Why Is Nissan Sentra So Cheap?

Nissan, alongside Toyota and Honda, is the original big three Japanese carmakers. Now they are part of the three-car manufacturing alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi. Sentra, one of the cars from their stables, cost less when compared to its rivals from Toyota and Honda. It begs the question, why is Nissan Sentra cheap?

There are several reasons for the low price of Sentra. One of them is the feeling that Sentra isn’t a reliable car. Sentra’s Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) is also the problem. You also to consider its low powered engines.  

To understand why Sentra has a relatively low price, we will examine the car’s reliability. We will also look at how long they last. Then consider if they are worth buying.

Reasons for Nissan Sentra’s Cheap Price

Change of Ownership

One of the primary reasons for the low price of Sentra is the change in the ownership structure of the Nissan company. This change brought its attendant consequences. French car manufacturer Renault acquired about forty-three percent of Nissan shares. The move saved Nissan from bankruptcy, but the policy direction of the new Nissan (especially its rapid expansion) put a strain on its finances.

The only way to offset this strain was to mass-produce cars, reduce costs and quality. One of these mass-produced cars is the Sentra. The three-way alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi reduced the cost of production, research, and parts. It also allowed the three companies to churn out more cars for emerging markets.

Nissan made the Sentra for the compact car segment. The company knew that the only way to beat established brands like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic was to make the price attractive. Especially for first-time car owners.

Bad Transmission

The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is an invention of Nissan.  The transmission has been paired with the Sentra from its inception. In theory, the CYT was an innovation that was supposed to move Nissan cars to greater heights. In reality, however, Nissan’s CVT technology has been marred by one issue or the other.

The CVT technology is a pulley system that utilizes a strong belt and hydraulic actuators. Together, these parts allow easing the car movement, allowing gear changes without fuss. In theory, CVT reduces fuel consumption in Sentra, improves the driving experience. The CVT is also expected to prevent excessive wear and tear in the gear system due to heat and friction.

In reality, the CVT has led to a loss of power, engine overheating, and CVT failure. This problem is a common complaint among owners of Sentra. Many of them have incurred huge costs in fixing these problems and lost faith in Sentra.

The CVT problems are particularly rampant in the 2012-2016 Sentra. Some of the signs of a failing CVT include a sudden jerk and shudder, reduction in speed, and loss of power. These failures sometimes occur without warning and endanger the lives of the occupants. 

As a used car, the CVT issue affects the resale value of Sentra. Nissan had to extend the warranty on their CVTs and had to reimburse those that repaired theirs already. Many people also want to buy a car as new as their other car with more reliable transmissions. The issue with Sentra’s transmission is another reason that makes Nissan Sentra cheap.

Production Line

When you consider reasons Nissan Sentra is cheap, you have to look at its production line. Sentra was manufactured and assembled in Mexico, where labor costs are more affordable. The synergy among the three car manufacturers makes the fabrication of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are available and inexpensive.

For example, Nissan and Renault use the Nissan MR20DE engine. Some cars that use the engine with Nissan Sentra are Nissan Sentra, Renault Clio, Nissan X-Trail, and Renault Latitude. 

Another example of Nissan cutting costs is their transmission.  Nissan Rogue, Kicks, Murano, Sentra, Maxima, and others employ the Xtronic CVT transmission.  This synergy reduces the cost of researching for these parts as it’s a case of one size-fitting all.

The economies of scale involved in the production of the Nissan Sentra lower production costs. It also allows Nissan to make more Sentras, and it drives down the price of Sentras.

Recall Issues

Between 2020 and 2021, Nissan had to recall about 138,000 Sentras. This set of recalls was because of an assembly error that caused the car’s tie rod to bend. The mistake led to an off-center steering wheel and vibrations when driving the vehicle.

Some other reliability issues that plague Sentra are electrical problems that cause the battery to fail multiple times in a short time. Nissan didn’t recall cars for these electrical problems, but they had for the failure of their backup cameras.

