really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,523 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Nissan Sentra engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Nissan Sentra Owner Comments

problem #17

May 042009


  • 106,391 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Sentra. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. She took the vehicle to a repair shop and the mechanic replaced the camshaft and crank sensors. The repair cost was $278.41. Report number 6531990 was filed by the manufacturer and they stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling); therefore, they would not assist. The failure mileage was 106,391 and current mileage was 108,652.

- Ridge, NY, USA

problem #16

Jun 282009


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Sentra. While driving 40 mph, the check engine light illuminated on the instrument panel. Once the contact turned off the vehicle, it did not restart until the following day. Once the vehicle was started, the contact noticed that the tachometer was not working. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 86,000.

- Mchenry, IL, USA

problem #15

Jul 062007


  • 88,000 miles
I purchased my 2003 Nissan Sentra from Toyota direct in columbus Ohio and the day I purchased it that evening my check engine light came on I took it back and they took it to germain Nissan twice for service to find out what was wrong, well they fixed it as they thought (the fuel pump) but a year later the same problems were occurring so I took it to another mechanic and they said it was what Nissan said so I had it fixed again (fuel pump) but no one hooked it up to diagnostic. Well now again the car is doing the same thing I took it to another mechanic and he fixed something totally different since he hooked it up to the diagnostic and said it was the crank position sensor and he fixed it, well here I am 6 months later im having the same problem.. I research on the internet and found this had a recall back in 2003 but I'm getting people telling me my car wasn't included, my car is doing the same exact thing as 630000 other 2003 nissian Sentra how is this possible.. I'm would like to file a complaint about my vehicle and I feel Nissan should replace this and make it good at their cost and not mine. Here is what I found out: Auto recall date: Nov 17, 2003 vehicle component: Engine and engine cooling estimated vehicles affected: 630000 model affected 2003 Nissan Sentra 2003 Nissan Sentra defect summary: On certain passenger vehicles, the circuit board for the crank position sensor or cam position sensor may have an improper solder joint due to solder deformation caused by heat stress accelerated by the existence of flux residue during the soldering process. Defect consequence: This could cause the "service engine soon" warning light to come on, create a no start condition, cause reduced engine power, or cause the engine to stop running without warning during vehicle operation, which could result in a crash. Remedy: Dealers will replace the crank position sensors. Camshaft position sensor(s), and in some cases, the variable timing control sensor.

- Reynoldsburg, OH, USA

problem #14

Feb 172009


  • 70,459 miles


The "service engine soon" light came on. I took it to my mechanic. He ran it through the computer and told me that it could be a transmission problem. I had a transmission flush done and light went off. A week later the light came back on. And now the car wont start. I went to the NHTSA.gov website, read that the crank position sensor, or the camshaft position sensor or the variable timing control sensor, on the make, model and year of my car, could be causing problems. It could be causing engine power loss, which it does struggle. The "service engine soon" light to come on, which it did. Or a "not starting-up condition" which is where I'm at right now. The car does not want to start. Please help me because I think that I qualify for these services to be done to my vehicle. Thank you for your time.

- Canoga Park , CA, USA

problem #13

Aug 092008


  • 126,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Sentra. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The crank position sensor needed to be replaced. The failure caused the service engine soon warning indicator to illuminate. In addition, the vehicle will periodically shut off in the middle of the road and will not restart. Occasionally, the vehicle takes at least a half an hour before restarting. The dealer stated that the VIN was not included in the warranty. The diagnostic would cost $90. A mechanic stated that the crank position sensor indicator was the cause of the failure. The failure mileage was 126,000.

- Se Washington, IA, USA

problem #12

Jan 072008


  • 101,000 miles
One day in January I was driving to work on the freeway when my engine just shut off. Needless to say I was very scared but was able to coast over to the side of the freeway without incident. I waited about 20 minutes and started the car back up but is was running very badly. I took it in and was told by my mechanic that it was the engine control module that had went out. He said he had heard there was a recall on this part and urged me to contact Nissan directly. I did and was told that is was the larger engine size model that the recall was issued on not my model. The dealership quoted me $3,000 to fix which I could not afford. I took it back to my mechanic who charged me about $1,000 to fix the problem. Months later I received a recall notice from Nissan for the ECM. I submitted for reimbursement but was denied because they say they will only cover reprogramming not replacement of the ECM. So now even though it was a manufacture defect I had to pay for repair myself.

