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CarComplaints.com Notes: You don't want to get 2009 and 2010 Altima owners started about their cars. That is, unless, you know how to start their cars.

These vehicles can suddenly become impossible to start thanks to a faulty electronic steering column lock (ESCL). Nissan dealers will gladly replace it, but that will run you $1000.

It's one of the many reasons this car was named CarTalk's Turd of the Week and given our Beware of this Clunker badge. Two dubious honors.

More info & videos are available over at NissanProblems.com.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,784 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2009 Nissan Altima engine problems

engine problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #38

Jul 122015


  • 90,900 miles


Car would not start and had to be towed to Nissan dealer to have faulty steering lock mechanism replaced for $1100. And of course outside warranty period all out of pocket expense on a issue that should have been taken care of by Nissan as this is obviously a manufacture issue and bad parts out in car, this same issue has happened to thousands of other 2009 Nissan Altima owners.

- Des Plaines , IL, USA

problem #37

Jun 192015


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving 40 mph, the steering wheel seized and the engine stalled. The vehicle continued to coast and crashed into a curb. The contact mentioned that the front passenger side tire bent inward. The contact was unable to restart the engine. The contact did not specify if a police report was filed or if any injuries were sustained. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the power steering failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #36

Jul 062011


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. A warning light illuminated on the instrument panel when the contact attempted to restart the vehicle. The dealer could not locate a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 62,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #35

May 142015


  • 128,000 miles


Steering column locked and has to be replaced. Car will not turn on at all. Had to get it towed to dealership where they are trying to slam me with a $1100 repair bill. Car was bought in Feb 2009, and extended warranty for said specific part ended Feb 2015.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #34

Apr 042015


  • 81,000 miles
I'm stranded. It won't recognize my key. The internet tells me that this is happening to many others and that Nissan is unresponsive. Unless you count being willing to take $1000 plus to take care of what seems to be a well known problem.

- Douglassville, PA, USA

problem #33

Mar 162015


  • 81,500 miles
I have a 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5L. I've had the car for about 6 years now, and my mileage is about 81500 km. It has an automatic transmission. After driving for about 5 minutes, I had slowed down to enter a turning lane, and my car stalled in the middle of traffic and everything shut off while driving. I was able to restart the car after. Thank goodness there was no car behind me. I brought my car into Nissan dealership to get it checked out. They told me the crankshaft had to be replaced. I read online that there has been the same issue in multiple Nissan Altima and that there has been recalls for it. I asked Nissan about it and they said my car year does not qualify under the recall and that it will not be covered under the recall. It will cost me ~$400 plus for parts and labour to get it replaced and reprogrammed. I don't understand why it cannot be covered under the recall. The same problem fully described in the recall is happening to my car and my car is also a Nissan Altima. The recalls were specifically for 2002-2006 years. Mine is 2009. Many other owners have reported the same problem online with their 2009 model. So I don't understand why it is not included in the recall. It is very dangerous to be driving and having your car shut off in the middle of the road. They should make this an official recall for the 2009 model and give everyone a refund for the costs that we have had to pay out of pocket for a recurring problem that Nissan has with their Altima. [from edmonton, alberta, Canada]

- Edmonton, AL, USA

problem #32

Mar 022015


  • 38,385 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, who diagnosed that the push rod inside of the engine cylinder fractured and punctured a hole in the engine block. As a result, the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 38,385.

- Seguin, TX, USA

problem #31

Feb 082015


  • 83,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the engine stalled and the vehicle failed to start with the push to start button function. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the starter, the fuel line, and the steering column were replaced, but failed to repair the vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the wiring harness needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 83,000.

- Midlothian , VA, USA

problem #30

Jan 202015


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering wheel lock mechanism was fractured. The vehicle was completely shut off and did not restart. The vehicle was towed to a dealer who stated that the steering lock mechanism failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 104,000.

- Demopolis, AL, USA

problem #29

Nov 272014


  • miles
I drove my 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S to work on 11/27 and it started up just fine as usual. However, when I went to leave work for the day the car did not start. The keyless remote will allow me to lock and unlock my car, but when I go to start the car, it will not register my keyless remote. An error code shows that the electronic steering column lock (escl) mechanism was malfunctioning. Also, there is a yellow key icon on the left side of the dash that intermittently flashes no key. The ignition is indicating that the steering wheel is locked although I can turn the steering wheel. There are or were no prior warning that the part was about to fail including anylights on the dash panel. I had to leave my car in the garage and was stranded for sometime trying to find a way home. My car is still sitting in the garage as I cannot afford to pay the repairs at this time. After doing further research into the issue I have come to see that multiple people have complained about this same exact problem. A very disturbing factor since Nissan is aware of the problem, and for some customers has issued an extended warranty for this specific problem. Although either issuing a recall or removing the part from the later manufactured models to avoid this from occuring again. Hopefully, my vehicle does not fall outside the extended warranty window as Nissan is not assisting with the repairs.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #28

Sep 032014


  • 44,000 miles


I was trying to start my car and it would not start. The switch which allows the car to know you are pushing the brake did not work (push button ignition). I tried to put my key in the slot to start the car, but the car does not start if the car does not sense the brake is being pushed. This is a huge hazard. Good thing I was not stranded somewhere. I called Nissan with no help at all. A search on the internet revealed this is a problem that has not been addressed. The part number replaced is intermotor SL2110. Please respond with your investion on this. Thank you.

