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


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,765 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Jan 092017


  • miles


My brake switch went out in September. At any given time my car wouldn't start. When I press the brake peddle my brake light wouldn't come on. This happened over and over again. This is very dangerous because someone could run into the back of the car at any given time. I travel up and down the road a good bit. Having this problem is very dangerous for me. Now, a few months my car want start again. The dealership thinks its the steering column this time. My car don't even have 70,000 miles on it. This doesn't make since to me. I've been told by several people that Nissan is aware of this problem. I've been told that the problem exist in most all 2009 Altima's. why would Nissan risk the well being of their customers. It's sad that when I give them the year and make of my car they know exactly what the problem is without even checking them out. There should be a recall on these parts. These parts. Why is Nissan willing to cheat their customers and why are they willing to put our lives as well as the lives of other drivers at risk.

- Roswell, GA, USA

problem #24

Jul 062016


  • 25,290 miles
Issue: Unintended acceleration conditions: 2pm/clear/parking lot while making U-turn to the right, brakes did not respond. Stepped again on brakes, more firmly, but did not slow car which continued to roll slowly forward about 7 mph. Suddenly, loud revving, car continued forward roll. Immediately, added left foot to brake, pressing with full weight. No response. About 2-3 second after revving/hard braking, the car opened full throttle and hurtled forward about 1-1/2 to 2 car lengths; slammed into wall. Airbag did not deploy my car had only 25290 miles (only about two years of normal usage) at the time the system failed. My left knee sustained small gash from the underside of the steering column when I was slammed back after impact threw me forward, forehead knocked the upper steering wheel. Note: About 1 month prior to accident, the audio controls on my steering wheel honked the horn instead. The next day, they were ok. The same thing happened when tested at the collision center after accident; it's on tape. The rep at the collision center was informed of the switch problem from the start. When I them tested days later, the audio controls worked properly. Also, an indicator on the dash went from showing the mpg with a bar as I accelerated or slowed, then switched to a digital report of 18 mpg/city. It kept shifting between these indicators without my interference. Finally, the airbag failed to deploy although impact clearly exceeded 15 mph. I believe there was a severe failure of the electrical system; the cvt system with its sensors, etc. Is dependent on it. My account parallels reports I have uncovered about sudden acceleration. I noted that often an event was precipitated by a slowing, and a turn. When I recently talked to a Nissan tech about the switches, airbag, indicator failures, he mentioned pinched harness could be a possibility.

- Laguna Woods, CA, USA

problem #23

Mar 152016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 210,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima VIN number [xxx] has many safety issues that are not being reported with my VIN number. The struts, steering lock box{which I paid $900 to repair], ABS speed control sensor, engine oil coolant and most of all the cvt transmission have went out on my car and Nissan will not help me repair. So I am forced to attempt this last try before joining a class action law suit. I have only had the car 2 years and now I am out $9000 and the repairs are more than the car is worth. It would take too long to give detail about all the events so I pray someone at Nissan is decent enough to stand behind their product and make this right I am a single mom of three and ride less. I have contacted att. General [xxx] and BBB. My car is at [xxx] my number is [xxx] my name is [xxx] I have opened 5 cases and been denied. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #22

Aug 042016


  • miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima is currently having issues with the defects in the electronic steering column lock (escl). The car just cut off on me as I was parking in a parking spot. Luckily I was able to force the gear in park. It disabled the push-button ignition on my car and locked my steering column. So, I was stranded! this is big safety issue because my car could've just continued to roll if I couldn't get it into the parked gear! it's unfair that as a consumer of Nissan, I have to experience this issue after the Nissan warranty on the escl expired in March 2015 and be posed with paying over $1000 in repair costs. Per Nissan, there was no specific mileage number that this defect could occur; so they should recall the escl systems in all affected cars instead of covering their own behinds and giving a warranty with unlimited miles and an end date of March 2015. Clearly Nissan is not concerned with its consumers safety. It's not fair to consumers that bought Nissan vehicles that experience the dangerous defect after March 2015. I am a very unhappy consumer at this time.

- Palestine, TX, USA

problem #21

Sep 022015


  • 55,000 miles
I have a 2009 Nissan Altima which I bought brand new. My car has only 76K miles. The problem is there is rust forming at the floorbeds which is making the car unsafe and is causing brakes issues. I was told Nissan knew about the rust problem from a very longtime. Last week, I spend $210 to fix air leaks due to failed sensors. The problem is affecting brakes and sensors of the car which is making the car unsafe.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #20

Jun 182015


  • 93,000 miles
Got into my car & it would not crank. Brakes were pressed & stayed in lock position. After turning the steering wheel back & forth it started.

- District Heights, MD, USA

problem #19

Jan 282015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the electronic steering lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 67,000. Updated 03/24/15 updated 10/19/2015

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #18

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 investigation on this. Thank you.

- Springhill, FL, USA

problem #17

Aug 062014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 72,822 miles
Have had several issues with my 2009 Nissan Altima. I bought it November 2012. By February 2013, I replaced tires. Was sold a car with incorrect license plates that owed registration fees to dmv. I almost got towed and didn't know why. Between February and November 2013, I replaced brakes, another set of tires, third brake light twice, and battery. May 2014, took it to rogers & rogers dealership for an oil change. Maintenance other light and tires on. (car was bought with a flashing tire maintenance light on) mounts and struts were replaced and was advised to replace sensors. August 2014, car wouldn't start again. Steering lock unit needs to be replaced. It's not covered under extended warranty. Rear left window doesn't work either. Everything adds up to over $3000.

- El Centro, CA, USA

problem #16

Jul 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima intermittently will not start. Car will only click over and unable to shift car into neutral. Air conditioning and radio work, but when you press on brake to start car nothing happens. Dealers were unable to duplicate problem, but have been got caught out many times when car would not start and had to notify aaa. This is a common problem with many Nissan's and it is not covered under any warranty or recall.

- Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #15

Feb 072014


  • miles


Trying to start my 2009 Nissan Altima, it would not start!!! the brakes were almost stuck and the car simply would not start! the lights in the car turned on with out a problem so I know it wasn't the battery, plus I changed it 2 years ago. After reading many many reviews, 2009 Nissan Altima are having issues with the start button, now I have to pay tow company to take to dealer and pay so much money. Please please Nissan help replace this!!

- New Carrollton, MD, USA

problem #14

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 #13

Jan 032014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 91,000 miles
When I got into my car this morning, the steering column was locked up and breaks were hard to push. After trying a few times to start the vehicle, I noticed that the auto-theft must be on. I tried to put the fob in the manual ignition, but the fob got stuck and would not release. After several tries, the fob finally came out. The car still does not start and the auto-theft is still on. The battery is not bad because the car beeps when the door is open and the lights work. I am going to have to tow the vehicle in to get it repaired. There should be a recall on this problem.

- Blue Mound, IL, USA

problem #12

Oct 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 82,820 miles
When I tried to turn on my 2009 Altima which is 4 years old and purchased by me new from the dealer, the car would not start. The vehicle starts by depressing the brake while pushing the start switch. After trying several times to start the car, I had the vehicle towed to the dealership. The vehicle was diagnosed with brake switch failure. According the serviced rep at Nissan and the tow truck driver, this issue has been occurring more and more. The charge to repair the problem was $526.81. Per the invoice from the dealership, the sub-harness, the switch assembly, and the band hose had to be replaced.

- Descanso, CA, USA

problem #11

Aug 292013


  • 60,000 miles
The car failed to start; I see lots of complains where the steering wheel locks in place and so does the brake and the car fails to start. I had the same problem twice already and the dealer told me to replace the key less switch however, the problem continues and I see that the problem was not the key. As I can see others are having similar issues of the car locking in place and the problem is more than just the key problem.. this should be definitely recalled.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #10

Feb 012013


  • 56,000 miles
On multiple occasions the dashboard brake warning light is turning on. This usually happens when getting off the freeway. I checked the master cylinder and the fluid level was iow so I added dot 4 brake fluid. This car is regularly serviced every 5000 miles and the dealer at mossy Nissan oceanside, ca, did not mention the issue at 55000 miles. I have informed the dealer via appointment yesterday, no reply as of this morning.

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #9

Apr 232013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 46,711 miles
After arriving home, I parked my car and went into the house. When I attempted to re-enter my car approximately 1 hour later, I pressed the brake and pushed the start button as I have done since purchasing my car approx. 4 months ago. The car would not start. The push brake sign was still illuminated and the steering wheel would not move. The brake was very hard. I left the car alone and said I would try again in the morning. I went to my vehicle at about 8:30am in the morning and problem occurred again; however, the engine finally started about 5 minutes later. I drove the car to the dealership and they diagnosed the issue to be a faulty break switch. Since the car was no longer under warranty (36 months/ 36000 miles) I had to pay $173 to fix this issue which would have been more if I had not complained that the dealership was charging 2 hours labor and diagnosis for a 1 hour job. After researching the issue online I have found several other owners experiencing the same issue with their 2009 Nissan Altima. Nissan needs to address this issue as I could have been stranded in a remote location or overnight.

- Riverdale , GA, USA

problem #8

Feb 202013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
Had stopped to get breakfast. Locked my car and upon returning unlocked the car and tried to start vehicle with no success. There was no response from my car. When the tow truck arrived I then learned that the brakes were stiff and steering wheel did not want to turn. We had it towed to Nissan dealer. After leaving it there I did some investigating online about potential problems. Was shocked to see how many people had the same problem as me presently and past. Apparently, several people found themselves in similar situations with getting no help from Nissan of North America with replacement of the steering lock mechanism. I had yet to hear if this was my problem but was given the sad/expensive news a day later that indeed I would be included in the growing number of Nissan owners who would have to pay to have this faulty part replaced. But the fun didn't stop there. The part is on backorder (because so many are needed) until further notice and there are recalls on my car that no one bothered to tell me about. I called Nissan and left a message with a customer service rep who was going to forward my concern onto a regional concern specialist. When she called me back two days later she informed me that it is not Nissan job to let their owners/drivers know about recalls but the dealers job. In addition, she's pretty sure that no help will be given to replace the part that will cost me 700 dollars. But she would ask and call me back three days later. She is supposed to call me tomorrow with the answer. Shocked is the only word that comes to mind about my situation. I can't believe that this part has caused so many people so many problems but it is not on a recall list somewhere. Is there nothing to be done for it? even the service tech at the dealer has told me that they have replaced several. My car was parked when it quit responding but someone could be driving. Help!

- Canmer, KY, USA

problem #7

Feb 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
The key warning light appeared on the dash; replaced batteries in both of the keys and the warning light disappeared. One week later, with no additional problems or warning, I parked the car to go to a doctor appointment and when I returned less than 1 hour later, I was able to get into the car, but the brake would not depress, the steering wheel would not lock, and the car would not start. Car will not go into accessory mode either nor does the other key start the car.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #6

Feb 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 7,500 miles
Brake warning light comes on and off while driving. Some loss of brake fluid with no apparent leaks. Suspect master cylinder leaking into vacuum booster, just as many other Altima owners are experiencing. Vehicle is out of warranty now, and I don't want to buy another master cylinder out-of-pocket from Nissan since I have read on the net where others have had replacement unit failures (such as NHTSA action number PE11020). What am I to do? Nissan should pay for a permanent repair for this obvious product defect!

- Katy, TX, USA

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