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


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,333 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.

2010 Nissan Altima brakes problems

brakes problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Dec 142016


  • miles


Over the years ived had multiple problems with the branke and engine of my 2010 Altima. The panel lights up but the engine does not crank. Pushing the ignition button only locks the warning signals either the car just dies on you ived paid over 700 everytime it needs repair, im very frustrated with my car and will never buy another Nissan vehicle.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #21

Sep 242016


  • 98,070 miles
My 19 year old daughter was driving her car down the road when it stopped accelerating acting as if the brakes were applied. She could not get the car to go above 25 miles an hour. She was able to pull into a parking lot and wait for her dad to come and help her. When her dad got there the car was sluggish and would not accelerate because it felt like the brakes were being applied. He switched the car to manual and was able to get it home. The ABS, vdc off, slip lights all came on. The next day all lights were off and the car drove normally. This happened two more times intermittently at which time we took it into our mechanic. He discovered a power brake booster needed replacing. He believed this was a safety recall as it had been a recall on the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Nissan Altima. Much to our dismay Nissan has not issued a recall for this safety issue for the 2010 models. My mechanic told us this was definitely a safety issue that should be addressed by Nissan.

- Lookout Mountain, GA, USA

problem #20

Sep 072015


  • 48,594 miles
When I tried to start the cay with the push button start it would not respond. I tested the battery which is only 1 year old and is in good condition. I took it to the dealership (Nissan legacy) who reported that there was an issue with the brake switch and harness which need to be replaced. I have ready online that there were multiple incidents with this happening to this make and model

- Merrick, NY, USA

problem #19

Aug 022015


  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start on several occasions and the ABS and vdc warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle restarted after the vehicle was jumpstarted; however, the failure recurred on several occasions. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the brake light switch was faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 67,000.

- Rowlett, TX, USA

problem #18

Jun 012015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
I have a 2010 Altima that has the same safety problem as has been reported on this web site and many other automotive complaint web sites many, many times (not only for this Nissan product but various Nissan products of earlier years). Namely, the switch that operates the brake lights fails intermittently. When it fails the brake lights won't illuminate when the driver steps on the brake. This is a rear end collision waiting to happen! does the NHTSA have to wait until someone is killed before requiring a manufacturer to fix a defect that both the manufacturer and NHTSA knew about for several years" to make matters worse, when the switch fails the anti-lock braking and traction control systems are disabled posing an additional safety risk. To make matter worse, when the switch fails the car won't start. Would you like to be stuck in a dark, deserted area at 2 O'clock in the morning when your car decided not to start" as I said before, the manufacturer has known about this problem for years. In response to the deluge of customer complaints, in November of 2010 Nissan acknowledged the defect by issuing a tsb (ntb10-139) to fix the problem. It involves a different stop lamp switch and a new electrical harness. The cost to implement the tsb is borne by the customer. My dealer wants $579 to do this! in response to an overwhelming number of complaints about a serious safety issue it is time for the NHTSA to act before someone gets killed. Nissan should be required to implement tsb ntb10-139 in all Nissan products that contain the defective brake light switch at no cost to the customer. Updated 9/28/15 updated 3/23/2016

- Valley Cottage, NY, USA

problem #17

Feb 052014


  • 24,000 miles
As approaching a stop light, brakes were difficult to "grab" and too extra pressure. Stop was rather slow, and anti-lock brakes appeared to kick in (by rough, staccato shaking typical of them applying). Only by pressing down as hard as I could did I prevent smashing into the car ahead of me. Dry, sunny Florida conditions, no sand or slipping at all, just slow, odd braking. Then the engine seemed to be revving a bit - faster idling than normal while at the stop light. We are not talking about speeding here, or sudden braking, just a normal approach to a known stop sign or light. This is a serious safety issue. This happened a couple times, then did not repeat for a couple months. Then, when it did repeat, I asked the dealer about it. Always at a stop light or stop sign, always in danger of smashing into the car ahead of me or entering too far into the intersection if I could not control the stop. They were completely puzzled, and could not duplicate it because, as I said, it is very sporadic. An ispection did not reveal anything. They laughed at me, saying it was totally impossible for the anti-lock brakes to kick in if there is no skidding. Ok, so what was it then? it sure as heck seemed like anti-lock brakes! (I come from up North and have experienced anti-lock brakes kicking in on snow covered roads...) since the initial reoccurrence, it went several months, about six, with no issues or repeats, then just the other day, it did it again twice more. I suspect it could be something to do with computer controls, rather than the brakes themselves, but I am no mechanic.

