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:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 1
Average Mileage:
39,666 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #45

Mar 012016


  • 93,000 miles


The airbag warning light illuminated on my dashboard, and when I took it to the dealer, I was told that the OCS system for the passenger seat had failed, and I would need to pay $3500 to replace the entire seat. This issue appears to be related to an airbag recall involving 2013-2016 Altima, as well as other Nissan vehicles.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #44

Sep 152016


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the air bag warning indicator illuminated consistently without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the sensor failed on the passenger side of the vehicle. The seat bottom assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was unknown. The approximate failure mileage was 66,000.

- Melbourne, FL, USA

problem #43

Jul 012016


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the front passenger side air bag warning indicator remained illuminated at all times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed with a mass sensor failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was approximately 80,000.

- Trenton, NJ, USA

problem #42

Jul 012016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that after pressing the push to start button, the vehicle failed to start. In addition, the passenger side air bag warning light flickered. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 09/06/16 updated 09/08/16.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #41

Jul 112016


  • 54,000 miles
The passenger side light indicating the airbag is turned off remains on even when someone is sitting in the passenger seat. Then the airbag sensor light started flashing. I have to replace the passenger seat to fix.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

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problem #40

May 222016


  • 83,000 miles
Passenger occupant sensor has failed. The amber passenger occupant dashboard light always remains on. This means that even with the seat occupied by an appropriate sized adult, the light says the occupant is not being 'sensed'. also, the control panel above the steering wheel has a red flashing airbag light. The Nissan dealership says the error code indicates a failure in the passenger seat occupant airbag sensor. My cost is at least $2400 to replace the passenger seat. I am unable to pay that kind of money. I am hoping for a Nissan recall or technical bulletin on that make, model and year. I see many other years of this make and model had the issue and the manufacturer fixed them at no cost. That is what I am hoping for. This car has never had an accident. This just happened out of the blue.

- Davenport, IA, USA

problem #39

Mar 282016


  • 140,000 miles


"tamara recall" I'm a nurse and I was dressed and ready for work upon arrival to my car my fob allowed me to unlock my door but whom I got in and attempted to start my car I noticed I couldn't press my breaks they were tight and steering wheel was also locked. I pressed the push to start button but nothing happened I looked at the information center and only noticed a amber key light up and lock light on around the start button. I have no other way to work and its pass my clear call out time to work but I have to call my don crying because I can't get to work I don't know what's wrong with my car it won't do anything. I'm a nurse my patients depend upon me being there to help them a well as my fellow nurses and doctors!! I had to call a tow truck to take my car to the Nissan dealership and I was told it was the steering column lock. I asked him how much would it cost to repair he said 800 dollars. I'm a single mother with a son who is a senior in high school it's his spring break week, I have pictures, class rings, announcement, cap and gown, prom etc to pay for but I need my car to get to work!! I don't want favors, want what's right!! a 6yr/ unlimited mileage is a cheap way out. Nissan knew and knows about this manufacturer defect but still out these cars on the road not really caring or concern about what the results could be.. I've been a nurse for over 10 yrs, so does people have be stranded be it old or young with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or even someone who requires use of oxygen to breathe/live to die and family members sue Nissan before a recall is issued? prevention saves more lives and its a lot less expensive. Thank god for all these petitions pages with 100S and 1000 of signatures along with people sharing their stories about this unfair too off to people!! I expect a class action lawsuit soon.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #38

Jan 052016


  • 51,000 miles
First issue was with passenger seat airbag sensor. My wife or other passenger would be sitting in passenger seat and the sensor in the seat would not work and therefore the passenger airbag was disabled, putting passenger safety at risk. Second issue. Had to replace tire pressure monitoring sensor due to leaking tire pressure. Have had to replace 2 out of 4 so far in the last year. Causes low tire pressure and unsafe driving condition.

- Exton, PA, USA

problem #37

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 #36

Jun 202015


  • 129,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving 15 mph, the contact's vehicle was struck by another vehicle. The air bags failed to deploy. A police report was filed. The contact sustained injuries to the neck and back and was transported to the hospital for a respiratory issue. The vehicle was destroyed and towed to the dealer. The failure mileage was 129,000.

- Parsippany, NJ, USA

problem #35

May 212014


  • 52,000 miles


The dash board melts, it creates a glare in the windshield when driving which makes it hard to see on coming traffic.

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #34

May 022014


  • 93,000 miles
Traveling on the highway at about 70 mph, the air bag indicator went off signaling that there was no air bag. The next day, it went off signaling or indicating that there was no air bag, but only on the passenger side.

