower
1999: Updated front-end styling, Limited Edition GXE trim available
2000: Beginning of 5th generation, a complete redesign, 1.8 and 2.0-liter engines available
2001: Emergency inside trunk release, two new exterior colors: Inferno and Out of the Blue
2002: SE-R model replaces the SE, has a 2.5-liter engine that produces 175 horsepower
2003: Addition of new Sentra 2.5 Limited Edition Model
2004: Exterior styling enhancements, two new exterior colors: Volcanic Orange and Sapphire Blue
2005: Cruise control and trip computer standard equipment on 1.8 S
2006: Minor changes, improved interior styling
2007: 6th generation, complete redesign, increased size, roomier interior, available 270-horsepower V6
2008: 2.0 S model gains ABS and a security system, satellite radio standard in 2.0 SL
2009: Standard automatic door locks
2010: Optional navigation system and revised headlights and tailights
2011: Antilock brakes and stability control standard in all trims
2012: Unchanged from previous year
2013: 7th generation redesign, even more size increases, improved fuel economy
2014: Smartphone connection and integration
2015: All trims receive standard equipment upgrades, such as standard USB connection ins the entry-level S grade
2016: Exterior redesign, improved safety features
2017: New SR Turbo model available
2018: Minor changes, automatic emergency braking standard on most trims
2019: No new changes, entertainment packages improve in all trims
2020: New 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine for 8th generation, increased fuel efficiency
2021: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard in all trims
2022: New Midnight Edition and All-Weather packages available
The Best Years of the Nissan Sentra
The data has been analyzed and the best years of the Nissan Sentra are listed below. We focused on FIXD Reliability Score, Owner Reliability Score, safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and market value. We also review the annual repair and maintenance costs, the most common diagnostic trouble codes, and the number of safety recalls each year.
2020-2021 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 8-10/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10
KBB Value: $19,998-$22,097
Fuel Economy: 33 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250
Safety Rating: 4.6/5
The best years of the Nissan Sentra are 2020 and 2021. The 2020 model kicked off the 8th generation, available in the Sentra S, SV, and SR trim levels. It has increased space size, which makes it a perfect family car.
A new generation didn’t daunt Sentra drivers, and 2020 received a perfect 10/10 on the Owner Reliability Score and a respectable 8/10 for its FIXD Reliability Score. The 2021 scores swapped, giving it a 10/10 for FIXD and an 8/10 for Owner Reliability Score.
The safety rating for the 2020-2021 Sentra is 4.6 out of 5 stars, making them among the highest-scoring Sentras available. This is comparable to the Honda Civic, which received 4.6/5 in 2020 and a perfect 5/5 in 2021.
Annual repair and maintenance costs are only $250 for 2020 and 2021. These low ownership costs, the market value of almost $20,000 and above, and average mileage of only 25,000 make these years great.
Another highlight of the 2020-21 Sentra is the low number of DTCs registered. 2020’s biggest concern is DTC P0404, Exhaust Gas Recirculation Circuit Range/Performance. If P0404 appears, it could require a new EGR valve and cost $332-$413. The 2021 Sentra mainly recorded P0101, a Mass Air Flow Circuit/Performance Malfunction. P0101 could be as simple as an air filter or require a new catalytic converter.
2018-2019 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 8-9/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $11,674-$16,244
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$714
Safety Rating: 4-4.4/5
Offered in five different models, 2018-2019 had plenty of options to choose from. Owners noted comfortable seats and easy-to-use entertainment center for these years.
The Owner Reliability Score for 2018 is 8/10, while it increases to 9/10 for 2019. This could be related to 2018 owners paying more for annual repair costs. FIXD Reliability Scores do the opposite dance, with 2018 getting 9/10 and 2019 scoring 8/10.
Safety scores aren’t extremely impressive for 2019, scoring 4 out of 5 stars. This is a bit problematic, considering the number one use of the Nissan Sentra is as a family vehicle. The 2018 Sentra fared better in its crash tests, getting a 4.4 out of 5-star average.
