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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,933 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Aug 232016


  • 73,000 miles


The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. Every time the vehicle was driven over a bump, a rattling noise was heard. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the failing motor mount and one strut needed replacement. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was invalid. The approximate failure mileage was 73,000.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #26

May 272016


  • 55 miles
Transmission is failing at 140,000. Car is losing power on highway putting me and my kids in danger. Car losing power going down to zero on busy highway.

- Palmetto, GA, USA

problem #25

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 #24

Jun 152015


  • 122,000 miles


There is currently a emission recall campaign for the 2010 nissian Altima (csc-10043941-7009)(ntb12-040D safety recall campaign) - unfortunately it apparently doesn't include my VIN # although my vehicle demonstrates the identical issues that the recall covers. Catalytic converter defective due to improperly calibrated engine control module (ECM) that may incorrectly detect engine valve closure as engine knock. The ECM will increase the fuel flow to compensate this false reading which in turns causes the catalytic converter to over heat. Catalytic converter was replace 7/14/2014 at 105000 miles - in 9/08/2015 it was replaced again 122000 miles (15000 miles) - currently having ECM reprogrammed with updated software at customer cost - this issue needs to be addressed since it's a federal law enforcement issue (automobile emissions) - this is a manufacture defect.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #23

Jun 012015


  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that there was a burning odor under the hood of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was determined that the seals on the rear of the engine failed and started leaking oil. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 76,000.

- Sandyhook, CT, USA

problem #22

Feb 162015


  • 75,000 miles
Engine oil is leaking on the ground causing possible fire and or environmental issues. I took the car to a Nissan dealership and I indicated that the rear engine oil seal should not prematurely leak engine oil on the ground with a 4 year old car that has approximately 75,000 miles should not leak oil. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and they will not repair my vehicle. I also indicated that Nissan extended support on the leaking cvt transmission and why Nissan will not cover for the leaking engine oil?

- Sandy Hook, CT, USA

problem #21

Apr 122015


  • 90,000 miles


Traveling East on I-20 in arlingtjon Texas our car began losing power and coasted to a stop. We were powerless to move and could not get off the freeway. We were hit from behind and as reported our car went airborne. The truck that hit us also hit another vehicle and flipped onto its top. In all 4 people went to hospital including my self and my wife. In researching the reason the car stopped, I found a number of other cases over several years of people online that lost power in this type vehicle. The problem seems to be a sensor for the crankshaft/camshaft that fails causing stalling. I contacted Nissan representative(case number18593816) at 615-725-7539. Told them the car had been sealed and secured awaiting their inspection to determine the problem. They refused to inspect the vehicle saying their were no recalls on it. I feel this is a dangerous situation that could have killed us and others.

- Winnsboro, TX, USA

problem #20

Jan 052015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 93,000 miles
My check engine light came on, so I took the car to the mechanic, they told me that I had an error P0402 catalytic converter malfunction. They told me that this is a known issue with the Nissan Altima and that Nissan knows about it and does not care to anything about it; he told me to google it and see the number of complaints online from Nissan Altima owners. I did just that and was amazed at how many complaints there were. The repair shop said that they won't fix it for fear of making it worse and told me to get rid of the car!.

- Ranson, WV, USA

problem #19

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 #18

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 #17

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 #16

Sep 152014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
Go into my car after work drove to the highway which was less than a mile away. Merged into traffic the car was stuck at 40 mph and began to lose speed til eventually the car just stopped. Luckily I was about to get on to shoulder and away from traffic.

- North Miami, FL, USA

problem #15

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 #14

Jun 092014


  • 52,000 miles
TL * the contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to power on however the instrument panel illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where the diagnosis was undetermined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 52,000. The VIN was not available.

- Clover, SC, USA

problem #13

Apr 072014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated while driving, the vehicle decelerated and stalled. The contact was unable to shift the vehicle into reverse. The failure recurred for two months. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic for diagnostic testing; however, they were unable to determine the cause of failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage were not available.

- Lower Peach Tree, AL, USA

problem #12

Apr 202014


  • 35,500 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 80 mph, the vehicle shook violently and all of the warning lamps illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the body control module was defective and needed to be replaced. The remedy failed to repair the problem. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 35,500.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #11

Apr 102012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
My 2010 Nissan Altima has had difficulty starting. All the electrical components would come on but the engine wouldn't turnover. At first I could get it to start after a few tries (I would pump the brakes, slam the car hood, bang on the steering wheel). Then I noticed while driving the vds (traction control), ABS and parking brake light would remain illuminated while driving. This meant that my vds was not functioning and as such I lost control of my car several times on wet surfaces. On 4/22/2014 I tried starting my car and could not. I had it towed to a Nissan dealership (orr Nissan in corinth Texas) where the service manager informed me that it required a new brake light switch, harness and band hoses. He told me there was a Nissan service bulletin as this was a "known issue". so much so that Nissan had actually developed a more dependable brake switch. The service bulletin number is ntb10-139- which was released on November 23rd 2010. He told me to repair it was going to cost over $500. The faulty brake switch is a safety hazard as it causes the car to throw error codes which deactivates the traction control and ABS. Why has this not been a recall" why is a dealership charging 500 dollars to repair a malfunctioning component that shortly after the car was released, the manufacture acknowledged it was faulty? furthermore, based on my calculations the dealership is putting a 300% mark up on the parts required. Why would the NHTSA wait until somebody dies in a crash caused by the vds and ABS features not working before they force a recall/repair of this known issue" I am sending a copy of this to local and national news organizations.

- Lantana, TX, USA

problem #10

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 #9

Feb 032014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle intermittently failed to start. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the failure could not be diagnosed. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 82,000. The failure mileage was not available.

- La Quente, CA, USA

problem #8

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

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