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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,186 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #35

Dec 102016


  • 134,000 miles


When driving my car on us highway 20, I was going around 45 mph. I heard a bang, the engine revved up and the car would not respond to accelerate. Was able to pull the car to the side of the road. Called for a tow. Nissan service ran a diagnostic and said a band inside of the transmission had snapped. There was no warning, and I do have my car regularly serviced at Nissan.

- Valparaiso, IN, USA

problem #34

Nov 062016


  • 114,411 miles
I am submitting a complaint regarding the cvt- back in Aug 2015 I was out of town and was traveling home and noticed while driving my vehicle all of a sudden started to decelerate. The scary part was there was an 18 wheeler behind me. No warning lights came on-I pulled over and turned off the vehicle. I was alone and scared and had 300 miles to go. What should have taken 6 hours took me 11 hours because I had stop every 30-45 minutes. I took it to a Nissan dealership and they were aware of the problem. They stated Nissan had to go through the steps before replacing the transmission- but at what cost- when someone dies- they installed a cvt oil cooler kit -well guess what ? 1 year and 3 months later on my first long distance trip since last year. The same exact thing occurred except I have 600 miles before I get home. I was stuck on the side of the road alone with the same issue. Thank god the truck behind me did not hit me or I injury someone else due to this issue Nissan continues to ignore. I had to have my car towed to a Nissan dealership in the middle of the night, could not get a rental because it was a Sunday and they were closed. So now I'm in an unknown area waiting to see what Nissan does this time.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #33

Sep 242016

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Was putting my car in reverse and when I put my foot on the gas in stead of reverse the move forward, please have someone contact me immediately. Thank you. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #32

Sep 112016


  • 137,000 miles


Car was in motion and it started to jerking and quit on the highway. It will run but when you take off it starts jerking again and might smooth out for a second and then quits again.

- Florence, MS, USA

problem #31

Jul 122016


  • 12,000 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. While stationary, the vehicle failed to switch out of park without warning. The contact stated that the vehicle was able to be moved after being restarted several times. In addition, the door locks failed to engage until the vehicle reached 15 mph. The contact also stated that the key fob activated by itself on numerous occasions and caused the doors to unlock and the power windows to roll down without warning. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was approximately 12,000.

- Hicksville, NY, USA

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problem #30

May 132016


  • 207,000 miles
The cvt transmission started shifting hard a few months ago. Then about a month ago the transmission started slipping. I exited the freeway and came to a light. Turned left and was in the middle of the intersection when the car would not go. I was nervious and pushed then pumped the gas and the car would not go. Then out of the blue it took off with out my foot on the gas. I had the transmission fluid changed. Then a few weeks latter I was driving 75 (speed limit) with cruise control on then the car started loosing power, 65,60 55. I accelerated the car and it just would not go faster. I was able to stop it with the cruise at 55. With flashers on could have been killed. Started my research and found that Nissan has extended the warranty by doubling it from 5 years/60,000 to 10 years/120,000 miles. My issue is my car is only 6 years old with 128,000 miles and Nissan has my car in their shop and will not fix it. I believe the cvt transmission needs to be recalled before someone get killed. I have very service record since the day I bought the car with 12 miles on it. The car has been well maintained.

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #29

Mar 012016


  • 30,000 miles


My car was only 30,000 km when this started to happen. As my car warms up my acceleration will decrease. Nissan has known about this issue for a few years and has been avoiding to put a recall in place and instead started off with only a extended warranty due to an excessive amount of complaints regarding to their cvt problems on the Altima coupe. I have known a few senior mechanics at the Nissan dealership and been told that they are investgating about the problem and they already know it's a faulty problem and they are trying to avoid. I had a Nissan dealership try to scare me away when I tried to talk about warranty. Just cause I had a few minor modification they said my warranty is most likely voided but they are able to check. They were ridiculously trying to convice me that with just aftermarket wheels my warranty will void my transmission problem. I know in the us there is currently a law that does not allow car company to void warranty unless the cause of the problem directly relate to the modification. The judge mention and stated that car company offers warranty to help product consumers and not suppose to get screw over for it. This is completely absurd of what Nissan is doing. This has been a huge concern to me due to safety issue. My vehicle is currently only at 44,000 km. A few Altima coupe owner has brought to my attention. O have a faulty transmission is a very serious concern during highway driving to my family and I. a Altima coupe forum member recently had a faulty tranny and was involved a huge accident due to unexpected decrease in acceleration on the highway. I this is a serious problem that is a life or death situation.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #28