As mentioned, the 2018 repair costs are quite a bit higher than 2019, at $714. 90% reported a repair costing $500 or more in this Sentra. Owners of the 2019 model reported spending only $250 annually, while the average across all Sentras is an impressive $534.
The higher repair costs for the 2018 Sentra could be related to DTC P0448, resulting in a charcoal canister replacement and costing between $753 to $1000. Another common engine code for 2018 is P0456, an evaporative emission control system leak (small), which could be as simple as a loose gas cap. 2019 also sees P0456 often but also has numerous P0101 codes reported.
2016-2017 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8/10
KBB Value: $5,962-$9,194
Fuel Economy: 29-32
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $550-$705
Safety Rating: 4.4/5
The 2016-2017 Nissan Sentra continues the success of the 7th generation, with low maintenance costs, good safety ratings, and great fuel economy. The 2017 version saw the introduction of a new SR Turbo model, which boasted a 50% increase in horsepower from the standard SR.
The FIXD and Owner Reliability Scores are 8 out of 10, showing that owners agree with our sensors’ check engine light data.
Safety stays at 4.4 out of 5 stars across all three years, some of the better scores for the Nissan Sentra. The scores are still lower than the Toyota Corolla, which scored 4.6-4.8 in the same year range.
Annual maintenance and repair costs are reasonable, considering the average mileage ranges from 71,667 to 97,727. The repair costs fall slightly above the average of $534, ranging from $550-$705.
The most common DTCs for 2016 are P0101 and P0456: mass air flow sensor and evaporative emissions leak.These codes are often caused by just a dirty air filter or a loose gas cap. 2016’s third-place code is the notorious P0420, which could be as serious as needing a catalytic converter replacement ($400-$2400).
While the 2017 Nissan Sentra’s most common code is also P0456, its runner-up is the somewhat concerning code P0448 which could require an expensive charcoal canister to fix. Its third most common code is P0171; bank 1 has too much air or insufficient fuel. Multiple issues could trigger this DTC, from a clogged fuel filter to a dirty mass airflow sensor.
2014-2015 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10
Owner Reliability Score: 6-8/10
KBB Value: $5,614-$5,962
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $300-$558
Safety Rating: 4.2-4.4/5
The 2014-2015 Nissan Sentra corrected many of the issues related to the 7th generation’s inaugural year. Solid reliability scores and fuel efficiency help it land on the list of the best Sentra.
2014-2015 Sentra scored an 8/10 on the FIXD Reliability Scores. The Owner Reliability Score for 2015 stayed at 8/10, while 2014 dropped to 6/10.
The safety ratings for these two models are 4.2 and 4.4 out of 5 stars, which is good for a family vehicle but still below the average across all vehicles for which we have NHTSA data.
The 2014 Sentra is a cheap car, requiring only $300 in yearly maintenance. Its average mileage is 115,000. The 2015 is slightly more expensive, rising to $558 for annual repairs. 100% of owners for both years claim they had a repair costing over $500.
2014’s most common DTC is P0420, which might require a catalytic converter replacement. The 2014-2015 Nissan Sentra is afflicted with the P0101 and P0456 engine codes, which seem to plague the majority of newer years of the Sentra. The third most common code for 2015 is P0037, which could require a heated oxygen sensor replacement and cost $200-$300.
2012 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 7/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8/10
KBB Value: $4,983
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $583
Safety Rating: 3.6/5
The 2012 Nissan Sentra rounded out the 6th generation. Its style, comfort, performance, and availability in four different models make it a popular compact car.
The 2012 Sentra scored 7/10 in the FIXD Reliability Score. Owners believe this to be a highly reliable vehicle, giving it 8 out of 10. The average mileage in this car is 129,167, and almost 30% of them believe the car will make it past 200,000 miles.
Safety ratings are some of the negative aspects of the earlier Sentra models, and this year received an average of 3.6 stars out of 5. This is almost an entire point lower than the Honda Civic, which scored 4.4 out of 5 in 2012.
Repair costs stay relatively low at only $583 a year, which is $49 more than the average of the Nissan Sentra. However, only 64% of owners reported a repair costing them over five-hundred bucks, significantly less than the average of 95%.
