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:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,250 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 15 of 18)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #78

Feb 192013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,000 miles


I purchased this used 2009 Nissan Altima from a dealer in my local town. When I bought the vehicle it had around 36-38,000 miles on it (can't remember at this time). Had the vehicle for a little over a year, I do regular maintenance on it and have had no problems. I drive this vehicle approx 100 miles a week, and when I went to leave work the other day the vehicle wouldn't turn on. The intelligence key battery was charged, the battery for the car was charge, I unhooked the battery and reset it, still nothing. The vehicle was in park and I couldn't do anything to get it to turn on. I towed it to the local dealership who ran a diagnostic and said it was the, "steering lock control unit" which would cost $717 for part and labor along with a $70 diagnostic fee. I was lucky I wasn't stranded in a bad area or without a way to reach someone. They need to recall this part, too many incidents with this part in Nissan vehicles.

- Leesburg, FL, USA

problem #77

Feb 122013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
Walked out of work and the key indicator was illuminated on my dashboard and the car would not start. After replacing the key fob battery, checking the actual car battery, and trying my spare key fob, I had to have the car towed to the dealership. I was informed that the steering wheel lock needed to be replaced. This is a known issue and manufacturing defect for this model (can happen at any time regardless of mileage, wear and tear etc) and a casual google search returns countless issues of the very same thing. If Nissan cares about their customers, a recall should be in order.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #76

Feb 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Leaving work to go to lunch and my Altima wont start. Push button start not responding and will not move from lock position. Changed the battery to my car along with battery for key. Still nothing. After doing research on the internet I found that my problem is the steering lock control module, which seems to be a big problem for several other people as well. My brother was able to locate the steering control module and held in the start button, and the break and at the same time he tapped on the module and my car started. We were able to drive it home thankfully without calling a tow truck. 100% without a doubt that is the problem with my car and it will need replaced. I am scared to drive my car anywhere because I don't want to get stranded somewhere. I started my car the next morning and it did start, who knows how long it will last until the part fails again. I will need this replaced but really feel as through Nissan should be doing something about this problem due to the hundreds of people with the very same problem.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #75

Feb 172013


  • 78,000 miles


Car was driving perfectly fine, parked at a friend's house for 2 hours and then got in it to leave and it wouldn't start. The key warning light was on, and the lights on the dash indicated that the key was not in the car even though it was in the ignition hole. After speaking with the technician, it is the steering lock mechanism and needs to be replaced. My issue is that there was no warning at all, it was below 30 degrees outside and I was unable to get my children home. Were I not at a friend's house, I would have been stranded somewhere with two small children in the middle of winter. There was no warning at all that this was going to happen, no warning lights, no signals to indicate to me that something needing replacing or fixing. And it's an $800 dollar fix with parts and labor... there needs to be a recall, this is ridiculous. Apparently this happens after about 2-3 years in this year make and model.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #74

Feb 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
The key warning light appeared on the dash; replaced batteries in both of the keys and the warning light disappeared. One week later, with no additional problems or warning, I parked the car to go to a doctor appointment and when I returned less than 1 hour later, I was able to get into the car, but the brake would not depress, the steering wheel would not lock, and the car would not start. Car will not go into accessory mode either nor does the other key start the car.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #73

Feb 102013


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key less entry remote button seized in the locked position and caused the engine to not start. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure and current mileage was 60,000.

- Windham , NH, USA

problem #72

Feb 112013


  • 60,000 miles


My husband went out to start the cars in the morning before work. The Nissan Altima would not start. The brake was firmly pushed and the brake lights came on. We have replaced the key fob batteries and the fuse for the engine starter. The key fob locks and unlocks the vehicle, but the car will not start. The desk shows a small yellow key symbol in the top left corner. We have contacted a mechanic about having the car towed. It seems several others have had this issue and Nissan is doing nothing about it. I will never, ever, ever purchase another Nissan.

- Mayslick, KY, USA

problem #71

Feb 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
On Saturday morning, my wife took my son to the library, the car started with no issues, when they left the library she could not start the car. She called me to come help her, we changed the batteries in the key fob, I tried to jump-start the car, I checked the fuses, but it would not start. I made sure the fob was still communicating with the car by pressing the buttons and everything seemed to be working fine. Finally, after trying everything I could, we called the Nissan dealership, and they had us tow the car to them, and said they would not get to it until Monday. Well Monday morning comes and they called my wife to tell her the steering lock unit failed, and it would cost ~$1000 to replace. Of course I am ticked so I decide to research this issue and realize it is very common in the 2009 Altima?S, which makes me even more ticked, because Nissan doesn't seem to care if they leave my wife and son stranded because they built their car using garbage parts. And yes they know because, more times than not, this part is out of stock and the newer cars don't use it. So this sounds like a very nasty scam by Nissan. I have sent letters to my state's attorney general, Nissan motor company, and this database...we need a recall. Stand behind your product!

