2021 Nissan Sentra Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Powertain and structure issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2021 Nissan Sentra is not a large car, but the automaker makes big promises. The newest tagline for the model is “the power to thrill.” However, this doesn’t operate anything like an exciting sports car, no matter what the manufacturer tries to say. Instead, the defective powertrain and uncomfortable structure are causing people to become frustrated.

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

Problems with the Powertrain

If a car is labeled as “thrilling,” it should come with an impressive powertrain, but the new Sentra does not.

In fact, even The Car Connection picked up on how terrible this system is by saying, “The Sentra’s 149-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 engine and its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) aren’t the stuff of legend. Even with 146 pound-feet of torque and a relatively lightweight body, the Sentra’s not fast and it’s not quick, and the CVT lags as it gathers up its pulleys and belts to provide the right transmission ratio for launch.”

If there’s an honest look into Nissan’s history, it becomes clear that transmissions are not its strong suit. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Nissan was faced with class-action lawsuits over defective CVTs. The complaint was that these transmissions consistently overheated and Nissan did nothing to alleviate the problem. Maybe the company should focus on just making a reliable car before jumping into the thrilling category.

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2021 Nissan Sentra Complaint Summary

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

Problems with the Structure

Another sore spot is the build of the 2021 Nissan Sentra. It doesn’t seem to have a lot of thought put into it, almost like it was thrown together after the fact.

Consumer Reports states, “We were rather dismayed however, with the antiquated foot operated parking brake, which is very easy for the driver to bank his or her left shin into.”

The crazy part about that last statement is that it was found on Nissan’s website. That’s right, the company is proudly displaying the not-so-favorable report on the Sentra. Instead of hiding that fact that the new Sentra is a dinosaur and outdated, the company flaunts it and still tries to claim this model is “thrilling.” Apparently, Nissan is still operating in the Dark Ages.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Nissan pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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
  • Tina D

    This is the second time my car won’t start. The first time Nissan said my battery and transmission was fine

  • Betty D

    I bought a Nissan 2021 almost 2 yrs. ago. I have had no problems so I am sad to see all these problems. I also read there is a recall for possible steering/tie rod problems so I am going to talk to the dealership tomorrow. My previous Nissan Sentra was 11 yrs. old and never had a repair bill which is why I bought this one. I have 12000 KM on it. It had 3000 when I bought it as it was Nissan’s demonstrator. They sold it to me as a new car as they did not have any others in stock.

  • Debra G

    My 2020 Sentra is good, no problems EXCEPT it will throw on the brake for no reason, no other cars near, clear weather, I can’t think of a reason it would do this. It is very frightening and could cause a rear end collision. I’ve read my manual and don’t see anything about it, when this happens the screen goes white and flashes warning!

  • Shan

    Bought my Sentra in may 2021, last year this time my air conditioning stopped working, it blows hot air even when I have it off. Brought it in and turned out to be the O ring, and now again… I’m very disappointed as I don’t want to be stuck paying $650 every year to have that replaced.

  • DK

    Same issue. I have a 2021 Nissan Sentra SV. I’m on my third battery and the dealership keep saying it’s just a bad battery. My car has been towed twice and jumped off multiple times. Last battery was placed in my car November 26, 2022. Less than a month it had to be towed again. Nissan Consumer Affair told me today it is nothing they can do. They were not buying my car back or replacing it.

  • Jeff H

    Ok so I am leasing a 2021 Nissan Sentra sv I got it May 2021 was very excited it was my first new car. Well let me start off by saying I am writing this July 21, 2022 so since I have had this car I have experienced issues of the car saying no key fob found in many occasions. Also my a\c blows occasionally hot air when it’s hot outside that’s the last thing you want. And the kicker is I started hearing metal on metal from the front suspension when going on bumps,pot holes it got so bad I took it to the dealership and boy was that a mistake they had my car over 2 Months come to find out there is a recall on inner tie rods and the dealer said my steering rack was damaged and would be replaced under warranty. Well again they had car over 2 months it is fixed now but it took forever due to steering rack being on back order .I love how the car looks and interior but beware it’s a dud you’ve been warned .

  • Patty

    Bought my 2021 Nissan sentra last August. 2 days later wouldn’t start need a new battery with 25 miles on it. Took it in for first oil change at 5000 miles and had squeaky breaks checked, lol and behold needs new breaks and rotors. Now that’s down ride crazy. This is my 2 rd Sentra, no problems with others. Hate to see what’s next.

  • Jasmine

    I purchased a 2021 Nissan Sentra last August and went to take it for its first oil change in January 2022. After getting it, I noticed a rattling noise coming from the right side of the dashboard. I have been to the dealership since then over 10 times until they figure out what is causing the noise. All of the corrections they have made have not work. One of the advisors said it could be the struts which sounds ridiculous because the car is barely a year old yet and is still under 10k miles. Im over the dealership and Nissan period.

  • Ray

    I bought a 2021 Sentra and since the first week off the lot with only 5 miles on the car I took it in for rattling sound in the left air vent, and knocking noise from the frame of the car, and the mechanic said the left struts went out and the moter mount had to be replaced. It took them a month to get the car in because the parts were on back order and once the parts did come in at seperate times, I was given a loaner which I have for two weeks, and once my car was fixed I piked it up and the car was dirty inside and I drove the car off and I didnt hear the knocking sound anymore, and a day later I took the car out in the morning hours and when I drove over a bump or made a sharp turn I can still hear the loud rattling sound coming from the vent. I left a voice mail to the dealer and that was a month ago, and up until this time I have not heard anything from the service department, and as of two days ago I’m starting to hear the knocking noise again, it’s not as bas as before but I’m sure it will have to get worse before I take it back to the dealer. I’m also having issues with the car saying there is no key and the car didnt want to turn off and I had the key in my front pocket.

