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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2009-2010 Nissan Altima appears to have a defect where it occasionally refuses to start. We know the feeling, but it's just not acceptable in a car.

For the fix, Nissan dealers enjoy replacing the steering lock control unit for $800. Stranded Nissan owners have found that banging like hell on the steering lock unit at the base of the steering column will do the trick. Yes, the same unit that apparently has $800 worth of electronics.

How far do you have to drive to experience this? The average mileage at failure is just over 55,000 very short miles.

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


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,449 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 #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


  • 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 attemtped 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


  • 30,477 miles
Was pulling into parking spot with my foot on the brake rolling to a stop when the car suddenly accelorated 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

problem #18

Nov 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 14,500 miles
On Monday night 11/25/13 I drove to my local supermarket and when I went back to my car, it wouldn't start after pushing the start button. Several lights lit up; service engine soon, battery, oil light, brake light etc. I tried it a few times with no luck. I then tried shifting from park to drive and back to park. Tried to start it again and no luck. After waiting about a minute I tried it again and it finally started. It has been starting since then (today is 11/29/13) but needless to say I am very nervous and concerned that this will happen again and I won't be near home. This needs to be looked into by Nissan and a recall issued since it seems to be happening to many owners.. my brother also owns a 2009 Altima and this happened to him last year and he had to get the car towed to the dealer.

- E Rockaway, NY, USA

problem #17

Nov 202013


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the push-to-start button failed to engage the engine. The vehicle was towed the dealer where the contact was awaiting diagnosis of the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 60,000.

- Ocean City, MD, USA

problem #16

Nov 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 35,675 miles
Two incidents on same day: First incident at 7:15am: Engine continued to rev without accelerator pedal being pushed. Braking distance much longer than normal. When car did stop, engine speed returned to normal. Second incidence at 10:45am (had stopped/started car 5 times, and driven approximately 40 miles since first occurrence): Same engine over-rev issue while braking (accelerator pedal not pushed). After stopping (distance required much longer than normal), engine speed did not return to normal. When transmission was shifted to neutral, then park, to keep engine from propelling car, engine speed went to 6000rpm, without accelerator pedal being pushed. Had to turn engine off, then start again to get engine to respond normally.

- Trenton, GA, USA

problem #15

Nov 052013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
I was driving on rt.190 northbound in leominster, MA to pick up my 2 1/2 year old son at daycare. As I was driving my car started to lose power. Everything light started to go on, check engine, battery, gas. I was able to pull over. Smoke then started to come from the hood. I thought it was overheating. Then another car pulled over in front of me and told me to get out the car. I grabbed my purse and got out of my car. When I got out I saw fire inside in my hood. Less than 2 minutes my entire front end was on fire.

- Leominster, MA, USA

problem #14

Oct 142013


  • 68,800 miles
2009 Nissan Altima coupe, SE. While making turns (without stopping), the car stalls in the middle of the turn and the steering locks up. The most recent time was October 14, 2013, and while making a right hand turn from a busy street and onto a busy street, the vehicle stalled which almost caused an accident due to another car making a left hand turn. Nissan has a current recall on several models regarding this happening due to a faulty accelerator sensor, however this vehicle (make, model, year) are not in the recall, and I suspect it should be. Could be a very dangerous situation. This has happened to me at least 10 times.

- Canton, OH, USA

problem #13

May 102013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
This part is cracked/broken just like all the other Nissan Altima exhaust manifolds. Had it happened six months earlier it would be covered under warranty. Six months, 9000 miles"?? its a $18000 car. A vital emissions part made of steel cracked and they wont fix it" there is a recall, ntb12-092 in effect for this car but according to Nissan my car doesn't fit the parameters because of the VIN#.it clearly has the exact same problem as the other cars, a defective emissions part and should be included in this safety recall.

- Citrus Heights, CA, USA

problem #12

Jul 172013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 30,837 miles
While driving down route 1 in norwood, MA. My dashboard panel went dark and my engine shut off. I was driving approximately 40 mph. I was able to coast to a stop, put the car in park and restart the engine. The engine did not sputter, or present any issue prior to the shut down. I took the car to the dealer and they said there was nothing wrong with the car. This leaves me feeling very uncomfortable as with no root cause identified it could happen again in a heavier traffic situation. Besides my own safety, I am concerned for other Altima owners.

- Norwood, MA, USA

problem #11

Apr 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
Driving down the road when the car started to stutter pulling over to the side of the highway the car begin to smoke under the hood. I came to a complete stop and got out the car. Flames begin to come from under the hood. After the fire was put out we spoke to the fire marshall ([xxx]) who stated the fire started from mid engine line. And more than likely the car was on fire while I was driving. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #10

Jan 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,297 miles
I went to shop-rite at 6 am to purchase lunch meat for my daughters school lunch. When I went to start the car it would not start. I thought it was the battery so I read the car manual on how to jump a car battery. In the car manual on page 0-12, the warning /indicator lights, page.I saw a picture of the warning indicator that was on my dash board and it had a page number 2-26. On the page it read" it is a security indicator light, to call the dealership" the car would not start with the push button.the car does not have a back up key entry either. So I was stranded at the supermarket.I had to call a tow truck in order for me to get home. I had the company who towed the car and who has been servicing our family cars for years call Nissan to see how Nissan can fix the car. Nissan advised that this part is not under warranty or under any recall and that there is nothing that they can do. They said it will cause me an estimated $3000 dollars to get the car fixed. Mind you the car is only 3 1/2 years old and I am still making car payments. [xxx] who towed and fixed the car doubled checked for me to see if this part was under a Nissan recall or if this part is under warranty, to my surprise it is not.I can't believe that a push button car does not have a back up to start a car when the push button malfunction. This does not make any sense. I can not believe that there is no alternate way of starting a car when a push button does not work. Thank goodness that this happened close to home and not while I was out with my daughters. How can a car be built with out any back up plan. Better yet how can this happen to a 3 year old car with only 70297 miles. Also my tires have been recalled and the engine was recalled and lastly my passenger air bag goes on when it wants to. I am paying so much money for a lemon and no one can help me. I will never buy a Nissan again. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Colonia , NJ, USA

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