- Debary, FL, USA

problem #16

May 152015


  • 55,600 miles


On several occasions the vehicle has failed to start when the brake was depressed. At the present time the ABS light, slip and vdc are now illuminated after driving the car for a few minutes. It is my understanding that this is supposed to blink if there is a problem driving in wet road conditions or it is slippery. I have read numerous complaints from other owners having the same issue with the car not starting. It takes several tries in order to get the car to turnover and start. I believe that Nissan needs to investigate this issue further and issue a recall for these vehicles.

- Pikesville, MD, USA

problem #15

Oct 292014


  • 53,953 miles
My brake light came on and I topped it off with oil and it went home. This was on Sunday. I took it in Monday to have it checked and the master cylinder was leaking and I had it replaced for $612.73. I called Nissan as I found there were some complaints and found a site where Nissan was reimbursing customers. They checked my VIN number and told me my car was not eligible. This is too new of a car with hardly any miles on it. Now they say my front struts need replacing. I never had to replace struts on my old Mazda until it had very high mileage on it. I am not pleased.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #14

Dec 162014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 42,657 miles
The car failed to start because the brake switch and the entire harness sub failed. I had to tow away the car to the nearest Nissan showroom and was charged $440 to replace harness-sub, switch assy sto, band hose plus labor. Ps: this is a known problem but Nissan wont refund my money. How can a vehicle just under 50K fail for such a thing if not for a bad factory harness.

- Slat Lake City, UT, USA

problem #13

Dec 142014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Several times over the past few months and everyday for the past week, the car will not start during ignition due to the inability to depress the brake. The only way to get it to start is to repeatedly hit the brakes while pressing the start button. It never consistently works but eventually starts. After starting, the ABS, vdc, and slip warning lights are illuminated. There have been multiple reports of the same thing happening with this model from other owners. This poses a serious risk to health particularly in times where one may need to leave immediately. More often, it is an extreme inconvenience. The dealership service departments want to charge over $500 to repair something that is clearly defective and systematic. Please do something about this as many Altima owners are experiencing the same frustration that I have endured.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #12

Oct 302014


  • 67,500 miles


I have read numerous accounts of the Nissan Altima being unable to start when the required brake/start button is used. I am having the same problem. When the brake is applied and the start button pushed, the acc light comes on then, if pushed again, the on light comes on (over the start button). Then when pushed again, the system shuts off. By trying several times and pumping the brake, the car will eventually start. Since this has been reported numerous times, there is obviously a defect in the car's parts/system. There should be a recall to have Nissan replace the faulty parts free of charge.

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #11

Nov 032014


  • 37,000 miles
I was driving down a residential road and my stability control turned off on its own and I could not turn it back on. At the time that it turned off my parking brake light came on, eventually it turned off but flashed on two more times as I was driving up hill. I was never able to turn the vdc (electronic stability control) back on.

- Lakewood , OH, USA

problem #10

Oct 172014


  • 20,000 miles
Norfolk, Virginia - my 2010 Nissan Altima with push button start failed to start. All other electrical seemed fine. I had just previously noticed the ABS, vdc and slip warning lit while driving. After checking fuses, key fob batteries, etc. I attempted to pump the brakes several times and it finally started. Drove immediately to the dealer where I was told it was the brake lamp switch and harness which must be replaced at a cost of $550. He seemed to know with out of even looking what the problem was. When I questioned him about such an expensive switch, he only said "this happens a lot with this model." This should be recalled and fixed at Nissan's expense.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #9

Jan 012013


  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. After the push to start button was installed, the vehicle would not restart after being driven after approximately 15 minutes. The contact mentioned that the vds, slip, and brake warning indicators illuminated. When attempting to depress the brake pedal in order to start the vehicle, the brake pedal was almost impossible to depress. The failure occurred multiple times. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and the technician stated that the brake switch was defective, which prevented the vehicle from starting. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 20,000.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #8

Sep 012013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
When you try to start vehicle you push on brake pedal, but the pedal doesn't go down 1/16 of an inch. The brake lights wont even come on. If you push the start button it will only go to the accessory then off. When I asked service manager at nelson Nissan in broken arrow, ok and I quote "he said you had to have key on before brake lights would come on"... I am like really!!! the brake lights umm no they should come on anytime you push the brake if the key is on or not. Please help us american's and other hard working tax paying people get our cars fixed. We paid good hard earned money for them and now all we have in a lemon in are garage. Thanks so much for you time, god bless you! and god bless America!!!

