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:
69,556 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 17 of 18)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Dec 112012

Altima 6-cyl

  • 33,212 miles


After our first real freeze of the winter (low 20's), the car was locked up for no reason. Pressing the push button ignition, inserting the fob into the key holder, nothing will start the car. The brake pedal is heavy, no lights comes up on the instrument panel and the steering wheel is totally locked out. Had to get the Altima towed into a local dealership and come to find out it's a steering wheel lock out control unit that needs to be replaced. Car just came off the 36month warranty in September'12 and I am now turning in the 39month lease and now a $1K repair. Thanks Nissan... also, had the Nissan original battery replaced twice! original battery only has an 18month prorated warranty! not sure if it all relates somehow. This steering wheel lock control should be a manufacturer's responsibility to keep it for the life of the car.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #22

Dec 082012

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
When I entered my car I noticed that the push brake light wasn't on like it normally is for the intelligent key start. I pushed down on the brake and it felt very stiff. A yellow key light kept flashing and everytime I would try and start the car it would stay in lock and wouldn't even try to start. I didn't hear the ignition, nothing. I tried to check the battery, I used a different key, I put the key in the slot and nothing worked. I was stranded. The car was working fine and had no previous indicators that something could go wrong. As I searched online for a fix I found many people who had the same problem and had to pay a huge amount of money to get it fixed. Nissan promotes how safe, reliable and economical their cars are, but the anti-theft system of the steering wheel lock can disable the vehicle leaving a driver stranded with only one option, which is, to be towed to a dealer. This a serious safety flaw in the 2009 Nissan Altima. Nissan was supposed to be a reputable company. However, with these types of malfunctions, and no support for their customers, I feel very unsatisfied and unsafe with my purchase. Nissan needs to provide a recall and fix these sensor issues.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #21

Nov 212012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,532 miles
Steering lock unit malfunctioned. Car would not start.

- Washington, NJ, USA

problem #20

Nov 282012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,521 miles


Upon attempting to start the car, ignition would not change from "lock" to "acc" or "on". intelligent key warning lamp was lit steady on dash. Steering wheel column was not locked. All power and other functions worked (lights, door locks, etc). Battery is fine. Independent testing found steering lock control module part 48700-9N00B faulty. Similar/same part on Nissan gtrs was recalled, part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, being replaced by 48700-jf00C same part number is failing for Nissan 370zs as well, same years and same part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, yet they are not being recalled. This problem is also occurring in Nissan maximas and Nissan muranos however I could not find the part number. In all models of Nissan this part was removed in mid 2010 due to consistent failure. The part costs approximately $500 from Nissan, is usually out of stock and back ordered, and also costs another $400-$500 to be installed at a dealer. There should be a make-wide recall for all models for this part, not just the gtr because it's the most expensive of them.

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #19

Dec 032012


  • 68,000 miles
Without any warning my 2009 Nissan Altima would not start. I could not depress the brake in order to start the car. The car recognized the intelligent key was inside the car, I could lock/unlock the doors and trunk, dome lights worked. Basically I was stranded. I contacted the dealer I purchased car from (whom are not familiar with Nissan vehicles) and an extended warranty, they had me troubleshoot. I called lock & key company, not familiar working with this Nissan problem. Called Nissan dealer while waiting, they advised me a typical problem with this yr/make and I was at the mercy of Nissan to repair, he forgot to tell me that it wasn't covered under any warranty program and no recall. Vehicle towed to dealership/service dept I purchased car from, they towed to local Nissan dealer. Now they want $750 for repairs on something that even Nissan is aware of (I called Nissan no. America) and they will investigate if perhaps something else triggered the sensor to not work properly. My car will stay at dealer until I get an answer and the $750. It could have happened at any time, no warning lights, car didn't act up in any way. This poses huge risks, people could be stranded at night or on the side of a road.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #18

Dec 032012


  • 60,150 miles
After work my wife's car would not start. The intelligent key warning light was on but the push button was non responsive even with the fob in the key fob slot. We had the vehicle towed to the dealer and was told it the steering lock control unit had gone bad and is preventing the ignition swith from working. This part should be recalled by Nissan since it prevents starting the car leaving you stranded.

- Cedar Park, TX, USA

problem #17

Nov 262012


  • 57,000 miles


Went out to start car in the am to leave for work and car wouldnt start. All electrics however still did, . steering wheel was locked I couldnt get it out of park. Tried to jump it. That didnt work eitther. So we replaced the battery. That didnt work. Still wouldnt start. Dealer came and towed it to the dealership today. Said its the steering lock assembly going bad. I need it replaced. Its not covered under warrenty. $723 it will cost me. Dealership stated they have had this issue with many many 2009 Altima.. why is this not a recalled part?

- Hooper, UT, USA

problem #16

Nov 252012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima coupe was in parking lot and would not start. The intelligent key warning light was on dash. Had car towed to dealer. They advised steering lock control unit (part #48700-9N00B) was bad. This is a common problem on '09 Altima as well as 370Z. Dealer offered 10% discount and advised $600 total. I called Nissan customer care and escalated to regional office. This is a real safety issue because who knows where and when you can be stranded. Nissan has recalled this part on other models and discontinued this feature on subsequent models. This is a safety issue and something needs to be done!

- Camp Hill, PA, USA

problem #15

Nov 112012


  • miles
Car will not start. The ikey light and the "red key" security light come on. The ikey opens the door locks, trunk. Holding the unlock key down resulted in the windows rolling down. Could not get the widows to go back up. Disconnecting the battery for 10 minutes, replacing the battery in the key fob, using either key did not work. Towed car to the dealer for diagnostics.

