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:
12 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 1
Average Mileage:
41,911 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

May 162016


  • 132,000 miles


When driving the vehicle for no reason the engine slows down and when I try to accelerate by pressing on the gas pedal the engine does not respond. After a minute or two the engine responds and speeds up. There is also a whirring sound when this happens. This happens when the vehicle is in motion mainly on the highway. This has the ability to cause a traffic problem or an accident. I think the problem may be in the electronic throttle control.

- Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #28

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 #27

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 #26

Jul 082016


  • miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima slows down from 75 mph to 40-35 after traveling for 4 hours on long distance (trips). I have had to pull over several times in order for the car to cool off and gain speed. It is extremely dangers to when big trucks and other vehicles are coming behind you at a fast speed and you have to pull over quickly. I have to put a transmission valve kit and cooler on my car because Nissan neglected to put these parts on my car. Shame on you Nissan. How can you sleep at night knowing your error, greed, or lack of compassion can cause people their lives while on the highway. This is a safety issue that has been complained about on various blogs and no recall has taken place. I am annoyed and then my case manager for my complaint told me I should have taken out the extended warranty. No, don't blame this on me. This is a manufacturing issue. It is unfair to pass the blame unto the consumers. Safety is first or has the new generation of manufactures forgotten about this

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #25

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 #24

Sep 012015

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
I haven't been happy since I had my car, which I purchased in 2012 with 45, 0000 miles at the time of purchase. I complained about so many things every other month I was going to get it checked. When you hit a bump you can here something loose underneath the front end of course I seemed like the only crazy one hearing the noise. Then when I took it back again I was told the sway bar arms need to be replaced when this was a problem when I first purchased the car they just ignored now my warranty is expired. The steering lock was one issue and I was told through the dealership that there was not a recall on my car. Until I contacted you guys I was told that there was a recall. Now when I drive the car at a certain speed it starts wining and slows down to 60 mph with the gas pedal to the floor I am furious because I was traveling on the interstate 4 different times going out of town and this happened. Someone could have ran into the back of me. I changed out the air filter thinking that may have been the problem but no it continued. Also sometimes the car wouldn't start I was told by Nissan I needed a new battery and I had it checked by someone else they said the battery was fine. The passenger sensor light stays on when an adult is sitting there. Now my sister 2013 Nissan Altima transmission is gone and she only had the car almost two years and we were complaining about the issue with the car going a certain speed and making noise. I went to Nissan and they told me my car can be put on the machine, but I would have to pay to have it checked. Too many people having the same problems with these cars.

- Pleasant Grove, AL, USA

problem #23

Aug 012012


  • 80,000 miles


While on a 4 hour trip in the middle of the summer, the engine would wine and then suddenly start losing speed and be unable to accelerate. It is extremely dangerous when your top speed is 45 mph in a 75mph speed limit zone. No one knew what the issue was and it only happened in the middle of the summer. Nissan is now aware of the issue and a) cannot guarantee it can fix the problem and B) cannot guarantee it will not happen again even if they replace the transmission.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #22

Jan 192015


  • 96,680 miles
The first incident occur while driving on the interstate at about 75 mph. All of a sudden the car began to slow down at a steady pace. It would not let me accelerate even with the pedal pressed all the way to the floor and it began to make a whining noise. I pulled over and let the car sit for a while and when I started driving again the drove normal like nothing happened. The second incident occur about 7 months later while driving on the interstate again at about 60mph. This time the car didn't slow down, but it would let me accelerate pass 60 mph and the RPM needle never moved. After letting the car sit I started to drive again and every time I accelerated the car began to jerk violently and started making the same whining noise. After letting the car sit for a while longer it drove normal. The Nissan dealership repair shop couldn't find a problem. The check engine light never came on to indicate a problem.

- Port Royal, SC, USA

problem #21

Jun 142015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The steering control unit seized up, the vehicle wont start....updated 08/12/15 the consumer stated the cost of installation and reprogramming of the unit was $90. Updated 12/23/2015

- Glendale , AZ, USA

problem #20

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 #19

Sep 032014


  • miles


The contacts son owned a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle independently accelerated up to 100 mph, jumped the curb, ran into a schoolyard, and ultimately crashed into a planter wall. The driver sustained fatal injuries. A police report was filed. The dealer was not contacted or made aware of the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown. The VIN was unknown.

- Jackson Heights, NY, USA

problem #18

Aug 142014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 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 attempted 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 #17

May 192011


  • 67,000 miles
Sudden loss of power no throttle on inclines. Had computer reset.. problem still continued. Installed new fuel pump still problem continues.

- Applevalley, CA, USA

problem #16

Aug 252014


  • 128,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated while driving 75 mph, the vehicle suddenly decelerated even while the accelerator pedal was depressed. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 128,000.

- Pittsburgh, TX, USA

problem #15

Jul 182014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 30,477 miles
Was pulling into parking spot with my foot on the brake rolling to a stop when the car suddenly accelerated and before I could lift my foot and reapply brake I had gone over the curb and into a bush.

- Schaumburg, IL, USA

problem #14

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 #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

Nov 082011


  • 30,000 miles
While pulling into parking space in parking garage the car suddenly accelerated while foot was on brake. Struck concrete pillar causing airbag to deploy causing minor injuries to driver.

- Pontoon Beach, IL, USA

problem #11

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 #10

May 122011


  • 39,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving approximately 5 mph, the contact attempted to park when the vehicle suddenly accelerated while the brake pedal was depressed. The vehicle went over a curb and crashed into a row of bushes. The vehicle sustained body damage yet there were no injuries. The police reported to the scene and a report was filed. The vehicle was driven to the dealer where the technicians were unable to diagnose a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 39,000.

- Hayden, AL, USA

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