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:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
22,342 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

problem #11

Feb 232013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles


Parked can in front of store and attmpted to start it but it would not start. Yellow "key missing" light comes on but it won't start. Key battery is new, car battery is new, won't jump start. Car is dead. Turns out to be the steering lock mechanism. Only 57, 000 miles and this is only one of many issues we have had with this car. New battery (2) new brake switch new alternator new A/C pump new front rotor.

- Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #10

Sep 272011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
The low brake fluid light came on and I found out the brake master cylinder leaks brake fluid into the brake booster. There are no leaks at the calipers, hoses, or any other areas. This is a known issue with the 2007 and 2008 and there is an open investigation for those years NHTSA action number: PE11020, but it does not the include 2009.

- Roseville, CA, USA

problem #9

Jan 032012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 34,500 miles
Brake light started coming on and off on dashboard. Brake operation was not affected at the time. Brake fluid level was low, no visible leaks and brake pads were not worn out. Dealer diagnosed a master cylinder leaking internally into brake booster. This premature failure seems similar to the current investigation for the 07-08 Altima.

- Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #8

Jul 062011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 42,500 miles


I wish to file a complaint about a brake fluid leak from the master cylinder into the vacuum booster. On this date, the brake warning light turned on. I inspected the master cylinder and noticed that fluid was at the minimum level. I purchased brake fluid and filled the reservoir. When I took the car in for a routine oil change today (January 5, 2012, I told the dealer what I had done. They inspected the car and found the master cylinder was leaking brake fluid into the vacuum booster due to a faulty O-ring. The work was covered by my warranty. However, because it is unusual for a master cylinder to fail with so few miles on the car, I checked on the internet and found that a number of other Altima owners have experienced this problem, and I am concerned that there may be a safety issue brewing. I understand that the NHTSA in May 2011 was planning to investigate similar problems in 2007-08 Altima. It appears the problem may be in 2009 atimas also.

- Arnold, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 072009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 8,000 miles
My brake light kept coming on only a few months after I bought the car. I took it in and they said they replaced the brake master cylinder because it was leaking. About a year later I started hearing screeching when I braked, mostly at night or in cool weather. I had the brake pads looked at and they were fine. Now the brake light is coming on again, but I don't want to pay for another replacement master cylinder since my warranty is expired. Nissan knows about these defective brake cylinders and should be held responsible and made to recall cars up to 2009 or 2010!

- San Gabriel, CA, USA

problem #6

Sep 232011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated while driving approximately 5 mph, she applied the brake and the pedal depressed to the floor. The vehicle surged forward and caused her to crash into a tree and a metal pole. The contact was not injured. The vehicle was towed to an independent repair shop. The failure was not diagnosed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and informed the contact that they would send an inspector to examine the vehicle. The failure mileage was 16,000. Updated 11/29/11 updated 12/07/11

- Holbrook, NY, USA

problem #5

May 262011

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,165 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the master cylinder was leaking fluid abnormally. The safety warning light started to illuminate and the vehicle was taken to the dealer. After inspecting the failure, they replaced the master cylinder under warranty. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 11,165. Updated 07/08/11 the consumer stated each time he went to the dealer, brake fluid had to be added. The mastery cylinder was leaking. Updated 07/20/11

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 272010


  • 8,100 miles
On July 27,2010 my vehicle was approaching a corner and trying to come to a stop. A truck was approaching perpendicular heading North. I motioned for the truck to take the right of way before making my turn. My foot was on the brake pedal, but the vehicle would not stop, resulting in the truck hitting my vehicle in the left front side, causing considerable damage. In addition the airbags did not deploy. The vehicle is now in the body shop. Nissan na has been contacted, and planning to investigate the problem concerning the brakes and airbags. Insurance is estimating body damage.

- Hallandale , FL, USA

problem #3

Jun 222010

Altima 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While entering the vehicle, the contact noticed that the rubber padding had fractured from the brake pedal without warning. The vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileages were 9,000. Updated 08/11/10. Updated 08/17/10 the consumer stated the rubber brake pad fell off again as he was pulling out of the driveway. Updated 12/03/10

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #2

Feb 212009


  • 7,500 miles
Brakes failed at 7500 miles while driving approximately 47mph on a busy highway. Nissan dealership found all 4 rotors warped and all 4 brakes defective. All were replaced under warranty. 2 days after dealership repairs, a very loud "clunking" noise was noticed while driving on another freeway and brakes failed once again at 50 mph. Another Nissan dealership stated there was a "brake rotor run-out excessive measure" and resurfaced rotors.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #1

Feb 212010


  • 7,000 miles
At regular driving, brakes failed at 7500 miles (while driving approximately 47 mph on the 5 freeway southbound). Tustin Nissan dealership found all 4 rotors warped and brakes defective. Replaced all rotors and all brakes. Also defective: Driver's side rear view mirror (replaced at 8000 miles), paint trim peeling (upon new vehicle delivery).

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

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