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #70

Jan 222013


  • 34,000 miles
Wife's 2009 Altima would not start. As others have stated, the little key light on the dash lit up. We had the car towed to our dealer, and they told us the steering lock control had failed. Having no choice, we then ordered the part, only then to find out that it was on back order and they could not estimate when the part would be available. The estimated repair bill was going to be about $750. When I got home that evening, I searched the internet and was amazed at how many cases exactly like ours are occurring. The next morning, I filed a formal complaint with Nissan of North America. They have put all owners of 2009's in jeopardy and obviously knew there was a problem as the part was changed out in late year 2010 cars built. Our final results are better than most of the others we have read about. Between Nissan and our dealer, they covered the repair which was done as the part did arrive, as well as our car rental while the dealer had the vehicle. My advise is to file a formal complaint like we did and to be persistent. An attorney I know said we should contact the state attorney general and/or the local tv stations trouble shooters, because publicity and legal action are exactly what Nissan doesn't want.

- Novelty, OH, USA

problem #69

Feb 052013


  • 26,200 miles
The vehicle had no problems driving into work in the morning. End of work day, return to the car to find out that it wouldn't start. The amber light with "intelligent key" logo had turned on and the vehicle was immobilized. Checked the battery of the intelligent key and it was perfectly operational. Check batter of the car, and it was working fine as well. Since the car wouldn't start, no other option but to call for towing service. Spent hours in the cold waiting for the truck. The following day Nissan service ran a diagnostic and determined there was electrical problem that triggered the vehicle immobilizer and needed steering lock unit replacement. Parts and labor and tow cost over $900. The Nissan mechanic hinted at the problem being a manufacturing defect, but refused to say it directly as it puts Nissan liable. Part is strategically not covered under warranty. Found out from the Nissan folks that numerous cars came in with the same problem. Got onto the internet and found so many more Nissan Altima owners with the same problem. Clearly a manufacturing defect and Nissan needs to recall the part and fix it for all affected users of the car. I am happy that this happened while my vehicle was stationary. I think this is very dangerous if it were to happening while driving. I request NHTSA to investigate this problem asap and help to issue a recall for several hundreds (maybe thousands) of user affected. Nobody wants to lose their hard earned money for no fault of theirs.

- Warminster, PA, USA

problem #68

Feb 062013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 26,000 miles


On a regular day, I drove my car to work in the morning. And it was parked at my workplace parking lot (luckily). In the evening, my keyless entry got me inside the car. But the brakes wouldn't engage and ofcourse, the push button wouldn't start the car. There is an amber light with a key sign inside it flashing on my dash screen. Lights would turn on so I was convinced it must not be the battery. When I looked it up in the car manual, it's supposedly an intelligent key sign. Since it was around 7:30pm, I couldn't get it towed immediately to the dealer workshop since they were closed. The next morning, I got it towed and the dealer workshop diagnosed it as "steering wheel lock unit needs to be replaced" and it would cost a whopping $850 (not including towing). Not just that, the part is back-ordered! so my car is in the workshop indefinitely as of now! I bought this car from a certified pre-owned dealer just six months ago and I have the seven year limited warranty on it too. The workshop said that this is not something my warranty can cover! my current mileage is 26000. And Nissan is supposed to be reliable? this problem is not something I have brought to my car and when I researched it on this very website, hundreds of other Nissan Altima users have the same problem. This is clearly a manufacturing defect and I truly hope Nissan address this problem asap and reimburse our hard earned money.

- White Plains, NY, USA

problem #67

Feb 062013


  • 73,800 miles
I parked the car and locked it with intelligent key. Came back, was able to enter the car without any problems, used the key to unlock the doors. While inside, the dashboard had two warning lights on: Key light(yellow) to the far left corner and flashing security light(red) to the far right. The car would not start. Ignition button is on lock and the steering is stiff unable to turn. Engine seems to be locked, no other lights are on. I have tried everything by the owner's manual and nothing works. I called the dealers and they told me that I would have to get it towed to the dealer and quoted me $600 to fix the problem, parts will take a couple of days, no guarantee problem will not happen again. For a recent bought vehicle, there are many issues with the car's intelligent key and in this case I have been left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Towing charges and everything will make amount close to $1000.