- San Pablo, CA, USA

problem #11

Feb 102008


  • 65,000 miles


Car started idling rough, skipping. Check engine light came on and was flashing. Found a damaged spark plug, the gap had been smashed shut and could see where something was pounding on the plug repeatedly. I did some research and found out about the butterfly (power valve) issue of the assembly falling into the 2.5L engines. Using an extendable magnet I was able to collect all of the pieces of the butterfly assembly and extract them from the engine. One of the screws was unrecognizable, looked like a brass bb from a bb gun because it had been smashed up so bad. The butterfly itself was also damaged around the edges. I went to the Nissan dealership to see about ordering a new butterfly assembly and they informed me of the recall for these engines in the 04-05 Sentra spec V's. they recommended I talk to the service dept about having it repaired by Nissan under recall. Nissan service looked up my VIN # and discovered that 03 models did not have a recall for the butterfly screws but a new engine was recently replaced for the precat recall issue only 20,000 miles ago.. they recommended that I call corporate and file a claim regarding the butterfly screw problem since they had just recently worked on the engine and should have tightened those screws. So I did. I paid $150 to have the car towed to the nearest dealership, they waived the $96 diagnostic and confirmed that the butterfly screws did damage to the engine. It took about 3 months of getting escalated up the corporate Nissan pyramid. Finally I made it to the top just to be denied. They said that my vehicle was 5,000 miles out of warranty and that the recall was not for 03 models only 04-05. However it is the same exact engine, so I don't know why 03 is not covered. The fact that I had only put 20,000 on the new engine that they installed didn't seem to matter to them. I am no rocket scientist but I am pretty sure a 4 cyl engine should be able to run for more that 20,000 miles.

- Ruther Glen, VA, USA

problem #10

Nov 052004


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Sentra. The contact was involved in two crashes. The engine and catalytic converter were replaced twice. The engine stalls and loses power intermittently. When driving uphill at various speeds, the vehicle jerks. When traveling downhill, the vehicle shuts off. When the vehicle is on level ground, it will automatically restart. The first crash occurred in July of 2007, but the failures occurred prior to the crash. While idling at a stop light, the vehicle shut off. It took a while for the contact to restart the vehicle. When it started, the vehicle lurched and jumped, which caused him to rear end another vehicle at 7 mph. Both vehicles sustained minimal damage. A police report was filed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer four times before they made the first repair, which was the replacement of the cylinder heads. The failure continued, so he took it back to the dealer six more times. Four of those times the vehicle had to stay at the dealer, but they were unable to identify the cause of the failure. Over the next 18 months, the failure continued to persist, so he decided to check the internet for recalls and located several related to the 2.5L engine. The dealer replaced the cylinder heads under recall NHTSA campaign id numbers 03V477000 (electrical system:ignition:module) and 06V242000 (engine and engine cooling). The contact was not informed of these recalls the many times he visited the dealer. He had to call Nissan ten times before anyone returned his call. The failure mileage was 10,000.

- San Jaun Capistrano, CA, USA

problem #9

Sep 212007

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Sentra. While driving 15 mph and while idling, the vehicle stalled and restarted an hour later. The engine warning indicator light illuminated. The dealer stated that the cam and crank sensors needed to be replaced. The manufacturer stated that his VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 03V455000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure mileage was 60,000 and current mileage was 61,000. Updated 01/02/08. Updated 01/02/08

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #8

May 062007

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 135,840 miles
Nissan Sentra ser spec V 2003 has power failure problems, experiencing a mild loss of acceleration. Driving at 70 mph, vehicle lost full power and reduced speed to 40 mph, shut down by itself. Took it to dealership and they discovered that the screws and the "power valve" were sucked into the engine bay. Internal engine damage, same problem as 2004-2005 qr25de engine recalls, but manufacturer has not issues a recall for the qr25de in 2002 or 2003. Please request Nissan North America to issue a "power valve recall" for the years 2002 and 2003 as well. There are several consumers that have experienced the same problem.