It is important to be aware of the DTCs most commonly triggered in the 2012 Sentra if you’re going to consider buying one or if you already have one in your driveway. The most common is P0420, an expensive catalytic converter repair. The second most common is P0101, which is related to the mass airflow sensor and appears numerous times in all models newer than 2011. Pair P0101 with 2012’s third most common check engine light, P0171, and there’s a good chance it needs a new mass airflow sensor.
The 2012 Nissan Sentra doesn’t have any recalls as of the writing of this article.
2009-2010 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 7/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-8/10
KBB Value: $3,284-$3,633
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $393-$679
Safety Rating: 4.6/5
The 2009-2010 Nissan Sentra upholds its reputation as a stylish car with a spacious interior. Its comfort, safety rating, and great FIXD Reliability Score land it on this side of the best years of the Nissan Sentra.
The 2009 and 2010 Sentra scored a 7/10 FIXD Reliability Score. There is a pretty big difference in the Owner Reliability Score for these two model years, with 2009 scoring 8 out of 10 and 2010 only scoring 5. The lower score in 2010 indicates that owners don’t believe their Sentra is as reliable as it couldt be, probably due to the higher cost of annual repairs.
Safety ratings the highest Sentra achieves, at 4.6 out of 5. This is important information if you’re shopping for a used car that you can rely on to protect your family.
The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 is the repair costs for each year. The average mileage for these years is close, with 2009 having 167,857 and 2010 at 160,714. Despite the similarity in miles driven, you can expect to spend almost double in 2010 ($679) for annual repairs than 2009 ($393).
The most common DTC for both years is P0420, which could result in a catalytic converter replacement. Other codes are P0441, P0455, and P0456, all three indicating evaporative emission leaks and could be solved by tightening the gas cap. 2010 also throws DTC P0304, a cylinder four misfire. This was usually solved with new ignition coils, costing between $51 and $173.
The 2009 Nissan Sentra only has one recall to date: a faulty navigation system that could cause a fire. The 2010 Sentra also has the fire-starting GPS but adds two more recalls dealing with the battery wiring and cables. All recalls are fixed free of charge to the owner by making an appointment with a Nissan dealer.
The Worst Years of the Nissan Sentra
Here, we list the years of the Nissan Sentra you should avoid and go over the major reasons. We compare the FIXD and Owner Reliability scores while considering the safety rating and fuel economy. We also list the market value and discuss annual repair costs and common diagnostic trouble codes. Lastly, we review recall information imperative to owning a used car.
2013 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 7/10
Owner Reliability Score: 7/10
KBB Value: $5,436
Fuel Economy: 32 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,023
Safety Rating: 4.2/5
The 2013 Nissan Sentra kicked off the 7th generation with a brand-new 1.8-liter engine and next-generation Xtronic continuously variable transmission that improved fuel efficiency and increased performance. However, many recalls, and high maintenance costs landed it on our list of worst.
The FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score are both recorded at 7/10, which is above average and on par with some of the scores on the other side of the list. However, other factors, such as repair costs and recalls, are enough to make this a car worth avoiding.
Safety ratings are a respectable 4.2/5, but that is still less than the average scores of all cars that year. It is also lower than one of its main competitors, the Toyota Corolla, which scored 4/6 out of 5 stars in 2013.
One major drawback of the 2013 Nissan Sentra is the high annual repair costs. At $1,023, it is the highest yearly cost across all of Sentras and an indicator that it has the typical type of problems in a first year of a generation. 93% of owners reported a repair above $500, and 22.22% of those repairs occurred in the brakes. This isn’t surprising since the car is ten years old and has an average of 104,167 miles.
The most common DTC in the 2013 Sentra is P0101, Mass Air Flow Circuit/Performance Malfunction. This code should be repaired as soon as possible as it can affect fuel economy and performance. P0456 typically triggers another engine light. A more concerning code popular in the 2013 Sentra is P2135, a voltage issue with the ECM. This could require a throttle body actuator ($570-$700) or a throttle position sensor ($170-$230).
