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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2009-2010 Nissan Altima appears to have a defect where it occasionally refuses to start. We know the feeling, but it's just not acceptable in a car.

For the fix, Nissan dealers enjoy replacing the steering lock control unit for $800. Stranded Nissan owners have found that banging like hell on the steering lock unit at the base of the steering column will do the trick. Yes, the same unit that apparently has $800 worth of electronics.

How far do you have to drive to experience this? The average mileage at failure is just over 55,000 very short miles.

More info & videos are available over at NissanProblems.com.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
64,264 miles
Total Complaints:
42 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace the steering lock control unit (16 reports)
  2. not sure (15 reports)
  3. replace the brake switch (4 reports)
  4. replace the ignition interlock (3 reports)
  5. replace the steering lock unit (2 reports)
  6. install new steering column lock sensor (1 reports)
2009 Nissan Altima electrical problems

electrical problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #42

Aug 202014

Altima SS 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles


My 2009 Altima. When I first bought it I loved it. It had like pull once in a while, like it would not catch up. But then I had this no key problem, where the car would lock the brakes and shifter. It will not let me start the car because it would say no key. I don't know why. I replaced the battery in the key fob and also disconnected the battery from the vehicle to no avail.

I'm a single girl in collage, so this was so stressful and depressing. I would have to ask for rides and till now I can't get it fixed I have to walk everywhere. I don't have the money to take it to a dealer. I need to tow it to the Nissan dealership and I'm not going to so my car is in my driveway just dying lol I'm dying without it. I hate being a girl and not know how to fix stupid stuff like this

- , Red Oak, TX, USA

problem #41

Aug 182014

Altima Z 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

My car won't start even after changing the battery in the remote and car... Only the key light was flashing on the dash and the brakes where stiff........... I was stuck in the hot sun with my baby. This was ridiculous..............

- , Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas

problem #40

Nov 242014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

The car won't start. Both the key fobs (intelligent) don't seem to work. I can open the car doors, etc but the car won't start.

- , El Dorado Hills, California, USA

problem #39

Aug 042014

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Had the same issue of lights, radio, door locks working but car would not start. Drove to work, ran errands at lunch, no problems whatsoever. 2 hours later, got into car, AC blows...lights and radio come on, but car would not crank!! The shoe on brake picture is showing on my dash along with the car and key symbol. Had battery checked...no battery problem. Changed battery in key fob....car still won't crank. My brake light will not illuminate once the pedal is pressed.

Like the other complaints, I am thinking either ignition switch lock problem or brake switch problem...either way the car will not start without them because it has push button start. I called Nissan America Hotline 1-800-647-7261 with Vin # handy. Although there is no recall, the CSR stated that if the vehicle is diagnosed with the ignition switch failure that Nissan will replace it for free under the ESCL extended warranty program.

Car is getting towed to dealer as we speak! Will update as soon as I have a diagnosis. I can say that I was a Honda fan who always admired Nissan vehicles but now after this scary ordeal...I am rethinking my line of vehicles. I just hope no one else has to go thru the fear of being stranded and engine won't start.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #38

Jun 032014

Altima LS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Add me to the list. The Altima is perfectly fine in every way except that the car won't start when you press the start button. It has a new car battery, new battery in the key fob, all electronics function except that it won't start. This clearly merits a recall! The impact is that the car cannot be driven, period, without spending an average of $1,000 on replacing the defective part.

As others have noted, Nissan identified its own problem and made changes in more recent models. So why hasn't this been the subject of a recall?

- , Folsom, CA, USA

problem #37

Jun 222014

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,200 miles

Key/security alert or brake light is on, brakes freeze up and the car won't start. This is the second time I've had this issue. The first was 2 1/2 yes ago when the car had 32,000 miles. I replaced the battery and it's worked fairly well the last couple of years but occasionally needs a jump to start it. The sunroof, windows and radio work but the thing just won't start. It takes a jump and then runs fine until you turn off the engine. That's why I thought something was just sucking the life out of the battery.

My son read some fixes on this website so banged on the steering column and down by the brakes then unhooked the new replacement battery (installed a week ago) hooked it back up and it now starts again.

I'm going to call the numbers I saw listed here, not that I think Nissan will do anything but the complaint needs to go on file.

- , Des Moines, IA, USA

problem #36

Jun 192014

Altima LX 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Went into store, came out and car won't start. Left car overnight, borrowed another to get to work and now stranded for the weekend at work.