Jul 012015


  • 115,000 miles
Nissan is aware of the problems with the cvt transmission. Nissan extended the cvt warranty to 120,000 however failed to notify the the consumer. My vehicle started whinning, heating up, went into fail safe mode and without any warning lights it slowed down my vehicle to a complete stop putting my life in danger while driving in traffic around blind corners. It's a safety and serious concern due to faulty transmission. Nissan corporation admitted there is a problem by extending the warranty but refuse to recall the cvt transmission. I contacted Nissan public affairs and was told it was not in their policy to notify the consumer of extended warranty. I had purchased the extended warranty to 100,000 in good faith yet Nissan failed to contact me to notify me of this issue.I have documents to prove that I took my vehicle for these symptoms before the 120,000 yet Nissan will not honor the proofs because they said I failed to take it to a Nissan certified dealership. I was over the 100,000 miles therefore, I couldn't afford to take it the dealership. It wasn't until I started doing research I realized there were a lot of consumers dealing with the same issues I was having. It 's unnacceptable that Nissan will get away with not recalling this faulty cvt tranmission.Nissan advised me to take my vehicle to a certified dealership to have it diagnosed. Jim click Nissan in tucson, AZ found the codes Nissan was looking for and charged me $731 to install a transmission oil cooler which would solve the symptoms. I contacted Nissan once again and they refused to cover the cost, they told me I was out of the 120,000 miles and basically out of luck. I am out $731 and my vehicle is still having the same sympthoms I was having before.Nissan needs to be held accountable and make the cvt transmission safe. No one's life should have to pay this price! thanks. Julian & maribel perez

- Winkelman, AZ, USA

problem #27

Jan 222015


  • 56,800 miles
My check engine light came on and I made an appointment for Monday at planet Nissan. On Saturday 1/24/15 the light went off, but I've heard some knocking and the steering makes a rubbing sound. So far the master cylinder had to be replaced, which I filed a complaint here, and was reimbursed, but before reimbursement they told me my VIN did not match. So I find that questionable. I've put on new struts on the front and rear. Nissan said the check engine light had to do with the transmission and it was under warranty and has been repaired. Now they are telling me that the front strut mounts are cracked which is not covered. I've been on line and see that 2010 models have had this problem. They have not located the rubbing sound in the steering wheel. I've called Nissan consumer department and am awaiting a reply. So far the master cylinder, struts front and back, the transmission, and now the front strut mounts. On a car with this little mileage, I don't feel secure in this car and will never own another Nissan. I think they should repair the strut mounts. I've never had so many problems with a car before. I would say very poor workmanship. I was looking forward to paying the car off as I owe very little at this time and I keep my cars a long time, but feel I have a lemon and am very disappointed. As much as we pay for cars today there shouldn't be so many problems.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #26

Nov 292014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 100,125 miles
I was owner 2010 Altima.the under excellent maintain.when I buy this.we worry about cvt transmission weak and buy 100K mile warranty. The car only over 125 mile of 100 K the transmission fail. And towing to dealer.the dealer diagnose cvt fail but Nissan refuse dealer replace transmission and request dealer replace tcm(transmission control module) first.that waste my time.10 days in dealer shop still not any result.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #25

