96 Nissan Sentra: Troubleshooting Guide

Written by david mcguffin
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96 Nissan Sentra: Troubleshooting Guide
Pull over if your engine starts smoking and allow it to cool off before opening the bonnet on your 1996 Sentra. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The 1996 Nissan Sentra is part of the fourth-generation of Sentra's to hit the American market from 1995 through 1999. All Sentra trims, except for the SE, featured a 115 horsepower, 1.6L-engine with four cylinders. Overall, the 1996 Nissan Sentra has experienced relatively few automotive or mechanical problems compared to other model years for the Sentra. Knowing how to troubleshoot some of the common problems, such as air-conditioning leaks, as well as how to troubleshoot common engine problems for older vehicles will help to keep your Sentra on the road.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Air conditioning fluorescent dye kit
  • OBD II scanner
  • Multimeter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Check for air-conditioning leaks around the service fitting valves, which is a common problem for the 1996 Sentra. Use an air-conditioning fluorescent dye kit to inject dye into the low-side fitting, which is located between the accumulator and the compressor, which is the air-conditioning component near the middle of the engine with a pulley and belt system attached to it. Run the vehicle's air-conditioning system and put on the tinted glasses to inspect for leaks. If you find leaks, use gaffer's tape and air-conditioning stop leak to plug up the leak. However, be sure to follow exact manufacturer's directions with the stop leak.

  2. 2

    Connect an OBD II scanner to check the check engine light. The rear oxygen sensor in the Sentra's motor is another common problem, however, other sensors or electrical connections may also fail as the vehicle ages. The Sentra's OBD II terminal is located underneath the dashboard to the left of the steering column's base. Turn on the OBD II scanner and turn the car's ignition key to the accessories position. If your scanner does not translate the OBD II codes, look up the codes on websites such as OBD Codes or AutoZone.

  3. 3

    Set a multimeter to its voltage testing setting and check the electrical connections leading to a sensor before replacing a faulty sensor. Turn the car's ignition to the "On" position but do not crank the engine. The voltage on the multimeter should read between 4.0 and 5.0 volts.

  4. 4

    Check for excessive exhaust smoke from the tailpipe when the engine is running. With the Sentra, as with all older vehicles, ageing motors often experience failed gaskets and seals in addition to other problems indicated by tailpipe smoking. Black smoke indicates too-rich of a fuel mixture, meaning faulty or leaky injectors or a failed sensor related to the air-fuel mixture. Blue smoke indicates oil leaking into the cylinder, which typically happens with older engines. White smoke is potentially catastrophic for your Sentra and likely indicates a failed head gasket, which allows coolant to leak into the cylinder area and mix with engine oil.

  5. 5

    Access an Internet-ready computer to check for recalls that have not yet been done for your 1996 Nissan Sentra. Websites with recall information include the Internet Auto Guide, My Car Stats and Auto Zone. The 1996 Sentra has been issued recalls for windshield wipers, exterior lighting issues and suspension problems.

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