- , Tewksbury, MA, USA

problem #35

Jul 052014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

You can add me to the list as well. Went out to local convenience store. Came out, car would not start. Got my wife to bring me the second key fob. I replaced batteries in both key fobs (not necessary). I was able to lock and unlock the door locks and trunk but that was it. Little "Key" symbol was lit on dashboard. Ignition switch would not move from lock to "On" position. Could not jump start car either. Car was totally immobilized. I left it parked on borough street all night. Next day had it towed to Nissan Dealer where it sat all night since it was a Sunday. Through the help of this website and NissanAssist, I determined that the problem was the Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL). The next day, they replaced the entire Lock Module & Ignition Switch Assy in 2 hours. They didn't charge me anything at all since Nissan has given a Warranty extension for this problem. It's a very annoying problem and Nissan should have had a general recall for 2009 Altimas.

It could leave you stranded when you least expected maybe in a city location or somewhere isolated. Fortunately, for me it was in my own town.

- , Haddon Heights, NJ, USA

problem #34

Dec 132013

Altima 3.5 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,099 miles

Woke up Friday for my daily work commute, low and behold car would not start. It's as if intelligent key was rendered useless. Towed vehicle to local shop and waited a day for a diagnostic. While conducting independent research I found out that there is an extended warranty to all 2009 Nissan Altima's with Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL) issue. And from what I've read on this website this applies to 99.99% of people experiencing this issue.

Nissan will extend its new vehicle limited warranty coverage for the affected part numbers from its original duration of 36 months/ 36,000 miles to 72 months/unlimited miles. All other warranty terms, conditions and limitations otherwise remain unchanged and continue to apply.

Contact Nissan Consumer Affairs at 1-855-619-8190 and confirm your VIN to see if your vehicle is eligible.

Good luck and hope this helps!

- , Whitby, Ontario, canada

problem #33

Dec 052013

Altima SL V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Totally freaking pissed!!! Wife tried to take kids to school one morning and car wouldn't start. Doors would unlock with intelligent key but wouldn't start car. She tried everything, so no car to take kids to school. After much research we discovered the problem with the steering lock failure. We couldn't believe all the people having the exact same problems with their car. We did try the removing of the casing under the steering wheel and banging on lock until it disengaged. This actually worked for a couple days. In the meantime Nissan says that they know nothing of the problem and have car towed in we'll look at it for you. For $200!!!!

You gotta be kidding I'm telling you what the problem is. Oh by the way car is dead again, won't start and don't have the hundreds of dollars to fix. If Nissan knew this piece was faulty, which they did because they stopped putting it in the 2010, NISSAN NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!!

- , Martinez, CA, USA

problem #32

Nov 262013

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles


Went on my lunch break my car was fine. Then I came back and it would not start. The dash board was completely black and the key light was blinking and the anti theft light started blinking. And the outside of the car was making a beeping sound. Took it to Nissan and haven't heard anything yet!

- , Roanoke, VA, canada

problem #31

Nov 242013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,894 miles

Went to gas station, 20 degrees outside, car wouldn't start, kept saying key (yellow light on dash). All the lights worked so it wasn't the battery, thank god for AAA. They towed my car to my nearest Nissan dealership, $119.00 just for the Nissan mechanics to look at it. Very pissed, lord knows how much it will cost for labor and for the actual part.

- , 6708 Burch Hill Rd, MD, USA

problem #30

Oct 102013

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I get off work at 2:00 AM. Went to resturant to eat, when I came out my car would not start. Had to call and wake up someone to come get me. Next day tried jumping it off and putting new battery in fob, nothing worked. Had it towed to mechanic and was told it was an anit-theft steering lock problem that a LOT of people have been having with their Nissan. After a 50.00 tow bill and 800.00 later at mechanic I am fixed. I called Nissan and they gave me a case number and told me to tell anyone else I knew having this same problem to call also. The # 1-800-647-7261 EVERYONE CALL AND COMPLAIN !!!!! Keep your receipts from having it fixed and if they have a recall you can get your money back.

- , Pell City, AL, USA

problem #29

Aug 222013

Altima SE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I was a faithful lover of Nissan vehicle since I was 20 years old I am now in my sixties and over the last 7 years I have been getting from Nissan and its dealers some bad deals and this is the latest where Nissan has an ongoing problem with the starting of the Altima and this has happen almost all owners of this car yet Nissan is not view this as a recall problem .The dealers are making money on the labour and part replacement also Nissan is making money on the sale and manufacture of this part so there no need for them to make a recall.So I have made a decision from here on my family and I will never buy another Nissan vehicle again.As I said earlier the dealers are no good too, so I now settling with buy Kia vehicles their warranty is better and vehicles are giving a better BANG for your money. Nissan has to know there is a problem with car and also there is with some of its"DEALERS" because they should monitor the internet and see the number of complaints about the Altima and some it Dealers.From Neverbuynissan

- , Queens, New York, USA

problem #28

Oct 292012

Altima 3.5 SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

Nissan told me it was covered the dealer is telling me otherwise will find out tomorrow when i call nissanUSA back.

