Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,341 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.

2009 Nissan Altima electrical problems

electrical problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 14 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #123

Jan 312014


  • 73,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While attempting to start the vehicle on it failed to start despite the contact engaging the push to start engine button. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection or diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the incident. The approximate failure mileage was 73,000.

- Clifton, NJ, USA

problem #122

Jan 292014


  • 52,315 miles
Won't start. Warning indicator lights: 1) Nissan intelligent key warning light; 2) security indicator light. Car was at Chevy dealership when fault occurred. I paid for towing to Nissan dealership. Both dealerships owned by same owner. Told that this is a common known defect in the 2009 Altima and parts are hard to get due to many cars having the same problem. I was told that it may take a week or more to get a replacement part. I was told that the part would be replaced under a Nissan "extended warranty, " not under a recall. I have read other similar complaints stating that Nissan did not reimburse for towing, so I guess I am out $90 for a known 2009 Nissan Altima defect in manufacture.

- Wausau, WI, USA

problem #121

Jan 242014


  • miles
Car had been showing the intelligent key warning light for a few days, but just thought the fob needed new battery. About a week later the car wouldn't start and lit up "lock" above the push start button. Tried replacing the battery in the fob, stuck the fob into the little port hole, and nothing. Looked in the manual and it said it could be a malfunction of the electrical steering lock system or the intelligent key system. Called Nissan dealership and told me to try everything I had already tried to get it to start. They said it was the electrical steering lock system (which a lot of people have had the same problem) and I needed to bring it in. Said there was a recall they extended the warranty on this part and they would fix it for no charge (why didn't I get a letter or something about this "recall?"). they would send a wrecker to come get it for a fee of course, so instead borrowed someone's trailer and hauled it up to the dealership (which is 50 miles from where I live). (fyi:to get it out of park into neutral, there's a thing you pop off next to the shifter and you have to push something down into that hole.) once we got it to the dealership, they had no ramps we could use to get the car off the trailer so we had to use flimsy four-wheeler ramps we had. They called me after having my car there about an hour and a half just to tell me that they would have to order the part and I would have to leave the car there for up to a week. This was on Tuesday and I had called that previous Friday, so they knew what the problem was and had my VIN number. I don't understand why they couldn't have ordered the part after I called that Friday. I asked if they had a loaner car I could drive until I got my car back, they said all the loaner cars were out (which means they're working on a lot of vehicles). All in all, I'm pretty ticked off at Nissan.

- Waldron, AR, USA

problem #120

Jan 232014


  • 116,000 miles


Car will not start. This model uses the intelligent key system with push button start. The key is actually detected by the vehicle and the steering wheel unlocks. But the start button is not enabled and the car does nothing when trying to start. Lights, electrical and battery tested fine. Towed car to dealership and they found the steering lock module had failed. This is a known problem with this part and was covered by warranty which was extended for unlimited miles for this part only. Currently, the part is not available due to high level of failures across the us. Part is susceptible to higher failure in extreme cold weather. Eta for part delivery is unknown and dealership explained they would get back to me again in 2 weeks! Nissan did provide a rental car due to the part shortage. My vehicle is a 2009 model year but this part has a problem also in the 2010 and 2011 model years for all Nissan vehicles per the local dealership.

- Locust Dale, VA, USA

problem #119

Jan 252014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
Car would not start. Equipped with remote electronic key. Evidently Nissan has extended the warranty to cover this, but I was not made aware of it. Lots of complaints on line for same problem. Needs to have a recall. Dangerous from safety standpoint because we are older and it was cold outside, middle of winter. Had to have car towed. Dealer was not aware of problem fix over the phone.

- Decatur , IL, USA

problem #118

Jan 202014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 62,500 miles
Car would not start due to failure of the steering lock device.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #117

Jan 102014


  • 42,000 miles


The car is equipped with a "smart" key-locking system as well as a "smart" ignition system. The key for the car is a wireless fob that when around the vehicle will allow the car to be unlocked and started. The key will allow the car to start, when the key is detected inside the vehicle. The issue that arose was due to a malfunctioning part, the part was an: Electronic steering column lock. The part failed during a spell of cold days that affected my state. During the first few days before the part ultimately malfunctioned the car began showing error lights for many systems. The car indicated that doors were open, that the emergency brakes were applied (when they clearly were not), the interior lights in the car would randomly come on when driving (as if doors were opening) and finally the indicated that the smart key system was malfunctioning. The car ultimately failed on a cold night. I was able to enter the car, but that was it. The car did not recognize my key and the car was rendered useless. I was unable to turn the car on, or even switch it to any standby mode. Because the car doesn't have a traditional key you are unable to unlock the steering wheel and push it in neutral. The steering wheel locks up, and depending on how the tires were locked initially determines the only direction that the car will move. When I contacted Nissan about the issue I was told that they have issued a "warranty extension" on that specific part only. It is obvious that they know a problem exists. I would also like to note that I was also told by Nissan that the part is on backorder and on restricted release. They have so many problems that they cannot keep up with the demand. This issue is very real and dangerous. People will be left stranded in their car. Unless the part fails there is no indication that the part will go wrong.