- Coweta, OK, USA

problem #7

Aug 122014


  • 26,000 miles
The brake couldn't be pressed so the push button start wouldn't work. Also, the ABS & vdc lights stay on even while driving(sometimes). You never know when its going to happen. I have been late to work, unable to take the kids to school, and afraid to drive my own car that I used to love, in fear of not being able to start the darn thing!! I see a lot of customers have had this same type of issue. Is there any kind of recall?

- Yuba City, CA, USA

problem #6

Aug 212014


  • 29,000 miles
Having trouble suddenly with brakes grabbing and stopping short. Took to dealer and they said it was the brake booster-$700 is this normal for 29000 miles I understand there is a problem with the master cylinder of these cars leaking into the booster, but they said that didn't happen.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #5

Feb 192014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 38,000 miles
Most of the 2010 Nissan Altima cars do have a push button for the ignition to start. In order to start the car's engine, the driver would need to lightly press the brakes before pressing the button. I purchased the brand-new car back in September 2010 and I am still the only owner. In February 2014 with approximately 38,000 miles, the ignition started to stop working. After a few struggles, the ignition button would finally allow me to start the engine. Then the problem gradually got worse. I noticed that the brakes would suck in so hard that I would be unable to "press" the brakes anymore in order for the ignition button to "enable" so I can start the engine. At one point last week, the car refused to start because of the brakes and I was unable to do anything but to put the car in neutral and push the car back and forth in the middle of a mcdonald's drive-thru route in baltimore, md. My roommate had to take leave in order to come and help me out. After 2 hours of struggling, we were able to get the "brakes light" on and the ignition would finally become enabled and we were able to start the engine. We drove straight to the Nissan dealership in bowie, md and told them what happened. Nissan about this and they acknowledged that this is a common problem among many drivers and that the "brake switch" is causing it. At the end, my warranty company had to pay more than $800 and I had to pay almost $300 out of my pocket just for this issue. I researched online and saw so many drivers are complaining the same thing and that Nissan is refusing to issue a recall for this because they knew it is a "common problem" that they could make a profit out of the repairs charges. Many drivers had to pay approximately $1,000 just for this "common issue" and I would like to make sure that NHTSA & dot are aware of this ongoing issue. Thank you.

- Landover, MD, USA

problem #4

Nov 132012


  • 49,675 miles
I noticed warning lights on dash were going on for brakes but brakes were working.brought to Nissan dealer for check. I was told master cylinder was leaking into booster and that it had to be changed.cost $ 49000 miles this seemed to be too soon for that kind of problem. Dealer knew about it at writeup in service drive through., but said it was not covered under warranty.

- Marlboro, NJ, USA

problem #3

Jun 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 41,287 miles
If I have to pump the brakes to get the car started, will I soon have to pump the brakes to stop"????" vehicle not recognize the key. Happened several times prior to 6/15/2013. Just thought the key needed to be charged. But on this date I pull up at a hotel, checked in and went to move the car and it wouldn't start. Sat for an hour or two. Replaced battery a few weeks prior so it wasn't that. Had to be towed to a pepboys. Too late for a dealership, a Saturday evening, and I was over 5 hours from home. The car was dropped off across from the bays therefore they were unable to connect the diagnostic machine. After setting for a couple more hours it finally crank. They said it was the starter, as of today I have not replaced the starter. In August it did it again twice while my 16 yr was driving it to school. A couple of times in September. I took it to the dealer on 10/14/2013, their diagnosis were: Replace brake sw, sub harness, and tie straps. And now almost on a daily basis want start without pumping the brakes. I'm the only one that drives the car now because I'm afraid of the brakes eventually giving out.

- Mc Intosh, AL, USA

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