What to look for when buying a used Nissan Sentra

CVT Transmission: Nissan was one of the first manufacturers to use the CVT in several models throughout the lineup. Over the years, the CVT design has gotten better, but there are still a notable amount of complaints about it. In response, Nissan has extended the warranty for CVT repairs, replacements or related towing to 10 years/120,000 miles, whichever comes first. Read more details at NissanAssist.com

Overall: It's a stylish maneuverable compact with great city fuel economy. The overall reliability is not as good as that of Honda or Toyota, but an extended warranty on a CVT transmission is a big plus. The 2013 model year received most of the complaints. It's a good idea to look for the 2014 and newer Sentra. A used Nissan Sentra is priced on average $1,500 to $3,000 cheaper than the same year Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The Sentra is not a sporty or fast car. If you are looking for driving dynamics, check Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza or Mitsubishi Lancer. Other choices in the segment include Hyundai Elantra, Dodge Dart, Kia Forte and Chevrolet Cruze.

Common problems: We researched owner reviews on several websites. The two main areas of complaints for the 2013 Nissan Sentra at the NHTSA website are the CVT transmission and brakes. Consumer Reports also mentions transmission issues in the 2013 model. At the time we were working on this review, only the 2015 Sentra was rated "green" or 5 out of 5 at Consumer Reports. The 2013 Sentra was rated 1 out of 5. Check Engine light issues are also mentioned by a number of owners.

What to look for when buying a used Nissan Sentra: During a test drive, pay attention to the way the CVT transmission operates. Jerking, stalling, slipping or vibration while accelerating are the signs that the car should be avoided. If you feel shuddering (judder, as Nissan calls it) when accelerating from a stop or in slow traffic, there might be an issue with the CVT transmission. Check the steering wheel adjustment, as several owners mentioned that it's hard to find the comfortable position.

Maintenance: According to the 2013 Nissan Sentra owner's manual, SAE 0W-20 is the recommended oil type. The 0W-20 is synthetic oil. The cabin filter needs to be replaced every 15,000 miles. The continuously variable transmission requires only Genuine NISSAN CVT Fluid NS-3. You can find the maintenance schedule and download a pdf version of the owners manual at the US Nissan Owners website.
You might also be interested:

Resources:
Recalls: Safety Recalls - NHTSA or Transport Canada - Road Safety Recalls.
Subaru For Owners - Owner's Manuals and downloads, warranties and more. Subaru of America.

2013 Nissan Sentra Specifications

Dimensions:
Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:
Wheelbase:
182.1 in (4625 mm)
69.3 in (1760 mm)
58.9 in (1495 mm)
106.3 in (2700 mm)
Tires:
S, SV:
SR, SL:
205/55R16
205/50R17
Turning diameter:
34.8 ft
Cargo volume: 15.1 cu. ft
Curb weight: 2,841 lbs /Sentra SV with CVT/
Engine: 1.8L, 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC, model MRA8DE
130 hp @ 6000 rpm
128 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Recommended Fuel: Regular unleaded
Fuel Tank Capacity:

13-1/4 gal US gallons (50 liters)

Recommended engine oil: SAE 0W-20
Engine oil capacity:
with oil filter change:
4-1/4 qt US qt (4.0 liters)