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 18 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #48

Jan 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles

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

My wife was about to head home from work in the afternoon. The key fob unlocked the car like usual but the car was unresponsive in her attempt to start it. The key light was illuminated on the dash. We tried a number of things but the push-to-start button wouldn't change out of the 'lock' position - even to go to 'accessory' mode. I had the car towed to a local Nissan dealer which informed us that the steering lock unit malfunctioned and will have to be replaced. The car will not be able to start up until it is fixed. The part is not under warranty and costs close to $500. My final quote was $864 from the dealer. The car will have to be reprogrammed, so there is no way to circumvent the dealer's cost. Nissan needs to own up to their mistake and recall this defective part.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #47

Jan 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 78,019 miles
Car failed to start, intelligent key would not work. Aftermarket remote start system was used to start car and drive home, perhaps 15 miles. Next day, remote start system was used to start car and drive to dealer, 40 miles away. After about 15 miles, everything died while on the interstate and had to coast to the shoulder. Car was then towed remainder of way to dealer. Diagnosed as defective steering lock and replaced. Dealer said aftermarket remote start system probably timed out, which is why it died on the interstate.

- Columbus, IN, USA

problem #46

Jan 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,910 miles
Car would not start. Yellow key light and flashing red key light on panel. Seemed like a security anti-theft problem but it turned out to be a faulty steering lock mechanism. A $700 repair. And, what's worse is, there was no recall for this item even with many complaints reported. This was recalled on other Nissan models (cube, 390, etc) but no on the Altima. Not happy.

- Carlisle, PA, USA

problem #45

Jan 082013

Altima

  • 73,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the intelligence key malfunction warning light illuminated and the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician stated that the electronic steering column lock needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 73,000. The VIN was not available.

- Temple, TX, USA

problem #44

Jan 092013

Altima

  • 85,320 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while starting the vehicle, the intelligence key malfunction warning light illuminated and the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for a diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 85,320.

- Woodbridge , VA, USA

problem #43

Jan 072013

Altima

  • 16,501 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that all attempts to start the vehicle with the intelligent key failed. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the contact was informed that the steering lock mechanism needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified but offered no assistance. The failure and current mileage was 16,501.

- Easton, PA, USA

problem #42

Jan 022013

Altima

  • 83,000 miles

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

Parked car turned it off then when I returned the car would no longer do anything. It is a push to start and is not controlled with a key. So therefore when I got out of the store and returned to the car it no longer worked. It is said that this happens frequently to '09 Altima's yet they can not find the parts to my car.

- Ambrose, GA, USA

problem #41

Dec 272012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
[xxx], atlanta, Georgia my daughter's 2009 Nissan Altima did the same thing. She came over for a visit and upon leaving her car would not crank. My husband and I did all of the troubleshooting according to the manual to no avail. I called the dealership where she purchased the vehicle and he immediately knew what the problem was. He wanted to sell here another Altima, because Nissan knew this was an issue, so they stopped putting this mechanism on the 2012 models. Nissan who has a good standing and have millions of cars on the road should do right by consumers who purchased their vehicles and had this problem. I am going to send this complaint site to my local news station and try to put some fire under Nissan. This is ridiculous and other consumers need to be aware of this problem. The repair cost of our Nissan Altima was $919. I see several differences in the repair cost too. We cannot sit by and let consumers continue to be charged substantial amount of money for repair cost when Nissan know there is a problem with the steering lock mechanism. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #40

Jan 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 47,000 miles
When I attempted to start the engine the car failed to start. I noticed that there was an indicator in my dash that I had never seen. It was a red indicator that I would later find out showed a problem with my steering lock mechanism. The car would not move past the "lock" stage and I had to promptly have it towed to the Nissan dealership. This repair cost $800 before taxes. I have found that there have been many similar claims in the past few months. I would just like for my case to be known with others that have had a similar position. I hope to be reimbursed for this issue as its a obviously a mechanical malfunction and not something an owner should be held liable for.

- Rensselaer, NY, USA

problem #39

Jan 072013

Altima

  • 65,000 miles
Drove the car into work just fine. Seven hours later when I was leaving to go home car would not start. Key light was on in dashboard but nothing would happen. Jumped the battery, reset the batter, even took out the battery to get it tested. Still nothing. Finally paid $70 to get it towed to Nissan dealership (less than 3 miles) and it is the steering lock control unit, which cost $978 to replace. Apparently this happens when it is cold out. Nissan needs to recall these vehicles and reimburse everyone who have had similar issues. I will never buy another Nissan and you bet I'm going to tell everyone I know!!

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #38

Jan 072013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,497 miles

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

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

Altima

  • 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

Altima

  • 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

Altima

  • 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

Altima

  • 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

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