Nissan Versa has been a favourite car of many consumers ever since its inception in 2006. The famous compact car is known for being one of the most affordable vehicles on the market today. However, the car goes by several other names depending on the market it is in; these names include Pulsar, Tiida, Sentra and Sunny.
For the past 15 years, the Nissan Versa has been the Japanese company’s entry into the least expensive segment of the market, the subcompact car. Over the years and with three generations, the car has often been crowned as the least expensive car in the country, with plenty of space and efficiency for little money.
Thanks to what the Nissan Versa offers, the car has been one of the best-selling models in several countries around the world. Yet, like many other successful cars in the market, the Nissan Versa is not perfect and still has some issues that several of its users experience.
So, in case you were thinking about buying the Nissan Versa, in this article, we have compiled a list of the Nissan Versa’s problems that you need to know first. But first, let’s have a look at the history of one of the best-selling models from Nissan.
The Nissan Versa History
The leader of the subcompact segment of the North American passenger car market has undergone a lot of changes throughout its different generations. The Nissan Versa was originally manufactured as a derivative of the hatchback passenger car, the Nissan Tilda, but unlike the hatchback Tilda, the Nissan Versa uses the sedan type. However, there has been a Versa hatchback, but it was only produced once.
An interesting fact about the model is that Nissan chose the name Versa because it was said to be short for “versatile space”. The Nissan Versa nameplate is meant to hint at the compact’s surprisingly spacious interior and multiple cargo configurations.
The Nissan Versa has been through three different generations so far, so let’s take a glance at each of them.
First Generation (2006-2012)
The first generation of the Versa debuted in 2007 despite being in production since 2006, and during this generation, the hatchback version was offered alongside the sedan. It wasn’t until the next generation that the hatchback was separated as the Versa Note.
This generation of Versa sedan and hatchback featured the Nissan-made DOHC MR18DE engine, and it was 1.8-litre and produced 122 horsepower and 128 lb.-ft of torque. The car was equipped with a six-speed transmission for the manual and a 4-speed for the automatic.
There were two trim levels available in the first generation: the base S and the SL. The SL included added things like air conditioning, power windows/mirrors/door locks and anti-lock brakes. It also offered options that were not available on the S, like Bluetooth connectivity, a moonroof and a rear spoiler.
In 2009, the SL sedan came with a four-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment, and the SL hatchback came standard with the CVT. Nissan later revised the model offerings by bringing out two cheaper base models for the sedan called the 1.6 Base and 1.6.
Second Generation (2013-2019)
The development of the new generation focused on enhancing Nissan’s competitiveness by offering a vehicle focused on consumer needs: fuel efficiency, powertrain innovations and the development of a new platform.
Although it may seem contradictory, the second generation of the Nissan Versa seemed to have it all; it had a very practical price tag, and it was equipped with enough specifications. The car was just the right answer to the demands of those who were looking for a car with value for money.
Inside, the car offered comfortable, open-plan space that made sure all passengers were sitting comfortably. This generation also brought premium fabrics, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and a Fine Vision Instrumentation dashboard, which were just some of the details on the long list of standard and available features of the second generation.
The second generation of Nissan Versa was available in three different trim levels: S, SV and SL. The S model was largely about affordability with the minimum of extras. It included steel wheels, air conditioning, an adjustable driver’s seat, a two-speaker sound system and a manual transmission.
Moving up to the SV, there was additional equipment, including alloy wheels, a folding rear seat and upgraded interior trim. Finally, the top SL trim had larger alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, plus Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Fuel economy for the S model was 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. The S Plus and SV models got 31 mpg city and 39 mpg highway due to the CVT transmission. For 2013, Nissan added the S Plus trim, which was placed one level above the base S.
Third Generation (2019-Present)
In the third generation of Nissan Versa, the car just kept on getting better and better with the emphasis being placed on design and technology as part of the Intelligent Mobility vision applied by the Japanese company. Aesthetically, one of the critical points of the current Versa is that its appearance was completely rethought.
The third generation’s model draws much of its inspiration from the Kicks interior, with a very similar dashboard, giving it a more modern and harmonious look, in line with the exterior.
The current Nissan Versa’s appearance is a much more accomplished, modern and has a sporty look that highlights the more marked and tense lines, with the infallible V-Motion grille that identifies Nissan and boomerang headlights. Another striking aspect is the black applique on the C-pillar that separates the roof from the rest of the bodywork, a feature often used on Nissan hatchbacks and SUVs.
In 2023, the brand revealed the arrival of the 2024 Nissan Versa with a refreshed design, a more equipped version of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) system from its entry-level version, and also a package of assistance that was usually present in top-of-the-range vehicles. The most significant change to the bodywork is a new V-Motion grille, alloy wheels and new front and rear badging.
The Nissan Versa Problems You Need To Know!
While the Nissan Versa has been a success in almost every aspect, the car is not immune to having some faults that have been bothering many of its buyers. Coming up next, we examine the Nissan Versa’s problems that you need to know before buying this model.
Excessive Smoke and Petrol Smell
Several Nissan Versa consumers have reported excessive smoke coming out of the car. White smoke from your car may be normal, as in many cases, this is caused by water vapour from the engine or exhaust in cold temperatures.
