CarComplaints.com 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 NissanProblems.com.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,392 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 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #68

Feb 062013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 26,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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

Altima

  • 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

Altima

  • 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

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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 dash.car 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

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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

problem #58

Jan 272013

Altima

  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Attempted to start car with "push to start" ignition. Car sensed key, but I was unable to start ignition although I stepped on brake while pressing button. Lights work in car. Steering wheel is locked. Car starts with autostart using fob key, but when tries to put car in drive it shuts off. Attempted to put key in slot and push "start" button, but that attempt was also unsuccessful. Previously car was working fine.

- Farmingdale, NY, USA

problem #57

Jan 242013

Altima

  • miles
Dropped my son off at school, when I returned to the car, it would not start at all. The car recognized my key was present but push button did nothing. Manually using the key slot would not start the car either. Had to have the car towed and am being told that will cost $800-1100 to fix steering lock and that parts are on back order. Doing an internet search I have found literally hundreds of complaints on the same defect over the past three weeks. This did occur on a very cold day, about 10 degrees at the time.

- Carmel, IN, USA

problem #56

Jan 232013

Altima

  • 30,500 miles
Amber 'intelligent key' light started appearing on and off. Finally vehicle refused to engage starter and whirring noise indicating steering lock is functional no longer happens. Vehicle needs to be towed and research indicates the problem is common in 2009 Altima and other Nissan vehicles. Repair quotes online appear to be in the $900 range. Nissan needs to accept responsibility for this problem and issue a recall.

- Eagan, MN, USA

problem #55

Jan 232013

Altima

  • 70,000 miles
Trying to start vehicle, yellow key warning light came on and car would not start. This happened without warning and I was stranded at lunch 15 minutes from work with no way to get back. The steering lock unit failed to disengage. This part should be recalled since the same part (I've heard) was recalled on other Nissan models and can leave anyone in a dangerous situation.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #54

Jan 142013

Altima

  • 83,514 miles
The intelligent key warning light illuminated as I arrived at my office on the morning of 1/14/13. When I attempted to start the vehicle that afternoon, the push-start ignition remained in the "lock" position and the vehicle would not respond to repeated start attempts. Break lights and headlights continued to function correctly. Called local Nissan dealership and they instructed me to have the vehicle towed. After an hour, the Nissan service advisor contacted me with notice that the steering wheel lock control unit had failed and they estimated the total repair cost to be at $900. The dealership did not have the part in stock, but they were able to locate another dealership who was able to courier it over the following morning. I contacted Nissan North America on 1/23/13 and they refused to offer any compensation relative to the costs associated with this repair. This is a part that should have been recalled at least a year ago based on its apparently rampant history of failure for other Altima owners.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #53

Dec 302012

Altima

  • 28,887 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while parked, the engine failed to start when engaging the push-to-start switch. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician advised that the steering lock control unit needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and confirmed that the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 28,887 and the current mileage was 29,500.

- Furlong, PA, USA

problem #52

Jan 212013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 26,982 miles
Intelli key indicator light began illuminating two days ago. Last evening after dinner vehicle would not switch out of "lock" stranded in 15 degree temps waiting for tow for 2 hours. Nissan service advisor knew exactly what problem was. He called me later tonight to confirm electronic steering lock needed replacing. $800+. Nissan surely will recall "faulty" door handle springs at.50 cents a whack, but give me a break. It's time Nissan own up to the numerous 2009's that are having this part fail.

- Braintree, MA, USA

problem #51

Oct 202011

Altima 4-cyl

  • 33,022 miles
TPMS light blinks for a while and then stays on. The first incident happened at 33022 miles and again at 52033. It appears that the TPMS sensor batteries are defective causing the system to be unreliable.

- Huntersville, NC, USA

problem #50

Jan 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
I went to the valero in cabot, ar to get gas this past Wednesday morning before I was to go to work, and when I got back into my car and it wouldn't start. The intelligent key indicator light was on, and would not start. I could not press the brake it was very stiff and the start button would not come out of the lock position I read the owners manual, called the North little rock Nissan dealer, and realized there was nothing I could do except have it towed to the dealership. This is a 2009 model with 55,000 miles, and I take great care of it. The mechanic called me later and said I need a new steering lock unit. He said it would cost about $1200 to repair, and he said it isn't covered under warranty, and there was no recall, and to let him know what I wanted to do. This is faulty equipment from Nissan and this issue could not have been prevented by anything I could have done or not done. Not only do I not have $1200, but I have 3 kids and a job I that I need to get back & forth to. I have been stranded for 3 days now, I have missed work because I don't have another mode of transportation, my insurance covers nothing except $75 for the tow, and I have spent countless hours on my phone with Nissan. I'm without car, no way to get to work to support my family, and do not have enough groceries to survive the w/E !!! there should already be a recall on this, as I have read & been told by Nissan this has happened to 08,09,10 models. There definitely needs to be a formal recall on this part because it has affected too many people and it could easily result in death if the lock out takes place in traffic.. I have been unable to get the dealer to work with me, much less return my calls or emails. I may very well lose my job if I have to take off work anymore, because I do not have another means of transportation... pathetic.

- Cabot, AR, USA

problem #49

Jan 142013

Altima

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the engine failed to start when engaging the push-to-start switch. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer, who informed the contact that the steering lock mechanism would need to be replaced. The required part was ordered and the vehicle was scheduled for repairs when the part would become available. The manufacturer was not notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000.

- Arlington, TX, USA

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