- , Brownsville, TX, USA

problem #27

Jan 172013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

WTH!!!!..09 Altima..only had ONE YEAR..bought with only 19K miles on it..and now electrical? and tell me..these things just happens...

Get the hell outta here with that...

I will be going to raise hell but have to get fixed..so I can TRADE IT.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #26

Jan 252013


  • CVT transmission
  • 43,000 miles

I've had a few days where my car didn't seem to recognize my key was nearby, but after a long hard day at work, it was the first time the car would not start at all. The car knew I was there...the doors unlocked okay, and the lights all worked fine, so the battery wasn't dead. But nothing happened at all when pushing start. Just a black dashboard, aside from a new little yellow light that said KEY. Which was completely unhelpful. The manual was also completely unhelpful in this situation. Husband came, and neither his key nor mine had any effect on the car. When we had problems last summer, we put fresh batteries in the fobs. So the fob should work. Put the keyfob in the port, still nothing. Had to have the car towed, and now I hear it will be nearly $800 to fix the steering wheel lock mechanism, IF they can get the part. Which may not be available for weeks. What the heck am I supposed to do in the meantime? This is our fourth Altima, and we have never experienced anything like this before. I am stunned that there is no way to override an anti-theft flaw. Very pissed off.

- , Hooksett, NH, USA

problem #25

Feb 212013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

This part went out on my wife's car stranding her, my two year old and six month old. While looking online I've found out that I am FAR from the only one having this issue. This exact part has been recalled in other Nissan models but apparently the recall for the Altima is lacking. Unbelievable. Never will get an Altima again.

- , Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #24

Dec 032012

Altima EX 3.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Car totally DEAD. - lights would go on - ( it was a brand new battery... ).

To add insult to injury - you cannot get the car out of Park - - so cannot move the car unless you get a tow truck to lift the front end of the car. No prior warning. Have to get a dealer to fix it. Fixed, but the dealer didn't complete the reprogramming so could not open / close doors by touching the sensor on the handle. (another trip to the dealer...MY time isn't worth anything to them) Now the car makes kind of a "zipping noise" - when you start it which doesn't give me much comfort that it is fixed. This is the FIRST bad experience I've had with Nissans - we've had three Altimas - But I LOVE THIS CAR.... ... it is the best driving car I've ever had - so it really is frustrating to have such a bad problem. Of course the car died when my daughter was driving it - it was cold and raining - making it more delightful... the best thing the AAA tow truck driver was pleasant and helpful...

- , Vienna, VA, USA

problem #23

Mar 312013


  • CVT transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I recently got stranded in a parking lot when my '09 Altima would not start. Try as I might, pushing the brake down and pressing the magical "Start" button did absolutely nothing. Luckily, I was at Wal-Mart, where I purchased an expensive battery, thinking this would solve the problem (like so many of you have also done. The car is 5 years old, I figured it was time...). Nothing. I started Googling on my smart phone, and found out that the electronic steering control lock was faulty.Thankfully, I was able to start it after taking some internet forum poster's suggestion by tapping the control module at the base of the steering wheel. I was able to get home. Although, the lingering thought of being a woman stranded somewhere was hanging over my head...

Two weeks later, I receieved a letter in the mail from Nissan USA telling me that the warranty was extended on- you guessed it!- the electronic steering control lock! Since I had done my research and found out that it was going to cost between $700- $900 to replace with no guarantee that it would fix the problem, I decided to keep a hammer in my glove box to beat my car in to submission, when needed.

I scheduled to take my car to my local dealership to be fixed. I was told that the part was in stock, and that it would take an hour and a half to replace. 5 hours later, I had to call the dealership myself since I received no phone call about the progress of my vehicle, as promised. I was then told that because my car was not incapacitated right at that moment, that they would NOT replace the faulty steering lock. I called Nissan Assist, and was given a bull crap answer about how the dealership was "following protocol" and that they would not do anything about it.

I sure hope a zombie apocalypse doesn't start when my Nissan Lemon decides to not start again. That would suck. Just sayin'.

- , Greensboro, NC, USA

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