- Alpine, NJ, USA

problem #7

Feb 162006

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 62,000 miles


- the contact received a recall letter two months ago for the 2003 Nissan Sentra, but the vehicle failed last year. While driving the weather was poor, the temperature dropped to 17 degrees and itstarted snowing, he was driving under blizzard conditions. He was tried to slow down and the vehicle stalled on the highway. Due to the icy conditions a truck had stopped, but the contact's vehicle slid into the rear of the truck. His insurance company stated he was at fault. He called the manufacturer, who informed him that there was no recall, but that they would send someone to look at the vehicle. Nissan confirmed the insurance findings, and said it was not their fault and that nothing was wrong with the car. In August 2006 the vehicle repeated the same failure. Whie going 3 mph and the car stalled while making a right hand turn. The vehicle lost power and almost rolled into another vehicle. In January he took the vehicle to a repair shop, it started to rain and the vehicle stalled again. The check engine light turned on. He took the vehicle to the dealer, and they repaired the vehicle. After picking up the vehicle it stalled again and he could not start it. The current mileage was 77,000 and the failure mileage was 62,000.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #6

Feb 242007

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
- the contact called regarding the 2003 Nissan Sentra. The driver was traveling at 45-50 mph when the engine suddenly shut off, and the vehicle continued to move. The driver applied the brakes and the vehicle would not stop, and the steering wheel locked. The road conditions were icy. The vehicle hit a cement wall. The driver and passenger air bags deployed. There were no injuries. The contact was given a police report. The failure mileage was 50,000. The vehicle was towed. The insurance investigator was going to inspect the vehicle on 2/27/07.

- Morton Grove, IL, USA

problem #5

Nov 222006

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 48,000 miles
The vehicle has very heavy oil consumption. The vehicle currently consumes 1qt per week. I did not notice the problem as it has progressed since 40,000 miles where it was only 2-3 quarts between changes. I have meticulously maintained the vehicle (I was trained by a master Volvo technician). He has over seen the maintaining of my vehicle since mile 1. I noticed that oil consumption was becoming an issue around 65,000 miles. Nissan recall nos. R3007, R3014, R3015, R3016, R3017. I had this recall performed somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 miles (cannot remember when exactly, Nissan usa should have record). The catalytic converter of the vehicle was never removed - it has never been removed from the engine - there is no possible way to see internal damage without removal! the internal damage will not affect the emissions of the vehicle unless in very extreme cases! the bolts have no scaring what so ever to suggest that it was ever removed and inspected. However, the shield was removed and the dealership service department left the bolts on top of the shield loose. Many Sentra (with 2.5L engines) owners are noticing very high oil consumption with their vehicles (I could easily find over 100 between 2 different message boards that do not cover the Altima 2.5) even with the recall done. Many have called Nissan usa and have been told they are not aware of the issue with the earlier models - Nissan has proven to be very difficult to deal with even for those who still have factory warranty on the vehicle, often blaming the defect on "neglecting the vehicle". the people who are being told this are people who have a passion for their vehicles, and maintain them with the best products they know of; and consistently look for better products to replace "good products". please look heavily into expanding the current oil consumption recall - Nissan seems to be disregarding the safety of its buyers. If they continue to "slip by" with it, they will only continue.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #4

Jul 152006

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,653 miles
Car began running rough, had trouble starting, check engine light stayed on. Didn't drive much after problem. Took to dealer (leitzinger imports) where I attend college, penn state university. Problem diagnosed as P0462 - fuel/sensor circuit, as per tsb. Engine control unit needs reprogrammed which was done. My father picked up after fixed & service personnel mentioned it was a known problem with this car. Nissan North America was contacted & my father spoke with a helpful rep seeking reimbursement for work. File number with Nissan is 5463960. No known recalls, reimbursement denied but might have been different if we owned more Nissan. Was mentioned to rep that no parts were replaced which indicates it was a computer/program malfunction & not fault of owner.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #3

Jan 042004

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
I purchased my 2003 Nissan Sentra gxe on June 10, 2003. Since that time, I have 7 work orders on my vehicle and that doesn't count each time I had to go to the dealership to show the problem and then made an appointment for problems with the drivers side door and window, a ding they put in the hood, not even close to sticker gas mileage and the service engine light coming on for no reason found and now there's a recall on that I haven't been notified of yet.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 012003

Sentra 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
While driving during inclement weather a noise from the steering column could be heard. Also, when stopping vehicle steered to the right. Dealer found no problem with steering. Vehicle, at times, hesitated and stalled while driving at highway speeds. At about 4,000 miles, the check engine indicator warning light illuminated.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #1

Sep 022003


  • 40 miles
While driving, the vehicle intermittently stalls leaving the consumer stranded on the highway. After a few minutes the vehicle can be started as if nothing ever happened. The vehicle was taken to dealer to be checked out only to have them to say that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. The manufacturer is aware of the problem.

- Chicago, IL, USA

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