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


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
66,465 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 2 of 15)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #267

Dec 212015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


My wife and I purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima in October 2009 and did not encounter any major issues until a few days ago. On 12/17/2015, my wife was left stranded in a parking lot outside a grocery store at night due to unable to start the car. We tried using a key fob with a good battery and jump starting the Altima, but it would change the car from ┐lock┐ mode to ┐on┐ mode (where the car can be started). We did extensive research, and found there were a tremendous number of 2009 Nissan Altima owners that had encountered the same issue, some stranded on the highway, and some in snow with kids. Many people post on blogs and youtube about this issue. We ended up having the car towed to a Nissan dealership for examination for $110, and their diagnosis result confirmed that the steering lock mechanism (part # 48700-9N00B) needed to be replaced ┐ they quoted us $1152 for part ($650) and labor. The part is for sales for $360 on Nissan usa was well aware of this issue, and they extended the warranty on the steering lock mechanism part for 3 years. However, we have not received any notice from them about this. As our car is 10 weeks out of the extended warranty window, Nissan usa won┐T cover the repair expenses. As a Nissan Altima owner for 13 years, we felt betrayed by Nissan ┐ they were supposed to keep the owners informed on this issue and should have issued a recall, or worked with the oem provider and dealers for a cost effective solution. Instead, they have kept the 2009 Nissan Altima owners in the dark, until many of them got stranded in danger. We sincerely urge you to investigate this issue, and help us and other fellow 2009 Nissan Altima owners. As of 12/2/2015, a google search of ┐2009 Nissan Altima steering lock failure┐ yielded 46,600 results. Sample online posts about the issue:

- Dublin, OH, USA

problem #266

Dec 132015


  • 73,000 miles
12-13-2015 failed electronic steering lock which stranded us on the side of the road with the windows down exposing personal items and our personal safety for a part the manufacture has recognized as faulty and extended the warranty until 120 days before the part fails. 715 times" does someone have to die in a snow storm or get hit on the interstate before action will be taken on this" the part by itself was $715 from the dealer. Make this problem right before someone dies if they haven't already.

- Buda, TX, USA

problem #265

Dec 192015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,280 miles
Steering lock assy. Became defective while away from home and had to be towed to Nissan dealer, was told the new assy. Had warranty good for 12month/12000miles after repairs were made. This may be a safety feature for the car itself but becomes a safety hazard for the occupants if it breaks down in a hazards area away from home or in a area of bad weather itself. The dealer informed me that there was an extended warranty of 72mons.or unlimited mileage added to the original 36mon./ 36000miles for this part. I was not notified or aware of this add-on. So it seems there was reason for concern by the car maker by adding the additional warranty. It was a out of pocket expense for me and no guarantee the car would not brake down again since I do not know if the new replacement part is any better than the one that broke! my car was beyond the additional warranty. I do not trust the car, it could break down at a really unsafe location next time if there is a next time. I need security for me and my family! thank you P.S. the car had been turn off luckily in a post office parking lot, but would not re start under any circumstance when we were ready to go on.

- Van Buren, AR, USA

problem #264

Dec 242015


  • miles


Was stuck at work over the weekend. Car did not work. Intelligent car key remote changed new battery and still did not work had to tow to dealer Nissan, was told to run a diagnostic test on the car, and found out the electronic steering lock is not working. Ive checked online and found out alot people have the same promble that I had. The cost to replace cost about $1200. Since too many people have the same problem. Nissan should have recall all the 09 model. I want Nissan reimburse the cost of replacing new lock.

- Lino Lakes, MN, USA

problem #263

Dec 152015


  • 94,000 miles
Car left me sit due to steering wheel lock needing replaced. It affects the push start ignition and the brake pedal too. Upon researching, I found that this was a common problem and that Nissan fixed some at no charge but others had to spend $1000 and up to repair it. There are copious amounts of complaints regarding this same issue and I suspect that Nissan are fixing some to appease those who are pushing for a recall. My vehicle was stopped at a rest area on the pa turnpike to use the restroom and when I returned the car would not start when I pushed the button. The brake was also very hard to push. The key fob battery light came on and the key fob holder in the dash also was flashing. I started looking for ideas to help us on the internet and right away the steering wheel lock information came up with pages and pages of complaints regarding this same repair. We had car towed to closest dealership to have them diagnose it as the steering wheel lock. I cannot believe with all the complaints online that this has not been recalled. What if that would start a fire?