The amount of recalls is high at the start of the 7th generation, as the 2013 has six with three investigations and 599 complaints. Many of these complaints are about the powertrain, as the new CVT had/has some issues with shifting and shuddering.
2011 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 4/5
Owner Reliability Score: 6/10
KBB Value: $4,776
Fuel Economy: 26mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $536
Safety Rating: 3.6/5
The 2011 Nissan Sentra continues the trend of smooth styling combined with comfort. This year has 6 different trims available with different performance levels. Low safety ratings and fuel economy make it a Sentra we recommend avoiding.
The FIXD Reliability Score finally falls below average on our list, with the 2011 scoring 4/10. Owner Reliability Score is lower than in other years at 6/10.
The low safety ratings are one of the biggest factors behind this Sentra being on the worst list. Only scoring 3.6 out of 5, should be enough to convince you to consider other years while searching for a used family vehicle.
Repair costs are just a tad above average at $534. 100% of 2011 Sentra owners surveyed said they had a repair costing $500 or higher. Of those repairs, 25% were in the brakes, 11.11% in the transmission, and 8.33% in the fuel system. These mechanic visits come after an average of only 96,429 miles. They also keep the car in the shop for an average of 2 days, that’s double the average.
The check engine lights thrown are responsible for the FIXD Reliability Score, and the 2011 Sentra has its share. The most common is P0101, the mass air flow sensor acting up. The next most common is P0420, the catalytic converter. Repairing the catalytic converter could cost between $1,538 and $2,041, so we recommend avoiding this year. Lastly, in DTC P0300, random multiple misfires resulted in replacing the ignition coils, which ramps up even more repair costs.
The 2011 Nissan Sentra only has two recalls.
2005-2006 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 4-5/6
Owner Reliability Score: 6/10
KBB Value: $2,053-$2,468
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $583-$667
Safety Rating: 3.5/5
At the tail end of a successful 5th generation, the Nissan Sentra offers a 1.8 S Special Edition Package for the first time in 2005. However, it fails to make up for the 2005-2006, getting low miles to the gallon and having terrible safety scores.
The FIXD Reliability Score was 4 out of 10 in 2005 and increased a point to 5 in 2006. The Owner Reliability Score stays above average at 6/10.
Safety is at its lowest in the 2005-2006 Sentra, scoring 3.5 stars out of 5. Any other year (except for 2002-2004, which is also on the worst side) would be a better safety option. For comparison, the Honda Civic scored 4.4 and 4.6 out of 5 stars in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Repair costs aren’t unusually high but higher than the $534 average. 86% and 88% of owners reported a $500+ repair bill; in the 2006 model, 27.27% of those were in the brakes. Average mileage is highest in 2005 (200,000) and 2006 (175,000), so more repairs are something to factor in and a reason we suggest avoiding these years.
The number and severity of DTCs are the main reasons this Sentra is not worth looking at. P0420 makes another appearance, and the most common fix for the 2005-2006 Sentra is the engine coolant thermostat which costs $2,049-$2,567. P0300, multiple misfires appear again and need a cylinder head gasket which lumps on another $2,226-$3,770. The 3rd most common DTC is P0455, an evaporative emission problem, probably caused by a loose gas cap.
Another reason to avoid this Sentra model is the large number of recalls. The 2005 and 2006 have six recalls. While you can have the recalls fixed free of charge, there are better options for Sentra if you’re shopping for a used one.
2007-2008 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 1-2/10
Owner Reliability Score: 5-8/10
KBB Value: $3,366-$3,979
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $417-$583
Safety Rating: 4.6/5
Starting the 6th generation with a bang (or flop) the 2007 Sentra has a host of issues. 2008 doesn’t improve immensely, although owners seem to think so. This new model increased in size and introduced a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.
The FIXD Reliability Score for 2007 ties our lowest, 1/10, and 2008 improves by one point. Owners agree that 2007 is rough (5/10), but the sophomore year of the generation really improves their outlook (8/10).