Nov 012014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles


I have already drafted a more detailed document reflecting all the details experienced with my issue in regards to part: Transmission cooler, part #21606-zx59A; Nissan Altima 2010. Nissan is aware of this issue. They have explained that this part is an accessory and that the car can be driven for short periods of time, then letting the car "cool down". I recently drove from upper marlboro md en route to riverview(1,000 miles), fl. When getting to richmond, va(300 miles) my RPM's jumped from 2,000 to 5,000. I began to decelerate, and the car would not go faster when the accelerator was applied. The car was taken to a Nissan 4 miles away from where I broke down. The car was diagnosed by Nissan. The part needed is on national back order. Customer care/Nissan advises that the car is drive-able, but for not long periods of time. More importantly, this car was designed without this part. To this date, my car is at Nissan in chester, va awaiting the part on a 4 week back order to be repaired. I will not jeopardize my life by driving a malfunctioning car. This is a known issue with Nissan and this vehicle, but there is no action to fix this issue before someone like myself or someone else gets into a god forbidden devastating accident. Please do not let this major corporation inflict damage on the public! we trust in you to be our protector!!!

- Upper Marlboro, MD, USA

problem #24

Aug 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,121 miles
To whom it may concern: This particular incident date was on 8/7/14 but also reported 8/23/14 & 9/30/14 at two Nissan dealerships. I was driving at 65mph for 1 hour on the highway and felt a loss of control. The steering wheel abruptly turned right, I had to attempt to keep the vehicle within the lane and slowly decelerated to a stop on the roadside without immediate braking. While braking at 15-20mph I applied the brake which jerked the entire car to the right, suspension was stiff on passenger front strut. The car had barely 70000 miles, had been up to date on services, was towed to the dealership. The service department could not duplicate the steering incident. 8/23/14 the car experienced a sudden loss of steering with a "dragging" feel and nearly hit another vehicle, car seemed to "float" and could not find a "straight" line, either it turned slightly left or sudden right. This was incredibly concerning and I felt it was no longer safe to drive. Dealership could not duplicate, told to install brake booster. 9/30/14 unable to operate the vehicle, upon start it would "knock" when put into gear, grinding noise to the passenger front side, turned the steering wheel right if coasting at 5mph. Dealer could not duplicate on a test drive but advised a new steering rack, a diagnosis to a problem that was not seen in the shop. Almost every time the car has been running for longer than an hour or at highway speed I have lost steering control. I have had my wife with me on two events, this is unacceptable and dangerous, I will be towing the car from the dealership as I feel it is unsafe to drive. The steering, "knock" from suspension and transmission are all compromised and documented.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #23

Oct 172012


  • 31,000 miles
After purchasing this used 2010 Nissan Altima from a local dealer in 2012, my husband and I were driving part of a girl's soccer team to redding, ca. The car performed well on the highway, but when we reached redding from our home town approximately 1 1/2 hours away, the car suddenly stalled at a slow speed. It limped to a parking lot, where we were unable to start it for about 1 1/2 hours. Since then, it has intermittently stalled, usually in very high temperatures, after driving highway speeds for an hour or two. We took it to the dealer after the first incident but were told that they couldn't ascertain the problem. We have taken it to a trusted transmission mechanic, and our own mechanic, who cannot find a problem. I reported it to the national highway transportation safety people over a year ago, but have not been contacted by them nor have I seen any attempt by them to address this problem, although many attest to it.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #22

Aug 292014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
My wife just phoned to tell me the cvt transmission failed-again- leaving her stranded in a parking lot in a bad part of houston (sw). This has happened many times and has been taken to Nissan dealer in angleton, Texas for this problem. In December of 2014 they installed a transmission cooler, thinking it's an overheating problem. My wife stated shes glad it didn't happen on the freeway as it might had caused a collision with possible death, etc. Nissan has not resolved these cvt issues and you-NHTSA- have not forced them to do so either. When the cvt fails you lose power as it goes into a default mode. This happens without warning and causes loss of acceleration and ability to move out of hazardous situations. The only remedy is to park the car and wait for it to cool, thus resetting the default mode. At this point Nissan has advised to bring the car in for a code scan. This is dangerous enough that I plan to take the car in with the intention of getting rid of it!!! I will trade it in for a Toyota Camry but unfortunately some other person will be stuck with the same dangerous cvt issues and could also be killed or injured because of this transmission failure and because you have not forced Nissan to fix the problem. I have complained to you of this same issue with negative results.