- Camp Hill, PA, USA

problem #262

Dec 112015


  • 58,900 miles
Ignition failed. Car failed to start. Discovered it was the steering lock control unit. Was told by Nissan that the warranty expired June 1, 2015, but to take it to a dealership and that there was a possibility that the warranty would be extended because of customer loyalty. Vehicle was towed to suntrup Nissan and the repair took place. I was told that I would get reimbursed following a fair review of my case. The claim was immediately denied and following a discussion with the regional Consumer Affairs specialist, megan, it was denied in part because the car had not been to a dealership for service since 2011. I feel that I was mislead and mistreated and given an unfair review because I failed to take my vehicle to the dealership for repairs. The reason for not taking the vehicle to a dealership is because the vehicle has not ever required any major repair work in the past. Internet search revealed that hundreds of other Nissan owners had the same problem with 2009 Altima's and there was a petition to get this part recalled.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #261

Dec 062015


  • 102,000 miles


I was leaving work as I approach my vehicle which was parked in the secured lot; I used my smart key to unlock the door in which it did. And when I entered my vehicle it did not start. The indicator on the dash was showing representation of no key in the vehicle but my key could still lock & unlock the doors. I proceeded to change the battery to my smart key 3X and to no avail did that fix my situation.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #260

Dec 092015


  • 101,000 miles
Car was working just fine. Drove it to an appointment. When done with the appointment, came out to car and it wouldn't start. The key fob worked, as it would lock and unlock the doors, the car just wouldn't start. When I tried to push the start button, a little orange key light came on. Googled the light... found hundreds of complaints that the 2009/2010 Altima had electronic steering lock issues, that Nissan refused to cover the cost, and that replacement was very expensive. Had to get my car towed to an authorized dealer, who confirmed I needed electronic steering lock replacement. The cost was $1,033, not cheap at all. So disgusted there is so much information about this being an extremely common problem in this car, and there not being a recall to fix it or at least cover it.

- Inver Grove Heights, MN, USA

problem #259

Dec 072015


  • 68,164 miles
Dec 7, 2015 climbed in car at 8 am, would not start. The key light was on but the dash did not light up as normal when you put your foot on the brake and push the start button. Could not get it out of the "locked" position. Called local dealer and he offered no help, nor ideas of what could be wrong. Told me to "bring it in". didn't even tell ne how to unlock the gear so I could push car out of garage. Took 2 calls to get this info. Checked online for issues, found escl problem, called dealer back. Only then did he remember something about that issue. My car is 7 weeks out of warranty, great shape, 68164 miles. Called Nissan and spoke with Consumer Affairs, filed complaint. Received a call the next day that they were "considering" my issue/concern/complaint. Told me they would have an answer in 3 days. Why not give me an answer when they called?

- Snellville, GA, USA

problem #258

Dec 082015


  • 91,000 miles
My car would not start and the intelligent key warning light was on. This happened with no warning (the car drove fine 1 hour before). I was stranded and had to get the car towed to the nearest dealership. The problem was the infamous escl unit (electronic steering control lock). I was informed that the warranty had been extended to unlimited miles and 5 years...and expired 6 months ago. $1028 worth of repairs later the car will start again. No help from Nissan.

- Charlottesville, VA, USA

problem #257

Dec 022015


  • 42,000 miles


My family and I were stranded in the middle of the night last week for several hours for my car to be towed cause the engine would not start and jump start the battery did not work. After towed it home and research / diagnostic, found out that it is a well know that the steering lock box is defective. However, calling Nissan dealer about it and will not make the recall on the part. My car just die after 5 years. 3 months after the extended warranty. My dealer will not fix it and Nissan will not assist to get it fix either. They keep wanting me to bring it to the deal for diagnostic, when in-fact it is obvious that the steering lock bock is disabled the car from starting. I brought it in, and they kept telling me no recall and want me to pay for it (almost $1,000), yet recommending me to fix other issues saying it could have been tune up needed that why my car would not start.. ugh!!!

