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Nissan Serena 2.0 CVT (Comfort)
In my previous article I had said that I prefer to change my car every 5 years or as they reach 200,000km as I’d rather avoid expensive repairs and for the fear of breakdown. I firmly believe engines are built to last 250,000kms and that cars would start to give maintenance issues as they approach 150,000kms. Having said this and having practiced this for almost 25 years I had recently purchased a 14-year-old Multi-Purpose vehicle (MPV).
I have a family of seven and I had purchased a Nissan Grand Livina 1.8 to ferry them around in 2014. My youngest son was two years old, my middle child six and my eldest was eight, then. The Livina was a comfortable vehicle to ferry my parents, wife, and kids. My kids grew tall faster than I expected and in the year 2019 both my eldest and second kid were already above 5 feet tall and the third-row seats of the Livina were rather cramped for them. I had to consider moving up to a mid-sized MPV.
Selection of MPV
Since my elder kids were the ones complaining, I took them for my vehicle shopping spree. We tested the Proton Exora and Toyota Innova, my kids found the third row to be just a little bigger than the Livina. The Nissan Serena was the car that impressed them with its sheer space and roominess, but I was in no mood to spend over RM 100,000 on an MPV which I may use to ferry the family on the occasional family drives that we have. I had then decided to go the second-hand route.
I had narrowed down the choice to a Nissan Serena C26 or C24 QR. The cars had decent interior space and were comfortable to drive. My budget was RM 40,000 which limited the choice to the C24 QR. I started by doing some research on the car. The Serena club was the best place for this research and the socmed club members were helpful in guiding and explaining things. I had then reached out to my trusted mechanic Ah Kit of MB Motor Shah Alam, his advice was for me to stay away from the second-hand cars as it does not suit my car maintenance behavior. I then discussed it with Rama of Rama Motors Rawang, a Nissan specialist who is also a relation. He encouraged me to purchase the car and assured me that maintenance would not be a problem.
I scouted advertisements and visited direct owners and used car yards, a few caught my interest. I had requested the sellers to bring the car for Rama to check its roadworthiness, only two sellers did it. I had checked the mileage of the cars and compared it with the actual mileage it had by checking their last service mileage at Nissan. Most cars had exceeded 250,000 kilometers but had their odo meter re-clocked to below 100,000 km.
I finally purchased a 2006 model Nissan Serena 2.0 CVT (Comfort) with 113,000km on board. A check with Nissan had shown the car's last service in 2009 was at 215,000km. Rama had suggested allocating RM 6,000 for repairs as the engine, gearbox, absorbers, and mounting may require attention. He suggested that I look for a different car but I bought this car for RM 24,000 as I felt I knew exactly what I am buying, more importantly, the car was 100% accident and rust-free.
The buying process was relatively easy, the seller and I agreed to the price, the deposit was paid and the seller got the puspakom inspection done. We met at JPJ at 8 am, we got the transfer done by 9 am, the balance was paid, we shook hands and parted company, but we still keep in touch.
I bought a car which would serve its purpose as a people mover and I did not expect anything more than that. An MPV of that era will not have the safety suits or driving dynamics of modern vehicles. I call it the Washing machine as its boxy shape makes it look like one.
It gives you the worst driving pleasure. The seating position is high, it’s like you are seating on a couch, not the best position to be in. The seats are comfortable as long as I don’t compare it to the L33 Teana. Take a corner / curvy road at 6okm/h and you get the feeling of riding a speed boat at Port Dickson.
It’s a spacious car which can seat seven adults comfortably. The second-row seat can be turned 180 degrees and my kids absolutely enjoy them. The high roof makes it easy to enter or exit the vehicle and space between the two seats in the second row gives easy access to the third row.
Now we are coming to the part which created a big hole in my pocket. The basic maintenance and wear and tear parts replaced at a cost of RM 2,659 right after purchase. This repair by Rama had a mixture of new parts and Potong kereta parts. Ah, Kit had serviced the aircond serviced at about RM 500.
As I was settling down thinking I got a good bargain as the estimated repairs did not take place, the engine failed. Back to research and confusion. Rama suggested changing the engine but Serena club had a mixed view between overhauling the engine and plonking a secondhand unit. An ex-school mate reached out to me through socmed and recommended a mechanic called Man Tan Chong in Balakong, he said he got his car overhauled with him. Another guy contacted and recommended the same person and to overhaul as well.
I went with Rama’s advice and bought a second-hand engine and, well a host of other things such as a power steering pump, steering rack, aircond compressor, servicing radiator, etc. The total cost was RM 3,700++. A few months after that I had to replace and renew the whole suspension set up (Absorber, Absorber Mounting, coil spring, bushes, etc). This was followed by another round of repairs replacing the alternator, drive shaft covers, and bushing. All works after the engine change were done at Ah Kit’s place.
The total repair cost in the eight months of ownership is RM 12,000.
Pro’s and Con’s
The advantage of having this car is that It’s a decent family car with good space for a family of seven. The disadvantage is simple, it has proven my theory right, any car which has exceeded 200,000kms is gonna drain loads of money for maintenance and is going to make us visit the mechanics frequently. I’m lucky that one mechanic is a relation and that Ah Kit provides pick-up and delivery service when he maintains my car.
How I rate the car
Quality and features 2.5/5
Ride Comfort 2.5/5
Fuel economy 3/5
Price and Cost 2.5/5
Total Score 3.3/5
It’s a decent car given its price and age, no regret buying it.
I hope once the gearbox is overhauled I would have finished working on the major mechanical components of the car, it should give me a hassle-free drive for the next two years. Once my eldest boy obtains his license, I would trade this in for a sedan that he can use.
For anyone who is looking for a comfortable people mover for seven adults to travel in comfort, this car surely beats its competitors. If you get a good unit then you may spend less than what I did but I think it’s a reasonable amount spent given its age.
Next, I’m trying to go into a classic car. Stay tuned.
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