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What is wrong with Sentra?

I have a 2003 Nissan Sentra. Twice in the last two weeks or so, I’m driving it and it begins to hesitate and the service engine soon light flashes on and off. This happens for about 5 minutes or so, then the car begins to run smoothly and the light goes off. This morning when it happened, I smelled some type of emission. I think it smelled like gas. Any help is appreciated.

A blinking check engine light usually indicates a misfire in one or more cylinders. Even though the light is off, it’s a good bet that there are still codes stored in the computer. Have Autozone read the codes for free and post them here.

When was the last time this car had a tune-up? Spark plugs, plug wires, filters, etc?

There Is Some Information Missing.

Are you the original owner of this vehicle?
Have you had any “recalls” performed on it?
Do have a 1.8L or 2.5L engine?

Anyhow, here’s what I’d do. Get the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) and call or go to a Nissan dealer. Have them chck and see if your vehicle is subject to any outstanding recalls or campaigns.

Some of these 03 Sentras have had several recalls for engine sensor and ECM (engine control module) problems. Should your car be a candidate and this relates to the problem, a “fix” may be free or nearly so.

I’d start there.


I am the original owner, i have a 1.8l engine and I haven’t had any recalls performed on the vehicle. It has over 77,000 miles, just had oil changed and belts replaced. I’m checking the recall angle now. Thanks.

I called Nissan, according to them there are no open recalls for the vehicle.

Go To “Plan Budd”.

He advised to have the car’s codes retrieved and posted here. They look like PO123, PO455, etcetera. There can be more than one.

Driving with a flashing engine light is not advised. Most manufacturers recommend that you stop, wait several seconds and restart the engine. A steady light is a little better situation than a flashing one.

Either way, You’ll want it fixed soon because driving while the light is flashing can indicate that additional systems or components can suffer damage.


“just had oil changed and belts replaced”

That’s great. However, those two items are unlikely to have anything to do with that blinking CEL .
On the other hand, spark plugs, filters, and plug wires that are in need of changing can cause the CEL to light up or to blink.

As was said, a blinking CEL (as opposed to one that is steadily illuminated) is not something to take lightly. If the underlying problem is not taken care of promptly, you may wind up with expensive repairs.

I had a similar issue that was due to a bad plug wire. Make sure they’re all on tightly. Also, get this checked out asap. A C.E.L. that blinks is an indication the your engine could be getting damaged.