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 1 of 2)

problem #39

Jan 172017


  • miles


I was at a gas station in a unsafe area (high crime) and my car would not start back up. My car went into "lock mode", after research the steering lock can malfunction on the 2009 Nissan Altima. Looks like the warranty used to be 8 years and it was changed to 6 years. This would have been the 8th year for me. I was terrified being stuck with no ride. It took me an hour to find someone to pick me up. I had to leave the car overnight. If this is a common issue why was the warranty shortened" or why is there not a lifetime warranty on this part" being stranded for an issue that is the manufacturers fault is unacceptable. I have never been more scared in my life than I was last night. I sat in my car waiting for a tow. I am a female and I had multiple men approach my car. Terrified. Unsafe. This problem could have been much much worse but it needs to be addressed and under warranty.

- Eustis, FL, USA

problem #38

Oct 202016


  • 124,000 miles
Parked in garage, wouldn't start, steering lock system was not working so the engine didn't recognize the push button start, had to have it towed to auto mechanic to have the part replaced for $1,000 plus towing! Nissan stopped using this part in 2010 so they must know it was a bad part. I could have been anywhere when this happened and been stranded.

- Winchester Bay, OR, USA

problem #37

Jun 012013


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While operating the vehicle at various speeds, the vehicle suddenly stopped accelerating and the speed would reduce. The dealer diagnosed that the transmission was faulty. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 75,000.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #36

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 #35

Jul 302016


  • 130,000 miles
First problem is stationary while parked. Car was bumped by another while parked and steering column locked up. It happened again without being bumped for unknown reason. Had to tow to garage to unlock. Has happened twice now. Expensive to fix. Second problem is while in motion on highways. On hot day, during longer trips where uphill climbing is present, the engine starts to lose power going up hill and manual states it is a built in safety feature to protect engine however this is a big safety hazard because you have to pull over and let the car cool down for a while before driving again. This has now happened to my family 3 times.

- Alpine, CA, USA

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problem #34

Jun 072016


  • miles
Drove 40 miles to a shopping center one evening. Returning to car a signal on dashboard relayed that my car did not recognize my car key. Car would not start. No way to bypass the push button start. Due to the lateness of the hour and the fact we were flying overseas the next day, I had to have car towed to my home. Manual said if car started I could drive it home but needed to be taken to dealer for a safety check. Upon googling this problem I found many, many people have had the same problem. Tow truck driver said this was a very common problem with Nissan, thus people needing his services. Seems that we really should be calling tow drivers to see which vehicles are the least towed.

- Jefferson City, TN, USA

problem #33

May 302016


  • miles


Steering lock 48700-9N00B went out no warranty Nissan dealership said. We did not get any information on this issue. All they have been doing is giving us the runaround said we could bring it in and it would cost us $1K dollars after parts and labor. This is there issue don't see how they are not responsible to fix the issue. They said there was a warranty on the transmission and the noise while we drive don't know if I will ever buy an Nissan again after not receiving any information on recalls.

- Portland, TX, USA

problem #32

May 202016


  • 107,000 miles
First time 2013 occured on freeway about 3 hrs into drive. While on the freeway at 75 mph the car began loosing power N speed quickly. Thought cars were going to slam into car. Pulled over turned off N placed key in charging compartment. 15 mins or so turned on N ran fine after that. 2015 on busy freeway began loosing power N speed. Pulled over placed key again then worked fine. 2016 its happened twice again on freeway going uphill speed dropped quickly. I thought semi-truck was going to slam. Scarred to death manage to pull out at 35 mph from 75mph. Disconnected battery let sit 15 mins worked okay loosing power to 60mph. Following day same thing but nothing helped to reset and speed dropped as low as 20-25mph and had to use manual feature to keep going. Auto tran stopped functioning. Now tran was not shifting. I'd have to ease up on throttle push it down to try N get some power. Very scarry when on freway.

- Aurora, Co, CO, USA

problem #31

Feb 012016


  • 78,479 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving home at approximately 30 mph, the vehicle stalled and shut down. The check engine light illuminated. The vehicle restarted and was taken to a local dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering column lock fractured. The component was recalled and repaired previously; therefore, the manufacturer was not responsible for the repairs. The dealer also diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacture was made aware of the failure, but did not offer assistance. The failure mileage was 78,479.

