Nissan is known for a lot of really great things: cool, unique designs, affordable pricing, and a good range of capable and economical vehicles. Unfortunately, the brand—and one model specifically—is also known for one big powertrain letdown: Nissan Sentra transmission problems.
We’ll cover the problems, what Sentra models were affected by the issue, and whether these problems have been solved.
The Sentra’s history of CVT issues
There is a history of transmission issues with the Sentra sedan and transmission lawsuits for Nissan. Complaints included reports of shaking, lurching, and stalling due to problems with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fluid leaks, overheating, loss of power, or complete CVT failure were all possible because of mechanical issues.
Sentra years affected by transmission problems
A busted transmission is one of the worst Sentra problems you could have, and unfortunately, it was quite a common problem over a wide span of years. Owners have reported transmission issues as far back as 2003.
In the video above, Wrench Link claims that the models most affected by transmission problems include the 2005 Sentra and 2007-2017 Sentra S, SV, SR, SR Midnight Edition, SR Turbo, SR Midnight Edition Turbo, SL, and Nismo. (Not sure what the 2006 model was doing right, but good on it.)
Older model-year Sentras have been called out as cars to avoid if you want a reliable transmission, and these years are particularly troublesome.
Has Nissan fixed their CVT problems?
According to The Car Guide, the Automobile Protection Association (APA) consulted with an expert who claimed that technical changes made by Nissan in 2020 most likely have fixed problems with the CVT.
At this time, we are unsure of precisely what those technical changes were. But, the new 2022 Sentra has been receiving high praise from reviewers, including Consumer Reports’ Best New Small Car Under $30,000 rating. This praise would indicate that Nissan has cleared up its CVT problems.
However, this only applies to newer Sentra cars built after 2020. Nissan may cover older models with specialized extended transmission warranties on specific models and years with the CVT. Nissan offered a 10-year/120,000-mile warranty on CVTs produced between 2003 and 2010 (Automotive Addicts), double the regular coverage. Models produced between 2011 and 2017 may also qualify for extended warranty coverage, but that is not yet listed on Nissan’s Warranty page.
If you currently own a 2011-2019 Nissan with a CVT, we recommend consulting your local Nissan dealer for specific warranty information.
Best new and used Sentra cars to buy
Unfortunately, these transmission issues have significantly impacted the Nissan Sentra’s reputation for reliability. The Sentra received significant backlash from critics and owners alike concerning CVT problems through 2017—though there have been problems reported in Nissan sedans through 2019.
Used 2013 – 2019 Sentra cars may have these transmissions, so it may be best to stay away. After a major redesign of the Sentra from the ground up for the 2020 model year, models made in 2020, 2021, and 2022 are likely to be safer choices.
Consider a used 2020 or 2021 Sentra, or a new 2022 Sentra sedan, to have the best chance of avoiding Nissan transmission issues.
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