- Springhill, FL, USA

problem #27

Jun 102014


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while attempting to accelerate, the vehicle stalled. The contact mentioned that the battery and check engine warning lights were illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. The technician replaced the crank and cam shaft. However, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 65,000.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #26

Aug 142014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
I own a 2009 Nissan Altima coupe with approximately 60K miles. When driving on the interstate at speeds in excess of 60mph, the car decelerates with no warning. During the first incident, I was on the left-hand side of a semi truck caught in their blindspot while they were trying to switch lanes. I attempted to pass this truck only to have my car slow down completely, even with gas pedal to the floor. Vehicles behind me had to change lanes suddenly to avoid rear ending me, and I almost became the victim of a serious accident with this semi truck. Fearing a similar incident on the trip back, I stayed safely in the right hand lane going just below the posted speed (70mph). As I approached an incline on the interstate, not only would my car not speed up, it would not even maintain speed. It quickly went from 66mph to 55mph. Once again, I was almost involved in a serious collision with the unsuspecting vehicles behind me. After getting a diagnosis done at my local Nissan dealership, I was informed that my transmission was overheating. Nissan has admitted to knowing these issues, by automatically extending the warranty on these cvt transmissions to 10yr/120K. However, the way around actually paying to fix these death traps is to inform the consumer that the "fix" is not a new transmission, rather an external cooler that needs to be installed. These are commonly found in larger SUV's and trucks to help compensate for the additional stress on the transmission, due to larger size/weight. I drive a 2-door Altima. I am not towing boats or pavers. If my tiny car needs an external cooler to help its faulty transmission function safely and properly, that should have been installed at manufacturing. The out of pocket cost for this cooler is $1000+. Nissan needs to be held accountable for the faulty product they manufactured. This could result in serious injury or death.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #25

Jul 182014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 30,477 miles
Was pulling into parking spot with my foot on the brake rolling to a stop when the car suddenly accelerated and before I could lift my foot and reapply brake I had gone over the curb and into a bush.

- Schaumburg, IL, USA

problem #24

Jun 032014


  • 36,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start without warning. The contact mentioned that the failure recurred on two separate occasions. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 36,000.

- Signal Mountain, TN, USA

problem #23

May 172014


  • 60,412 miles
Car doors unlocked normally, the dash showed a yellow key light blinking, no response to pushing the ignition button. Car locks and unlocks with the remote. Headlights worked battery was charged full. Exited the door, locked the car, unlocked the car, entered in - held the remote close to the ignition button. The dashboard still showed yellow key light blinking. Pushed ignition button no response. Upon googling there was a suggestion to removed negative from battery wait for a 5 minutes, reconnect and try. Same results after connecting the battery. One article suggested to move the adjustable steering up and down vigorously. I released the steering button underneath the steering and moved the steering up and down. Pushed the ignition button and the engine started. Drove to the dealer who refused to do correct the problem stating that at the time the dealer inspected the vehicle everything was fine. He did not want to see the video I captured showing the yellow key light blinking.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #22

Feb 062014


  • 1,400 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning while parked. The manufacturer was contacted and stated that the contact would have to have the vehicle diagnosed by dealer. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 1400.

- Luisville , TX, USA

problem #21

Feb 012014


  • 63,200 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima coupe with 63,200 miles would not start last Saturday, 2/1. the steering column was locked, the brakes were locked, and the push to start button would not light up or start the car. The red light for the key was flashing and the car could never be started. My vehicle was towed to leith Nissan in cary, nc where service members there said this was a common problem and currently have two other vehicles in line for the same part. The electrical part for the start button is on serious backorder and the company has such a high demand for it that even Nissan corporate is saying it will be a few weeks to get the part in. The service staff at leith Nissan in cary, nc said this problem has been common and that Nissan was not recalling this part though they have knowledge this a serious issue affecting many Nissan car owners for a some time now. Leith Nissan told me to call corporate and anyone else I could to raise this concern and that maybe something would be done. Hundreds of other Nissan owners have posted this exact problem online and filed claims as well. Nissan needs to recall the part and reimburse those affected for rental cars and other expenses. I called the Nissan corporate office demanding reimbursement for rental car fees. The NHTSA needs to put a stop to this and enforce Nissan to recall this part on all Altima's. apparently this exact part has already been recalled on other Nissan vehicles.

- Apex, NC, USA

problem #20

Feb 012014


  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the engine would not start. The contact had an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle but he was unable to diagnose the cause of failure. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 37,000.

- Braintree, MA, USA

problem #19

Jan 202014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 62,500 miles
Car would not start due to failure of the steering lock device.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

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