My car breaks down for the 18th time due to same/similar electrical problems

My 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R has been into the dealership 17 times since 2005 for the same or similar electrical problems.

I’ve had 3 ETB’s (Electronic Throttle Body in which the TP Sensor is a part of) replaced on 7/12/09, 12/07/09, and 5/12/10 and 2 ECU’s (Electronic Control Unit – the computer) replaced 1/9/09 and 11/19/10.

I’ve had the Idle Air Control Volume reset 4 times on 8/23/08, 7/28/09, 4/24/10 and 12/21/11 – this was explained to me as a software update for the ECU.

Both the ETB and the ECU is made by Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc. for Nissan.  And according to an article on The Truth About Cars website, “Hitachi supplies some 90 percent of its engine control units to Nissan.”

On 12/21/11, after taking my car into the dealership for the 17th time after the Service Engine Soon light came on and the code pulled was for the “TP sensor,” I was assured by the Assistant Service Manager of Power Nissan of South Bay–the third dealership I have had my car into (including Universal City Nissan and Santa Monica Nissan-before they closed)–that according to a DTS Technician (which is a special Nissan technician) that the only thing wrong with my car was that the Idle Air Control Volume needed to be reset again, that “someone” previously set it wrong. 

CORRECTION: I was led to believe a DTS technician looked at my car on this date, but after a conversation with the Assistant Service Manager of Power Nissan, the DTS was only out there that day, it was a Master Technician at Power Nissan that looked at my car and improperly diagnosed it, this Master Technician is new there, as his Tech code wasn’t even listed in the Manager’s binder, and apparently the Master Tech discussed my car and his solution with the DTS and he OK’ed it, but never actually looked at my car.

Little more than a week later, on 12/30/11, my car shut off on me 4 times, once in traffic at a red light with the RPM fluctuating between 600-800, just as it has in the past.

I believe there are major electrical and/or mechanical and/or engineering problems with my Nissan Sentra SE-R which may be the result of the ECU and/or the ETB being faulty,  which then leads me to believe both Nissan the maker of the car and Hitachi the maker of the parts are at fault.  This problem first occurred in 2005 when the car was still under warranty, but the dealership failed to fix it properly then, and 16 tries later, it still doesn’t work, breaking down on me for an 18th time yesterday.

Due to research I have found at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other Nissan and car forums, I believe many other Nissan Sentras, as well as possibly Nissan Altimas, which have the same ETB (Nissan Part #: 1611K-AE01BRE) and ECU as my car are experiencing similar problems to mine.  Yet Nissan and Hitachi fail to recognize there is a problem, fail to issue a recall, and fail to diagnose a fix for the problem.  And now I am spending New Year’s Eve creating this blog to spread the word.

If you own a Nissan Sentra or other and have had multiple ETB’s and/or ECU’s replaced (or even just 1) and/or had the Idle Air Control Volume reset, please contact me, and tell your story with as many details as possible, (if possible, please include dates your car was into dealership, names of those who helped you like the Service Advisor, copies of the invoices,  the file number if you’ve opened a file with Nissan Corporate, the info to the Regional Specialist if one was assigned to you, anyone in Consumer Affairs you’ve spoken with and any email correspondence, and any other useful information).

Please contact me at dontbuynissansentra at gmail.com (replace _at_ with @).