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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,306 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #48

Jan 022017


  • 72,000 miles


Front windows will roll down by themselves

- Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #47

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 #46

Sep 292016


  • 87,625 miles
The vehicle could not start when trying to start the engine, ┐the instrument panel lights up, and ┐the engine does not crank, (no crank, no start), (hybrid ┐ready┐ will not light), and ┐the ignition push button is not responsive (no action occurs when the button is pressed additional times). This has happened multiple times over the last several years

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #45

Jul 112016


  • miles


I have numerous starting problems and the vdc, ABS, and slip light come on while driving. Sometimes it can take 4 or 5 tries until the vehicle starts with the push button start. The battery, alternator and starter have been checked and found to be in good working order. This is a safety issue as the numerous lights that come on while driving present a problem especially if the ABS system light comes on while driving.

- Hendersonville, TN, USA

problem #44

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

problem #43

Jun 112016


  • 76,523 miles
Takata recal. We purchased vehicle used. Our 2nd Altima. Had problems about 6 months after getting the car. It wouldn't start. Brakes wouldn't even compress. Replaced battery and worked for a few weeks. Same issue continued. Cabin lights would come on, new battery but still not starting. Had starter replaced and worked for a while again. Same issue again. Get stuck in random places. Some days it starts, others it doesn't. calling for a jum start doesn't work either. Unreliable and unstable. Called dealership, mossy Nissan. They wants over $200 just for diagnostic and then could be a number of problems. Also said break harness/switch seems to be a common problem. Vdc lights also come on at random times while driving. There seems to be a common issue with these models. Nissan should handle all repair expenses. Car was stationary at all times it wouldn't start. This week is wouldn't start 3 times. Last week it was 5 times. The whole month was 17 times out of 31 days. Please recall.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #42

Mar 202016


  • 150,000 miles


The steering lock mechanism is faulty and will not let the car start. The vehicle was stationary where failure occurred. I've done research on this problem and it appears Nissan extended the warranty for this part but never issued a recall so that it could be fixed. It is a safety issue that needs to be taken care of by Nissan. People are being stranded because their car will not start but seems no one knows about the potential problem until they are stranded. This is an issue that Nissan has admitted is a manufacturing problem. I for one will never buy a Nissan again because of the poor customer service. Things break, and parts fail, but this particular issue is very very common on 2009-2011 models.

- Warrior, AL, USA

problem #41

Sep 152015


  • miles
All four of door locks failed, will not lock or unlock plus 1 window failed, will not lower.

- San Jacinto, CA, USA

problem #40

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 #39

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 #38

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 #37

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 #36

Jul 152011

Altima 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
This specially ordered Altima coupe 3.5 would not start on several occasions, beginning only a year or so after it was delivered to me from the factory. Each time, the brake pedal was next to impossible to depress, and the car made clicking sounds when the start push button was pressed. Several jump starts after the first time this happened, on a Sunday, I decided to try replacing the battery. Because Nissan's service center were not open in my area, I purchased a new battery from a retail store. When I phoned Nissan's service center the following Monday, I was told that because I did not bring the vehicle to them (they wanted the entire car, not just the battery, even though the Nissan shop was closed), I was not entitled to a prorated refund on the old battery. Approximately 1 1/2 - 2 years later, the same problem began to happen again. After driving the vehicle for over an hour in an attempt to recharge the battery, I swung by a Nissan dealer, who tested the new battery and advised that it was at about 40%. I was instructed to turn everything off, including the automatic headlights, because "all the bells and whistles drain the battery." What's the point in having automatic headlights if I have to shut them off? I have never had this problem with a vehicle before, and batteries should last longer than this, especially in a brand new car. When this first began occurring, the car had approximately 20,000 miles on it. At this time, this car has less than 35,000 miles on it. The Nissan dealer who tested the battery told me this is a common problem with this model (and I see similar complaints on this website), but that Nissan is not doing anything about it.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #35

Jan 062015


  • 26,000 miles
Purchased used car from infiniti dealer in fort myers Florida. Three days later I was unable to get a gas gauge reading and the car would not start. I waited a minute and the car started. This has happened 6 times out of the 10 days I have owned the car. I am reading other complaints and found that other owners of the 2010 Altima are having the same problem with the car not starting281. I think a car with 26,000 miles should start without a problem.

- Fort Myers, FL, USA

problem #34

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 #33

Dec 182014


  • miles
My 2010 Altima had been going dead for the last 3 days. I have to get a jump a jump in the am for work and after work when I leave. I took the vehicle to an auto parts store to test the battery and was told the battery was efficient so I am puzzled as to why this has been happening. I was told it may be the alternator. Today my car wouldn't start or even take a jump from another vehicle so I was left stuck. I believe here should be a recall on this make N model for these electrical issues or at least a discount on alternator replacements at the dealership.

- Ellenwood, GA, USA

problem #32

Nov 282014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Problem with battery going dead, I have read there is a fault in the BCM not being programmed properly.

- Becker, MN, USA

problem #31

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 #30

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 #29

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

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