  • Marsha H

    Bought a 2021 Nissan Sentra back in early July. By mid-September I had to have it towed, turned out the be the battery! They changed it out and didn’t tell me much anything else. Well just this past weekend I went out to run an errand, the car had been sitting for only 2 days and it wouldn’t start again. Had it towed and I picked it up this morning and I was told it was the battery (again!) and that I have to drive that car every day at least 10-15 miles so the battery will stay charged. Well if that is the truth and they aren’t just making stuff up why couldn’t they tell me that that first time. I’m a first time Nissan owner, my previous cars have all been Chevy and I never had a problem like I’m having now. And apparently I’ve “hit my quota” on batteries. So if I do as they said to do and it does it again my local dealership can keep this bucket of bolts.

  • Angel

    I got a 2021 Nissan sentra sv been in the dealer more than 10 times all the lights on the dash .heats up.transmission fail living me walking. Everywhere i would never buy another car like that waiting to settle in court

  • Ann W

    My Centra is a 2020 with only 15k miles on it. The stitching in the seat is coming apart. I’m being told that the warranty will not cover this issue. The seat quality is way less than I expected…very disappointing.

  • Jodi M

    I bought my 21 Sentra in July. Here it is October 4th and car won’t start. Have it tow d to Nissan dealership. It’s been two days, no call for report. Cracking u set the seat like stripped bolts, right turn has a clicking like something is catching, high RPM without changing gear with excelleration. It absolutely has no go to it at all and is SPORT SR. Not like the pamphlet in the dealership stated it would be. The motor sound like a playing car flipping through the spokes of a bicycle. Poorly made, and sold with misinformed malfunctions and poor quality.

  • Megan

    Bought new 2021 Sentra in June. Yesterday went to start it and it says key fob not found when it was right on the start button. Then the battery immediately started to drain. Couldn’t get the car in neutral to jump it so had to have someone come out and jump it.
    After jump says engine malfunction, service now, Power reduced. Had it towed this morning to dealership who cant see it until Thursday and no rentals available. Irritating on a new car!

  • Eric

    Same as above. I’ve had my car for 2 months. About a month ago, after not driving my car for 3 days, it wouldn’t start. I got a jump, drove around for a few hours and everything was fine. Now a month later, I go outside and my car won’t start again. My wife keeps insisting its me leaving something on, but I’m glad I found this forum and now know whats going on

  • Virgil

    I love the car but is anybody else experiencing issues with a slight kind of jerk on take off?

  • Joe M

    Wow!! My wife and I both purchased a 2021 Sentra, it was like a his and hers kind of thing. After my wife left her car in the garage for three days the car wouldn’t start. Dead battery…. The dealer picked it up and took it in, nothing was found. Next thing you know the same thing happened to me, I didn’t use my car for two days and boom DEAD BATTERY!!… Dealerships aren’t aware of this problem since its fairly new, the first thing they do is blame us for leaving something like lights on. They state it can’t be the car sitting around not being used because they have cars in their lots sitting around not being used and those cars start up without a problem. Maybe it’s something from the radio that we activate (like Sirius radio) that causes the problem. Now we have to make sure to start up the car every day in order to make up for the battery drainage. Any thoughts??

  • Lisa

    Same problem and result from dealership..I bought my car early June 2021. I am now sitting here waiting on a tow truck for the third time. I’m so mad!!! This is ridiculous!!

  • J J

    I also have a new 21 Sentra. There is a Service Bulletin for Audio System draining the battery while the car is turned off. Mine was re programmed and it has not failed “yet” since the audio reprogram. My car had been in the shop 3x for the no start problem, and nothing was found to be wrong with it. I opened a consumer affairs case with Nissan North America, and they have offered a settlement/buyback of this car. I too, wanted a reliable NEW car, and am highly disappointed, and I do not trust this car.
    Note: there is also a CVT transmission class action suit – my advise – GET RID OF IT .

  • Donna

    As above!!!! My daughter bought her dream car 2021…
    1000 miles, still temp tag and car doesn’t start! Nissan Streetboro wants us to get the car to them, but my husband wants them to get this piece of garbage

  • Carolyn M

    I just purchased a brand new 2021 Nissan Sentra Sr Platinum and haven’t had the car a month,which will be June 29 of this year..So far I’ve been having cracking issues with the car.. Thought it was the battery took it to the deal they ran tests on the car,car crank just fine with them..For 5 mornings now I’ve had to had this car jumped off..Mind you car has been took to the dealer twice to be test and they find nothing..On today 6/24/21 I tried to start the car with the auto start key and the car didn’t start. Once again this car isn’t starting.. I’ve recorded the malfunction code coming up on the car took it to the dealer for them to find nothing and say they can’t fix anything because Nissan has to have a reason to fix it but as long as it shows the car is fine they can’t fix it.. So now I’m trying to see how can I get out of this car legally with this issue? I don’t even want the car any more,it hasn’t been 30 days and I’m already having an issue that the dealers can’t seem to find..Other than that the car is my dream car and I hate to have to be so inconvenienced with a brand new vehicle.

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