The worrying thing is if your car is giving off grey or black smoke, then it’s time to take it to a service workshop that can identify the exact part that is at fault.
This is due to a problem with the carburettor, pump, or fuel injectors, and what almost always happens is that there is fluid leaking into the exhaust system, causing this strong fuel smell. It could also be that one of the hoses is broken, or it is loose or in poor condition, which could cause the leak.
The appearance of dark smoke is also related to a fault in the combustion chamber, caused by the petrol not being fully burnt, the intake system not getting enough air into the combustion chamber, or fluids leaking out of the engine, which would also cause a burning smell.
Brake Pedal Vibrates When Depressing the Brake Pedal
Like with many other well-known cars, there have been complaints about brake pedal vibrations among the Versa’s owners. The reason that causes vibrations when braking most of the times is that the brake pads are already worn out, and therefore, the brake pads are rubbing too much against the brake disc.
While this might not be a big issue right away, it is not advisable to wait before checking that out, as after a certain period of time, they could bend, break or wear out faster than normal.
Other reasons for the brake pedal vibrations are that a part of the pedal is incorrectly fitted, or the discs are not ground, or the tyres need a balancing service, or one of the rims is bent or damaged.
A good way to avoid this as much as you can, is to always make sure that when replacing parts, you replace them with the original ones. On many occasions, users reported that when using generic bearings, these caused the brake pedal to vibrate as well.
The Nissan Versa has the highest number of complaints about the injection warning. The topic is quite extensive on the model owners’ forum, usually requiring nozzle cleaning and other services.
Some report that the problem also indicates a fault with the catalytic converter, which worries owners as the component is very expensive. There have been cars that have started to fail because of this alert, but some say that the engine has even died after the alert came on.
Some try to clean the nozzles or simply run a scanner, as well as go one step further by cleaning the throttle body.
Noisy Steering and Clutch
The Nissan Versa’s electric steering is light and pleasant to handle, but some owners complain of noises in the steering column. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that some owners say that just tightening a screw was enough to eliminate the problem, but others didn’t indicate a solution.
Another problem pointed out by Nissan Versa owners is the clutch pedal, as some owners said that the car started to squeak at the pedal actuator and then at the internal actuator.
However, the clutch actuation problem forced the replacement of the plate and disc. Some said that the problem was solved without the need for a complete clutch replacement.
Hard Suspension and Brakes
Many people complain about the Nissan Versa’s hard suspension. There are reports of dry knocks, and some have mentioned the need to replace the suspension balances or bushes, as the whole assembly cannot cope with driving, especially on roads with defects.
One of the cases occurred at 14,000 km, which is too early for this type of problem to occur. With regard to the suspension, other owners also complained that one of the front shock absorbers had to be replaced at 17,000 km. Apart from the suspension, the brakes are not exactly perfect as well, with pads having to be changed well ahead of schedule. One of the cases mentions 30,000 km, but because of a warped disc.
As always, any problems caused by excessive wear and tear are not covered by the warranty, as they are “natural wear and tear parts”, which generates a lot of complaints about defects and problems from customers in any brand.
It’s also hard to shift gears in the manual version. Many people complain about this detail and also about the staggering of the gears. Owners who have switched from the manual Versa to the CVT have pointed out that the change was also advantageous in this respect.
Various Noises and Defects
Owners say that among the Nissan Versa’s defects and problems are the light bulbs. Several reports mention burnt-out bulbs, especially in the lanterns, and some at a time incompatible with their durability, but many don’t complain as the solution is simple and cheap.
Another point that many people complain about is the fuel gauge, which registers an unrealistic amount of fuel. In some cases, it was after 100 kilometres that the gauge showed a volume compatible with the amount filled up.
They also complain that the on-board computer shows unrealistic consumption figures, which would be much better than reality. Still, inside the car, owners complain about the interior fan, which has stopped working in some cases.
On the structural side, some people talk about noises in the boot and that the problem is an “X” structure on the floor. Another says that the cardboard lining also gets wet and deforms. In the case of the bonnet, they say that it misaligns because of the side support.
They also say that the bodywork is very sensitive to small knocks and pressure. But what really catches the eye are the bumper fasteners. One of the cases was reported at just 40,000 km, as it began to rattle and become loose after such a low mileage.
One of the biggest defects, and the one that featured most prominently, was, in fact, the fuel injection. This is the main point that drivers have highlighted about using the vehicle. It’s a constant topic even on forums where owners of the model discuss the reasons for this and emphasise their annoyance with this issue.
Opinions are vast on the subject, and many mention it as something very complicated to deal with. The problem, according to some owners, lies with the TBI (Throttle Body Fuel Injection), which has to be cleaned frequently to prevent this from happening; otherwise, it generates high consumption.
The Catalytic Converter
Another common complaint that has been raised a lot among drivers who own the model is the catalytic converter. This has caused a lot of concern and debate, as some have reported their car failing because of this issue at difficult times, even causing the car’s engine to die after the warning lights come on. However, this is rare and usually affects models that are well over 100,000 kilometres.
The Nissan Versa is one of the best sedans available in terms of value for money. It’s low-maintenance and cheap. However, nothing is perfect, and the Nissan Versa also has some defects and problems that generate complaints from its owners. Yet, it is worth mentioning that many consumers report that they have solved them either under warranty or on their own, at a low cost for the most part.