- Lubbock, TX, USA

problem #33

Feb 032009


  • 100 miles
TL- the contact owns a 2009 Nissan altma. The contact stated that while operating the vehicle with a passenger in the front seat the air bag sensor light would illuminate indicating that the passenger side air bag system was deactivated. The contact indicated that the failure was intermittent. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but the cause for the failure was undetermined. The manufacturer was notified of the failure mileage was 100. Jft

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #32

Feb 212013


  • 80,321 miles
On February 21, 2015, while traveling 300+ miles out of town my 2009 Nissan Altima failed due to the broadly known issue of "steering column lockout, " in which the car will not start and requires a tow to the dealer for expensive repairs. I am requesting the NHTSA launch or expand an investigation of this known issue and provide a public warning to drivers of Nissan vehicles. The car had regular service on February 10, 2015, at mossy Nissan oceanside, ca and I was told "safe to drive" for my trip out of state. It wasn't, the dealer doesn't check for this well known issue during service. Nissan refuses to issue a full recall, instead extending the warranty to 1,000,000 miles or 5 years. In this way Nissan profits from repairs of cars failing after 5 years yet before or after 1,000,000 miles when the car strands drivers, and because not a full recall there is no physical evidence for an NHTSA investigation. Nissan does not have the controls to know which vehicles will fail, as evidenced by my and multiple pages of identical complaints filed with the NHTSA. I and my family do not accept the multiple apologies from Nissan, and there is no way for Nissan to make up for me missing my daughter's event. Nissan's actions indicate they are not interested in passenger safety. This Nissan has stranded me 5 times since purchased new in 2009 from mossy Nissan oceanside, an authorized Nissan dealer. Regarding passenger safety, also the airbag system has failed to turn on to protect passengers. On airbag failure, Nissan tested the airbag on my vehicle with a male passenger and stated they didn't see an issue, misleading myself, customers, and the NHTSA by testing with a male passenger over 120 pounds yet publishing results as applying to both genders - a female passenger will likely need to be over 150 pounds to be protected by the Nissan passenger airbag system.

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #31

Oct 312014


  • miles
On October 31st the red airbag light started flashing on my dashboard. I took the vehicle into my nearest dealership on November 13th to complete a diagnostic. I was informed that it was that there is no signal coming from the passenger occupancy sensor for the airbag and that in the event of an accident the airbag may or may not deploy. Also it was noted on the invoice that there is no sign of any damage to the wiring. Of course my vehicle is not under recall and no longer under warranty. My dashboard is also melting and the material that is used causes extreme glare. So not only do I have a large glare across my window which increases my risk of an accident but possibly no airbag to boot. I contacted Nissan since this exact same issue has been found in other years of my model and recalled. All Nissan has continued to do is say my vehicle is no longer under warranty and that they will forward my complaint for review.

- Vail, AZ, USA

problem #30

Feb 182009

Altima 4-cyl

  • 12 miles
Since purchase as new in 2009, occasionally when my wife is in passenger seat, the disable air bag light comes on. I took vehicle to dealership and they said they found no problem. Suggesting that maybe my wife was not heavy enough for '(sensor)" to detect.!!!"?" my concern with recent news of defective air bags that when we travel together that the "(occupant detection system)" is not working properly and my wife as a passenger is not protected in the event of a accident. The disabled air bag light does not light up all the time and is only occasionally, but this does not give one a felling of security and safety. With recent cnn & fox news as well as local tv news concerning (air bags) makes one to wonder about the safety of our 2009 Nissan Altima.

- Merritt Island, FL, USA

problem #29

Aug 182014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
Help, a melting and shiny sticky dash on my 2009 Altima generates a tremendous glare on the windshield and prevents me from clearly viewing the highway in front during the day. It also distors the viewing during the night due to the on-comming vehicles headlights. It is highly serious and dangerous driving safety hazard problem that could/will "it is just a timing issue" cause an accident, the dash can't be clean and is melting. It is also minimazing the value of the vehicle. Please advise if there is solution or recall from Nissan to fix this problem.

- Miami , FL, USA

problem #28

Sep 172013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima dash is melting. Dash has cracks as well near the front passenger air bags and near the instrument cluster. Read in forums that the car dealerships say that when the dash has cracks and is melting air bags could not deploy correctly. Nissan will not replace dash due to the car being out of warranty and expect me to buy a new one when this seems like a manufacturing issue not taken into account as part of the design.

- San German, PR, USA

problem #27

Oct 292012

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Oct 2012: Passenger air bag off symbol illuminated with adult sitting in the seat. Dealer diagnosis: No codes in system found. Dealer recalibrated the air bag. Customer cost $100 Dec 2013: Passenger air bag off symbol illuminated and dashboard air bag symbol flashing. Dealer diagnosed that passenger side seat cushion sensor needed replacing. Customer cost $130 for diagnosis, $399 for sensor. May 2014: Body shops refuse to handle air bag issues and was referred back to a Nissan dealer. Seat cushion assembly was now over $700 because the entire seat cushion needed replacing. Nissan no longer replaces just the sensor. A complaint was filed with Nissan asking for financial assistance with the replacement part. Nissan required another diagnosis to be within a 3 month period. July 2014: Nissan refused to assist with the cost because it was no longer under warranty.

- St. Charles, IL, USA

problem #26

Dec 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Son was hit on the right side and front end and the air bag did not deploy on the steering column he was killed.. updated 11/03/14 updated 7/9/2015...updated08/20/15 updated 09/30/15 updated 12/30/15

- Wausau, WI, USA

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