Nissan Sentra gives drivers the option to turn their backup cameras on and off. The problem is in some cases. The cameras do not come back on when it is turned on. This failure of the camera is a safety issue that made Nissan offer free repairs to Sentra owners.

Then there are the dreaded CVT problems that have plagued Nissan and Sentras specifically. Or the recalls for Sentras due to issues with the brake light switch and the exterior lights. Unlike other cars, the 2019 Sentra’s brake light doesn’t light on when activated. Imagine the problems this can cause.

This combination of recall issues has naturally led to interests cooling off on Sentra. This lack of interest, especially in used Sentras, has reduced the price of the cars.

Also be sure that the interior lights turn on as well… unlike some cars like the Dodge Charger.

Parts Quality

It’s clear from the various complaints about various Sentra parts that their quality is mediocre at best. Low-quality parts lead to easy damage due to the regular grind associated with driving. When the turnover of damaged parts is high, it shoots up the costs of maintaining the car.

High-quality parts last longer but cost a lot of money. A crucial goal of Nissan is to cut down the costs of production. Using high-quality parts won’t help them achieve that goal. It must be said, though, that major Sentry components like the engines last a long time. The problem is usually with the smaller parts.

Nissan should realize that the size of the parts doesn’t matter to owners. What they consider is the maintenance costs and the rate of changing these parts. Low-quality parts bring down the cost of producing Sentras and the selling price too.

However, having a reputation for making a car whose parts can suddenly fail without warning will always put people off.


The 2019 Nissan Sentra has a 1.6L four-cylinder engine whose power peaks at 188hp. This engine power isn’t bad for a compact car, but compact cars have more juice. The Ford Fiesta (197hp), Hyundai Elantra (201hp), Honda Civic Si (205hp), and Volkswagen Golf GTI 228hp) all have more powerful engines.

In this day and age, where everyone thinks they are closet race car drivers, there is a higher need for powerful engines. Also remember, that this not-so-powerful engine is paired with a dodgy CVT transmission causes the car to lose power with a warning.

Customer Reviews

Positive reviews from owners of a product are part of the factors to consider before buying. For example, when it comes to the 2017 Sentra, consumer reviews give it a barely acceptable 3.3 stars out of five.

Like all humans, the reviews are varied. One thing is sure. There is no ringing endorsement from most Sentra users to buy the car. There are other cars in the Nissan Sentra category that have better reviews from their users.

Naturally, users gravitate towards these better cars because of these reviews. Customer reviews shouldn’t be the only measure to know a good product. The impartial expert opinion also matters. Unfortunately, there is a relationship between the number of stars a car has its selling price.

Is a Nissan Sentra a Reliable Car?

The Sentra has a reliability rating of four out of five stars, which places it at 14th in its class. The availability of parts means that the annual maintenance costs stand at $491. This cost is lower than the average maintenance costs for vehicles.

Is Nissan Sentra Worth Buying?

The Sentra is a good car placed in an ultra-competitive class with better cars. In almost specification available, the Sentra has at least a rival car with better figures. The Kia Forte has more room with better fuel efficiency. The Honda Civic has more powerful engines.

The only that it has going for it is that Sentra is one of the cheapest in its class.

Do Nissan Sentras Last Long?

There’s a caveat that follows saying how long a car can last. That caveat is that a car usually lasts as long as it is well-maintained. A properly maintained Sentra can last as long as 250,000-300,000 miles if regular maintenance procedures are carried out on the car.

Prompt replacement or repair of worn-out parts is vital to elongate the lifespan of the cars.


Nissan had a reputation for making great cars before bankruptcy, and new owners made them change their priorities. Getting out of the debt hole meant making more cars, reducing production costs, and attracting customers from new markets.

To do this, Nissan cars, especially Sentra, had to lower their prices. Sentra is in a class with vehicles like the Elantra, Corolla, and Civic also means it has to lower its price to compete. These are what make the Nissan Sentra cheap.

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