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USED WHEELS: 2015+ Nissan Micra ideal for keeping it simple


  • Model: 2015+ Nissan Micra
  • Vehicle type: Small car

History/description

In its most basic form, the latest-generation Nissan Micra could be had, brand new, for $10,000.

That’s a brand-new car, with full warranty coverage, in a compellingly simple, thrifty and cheap-to-run little subcompact.

The cheap and cheerful Micra has been back on Canadian roads for more than four years, since its launch for model-year 2015.

Here was a brand-new vehicle, with used-car pricing. And as a used-car buy, the Nissan Micra’s value proposition carries on.

Many shoppers prefer the most basic model of Micra, complete with manual door locks, crank windows, a five-speed stick and limited feature content.

All Micra models are five-door hatchbacks with an ample cargo area, split-folding rear seats and a flexible interior.

More upscale models got features like Bluetooth, heated seats, a reverse camera system, alloy wheels, power accessories and cruise control.

A 1.6-litre, 109-horsepower, four-cylinder was standard, as was front-wheel drive.

Transmission choices included a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic.

What owners like

Low purchase and running costs, high manoeuvrability, decent on-board space and a sporty driving feel were all reported by owners.

Many say Micra nicely blends performance and fuel efficiency and that it rides well on rough roads.

What owners dislike

Some owners wish for a more planted and stable feel at higher speeds, as well as an arm-rest on certain trim grades where it’s not included.

The test drive

If you’re considering a high-mileage Micra, remember that a compression test on its engine is a fast and cheap job and can provide useful insight into the overall condition and remaining lifespan of the engine. - Justin Pritchard
If you’re considering a high-mileage Micra, remember that a compression test on its engine is a fast and cheap job and can provide useful insight into the overall condition and remaining lifespan of the engine. - Justin Pritchard

If you’re a fan of keeping things simple, seek out a base-model Micra S.

Few modern used cars are as simple as this, meaning less likelihood of repairs or headaches on complex systems as the vehicle ages. Higher-grade models were called Micra SV or Micra SR.

Start with the air conditioning, running it at all temperature settings and confirming that cool air is pumped from the vents quickly, as expected.

If the system feels weak or ineffective, likely culprits are a refrigerant leak, or an electronic issue within the system.

Have a technician investigate and obtain a repair estimate before you buy.

Note that some Micra drivers say the AC is loud when activated, though this is considered normal.

Next, check that all exterior lighting is working properly and be on the lookout for any burned-out bulbs or non-functional lights or signal lamps.

Give each headlight a sturdy wiggle, noting that any looseness may be the result of a loose or broken bolt or clip on the headlight housing which will have to be replaced or repaired.

Insist that the Micra is dead cold before your test drive and that it hasn’t been run or driven for several hours before your arrival.

Start the (cold) engine with the hood open and move in close to the engine to listen for knocking or banging sounds that could result from piston-slap, especially when the engine is started cold.

This sound could be evidence of a worrisome issue with the engine and some owners have had engines replaced under warranty.

This problem may be accompanied by a check-engine light referencing an engine misfire code, or excessive oil consumption between oil changes.

If your potential used Micra is within its factory powertrain warranty coverage period, report any concerns to your dealer service department for documentation, which can help with any required warranty claims.

If the vehicle is no longer covered by warranty, adding a powertrain-specific add-on warranty package is worth consideration.

Poor performance, especially in cold weather, may be the result of a problem with the wiring surrounding the electronic throttle system.

A professional technician should diagnose this problem, and owners should “not” attempt to fix it by disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.

This issue may, or may not, cause a check-engine light to illuminate.

Note that the manual shifter should feel light and slick, not tight and heavy.

Any difficulty in shifting smoothly and consistently can be taken as a good reason to have the shifter linkage, hydraulics and the clutch hinge assembly checked by a technician.

Loose or disconnected shifter linkages, as well as leaks in the hydraulic portion of the clutch system have been reported, albeit rarely.

Lastly, if you’re considering a high-mileage Micra, remember that a compression test on the Micra’s engine is a fast and cheap job and can provide useful insight into the overall condition and remaining lifespan of the engine itself.

The verdict

Many of the problems above are reported with insufficient frequency to warrant much concern, though they’re worth being aware of.

The more commonly-reported problems tend to be relatively minor and should be easily detected and addressed with a careful test drive and pre-purchase inspection (on the buyer’s dime), at a Nissan dealer.

If the engine in the unit you’re considering checks out as free from a rare but serious piston-slap issue mentioned above, this one can be bought with relative confidence as a worthy, cheap-to-run little car.

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