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 17 of 18)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #38

Jan 072013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,497 miles


Veh was driven for a period of time and then stopped to get gas. Veh would not start again. A yellow key indicator came on the dash and vehicle still would not start. Had it towed to dealer and diagnosed as the steering lock module.

- Laveen, AZ, USA

problem #37

Jan 042013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 27,000 miles
Went to go start my car and the intelligent key indicator light came on. Couldn't start in neutral. Had to get it towed to the dealer. Dealer was able to start the car in the morning. They were able to replicate the issue by stopping and starting numerous times. It appears that the steering lock unit was failing. After researching online determined this is a common and costly problem, but there is no re recall for it. Very dangerous.

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #36

Jan 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 78,292 miles
9:30am - started car. Proceeded to drive 35 minutes. Stopped car, went in the house for 20 minutes. Came out, got in car. Will not start. The following was observed: 1. intelligent key will unlock and lock the doors, trunk, sound alarm. 2. small "key", yellow in color symbol illuminated on the dash. 3. start button does nothing, will not move from the "lock" position. Failure: Steering lock control module (342.99 + tax cnd). Took it apart, reset the gears, back in action (for now). Canadian customer.

- Mineville, NY, USA

problem #35

Dec 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 46,130 miles


It was the first chill in Chicago and the car was parked in the street. When I tried to start the car it would only light up the intelligent key warning light in the dash indicating an issue with the intelligent key-less system. Upon further research (a simple google search "Nissan Altima intelligent key warning light issues") indicated that is a very common issue with Altima and is related to the "steering lock" mechanism. I had to tow the car to the dealership and a quick call to the service department quickly confirmed that this was something they service frequently. The dealer himself indicated that the last part in their inventory was just fitted in another car. This is used certified Nissan Altima and the extended warranty did not cover the repair. The total cost of the repair was $1299.30.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #34

Jan 022013


  • 63,000 miles
Went to go start my car and the intelligent key indicator light came on. Couldn't even use the back up method to start the car. Had to get it towed to the dealer. Couldn't do anything with the car and was left in an abandoned lot. Not a very safe place to be stuck. Also, there wasn't a warning prior to this. From the sounds of it there are many others that have had this issue at right around the same mileage mark. I think it's time for Nissan to consider a recall. This is absolutely ridiculous. I have my car at the dealer now and from the sounds of it will be in for a repair of around 1,000 or more. Will not be buying a Nissan again unless the do something about this.

- Norton, MA, USA

problem #33

Dec 302012


  • 38,700 miles
Was out shopping at costco, came out of store and car would not start. Intelligent key indicator light was displaying on the dash. The brake pedal would not depress and push button would not start the car. Tried to manually override by inserting the key fob in the slot - still would not start. As I was stranded had to call husband to come get me. Had him bring other key fob, still would not work. Had to have the vehicle towed to the dealership as car is completely disabled and will not run.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #32

Dec 252012


  • 124,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing but was not repaired. The contact did not know the cause of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 124,000.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #31

Dec 262012


  • 60,250 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact was driving approximately 35 mph when the vehicle suddenly stalled. The contact attempted to restart the vehicle but to no avail. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The approximate failure mileage was 60,250.

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #30

Dec 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,250 miles
While driving my Nissan 2009 Altima today the warning light (yellow key) came on after hitting a pot hole, when I had to press on my brakes to stop at a red light the car killed and the red car warning light started flashing, when the car came to a complete stop I put it in park and tried to depress the start button. Nothing happened, the car was not recognizing the intelligent key. The yellow key warning light means the steering mechanism is failing so the intelligent key won't work. So here I was sitting in the middle of traffic with a car that won't start and I cannot get out of park to put in neutral to push out of the traffic. I had to have the car towed. After much research I am finding this is an issue known by Nissan they no longer put this part in the 2010 have done recalls for this on other models and years but not this one. This is a safetyy issue and should be a recall are they waiting for someone to get hurt before they issue a recall?