- Edison, NJ, USA

problem #30

Jun 132015


  • 190,000 miles
Takata recall service bulletins. I have a 2009 Nissan Altima that is very dangerous on the road with my children we have had it a year amd already spent alot. Call this dept and Nissan several times with no result I have 13 of the service bulletins wrong with this car amd many lives at stake I may have to get am attorney before we loose a life. I paid $9000 for this one year ago amd no one can help the strut, the cvt the engine cooler leaks, push start, cruise control vehicle speed sensor ABS ect please help is figure out what T9 do so I can sleep at night with all my babies safe

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #29

Dec 012013


  • 30,000 miles


Flare and slip on highway merge. Intermittently shudder, surge and vibrate when accelerate from 0-30 or decelerate from 30-0 in stop and go traffic. It seems like this belt type(cvt) transmission control unit 's logic is not synchronized with gas throttle input. It is not as precise and responsive as step automatic transmission used by Nissan's infiniti or GMC and Toyota etc. Therefore, it will create many dangerous delays in highway merge scenario from 0-60, with potential of getting hit at 60 mph speed.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #28

Nov 042015


  • 185,110 miles
Vehicle's transmission begins to whine and loses power within a hour of highway driving on a hot day. Vehicle cannot accelerate after, thus creating a hazard towards other vehicles. Nissan wont cover costs associated with this problem if it is out of warranty. Most Altima models from 2007 - 2009 are experiencing the same problem. I am surprised their isnt a recall for this particular issue.

- Sunset, LA, USA

problem #27

Oct 012015


  • 84,000 miles
While driving uphill from phoenix to flagstaff, the transmission overheated and went into "fail-safe" mode, which immediately causes the car to lose power and slow to about 20 mph. This was an incredibly dangerous situation in which I was forced to quickly pull off to the side of the 2-lane freeway.

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #26

Aug 112015


  • 71,000 miles
This vehicle was purchased at 60,000 miles from a Nissan authorized dealer. The push button does not start the car. Sometimes it does start and will go off by itself. The shift tick is locked and won't change gears. I have called the dealership and Nissan and they both said nothing can be done. So I am paying for a car that does not work. When it does turn on I have to press the lock release on the shifter for it to engage into drive. Dangerous really. No accountability

- Clifton, NJ, USA

problem #25

Jul 132015


  • 50,100 miles
When driving up a grade the engine RPM goes up to almost 4500 and the car slows down. Car does not accelerate on interstate consistently when merging into traffic. This makes the car dangerous because when losing acceleration I was nearly struck from behind. I had just taken the car to the dealership for the problem and they changed the transmission fluid 10000 miles before it was due. I was told that the fluid would degrade from the car sitting and ageing. If that is the case the fluid in the new cars on the lot is degrading while waiting to be sold. I researching problems for the 2009 Nissan Altima cvt transmission problems I am not alone with similar complaints and lack of dealership remedy to the problem. I talked to a Nissan factory trained tech. And ask him if this problem is why Nissan tightened up the transmissions starting in 2013 and he acknowledged that was the reason. Slippage is the only reason that the epa mpg estimates for 2013-2015 vehicles are 7 mpg greater than previous models. Nissans answer to the problem is to extend the warranty on the transmission from 60000 miles to 120000 miles. That is fine and dandy, but that does not remove the danger of a rear end collision that can kill or severely injure families when the car does not consistently accelerate when the driver has a reasonable expectation it will. The car has also failed to maintain a steady speed when the transmission starts slipping. Please help with a recall before people get killed if that has not already happened.

- Corbin, KY, USA

problem #24

Oct 242013


  • miles
As my family and I was traveling out of town, the car's acceleration appeared to decline out of no where. Even with the gas pedal pressed completely down to the floor, there was no change in speed. It made a whining noise as well. Since the first incident it has happened 8 times that I can count over the past year and a half. I have taken it to the dealer several times and they have not been able to recreate the issue nor get a code. So my issue still exists. It only happens on long distance trips where I drive more than 40 miles or so at 75 mph or more, usually 80mph. The most recent incident happened this past weekend and my young daughter and I were almost killed by a tractor trailer so I once again took the car in to the Nissan dealer and once again they could not recreate the issue. It's pretty frustrating when you know there's an issue but you can't get a resolution. Like I would make up an issue to pay for, that's dumb! they want you to take it to an authorize Nissan dealer but what good does that do when they can't find or fix the issue.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #23

Feb 142015


  • 170,000 miles
The transmission failed at 170,000 miles on my Nissan Altima while my husband was driving it on the interstate.

- Altus, AR, USA

problem #22

Aug 012014


  • miles
I bought new 2009 Nissan Altima from the dealership. The transmission has been slipping when the car starts driving since day one. I was told in the dealership that this is a cvt and it's working that way. My transmission needs to be replaced now at 62000 mi and the warranty is over. I did a research on internet and found out that many Nissan owners have the same problem with the cvt transmission.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #21

Jul 302014


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving 60 mph, the vehicle failed to downshift from sixth gear. The contact turned off and restarted the vehicle, but the failure recurred. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 55,000.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #20

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

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