- Westport, MA, USA

problem #116

Jan 152014


  • 68,000 miles
Attempted to start car, and received "steering wheel lock" light - despite trying with both fobs (it was not a faulty fob). After half hour of trying, still can not turn car on due to locked steering wheel. Engine won't turn, electrical system will not turn on, and car is stuck. Have yet to contact dealer.

- Herndon, VA, USA

problem #115

Jan 042014


  • 83,000 miles
Drove my car early this am with no problem. When I returned about 3 hours later it would not start. The brake was very hard. The interior lights works, horn, and headlights. However only the key fob indicator and push brake indicator lights in dash. Dealer said it was a bad fob. I had it towed to Nissan and the fob was not bad. Now they say it's the main computer. They will not be able to do any more research until Monday. I am seeing a lot of this same problem in here. I am very nervous.

- Daphne, AL, USA

problem #114

Jan 032014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Got home turned my car off went inside to get gift cards came back outside trying to start my car, but it wouldn't start, all I saw was a yellow key light. Lights worked fine I tried moving the steering wheel and putting in neutral and trying to start but nothing.

- Bristow , VA, USA

problem #113

Jan 032014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 91,000 miles


When I got into my car this morning, the steering column was locked up and breaks were hard to push. After trying a few times to start the vehicle, I noticed that the auto-theft must be on. I tried to put the fob in the manual ignition, but the fob got stuck and would not release. After several tries, the fob finally came out. The car still does not start and the auto-theft is still on. The battery is not bad because the car beeps when the door is open and the lights work. I am going to have to tow the vehicle in to get it repaired. There should be a recall on this problem.

- Blue Mound, IL, USA

problem #112

Dec 142013


  • miles
I went to the supermarket yesterday. When I came out, I was able to unlock my doors and pop the trunk with the remote. My car would not start and the electrical icons appeared on my dashboard. I called aaa and they stated they believe it's an electrical problem. My car lights, horn, windows and doors work I just cannot start my car.

- Pennsburg, PA, USA

problem #111

Dec 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 110,200 miles
I was driving on the freeway and my car shutdown. I pulled over and tried to restart my car but it would not turn on.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #110

Nov 272013


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key fob failed to start the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 55,000.

- Richardson, TX, USA

problem #109

Oct 272013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
When I got into the car there were no lights illuminated on the instrument panel except for the intelligent key and security indicator lights. I attempted to start the car but it would not even start to turn over. I noticed all of the locks and headlights still worked so I knew it was not an electrical issue my 2009 Nissan Altima would not start due to key error message. After my research come to find out this has been happening to lots of Altima owners. I got in my car after a short stop and the key message was on and nothing. It would not start. My windows were down and they would not go up. I tried everything. Disconnected my batter, did the neutral thing. Shook steering wheel. Etc...of course it happens on a Sunday when everything is closed.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #108

Oct 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 82,820 miles
When I tried to turn on my 2009 Altima which is 4 years old and purchased by me new from the dealer, the car would not start. The vehicle starts by depressing the brake while pushing the start switch. After trying several times to start the car, I had the vehicle towed to the dealership. The vehicle was diagnosed with brake switch failure. According the serviced rep at Nissan and the tow truck driver, this issue has been occurring more and more. The charge to repair the problem was $526.81. Per the invoice from the dealership, the sub-harness, the switch assembly, and the band hose had to be replaced.

- Descanso, CA, USA

problem #107

Sep 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 87,003 miles
Went to start my car after a day of has the push button start, pushed it, with my foot on the brake the car did not start so I proceeded to follow the instructions in the manual to start the car when their are issues, still could not get the car started so I had it towed to a local Nissan dealer.this happened on a Saturday they wouldn't be able to look at it till Monday to make a long story short the steering lock control unit had gone bad $750 to fix it.after doing some digging on the internet I see that this is a problem that has affected thousands of consumers on several different Nissan models with different model years.with varying miles.I believe that this is a faulty part that Nissan has used, shouldn't this part be a recall and the consumer not have to pay for Nissan bad design.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #106

Aug 292013


  • 60,000 miles
The car failed to start; I see lots of complains where the steering wheel locks in place and so does the brake and the car fails to start. I had the same problem twice already and the dealer told me to replace the key less switch however, the problem continues and I see that the problem was not the key. As I can see others are having similar issues of the car locking in place and the problem is more than just the key problem.. this should be definitely recalled.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #105

May 162013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 24,300 miles
Nissan North America has sent me a letter informing me that our vehicle is equipped with a electronic steering column lock (escl) unit that locks the steering wheel when the vehicle is parked and the ignition is turned off to help prevent theft. On some vehicles, due to a (manufacturing irregularity) that has since been corrected, the escl may malfunction after the vehicle is locked and could prevent the engine from starting. The only thing that they are willing to do is they are extending the warranty from 3 years/ 36,000 to 6 years unlimited miles. They do not know which vehicles has this defective escl. My argument is that what if myself or both of us are on a trip and whether we are one mile or 500 from out home we are stranded this could become a very dangerous situation for us or if we have sold the vehicle to another party out in no where. We do not own a sell phone. Since they cannot tell us if our vehicle is one that might have the defective escl they should be responsible for replacing the current escl in our Nissan.

- Point Pleasant, WV, USA

problem #104

May 102013


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while attempting to start the vehicle, the anti-theft system engaged erroneously. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the steering lock mechanism was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 90,000.

- Acworth, GA, USA

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