- West Des Moines, IA, USA

problem #66

Feb 022013


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that she attempted to start the vehicle but the vehicle did not recognize the key. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for inspection and they stated that the ignition switch needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 65,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Collegeville, PA, USA

problem #65

Jan 282013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
I had driven the car from home to the gas station approx. 5 miles from home. I turned the car off, filled the car with gas and upon starting the car to leave the car wouldn't start. A red key light came on in used to be towed to dealership. It was there that it was found to be a steering lock malfunction. That cost me a total of $1000.61. $402.50 in labor and $538.81 in parts plus tax and misc. The pats was on back order. I just got my car back after a week because the part was overnighted. Otherwise they estimated me getting my car back after the 8th of Feb. When asked about a recall I was told it was unknown but also that this part was unusual for backorder.

- Park Forest, IL, USA

problem #64

Feb 022013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,581 miles
Car was found to not start. Battery had power, no other obvious issues. Car was inoperable for the weekend. Towed vehicle to Nissan dealership. Battery tested low and was later replaced. However, the steering lock was found to be defective and needed to be replaced. Battery replacement is understandable being that the car is more than 3 years old. Lock steering mechanism however resulted in the car being inoperable. Parts for the lock steering mechanism totaled $534.19 plus labor which totaled $282.88. Total bill with new battery was $1,037.64. Considering all failures listed on this page of this same part, a recall should be considered. Nissan apparently has recalled other steering locks similar to this on gtr models.

- Norwood, MA, USA

problem #63

Jan 242013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 46,900 miles
The Nissan intelligent key warning light came on and we were unable to start the car. A new battery was placed in the car last fall and the key fob batteries were replaced July 2012. I searched the internet for possible problems and found numerous reports of the same situation. The problem reported was a failed steering lock unit. I contacted the Nissan dealer and they indicated we would need to have the car towed to their shop. They found that the steering lock control module did in fact need to be replaced. They mentioned they have had at least 15 instances of this same problem at their shop alone since the weather turned cold this winter. We specifically purchased this car new in 2009 so that our teens would have a dependable car to drive. We did not want them stuck somewhere unable to get home, especially in the winter. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and they indicated that there is not a recall for this steering lock. The dealership instructed me to hold onto our repair recent should it become a recall.

- Ankeny, IA, USA

problem #62

Jan 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 49,960 miles
I stopped for lunch at a fast food establishment and at this point everything with the car was fine. After I ordered and got back into my car, I tried to start it. The car would not start. The key light appeared on the dash. After calling the nearest dealership, they suggested replacing the battery in the keyfob. I did replace battery and placed the keyfob in the alternative start port. The car would still not start. After trying to jump the car battery, it was determined that I needed to tow the car to the dealership. The dealership confirmed that this problem was caused by the steering column lock mechanism. This malfunctioning part left me stranded in a parking lot during a snow storm. Upon searching the internet, it appears that Nissan has issued recalls on this part in other vehicles and have stopped using this part in new vehicles. There are also hundreds of reports of this part failing in my model and year. This problem has the potential of immobilizing a car during severe weather, leaving the driver and passengers stranded.

- Bellefonte, PA, USA

problem #61

Jan 212013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
Car would not start / computer lock / car had to be towed.

- Saddle Brook, NJ, USA

problem #60

Jan 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 37,500 miles
My daughter and 2 year old were trying to get home under an ice storm warning. The push button start did not operate. They were stranded in the cold under a severe weather warning. Nissan says the steering wheel lock controller caused the failure and would not communicate with the intelligent key fob and start button. There is not a method to override the push button with a mechanical key. This is a known problem for the 2009 Altima. My Altima has only 37,500 miles but is past the 3-year warranty period. The repair was $803. The service writer at the dealership stated that he expects a recall in the near future because of the frequency with which they see this faulty module. The part was changed in 2010 but Nissan refuses to replace the bad ones in the 2008-2009 models.

- Roswell, GA, USA

problem #59

Jan 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
Car wouldn't recognize key in it, but could unlock doors and trunk, and would not start. Car was towed to Nissan and they found the steering lock control module not communicating with ikey reader. Tech installed new ikey reader and cleared theft codes.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

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