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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
85,612 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Jun 022014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 107,000 miles


Traveling on a 3 hour trip, of which was on the interstate at 75 to 80 mph speeds. After about 2 hours of running these speeds non stop I was in the right hand lane coming up on a small incline, the car lost power my speed instantly dropped to 60 mph. I stopped at the next gas station (ten miles down the road)to check the transmission fluid, it was fine. Got back on the road and it ran ok. The next day on the road the same thing happened, I stopped for 10 minutes, got back on the road then it ran ok. This could have been an accident if a vehicle was behind me. After researching the web I discovered many other owners have had this issue this Nissan is an interstate death trap that should be recalled.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #18

May 102014

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
I was driving when I pushed the clutch and the pedal would not come back up the car stalled suddenly, and I hurt my neck.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #17

Feb 102014


  • 104,000 miles
I was trying to get to the er and when I went to start my car the word "key" flashed on and the car will not start!!! I have already had to have the transmission replaced at 98K I am stranded and mathews Nissan in clarksville, tn says they will be glad to help for a price. I explained to them it was an emergency and they suggested " I call a friend".. said they didn't build it and I wasn't paying them for the car, I was paying the bank and to call Nissan if I had a problem with how they were built!!! terrible service and unreliable car!!! still haven't gotten medical attention!!!! thanks alot Nissan!!!!!!!

- Pleasant View, TN, USA

problem #16

Dec 062013


  • 32,608 miles


TL- the contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While coasting uphill, the contact stated that the vehicle accelerated without the accelerator pedal being depressed. The contact crashed into a tree, but no injuries were sustained. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for inspection. The vehicle has not been repaired. The manufacturer has been notified of the incident. The exact failure mileage was 32608.-

- New Ringgold, PA, USA

problem #15

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

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problem #14

Aug 312013


  • 58,000 miles
We purchased this 2009 Nissan Altima 5 months ago with 56000 miles on it and only drove it locally until 8/31/13 when we went on a five hour trip, 3 of which was on the interstate at 65 to 70 mph speeds. After about 2 hours of running these speeds non stop we were in the middle lane with heavy traffic coming up on a small incline the car lost power my speed instantly dropped to 40 mph, the tractor trailer following close behind had to go on lockdown to avoid plowing us over. I was floor boarding the car trying to maintain 40 mph until I could change lanes to pull over. It took about 10 miles before we could change lanes at this speed but in that time I realized after attempting to manually downshift for more power the cvt transmission was stuck in high and wouldn't let me downshift manually. After sitting on the road with no phone signal or help I decided to stumble to the nearest town but the transmission was again working by this time so we cautiously finished the last leg of our trip. With no local Nissan dealership at our destination I called my dealership who said they weren't aware of any issues like this but bring it in upon return. At our destination we again drove the car for three days short trips with no problems but on our return trip again two hours or so at interstate speeds im losing power and the transmission is stuck in high again so we pull over and let it set again before continuing our trip home. Soon as we arrived home I called the dealership and they kept it for three days and said no codes or problem could be found and they didn't have anyone to drive it at the speeds or distance the problem occurred to recreate it but suggested I pay them $275 to change the fluid. After researching the web I discovered many other owners are having this issue its even videos on youtube. This Nissan is an interstate death trap that should be recalled.

- Axton, VA, USA

problem #13

Jul 282012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 73,000 miles


Driving vehicle at speed of 80 when all of a sudden car did not accelerate but gas petal went to the ground. Car started to loss power. Was able to pull to the side of highway which car stayed at 20 mph would not go any faster. I had car evaluated and mechanic said he could not find anything wrong but said he had seen this before in the high temperature.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #12

Jun 292013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 685,000 miles
We were driving on I 40 at a steady 75 mph and we had traveled about 50 miles at this speed when the car started to slow down even pressing the gas to the floor did not work. We slowed to 40 to 45 mph, the rest of the way home. Even after exiting the freeway the car acted like it had a lose of power and accelerated very slow. This is the second time this has happened both times I was a passenger and the first time I thought it was the transmission. It seemed to shift hard and the engine raved as well. Both times this happened on I 40, this is seriously dangerous and Nissan needs to recall these cars I have found much information about this very issue on this same model year.

- Laguna, NM, USA

problem #11

May 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 150,796 miles
Around 11:30am on 05/15/2013 while driving the vehicle there was an immediate loss of acceleration. The vehicle was coasted into retailers parking for which it had to be towed to the dealership to determine the issue. Once the dealership was able to diagnose the vehicle they came back with cvt transmission failure. They mentioned they were having issues with cvt transmission in my version of Altima, but would be unable to cover the cost of a replacement transmission of $4,000. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to file a claim and was given a case number for reference. I received a call back within 24-hours of placing the initial call. However the representative stated that based of the review of my case they would again be unable to cover any cost associated with replacing the transmission. To note, no review of my vehicle was conducted. To make a long story short I have replaced the transmission with a used transmission, but after researching there are numerous cases of transmission failures in Nissan Altima's yet Nissan is not recalling and replacing the transmission. The failure could have caused a crash and is not safe. Someone needs to look into these failures before someone get hurt!

