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Maybe not your typical Versa fanatic

1600 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  pburto
Hi folks!

I love the pre-2012 Versa sedans, but probably not the way most people here do.

I own FOUR of them, whose odometers read from 115K to 216K miles. The first one I owned was a 2007 model. Today I own one 2009 SL sedan and three 2010 SL sedans.

Why do I love them? Because I own a driving school, and pre-2012 Versa sedans are the PERFECT driver's training equipment.

The passenger is close to the driver (so an instructor can reach the wheel), but the car isn't super-small. For its price we got great technology including bluetooth. The driver seat moves vertically. And most important: Visibility. Both driver and passenger can see everything, whether they're short or tall. That keeps us safe. (I own sedans because the rear window of the hatchback is a bit small for what we do.)

This year I was all ready to update our entire fleet to new cars. I looked at everything: Corolla's, Civics, American cars, VW's and even those tiny Fiats. Nothing even came close in all respects.

So, instead of new cars, this year I'm dumping several grand on each car to eliminate every shake and shimmy. I expect each car to provide about 6 years of service, driving 5K miles per month. (The math: That means I'm targeting 360K miles for each car.)

They still look great and drive beautifully. As the mechanic looked over every detail, some of the issues we encountered brought me to this forum, which I've found very helpful already. Thanks to the contributors. I hope to contribute myself were I can.


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Welcome aboard! The V sedan really is a great car to learn how to drive on. I taught my nephew how to drive it. Mine is a manual transmission and he learned without any issues on my car.

How come you didn't go for any of the no frills 1.6 models since they are primarily just for learning how to drive? Why are the bells and whistles important to you?
Welcome, I have to say that it's very cool that someone is using these little things in such a productive way. They really aren't given the recognition they deserve.
How come you didn't go for any of the no frills 1.6 models since they are primarily just for learning how to drive? Why are the bells and whistles important to you?
Several tiny reasons... 1) The center armrest allows the instructor to keep his hand near the wheel without getting tired. 2) A little extra power means safety, especially when entering a freeway. Most driving schools have a brake, but we also add a gas pedal for the instructor. Students are often afraid to really put the pedal down. 3) Bluetooth. Alothough students can't use it, we need to be able to reach instructors on the road... And believe me, we'd get phone calls (or accidents) if they touch the phone. 4) Mentioned before: Vertically adjusting seats accommodate short or tall students. 5) Let's face it, we hit curbs occasionally and hub caps would crack and look terrible. 6) I felt the upholstery would last longer. (I chose charcoal interiors.) 7) Maybe the biggie... In my business I don't usually go "low end" with any decision. Little decisions like that means our prices have to be higher, but we have a great reputation and we do zero advertising. (All instructors are former law enforcement so they need to be paid well. We're the only local driving school that allows parents to ride along, and we never have other teens in the back seat.)
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all your reasons seem very logical. Thanks for the response.
I don't mind saying I wish the more recent Versas would work for us. I'm a Nissan fan overall.

Although the new versas also have fairly good visibility, it just doesn't match the tall, narrow stature of the earlier models.

Even the Note has the small back window. To me it's a disturbing trend that cars are getting smaller windows every year. Sure, less glass means newer cars are getting better crash test results, but for me I prefer "not crashing". ;-)

I'm hoping in 2016 or 2017 there will be a new car that's as well priced, easy-to-drive, feature-rich, and low-maintenance. But after exploring all the major manufacturers, I've found nothing better than what I already have.

I spend thousands every month on gasoline, and I could have saved a lot with a hybrid, but for me safety (easy driving) has to come first.
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Looking forward to reports as your Versas get on in years. 08V

Well here's an update:

Our oldest vehicle is a 2009 SL Sedan with 216K miles. Although it was already "serviceable", we paid for the following repairs, planning for another few years of service.

  • New upper and lower motor mounts
  • New front lower control arms
  • New driver side axle and seal
  • New front and rear shocks
  • New driver and passenger side rear hub assemblies
  • New AC Compressor (The old one was leaking slowly and was only cold when the car was in motion)
  • New rear sub frame connector
  • New climate control circuit board in the dash. (Defrost button didn't work, and the AC button worked only sporadically.)
  • Transmission Fluid Service
  • Tune up (plugs and gaskets)
  • Fixed the driver door lock cylinder. (Someone had attempted a break-in. We had been using the electronic fob to enter, so if its battery died we'd have no way to get in.)

Total cost: $3320 parts and labor (Plus an alignment is still needed.) Yikes! :surprise Of course, this is pretty much the resale value of the car itself, given its mileage. But now it drives like it's brand new... No shakes or shimmies at all. The car was already paid off, so I think this was a much better investment than buying a new car, which we would have cost about $1,000 additional to modify for driving school use. The body is still almost immaculate, having been rear-ended twice and repaired via the other-guy's insurance. Cars don't really get rust here in Sacramento.

The other 3 cars will get similar thorough inspections and service so they drive "like new" and everything works as it should.

Separately, we've also added:
  • Full-size spare tires with used steel rims. In case of a flat our instructors change the tire so they can finish their workday. I don't want our instructors to teach driving on a tiny spare.
  • All-weather floor mats.
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