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #29

Dec 252012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 84,350 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key-less entry system failed and the vehicle could not be started. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where a diagnostic was performed. The failure was located at the steering lock system and the contact was advised that the key-less computer needed to be reprogrammed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The consumer stated the vehicle would not start after multiple attempts, the dash read " no key". even though he tried the spare key and tried to jump start the battery, all attempts failed. The dealer informed the consumer it was not a wear and tear problem, and it was nothing that he did or didn't do to create the problem. Updated 03/14/13...updated 04-03-13 updated 04/12/2013

- Budd Lake , NJ, USA

problem #28

Dec 262012


  • 21,000 miles


Have had this car for 2+ years now, lived in Arizona and Florida. I now live in Maryland. This morning was slightly colder than normal, with sleet coming in last night. My wife attempted to start the car this morning while I was away at work and could not get it to start. Looking at the dash indicators, it showed the orange intelligent key light on, and when I tried to start the car, the ignition button would not switch out of lock. Tried to get the car into neutral, but brakes appear to be firm in place and will not unlock the shifter out of park. Looked online for a few solutions, but none have worked so far (unhooking battery, moving the steering column). Called the Nissan dealership near here and they want me to tow it in before they can even guess at the cause (which I would have no issue with if this was an uncommon thing, but there are numerous reports of this online, most pointing to the same thing: A shoddy part that I need to pay $500 plus labor to replace ). eventually this will have to get fixed, but what is most disheartening is the fact that this could have happened anywhere and left my wife stranded for some time. I just lucked out and it was sitting at home. Mileage is ~21K.

- Fort Meade, MD, USA

problem #27

Jun 162012

Altima 6-cyl

  • 18,893 miles
Entered vehicle, stepped on the brake pedal, yellow "step on brake pedal" lit up, pushed start button, the "acc" lit, and it went to "start" and nothing happened! all the dash lights turned on but no starter engagement or noise. I tried it several times and nothing happened. I called aaa for a tow. When tow truck driver came, I got into the car and it started! I went to the dealer and a cracked battery was found and replaced. In the last month the car has not started several times. My wife has gotten in an out of the car several times and it would finally started. Today, I went to the dealer and explained the situation and asked if there was a service bulletin concerning this issue. The service writer stated that there wasn't. he did say that the brake light switch (P/N 25320-ax00C) has been a problem on some vehicles. I had them check it and it was bad. I had to pay $127.18! having this part failing in under 23,000 miles is very poor. I have had Nissan vehicles with over 100,000 miles and not had a brake light switch failure! this has left my wife stuck several times and very upset.

- Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #26

Dec 122012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
On a recent cold morning I got into my 2009 Nissan Altima, at 7:00 am and drove son to school. Came home and parked vehicle. Got back in car at 3:00 pm and car would not start. The car had been fine that morning. Push start would not get out of "lock" position. Headlights, inside lights, brake lights all worked. Steering wheel was not locked. Would not get out of "park". battery was tested and not the problem. Fuses were checked and brake switch checked and not the problem. Looked on internet and found multiple incidents where steering lock mechanism was faulty on 2009 Nissan Altima, and was not engaging and therefore the car would not start and was locked by immobilizer. The only option is a $500 plus part from Nissan and another $500-600.00 to install. Car was towed to dealership at cost of $109 to me, and the estimate from the dealer to fix the now diagnosed steering lock malfunction was $1,100 making this a total cost of $1,209 on a vehicle that has less than $60,000 miles. I looked on the internet and found the following information by another dissatisfied customer : 1. Nissan did a recall on their more expensive model Nissan gtrs was recalled, part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, being replaced by 48700-jf00C and called campaign id P0309. 2. 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. 3. this problem is also occurring in Nissan maximas and Nissan muranos however I could not find the part number. 4. in all models of Nissan this part was removed in mid 2010 due to consistent failure. 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. Call 1-800-Nissan 1 and complain, I am...

- Quitman, TX, USA

problem #25

Dec 162012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
Our Altima has failed to recognize our intelligent keys and will not start. The doors will lock and unlock. The alarm will sound and the trunk will open but the car will not start. I'm being told this is due to a faulty steering lock mechanism that has been recalled in some Nissan models but not the Altima. The part itself is $500 and the labor will take it to almost $1000 or more. This is completely absurd. What would happen if this happened to my wife and infant daughter on the wrong side of town. What if this part had failed when we were in the mountains or off the beaten path. If a part is going to be recalled in one model, it needs to be recalled in all models. This is extremely unsafe and to know that Nissan is aware of this issue is unacceptable. We also own a murano that uses an actual key to start --- I'm considering replacing both after learning about this. I hope someone will respond to this.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #24

Nov 282012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Car will not start, turn over, or do anything. Im a girl and was 70 miles from home stranded in middle of no where had no cell service and was stuck there for 2 hours. Thankfully I flagged someone down to get a ride into town where I was able to use a phone and get car towed home.

- Luck, WI, USA

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

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