While we suggest avoiding 2007-2008 – if you already own one, you can take comfort knowing it has a great safety score compared to other years of the Sentra. Both years score 4.6 out of 5 stars, equivalent to the Honda Civic in the same year.
Another diamond in the rough is the low annual repair costs, ranging from $417 to $583. 100% of owners agree that there will be a $500+ repair eventually, and the 2008 version typically spends a day and a half in the shop.
The large number of DTCs attributes to the low reliability of this Sentra, and the most common is a pricey catalytic converter, P0420. Other codes include P0455, P0300, and P0171. Common fixes include a gas cap, ignition coils, and a mass air flow sensor.
The 2007 Nissan Sentra has one recall with a faulty brake master cylinder. Unattended, this can fail and increase the risk of a crash. The 2008 Sentra has three recalls, two dealing with the master cylinder and the third related to a notorious fire-breathing GPS unit.
2003-2004 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 1/10
Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $1,912-$2,071
Fuel Economy: 25 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: $583-$875
Safety Rating: 3.5/5
Available in five different models, the 2003-2004 Nissan Sentra makes our list of worst Sentras due to its low safety score and FIXD Reliability Score.
The FIXD Reliability Score is 1/10 for both models, but owners love their 2003-04 Sentra, as it scored 8 and 9 out of 10 for the Owner Reliability Score. People may believe it is more reliable than it is, or they have become used to the heightened number of check engine lights and don’t have any qualms about the situation.
The safety rating is a major reason to avoid this model, as it only scored 3.5 out of 5 stars. Especially for a family vehicle, we recommend you consider the other Nissan Sentra model year options listed earlier in this article or one of this car’s competitors.
Repair costs are higher than average, ranging from $583-$875. 100% of the owners reported a repair above $500. The average mileage is higher for the 2004 (158,333) model than 2003 (137,500). This gives it a lower KBB market value of $1,912 compared to the 2003 Sentra’s value of $2,071.
P0420 is a common engine code for these years, which could lead to a catalytic converter replacement. The engine coolant thermostat must be replaced if paired with another common code, P0128. If you need more convincing to look at different Sentras, P0031 is common and might require an Engine Control Module ($1,021-$1,505). Random multiple misfires, P0300, might also lead to a spark plug replacement or a cylinder head gasket.
Adding to the reasons to avoid this, Sentra, 2003 has ten recalls, two investigations, and 178 complaints. Unsurprisingly, these complaints are aimed at the engine and engine coolant system. The 2004 Nissan Sentra has five recalls, three investigations, and 193 complaints.
2001-2002 Nissan Sentra
FIXD Reliability Score: 4/10
Owner Reliability Score: N/A
KBB Value: N/A
Fuel Economy: 24-25 mpg
Annual Maintenance/Repair: N/A
Safety Rating: 3.5-4/5
The 2001-2002 Nissan Sentra is the second and third models of the 5th generation. It was sporty and spacious and came in four different trims with two engine options.
The FIXD Reliability Score is a respectable 4/10, but we don’t have enough data for 2001 and 2002 to create an Owner Reliability Score. We also don’t have market value or annual maintenance and repair. We still recommend avoiding these model years based on safety rating and fuel economy.
The safety ratings are 3.5 and 4 out of 5, lower than the average safety. It is also lower than a major competitor, the Honda Civic, which scored 4.4/5 in 2001 and 2002.
The catalytic converter is a major issue these years, with the most common engine codes being P0420 and P0430, catalyst systems below efficiency. This requires the catalytic converter replacement, possibly costing $1,538-$2,041. 2002 also reports many DTC P0128, which needed an engine coolant thermostat ($2,049-$2,567). Another common code is P0455, which is hopefully just a loose gas cap but could be caused by another form of EVAP leak.
The 2001 Nissan Sentra has eight recalls, ranging from headlamp issues to problems with the steel wheels. The 2002 Sentra has a very high 14 recalls. While they can be fixed free of charge, it’s not worth dealing with the hassle of buying a used car that needs these fixed, especially with so little life left in the car.
What years of the Nissan Sentra have engine and/or transmission problems?