- Raymore, MO, USA

problem #10

Feb 072013


  • 35,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima would not crank. It was fine when I drove it to work. When I went to go home, it would not crank and a yellow light with a key came on. I have to get my car towed tomorrow because the power steering lock went out. I've noticed this is common with this year make and model. This is ridiculous, there needs to be a recall. I've read over 50 incidents just like mine this month alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Bay Saint Louis, MS, USA

problem #9

Dec 272012


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving approximately 70 mph when the transmission failed. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer for diagnosis where the contact was informed that the transmission required replacement. The vehicle was scheduled for repairs. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 140,000.

- Sears, MI, USA

problem #8

Nov 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
I turn off my car to get gas and when I got back in my car it would not turn on I try to have a jump and that didn't work so I had my car tow to the dealership, I only had the car for 1 year. The dealer said I would need a new steering unit that will cost me $1300. This is not the first time for these Nissan to have this issue and I feel a recall is needed. I feel like I been rip off by Nissan and my dealership.

- Upper Marlboro, MD, USA

problem #7

Oct 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 77,320 miles
The transmission in my 2009 Altima began to make a whining noise. It began to shutter and made the whole vehicle respond erratically. When stopped, the vehicle would move forward. Nissan apparently knows there is a problem and extended the transmission warranty to 120,000 miles. The problem is Nissan is replacing the faulty cvt transmission with a "new" replacement faulty transmission. There is no recall on the vehicle. After searching the internet, there are many people having problems with the transmission. There are even videos on youtube documenting problems with the 2009 Altima transmissions. Even after an initial replacement, many vehicles are needing multiple replacement transmissions. To my knowledge, no attempt has been made by Nissan to solve the problem, they just replace transmissions. A recall needs to occur, and Nissan needs to fix the problem instead of replacing it. Once again, there is no recall.

- Vergennes, IL, USA

problem #6

Feb 112012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 82,239 miles
I purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima 2 years ago and the vehicle has being nothing but problems since the beginning, on top of that the maintenance is very costly if you take it to the dealer. I take my car to ase certified mechanics at pep-boys and the labor is allot cheaper than dealer pricing, my car has always being maintained by the schedule maintenance according to the owners manual and recently I had my transmission service by the pep-boys and they sell by my standards better quality oil like valvoline cvt oil being that I saved some money through pep-boys they did the service and everything went well till recently my tranny, went out and hey blamed the oil wasn't the right color according to the Nissan tech, now I want to know how can valvoline sell a certified Nissan product to millions of consumers and they say it's not covered under the mfg, warranty.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 192011

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
The automatic transmission seemed to be binding at all speeds. The dealership examined it and advised the transmission would need to be replaced under warranty. They stated a replacement transmission would be available in 3 days. As of this point the replacement transmission is still not available. The vehicle is "ok to drive" per the dealer. But given the potential for vehicle failure a 2 month wait for a replacement transmission is not acceptable.

- Galax, VA, USA

problem #4

Aug 052011


  • 41,550 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving 88 mph when the vehicle exhibited an abnormal whining noise from under the hood. The vehicle then decelerated without warning and would not accelerate past 20 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer performed a diagnostic that located several failures, unknown to the contact. The dealer then test drove the vehicle and was able to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer advised the dealer that the specifications for the transmission had recently changed and there was an excess of transmission fluid in the vehicle. The dealer removed one half quart of the transmission fluid, but the failure continued to recur. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 41,550 and the current mileage was 42,800.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #3

Jul 012011

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
S10 appropriate handling- copy of a letter to Nissan re acceleration problems with his 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl the consumer stated when she merged onto a major highway, she applied the accelerator pedal, and soon discovered the vehicle was decreasing in speed, instead of increasing. The consumer stopped to a repair shop, but they were unable to find any problems. After approximately an hour and a half of driving at a constant speed of 60 mph, the acceleration problem returned. Going up hills, was extremely difficult and the top speed of going up a hill was 45 mph. The vehicle was towed to a dealer and the next day the consumer was informed they were unable to diagnose and fix the acceleration problem. The consumer continued to experience the same problems. The consumer took the vehicle to her local dealer, and they were unable to diagnose a problem as well.

- Glen Burnie, MD, USA

problem #2

Aug 152010


  • miles
Have a 2009 Nissan Altima. Been having problems with it for a year now. Car keeps on jerking and stalling and would stop working while waiting at a stop sign. Last incident was Aug 15,2010. I was waiting at a stop signal on a hill and the car completely shut off on me, the car started to roll back. I had to hurry and put the car in park and restart the car. Everytime I go to the dealership they can't find what's wrong or they will tell me nothings wrong. This car is very dangerous and Nissan needs to figure out the problem.

- Monroeville, PA, USA

problem #1

Nov 172008


  • miles
A traffic officer and investigated an incident where a vehicle owner was rum over by his vehicle. The vehicle does not have a physical key to operate the vehicle. There is an electronic "key" and a push button start/shut off switch. The driver parked the vehicle in a driveway with a steep grade. The vehicle was left in "drive" with the engine off. The driver exited and started to walk away from the vehicle. The vehicle started to roll backwards, down the driveway. The driver ran to the vehicle to try to stop it and was run over by the vehicle. It is possible to park the vehicle, shut the engine off and exit the vehicle with the transmission any gear selection and exit the vehicle. This is the second incident with this same model vehicle, but different years, that the engine was shut off, the transmission was left in drive and the vehicle ran over the driver. In both instances the vehicle was owned by the driver for a short time.

- Livingston, NJ, USA

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