2018 Nissan Sentra Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, braking system and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

While smaller cars aren’t as popular as they once were, the 2018 Nissan Sentra seems to hold its own in the marketplace. The newest lineup claims to offer a “bold, new direction” to owners, but it really can’t make up its mind which way that is. From the faulty electrical system to the dysfunctional service brakes and a poorly-built engine, the Sentra suffers from more problems than can be counted.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2020   2021   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Nissan Sentra

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Vehicle Speed Control
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Electronic Stability Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings

Problems with the Electrical System

It’s easier to list the components that the electrical system doesn’t run than to talk about everything it’s in charge of. One thing is for sure, when the system malfunctions, it creates a long list of issues.

One complaint is seen in this Edmunds review. “My 2018 Sentra has a periodic trunk opening problem. I have taken it to 2 dealerships and both could find nothing wrong. Nissan Corp says they have no solution.I am afraid to let my wife drive it.”

Whether the trunk is opening during operation or not, this is a serious concern. Another one relates to NHTSA Campaign Number 19V654000, which states that over one million vehicles have a defective backup camera display. It seems that the majority of the electrical system issues appear to happen at the back end of the Sentra. Whether the trunk is popping open or the owner can’t see what’s behind them, it might be best for all pedestrians to stay far away from this car’s rear.

Problems with the Service Brakes

When it comes time to stop, it’s imperative that the brakes work as designed.

Yet, this NHTSA complaint discusses some major concerns. “Automatic Emergency Braking system sensor frequently lights up with a warning Radar Unavailable while driving on the highway and local streets. I just got this car and after one day I had to take it back to the dealer. First, they said they would replace the sensor. After four days in the shop, they said they cleaned the sensor and cleared the codes. They also calibrated the sensor. The next day it happened again twice. I have an appointment to take it back to the dealer in two days. In reading the NHTSA website, there are many reports of this problem with this year and model car, with the Forward Collision Avoidance System. Many owners have reported this issue. Nissan has failed to issue a recall or fix the problem. These cars are lemons. The failure can cause an accident or something a lot more serious. Action needs to be taken.”

The main concern here is the lack of advanced driver-assist systems that are supposed to help drivers remain safe on the road. Yet, these innovative systems aren’t clear of the “direction” they are meant to take, and thereby malfunction. The Sentra might be “bold,” but so are most lemons.

Problems with the Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB)

Keeping the Sentra on the road is another challenge that some owners are facing.

Check out this NHTSA comment. “Within one week of driving the vehicle, it stalled as I entered onto the highway. The vehicle also feels as if it’s out of balance and shakes at speeds of 65 to 70 mph. And the Forward Emergency Braking System Warning light display/Unavailable Front Radar Obstruction warning light also displays at any given time.”

Nissan has made no statements regarding the electronic stability control systems or the Forward Emergency Braking, which both seem to operate uncontrollably. Instead, the automaker is leaving owners to figure out how to drive this erratic vehicle on their own. Other drivers on the road would do well to head the other direction when coming in contact with a Sentra.

Problems with the Engine

The Sentra is a lower-cost car, but it still should come with a reliable engine. Sadly, that’s not the case.

For an example, check out this statement on Edmunds. “I was driving a 2018 Sentra with 18,190 miles on it when this happened. I was driving on the downtown main street going at 10~20mph with frequent stops due to heavy traffic. The engine decided to shut down while I’m still driving, of which I’m so glad of the speed I was driving at that time, otherwise, it would be a lot worse than just honk from the cars behind, I could be in a fatal accident. Having to rush to the court, I had to drive an hour to the court with this known issue with lots of anxiety. I got the car exchanged at the rental car company after attending the court and was talking to an old lady who had five Sentra in her life. She was complaining about newer Sentra (after 2012 or so), she also mentioned her daughter’s Sentra wheel was locked while driving on the freeway and had to spend three thousand dollars to fix it. I am seriously playing safe to avoid Sentra at all costs.”

For once, Nissan has talked about some of the issues plaguing this engine. Service Bulletin #NTB17-082b says that there could be an evaporator leak at the vent control valve O-ring on some engines. While it’s nice to see the company take responsibility for something, it would be far better if the automaker made a better car, which kept the occupants protected and safe. After all, the only “new direction” this car is worthy of is a trip to the junkyard.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Leslie D

    My 2018 Nissan Sentra trunk lid fell on top of my head there was some ice on it and it was raining a little bit it was warm about 34 degrees or so and my ice scraper was inside the trunk so I was able to open the trunk easily and then I had it opened all the way and then as I went to put my things the trunk lid fell hard on the top of my head I now have a concussion. Now a few months ago I received a notice for the recall for the brakes but the brake piece was only available in April of this year I don’t know what to do I just Finance the car bored out my lease last May 2021 but more importantly I’m still in a lot of pain I’m having memory problems intermittently had to get on medication I’m having panic attacks and I was recently hospitalized has anyone else had a similar situation with the trunk coming down hard for any reason?

    I am a personal injury litigation paralegal but for personal reasons and for privacy I do not want my firm to handle it if there is a product liability case because now I have to get neuropsychological testing.

  • Morgan B

    I have purchased a 2018 Nissan Sentra, back on 7/4/2021. I have had an Issue with AEB sensor and the dealership just fixed it when I told them about it. They just brushed it off like it was no big deal. As of yesterday my vehicle has had many sensors come on. My AEB sensor, Emergency brake sensor, low tire sensor, check engine light comes on and off, the cruise control is I’ll not work, my speedometer is no longer working, and my gas gas isn’t working and it keeps saying there is low fuel when there isn’t.

  • Theodore O

    Told the dealer when it was under warranty that the transmission has problems they check it for codes and that’s it. 2018 Nissan sentra sv. I’ve been living with problems and it has 119,000 on it now. Amoco transmission shop says it has internal problems with Trans. I need help could be a 4000 dollar bill.

  • Adrian

    I bought a Nissan Sentra Nismo back in august of 2018. 9 months after I bought the car, the engine blew and needed to be replaced. This was under warranty but took them over a month to do. They also told me I needed to replace my clutch, which is a wear and tear item, but should never go out that quickly. I paid $1,000 on the repair. I haven’t hadn’t had any issues with the car until September of this year, 2020. One day I was driving the car and all the electronics in the car shut off and turned on multiple times while driving. The engine stayed on and ran like normal, but every electronic system in the car shut off and on again multiple times. When I parked the car at work, I didn’t return to it until I got off of work. When I tried to start the car, a message popped up that said “key system error” and the car never started. Totally dead. I towed it to Nissan and they diagnosed it and told me it was the main engine wiring harness. That controls all the major electrical systems in the vehicle. It took them another month to fix it. Now, barely two months after getting the car back after the repair, the car is showing the same symptoms as it did when the engine harness failed originally. I do not want to have a lemon, my last car was a lemon and I bought this one so it would last years without anything like this happening, and yet again it is. Does the lemon law apply to my situation? Please help. Thank you.

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