- Clarksville, MD, USA

problem #14

Nov 062012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
This morning was very cold. I warmed my car up, went to vote. When I left the poll, I get to my car and it won't start, says that there is no fob in the car. The red security light is flashing. So I put the fob in the "doghouse" that is supposed to work as a back up method.. nothing.. still won't start.. disconnected the battery, reconnected and tried again.. nothing. Did all my research to find many many page so complains about it.. it's the steering lock mechanism. Seems they did away with that feature in late 2010 models.. guess they know why.. so now I'm stuck with a $700 bill for an issue hundreds of people are having. As a matter of fact, my car was the second 09 of the day with the same exact issue. Coincidence?? I think not.

- Bozrah, CT, USA

problem #13

Oct 302012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles


My car it would not start. There was absolutely no activation of the ignition system. After following all trouble shooting advice in the car's manual, I towed the car to dealer where they stated an open circuit in steering control unit is not telling the control unit that the steering wheel is unlocked and ready to start. The steering lock control unit (part# 487009N00B) needed to be replaced. This is all part of the vehicle anti-theft immobilizer system. The cost to replace this unit was $1,062.90. I feel this is a serious safety flaw in the 2009 Nissan Altima. 1. this was a fully functioning car (except for anti-theft glitch) that left me and my daughter stranded in a very remote area. 2. Nissan promotes how safe, reliable and economical their cars are, but the anti-theft system can disable the vehicle leaving driver stranded with only one option, which is, to be towed to a dealer because of ant-theft system glitches. 3. the car, being economical, should not require an over $1,000 repair because of an anti-theft device circuit malfunction. 4. there are several conditions that can occur that will result in the Nissan Altima becoming immobilized stranding drivers. I am stating only one. This is particularly dangerous especially to female drivers. 5. I feel that Nissan should come up with an override code or device that will allow a driver to escape from potentially dangerous situations that were created by Nissan's vehicle immobilizer system. Especially when the car is fully functional except for an anti-theft immobilizing circuit falsely telling that the vehicle is not ready to start. I believe this is a serious safety flaw in their vehicle security system.

- Lutherville Timonium, MD, USA

problem #12

Aug 302010

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,500 miles
Car will not start. The intelligent key warning light is on and preventing me from starting the car.

- Calumet City, IL, USA

problem #11

Oct 082012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,150 miles
09 Nissan Altima just over 44K miles the steering wheel lock malfunctioned. No lights on dashboard, brake pedal very stiff, the vehicle will recognize that the key is inside and outside and is inserted at the location on the left side on driver and is able to lock and unlock but it will not start at all. Towed to dealer and as I am over my 36K warranty but not over the 3 year warranty I had to pay over $800 to fix for a vehicle that is not even over 3 years old. I will not buy another Nissan again.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #10

Sep 292012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 18,730 miles
Failure of car battery 18,730 miles I noted a strong smell of rotten eggs a few months ago and found that the positive post on the battery had considerable corrosion. I cleaned it off as best I could and hoped that would solve the problem. The smell of rotten eggs has continued and the corrosion returned and even more. It would appear that the positive post is no longer sealed into the battery. The battery is no longer a sealed maintenance free battery and thus is allowing sulfuric acid fumes to leak out around the post and corrode the terminal and all connecting cables.

- Enterprise, AL, USA

problem #9

Sep 192012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 40,971 miles
Brake lights not lighting & push to start not working at times. Nissan said this is a known issue with the brake light switch & sub harness. After investigating the issue on the internet I found numerous reports of this problem. When the switch fails you are not aware of your brake lights not working.

- Little Silver, NJ, USA

problem #8

May 042012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 62,203 miles
I drove my 09 Altima to the mall parked it, an hour later I tried turning it on and it wouldn't start. No crank, and it wouldn't even go to acc. I tried jump starting it and even change out the battery but no luck.

- Lynwood, CA, USA

problem #7

Feb 212012


  • 44,193 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima would not start. Vehicle is equipped with factory intelligent key starting system, and the intelligent key warning light would blink on the dash.had vehicle towed to nearest Nissan dealer. A faulty steering lock control unit (part #48700-9N00B) needed to be replaced. This is becoming a common issue with 2008-2009 Nissan Altima's and other Nissan vehicles produced in those years. A recall should be started!

- Southbury, CT, USA

problem #6

Jul 112011


  • 43,400 miles
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S was backed into in a parking lot, low speed collision, minor damage to rear bumper. A few days after this incident, when trying to start car with keyless ignition system, it took nearly 30 minutes to start. It is required that the brakes be depressed to start car, but when pushing on brakes, the brake lights do not turn on, and when ignition button is pushed it only turns on the accessories, which is the normal action expected if brake pedal was not being pressed. It is not clear if this is because of the collision or just highly coincidental. I believe that this is a problem with the brake switch. This is now an intermittent problem, but has made the car unreliable with the possibility to leave a driver stranded.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #5

Jan 012011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 0 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima power windows that when you use the required buttons to raise the window or windows they raise themselves without the assistance of keeping your finger on the upside of the button. So they raise up automatically and if you have kids or dogs or someonewith their head, hands or fingers the window does not stop until it reaches the closed position. My dog was caught in one but I was fast enough to stop and lower the window. What if a child has any part of their body and one does not see them. These windows should not have the automatic up feature.

- Hollister, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 162011


  • 40,100 miles
Intelligent key waning light would flash infrequently while driving and this warning warns of BCM failure and the end result is the vehicle will not start leaving the driver stranded at any place and time. Repairs have not been completed yet, but I was told that BCM replacement would solve the problem.

- Oklahoma, OK, USA

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