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:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
15,655 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #11

Aug 042011


  • 33,000 miles


The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving approximately 70 mph, the vehicle began to decelerate while the accelerator pedal was depressed. The vehicle was stopped and upon restart, the failure occurred a second time. The vehicle was taken to the an authorized dealer for diagnostics, where the technician stated that the transmission failed and had to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 33,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Springvalley, CA, USA

problem #10

Jun 262011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 9,000 miles
On June 26th, we left the houston area on an out of town trip. At the halfway point we exited 1-10 at schulenberg Texas after driving for approx.100 miles. After coming to a stop at a major intersection, I tried to accelerate at a normal rate and discovered that the vehicle was not responding and didn't have sufficient power to safely move thru the intersection. I further depressed the accelerator and could hear the engine revving but felt little movement from the vehicle. It felt as if the car was stuck in high gear. We slowly gained speed and eventually moved to a parking lot where the car came to a stop;not willing to move beyond that parking space. After allowing to vehicle to cool for an hour, it accelerated 1-time at its normal rate but soon returned to it's earlier condition. We allowed it to sit for about 4 hours and decided to give it another try. The car moved off in a normal way, we decided since it was underway and because of this safety issue, we decided to return home via all freeway, trying not to stop anywhere. On June 28,2011 we took the car to the Nissan dealer in angleton tx. The service dept. Claimed the cvt transmission had too much oil (half quart) in it from the factory which causes them to overheat which causes the condition we experienced. The dealer stated this has happened to many other Nissan Altima owners (cvt transmission). The dealer stated there is no recall. The problem gives no warning which left us pulling slowly unable to accelerate with fast moving oncoming traffic. Nissan should have notified us of this problem and done a self imposed recall. I am not convinced of Nissan's claim of "too much oil" as the cause of this problem. The car did this briefly once before while moving very slowly in a parking lot but never did it again until June 26 th 2011.

- Manvel, TX, USA

problem #9

Jun 042011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
I own a 2010 Nissan Altima sl and have had problems with acceleration following long highway trips. When I exit the freeway and come to a stop, I can push the gas pedal down to the floor and experience very little speed. I have brought the vehicle to the dealership twice and both times they state that they can't "recreate the problem". the problem is that they won't drive it long enough to be able to recreate the problem. I have no issues with driving short or moderate distances, only long highway trips. I have once again returned the vehicle to the dealership and I refuse to pick it up until they recreate the problem. This is a major safety factor because we were almost involved in a collision last week while on vacation.

- Orange, TX, USA

problem #8

Jun 052011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 15,000 miles


Dangerous performance on 2010 Nissan Altima. After driving over 2 hours at highway speed, I had to stop for traffic. I tried to accelerate following the stop and the car would not accelerate. I had to depress the accelerator almost to the floor and then it moved gradually and then quickly picked up speed. This happened several times on the trip after extended driving time.

- Lake In The Hills, IL, USA

problem #7

Sep 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 7,000 miles
I purchased my 2010 Nissan Altima new at the dealership in April 2010. Around 7K miles is when I first noticed the problem. When I am accelerating, between 20-35 mph my car makes a loud nose and hits between 4000-5000 rpms, but it feels like it is losing power and is very slow to speed up. Once I hit over 50mph it gets better. I have taken it to 2 different Nissan dealerships and they say they can't find anything wrong with it. As a sanity check, I have asked 3 other people to drive my car and they are experiencing the same thing I am. This is very dangerous when turning left at an unprotected light or turning right into traffic. I googled this and see many people are having the exact same issue with the year and model.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #6

Apr 212011


  • 22,000 miles
After a hard stop on highway, car transmission was locked in a higher gear, thus acceleration on highway was extremely difficult, and was rear ended, car was driving at 5mph on the highway following and could not accelerate. There is a serious transmission problem with this make.

- Los Alamos, CA, USA

problem #5

Jul 012010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 700 miles


After driving for extended periods of time (2 hours or more) on the interstate, the vehicle has difficulty recovering from a stop. I accelerate to move forward and the vehicle hesitates. When it reaches about 2000 rpms, it accelerates out of control. I took it to the dealership who could not replicate the problem. They offered for me to bring it in when I am getting off the interstate, but I had to stop before I arrived at the dealership. This occurred around 700 miles. When I'm at stop lights I don't panic, but this is unsafe for interstate driving. Nissan will not replace my transmission under the warranty as they cannot duplicate the issue.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #4

Jul 072010

Altima 6-cyl

  • 7,000 miles
It occurred to me in July 2010. Car was 7 months old with mileage of ~7,000 km. There was a problem with acceleration - with acceleration pedal fully depressed engine was revving up to ~2,200 RPM and car barely accelerated like it was slippage in the transmission. Switching to sport or manual modes was not effective. There is "high fluid temperature protection mode" described in manual, but there is no warning light/chime that transmission enters this mode. Driver not being aware of very limited acceleration can find himself in very dangerous situation leading to fatal accident, e.g. when pulling out in heavy traffic. It occurred several times, never any warning light was on. Finally transmission was replaced, but until now (January 2011) Nissan did not admit that there is a problem and did not take any preventive action.

- Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, 00, USA

problem #3

Nov 192010


  • 9,500 miles
Purchased my new Altima 3.5 a few months ago. Had a problem the second week, seemed like the transmission was slipping. After stopping at a stop sign, I accelerated but the car wouldn't move. Had to accelerate a lot to get the car to move very little and very slowly. Had I been pulling out in traffic it could have been a disaster. The problem occurred a few times as I parked in a parking garage. Upon returning to the car hours later the transmission seemed fine. Months later after a 3 1/2 hour drive on the highway, I got off the highway exit and the same thing happened. This time it continued to happen at low speeds, the car only accelerated properly at high speeds. The following day (Monday) I drove the car to my Nissan dealer to check out the problem, I never had any warning lights at all. They ran tests, found nothing, road tested and determined I had a defective transmission. Brand new car. This defective transmission could have resulted in serious injury or death to my family and myself. Nissan is replacing the transmission as I write this report, but this needs to be looked into to prevent others from serious accidents. I was lucky.

- Parkland, FL, USA

problem #2

Oct 132010


  • 39,000 miles
Cvt transmission is warmed up after driving for 20 minutes. Once warm, from a complete stop, I lightly accelerate to move forward and the car hesitates like I am not even press on the accelerator so I press harder almost to the floor when the car finally and suddenly accelerates out of control almost causing an accident. This situation happens is a constant problem for the past month. Another problem is that you can be on the freeway driving at 60mph and just loose all power and cant accelerate. I took it to the dealership and they say cant replicate the problem and to just leave it with them to see if they check engine light comes on, but I had already explained that the light has never came on. The service advisor stated that if the light doesn't come on and they don't get a "code" from it that they cant fix the problem under warranty even though Nissan knows that their is an issue with the cvt so they extended the warranty on the vehicle.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #1

Aug 012010


  • 10,000 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. When the contact engaged the accelerator pedal the vehicle moved very slowly. This happened sporadically and it also occurred while driving on a highway. There were no warning lights illuminated indicating any type of failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they test drove the vehicle but could not duplicate the failure. After running a diagnostic test on the transmission faulty codes were detected indicating that the transmission needed to be replaced. The dealer called the manufacturer and informed them of the failure but was told that the transmission was on back order. They also are not sure when they will receive the transmission to repair the vehicle. The failure mileage was 10,000.

- Edison, NJ, USA

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