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #256

Dec 042015


  • 99,000 miles
Wife went to drive to work in morning car would not do anything. Turn over or sense the key. She tried other key and same thing nothing. Googled issue and Nissan admitted there is a issue with electronic steering lock column. Instead of fixing issue they just extended warranty in hopes that when not if it went out warranty would be up. Called Nissan North America they told me car is over warranty but if I take it and get it diagnosed and there are no other problems they may help cover repair cost. Did just what they said local dealer confirmed it was my electronic steering locking unit. Called Nissan back they called dealership and confirmed. They then called me back and said we cant do anything its out of warranty. Why make me pay more then say oh no we cant help you. So I had to wait for nisasan to tell me either yes or no they would help after they said no I called dealership to go ahead with work they no longer had part another 2009 came in with same problem. My local dealership is coast Nissan of san luis obispo. Car gave no warning escl was going out and once it goes out your stranded this is a issue Nissan should have addressed but would rather save money and not fix defective issues.

- Grover Beach, CA, USA

problem #255

Dec 062015


  • 153,000 miles
Car was parked in grocery store parking lot. Car would not start. Dashboard warning indicated key icon. Had car towed 50 miles to Nissan car dealership. Electronic steering lock unit (eslu) replaced. Total cost: $1006 and one sleepless night.

- Crestview, FL, USA

problem #254

Nov 272015


  • 100,000 miles
Electric steering wheel lock (ecsl), is well-known defect that is known across all 2009 Nissan Altima, maxima, and early 2010 350Z. I was filling up at a gas station when my car did not start. I was left stranded at a location that was unsafe location due to this defect. This lock would not allow me to start my vehicle nor go on accessory mode, thus I was not able to roll up my windows. I was not informed of this defect or extended warranty. My extended warranty expired last month. Nissan North America rejected my claim to repair this problem.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #253

Oct 132015


  • 81,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the keyless ignition failed to operate. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the steering wheel lock was replaced. After the vehicle was serviced, the intelligent key failed to start the ignition. The vehicle was not repaired for the second time but the details were not available. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 81,000. Updated 02/19/16

- Lawton, OK, USA

problem #252

Nov 292015


  • 40,100 miles
The electronic steering wheel lock system didn't engage on my 2009 Altima. This would not allow the car to be started. Nissan extended the warranty on this part but mine expired in August of 2015. I feel this is a safety issue as you could be stranded at anytime anwhere with this issue and should have been a recall. There was a bad snow storm in denver on Sunday when this occurred and if it had happened up in the mountains cross country skiing I would have been stuck in a very unsafe situation. I contacted Nissan and they said they will not do anything for me as the extended warranty has expired. However they never contacted me stating it would be covered and had I know I would have taken the vehicle in before it left me stranded without a car for 4 days. I had to get the car towed to the dealership to get it worked on. This issue is so bad they had to order the part and won't get it in until 2 days after I had brought it in to get fixed. Someone needs to look into this before people start getting hurt or worse stranded and die somewhere.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #251

Nov 302015


  • 54,000 miles
The steering lock failed, and I could not start my car. I had to have my car towed to the topeka Nissan dealer to have it fixed. It cost $973

- Topeka, KS, USA

problem #250

Nov 172015


  • 61,000 miles
Vehicle was parked, stationary when I went to start it. Nothing happened when start button was pressed. The car was recognizing the key fob, due to the fact that when I didn't have it, it was saying no key. However would not start even when fob was present. Contacted Nissan service department, they said it was a common problem, after googling the issue I was surprised at how many sheer numbers of the same exact thing was happening. $1200 later, my car is fixed just because of a faulty steering column lock, which even the private mechanic stated was a big problem, adding that Nissan responded by changing the lock on the 2010 and up models, however not compensating any current owners. Mechanic also advised that the part is so faulty that it will go out again in time. Im taking car back to dealer the car had 50K on it when I purchased this should have been replaced under warrant I cant afford 1200 bucks if not fixed im not paying for a lemon car

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #249

Nov 252015


  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. A warning light illuminated and displayed a message. The contact was stranded for over an hour. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering lock control unit needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 74,000.

- Racine, WI, USA

problem #248

Nov 182015


  • 70,000 miles
We purchased this vehicle brand new in 2009. On 11/18/2015, my wife became stranded in a shopping center parking lot because the vehicle would not start. After research online, we discovered that the problem is the steering lock mechanism. When the mechanism fails, it generates a fault in the computer that disables the vehicle. Nissan has known of the problem for some time and extended the warranty, but did not notify owners. There are hundreds if not thousands of similar complaints online. The failed part is 48700-jf00A. Let me stress that Nissan has known of this part defectiveness for years, but has not been proactive to avoid owners from being stranded. The vehicle was obviously stationary when this problem was realized.

- Springfield, MO, USA

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