Overall the engine and transmission of the Nissan Sentra are reliable. Still, with every make and model, there is a possibility of issues with higher mileage and poor maintenance. 3 model years in particular stand out for engine and transmission problems:
The 2013 and 2014 Nissan Sentras have many complaints about their powertrain as the new CVT transmission introduced in 2013 brought some issues along with its increased fuel efficiency.
The 2012 Nissan Sentra had 36.36% of its total reported $500+ engine repairs and its most common DTC is P0420, which is related to the catalytic converter, a very vital component of the engine’s system.
What is considered high mileage for a Nissan Sentra?
The average mileage reported by FIXD users in their Nissan Sentra is 123,473 miles. Nissan Sentra owners have reported their vehicles reaching mileage as high as 200,000 miles, indicating the car’s potential for longevity.
It is crucial to consider maintenance and driving habits as they play a significant role in determining a car’s overall condition and longevity. Mileage should not be the sole factor in determining a vehicle’s reliability.
While the data suggests that high mileage for a Nissan Sentra would be greater than 150,000 miles, treating each vehicle as a unique case is essential. We highly recommend scheduling an inspection to assess the specific condition of your Sentra or a used one you’re considering buying and determine if the mileage is a cause for concern.
What other vehicles should I consider?
If you’re in the market for a compact car like the Nissan Sentra, you have several great alternatives to consider. If you want to stick with the brand and don’t mind a mid-size vehicle instead of a compact, the Nissan Altima provides great reliability and excellent safety scores.
The Honda Civic has been a long-standing competitor to the Nissan Sentra. The Toyota Corolla is another popular choice in the compact car segment. Known for its durability and value, the Corolla offers a comfortable interior, advanced safety features, and impressive fuel efficiency. It boasts a reputation for reliability, excellent fuel economy, and a comfortable ride. Other cars that offer similar features, fuel efficiency, and size include the Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra, and the Volkswagen Golf.
What owners of the Nissan Sentra like to use their car for:
People who own a Nissan Sentra find it ideal for their diverse needs, such as family outings or frequent driving. A significant 50% of surveyed Sentra owners consider it their trusted family vehicle, ensuring safe and comfortable travels for their loved ones. Additionally, 43% of owners appreciate the Sentra’s exceptional performance and reliability, relying on it for extensive travel or daily commutes.
Luxurious driving and outdoor/off-road driving were reported by 1% of owners, while 2% use their Sentra for sport or fast driving. 3% use the Sentra as an office on wheels, while an expected 0% use it for hauling or towing.
|Frequent Use Categories:||How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||*****|
|Office on Wheels||*|
A Note About Data and Information Sources
This article has many details about Nissan Sentra reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App.
The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing.
This is an objective score.
- Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Nissan Sentra owners who use FIXD.
The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Nissan Sentra.
This is a subjective score.
To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:
How reliable would you say your Nissan Sentra is?
a. Just point A to point B driving
b. A Daily Commuter
c. Good for a 100 mile road trip
d. Good for a 500 mile road trip
e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem
From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:
a. = 2
b. = 4
c. = 6
d. = 8
e. = 10
Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is.
One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.
Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.
Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others.
It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars.
Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data.
We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Nissan Sentra with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Nissan Sentra owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.
- Nissan Sentra model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved May 15, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
- Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved May 15, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
- Model-specific information nissannews.com (various dates) Retrieved May 15, 2023, from https://usa.nissannews.com/en-US
- Nissan Sentra Generations, by Autolist Editorial, autolist.com (October 25, 2021) Retrieved May 15, 2023, from https://www.autolist.com/nissan-sentra/nissan-sentra-generations
- Coining words for new products is name of Ira Bachrach’s game, by David Holmstrom. The Christian Science Monitor (September 17th 1985). Retrieved May 15, 2023 from https://www.csmonitor.com/1985/0917/dname.html
Keith Rollins is a copywriter and author that has been involved in the automotive industry for over 12 years. He has written for hotcars.com and is featured on Copywriting.org. When he’s not writing he’s spending time with his three kids, hiking, working on cars, or running. You can see his work at keithrrollins.com.