- Manvel, TX, USA

problem #21

Dec 032013


  • 28,000 miles
I need to drive from md to ga every couple of month. I noticed that if I drive my car continuously for a couple of hours (about 3 or 4 hours), the car won't accelerate from a stop for at least couple of seconds. I have floored the gas pedal, but the engine was like 2000 RPM. The car barely moves. It then become normal after about 3 seconds. Because of this, I was almost involved in accidents several times when I was trying to pull from a traffic light. I went to a Nissan dealer to check what is the problem. But the dealer (norris Nissan West near baltimore) told me they could not repeat the problem so they will not do anything. I thought this is potentially dangerous for drivers like me and the dealer's action is irresponsible and unacceptable. Now I am afraid of driving my car for relatively long trips now.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #20

Jun 042014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I purchased a 2010 Nissan Altima about three years ago. The first problem started with the car failing to start. That problem still happens to this day. The next problem is my car will not accelerate at times. I have had several incident when I am at a stop light, intersection, or redlight where I apply the gas all the way to the floor and the car will not move. I put the car in reverse and it still would not move. After waiting about 20 second and apply the gas it finally goes and drive normal. Me and my kids were almost in a serious accident when the car stalled in front of a big mack truck. Now after this has been going on for a couple of months, my car sits in my front yard unable to move at all and now there's a burning smell coming from the car. These cars are a death trap and I refuse to keep putting my life and my children lives in danger. The government needs to do something!!!

- Lower Peachtree, AL, USA

problem #19

Apr 182014

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
I started to hear a rattling noise under the hood of my car. It was found to be that the alternator/clutch was about to go out. I could also hear it when driving and pressing my foot on the gas. The rattling noise was present when I was in park or reverse.

- Ralph, AL, USA

problem #18

Dec 312013


  • 31,000 miles
We have had many problems with our cars cvt transmission since it was purchased new in 2010. The transmission, without any indication, goes into a safe mode which causes the car to loose acceleration. This has happened to us several times, usually after long trips (70 miles or more) at highway speeds. It has also happened in parking lots or just stopping to make a turn. The car has been to the Nissan dealer 2-times and both times they removed oil, claiming the excess oil caused the transmission to overheat which put it into the safe mode. On Dec. 31,2013 we were on a return trip of 70 miles or so when we exited the freeway. We came to a stop at a traffic signal and upon trying to accelerate, the transmission once again went in the safe mode, hindering our ability to accelerate across the intersection. We slowly drove the short distance home parking the car. In the past, we parked the car allowing it to cool so it would "reset" but this time the car remained in the safe mode the next day. We had it towed to Nissan. Nissan claims they cannot duplicate the problem and our car is ready for pickup. This transmission fails without warning and upon doing so makes it accelerate very, very slowly which puts us in grave danger. I will not put my grand kids in this death trap nor does my wife want to drive it. I have seen the many, many internet complaints about this same cvt problem. If I or my wife get killed trying to cross an intersection when this failure occurs, this will be the reason why. When I pick up our car Jan 6th,2014, I plan to drive it to the Toyota dealer to seek a trade in on a Camry. This Nissan is going to get people killed.

- Manvel, TX, USA

problem #17

Dec 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
After, driving for about 2hrs, traffic came to a complete stop and was stop and go for an hour. Once traffic finally went back to normal, my car would not accelerate, the gas pedal was pressed all the way to the floor, but would not pick up speed. I got off on the nearest exit, pulled into a vacant lot to let the car cool down,5minutes later the car was back to normal.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #16

Nov 192013


  • 97,610 miles
The car seems to be sending a signal to "shift" even though I am going a steady speed and there is no need to shift. This creates a "jerking" motion. I've noticed this problem occurring consistently at 60 mph but also at 65, 70, and 75 mph. Sometimes even at 45 mph. The more "warmed up" the car is, the stronger the jerking motion and the more frequently this issue occurs.

- Greenbrier, AR, USA

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