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 4 of 18)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #298

Apr 102016


  • 66,500 miles


Was going out of town and due to bad weather conditions on the area I was supposed to drive to, I did not go. However, on Sunday afternoon I got into vehicle, tried to start it and it would not start. Now, if I had of gone out of town like I was supposed to, I would have been stranded. I often have my small granddaughter with me. Glad she wasn't this time. Had to call tow service.

- Newark, OH, USA

problem #297

Apr 102016


  • 126,000 miles
The electric wheel lock system failed rendering my car non operational. After researching this issue online it is a well documented problem with this car and potentially dangerous. There is no warning that it will fail and is not due to maintenance neglect. When it fails it disables the ignition system to the car so you cannot even switch to the accessory function. It can also leave the steering wheel in the locked position making it very difficult to move the car. This occurs when the car is parked and try to start it.

- Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #296

Apr 112016


  • 0 miles
Nissan Altima 2009 issue: Escl, steering wheel lock, engine won't start and key is in car.

- Camden, NJ, USA

problem #295

Jan 112016


  • 54,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key lock mechanism failed and prevented him from starting the vehicle. The contact turned the key numerous times in the ignition. The vehicle also stalled numerous times due to the failure. The vehicle had to be towed more than once. In addition, the contact removed the plastic casing under the steering wheel to try to maneuver the vehicle. The manufacturer indicated that the coverage for a manufacturer extended warranty to address the repair expired for the VIN two weeks ago and they refused to provide a remedy. The dealer was contacted, but the vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 54,000.

- Peachtree Corners, GA, USA

problem #294

Mar 292016


  • 55,465 miles
I drove my Nissan Altima to work as I normally do, parked in the same spot I always park in. No problem at that point. At the end of my work day I got into my vehicle to drive home and it would not start. I noticed an icon showing on the instrument panel, it stated one word: Key. I called my husband who brought our spare key to see if that would start the vehicle: No. I left the vehicle parked at my place of work. The next morning I called the Nissan dealership only to be informed that I could not have an appt for at least 2 weeks and that the issue is known but not covered under a recall or warranty. I was very thankful that I was at work and not stranded in an unfamiliar area. I believe that Nissan needs to correct the faulty part. This is something that is happening with more than just the vehicle I own. A quick look on the internet brought up many complaints on the same issue in different models. Hopefully this will not result in a death before something is done forcing Nissan on the correction. I remember the GM ignition recall that did not take place until people died!

- Camas, WA, USA

problem #293

Jan 012016


  • 80,000 miles
I live in the country and was prepared to leave town to visit my sister. I pack my car and get ready to leave (my car was in perfect condition in my garage all night) I went to start my car and nothing! I assumed the battery at first but the lights would turn on. I called Nissan and I was told my steering wheel lock device needs replaced. I was told that I would have to tow my car in, pay for parts and labor. I ask Nissan, if this is so common then how was I not notified of this" I learn this device was put in place for protection against car theft and designed for the key fab to undo the lock up. My car was not in threat of being stolen, and my key fab would not allow the engine to start. I was left stranded for no reason and without warning. I start researching that I am not the only one. There are hundreds effected by this faulty device. I can't believe Nissan has not recalled or set out notice to warn people, or offer an extended warranty. I watch a video on how to trick start the engine. You pull down the bottom of steering wheel and tap the metal lock device with a hammer. This allows my car to start some times. I've been stranded out of town, at a grocery store, and in the middle of no where all due to this defective device. What if it goes out while driving and causes an accident and/or death" I'm scared and upset until Nissan does the right thing to fix this

- Hutchinson, KS, USA

problem #292

Mar 302016


  • miles


My Nissan Altima would not start. A yellow key shows up on the dash board that prevent it from starting. This problem prevented me from going to work and would cost me over a 1000. Imagine if location my car stop was unsafe with my kids in the car. This unsafe and Nissan should cover the cost for their faulty product.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #291

Jan 152016


  • 0 miles
No star. Steering lock bloqued

- Mcallen, TX, USA

problem #290

Dec 262015


  • 70,000 miles
Our 2009 Altima, left us stranded in a remote location. The car was parked and turned off. We have aaa so we didn't have to pay for towing. But we thought it was something simple like battery, or batteries in the remote key. Research has shown us that is a known problem with this specific year make and model of vehicle. And Nissan is clearly not helping they're customers with this safety issue. We where luckier than some people that have been stranded in worse places, with children and no warning. This fix is costing us $894 at the Nissan service, I filed a case with Nissan they refused to help, so we where stuck once again with our car at the service center with a $105 diagnostic charge. So we couldn't take it somewhere else for less expensive repair. They caught us hook, line, and sinker.

- Boring, OR, USA

problem #289

Mar 092016


  • 103,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima would not start after shut off which required a tow to Nissan dealership ( auto fair Nissan tewksbury, MA). Paid $119 for diagnostic which confirmed a faulty electronic steering column lock (escl) unit. Purchased and replaced the unit. Although there are a record number of complaints, the unit was not covered by warranty. Receipts availabe

- Dracut, MA, USA

problem #288

Mar 092016


  • 100,120 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while in park, the steering wheel seized. In addition, the vehicle failed to start. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, who diagnosed that the steering wheel lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,120.

- Irmo, SC, USA

problem #287

Mar 062016


  • 80,000 miles
Yesterday morning, the car no longer recognized my key fob and I was unable to start the engine. Upon contacting Nissan, I was informed that this is related to the electronic steering control lock assembly. The vehicle was stationary at the time of the incident and located in my home garage. Even after this assembly is replaced, I will continue to be concerned about the safety of my family. If the car were to no longer recognize my key fob again, but we are no longer in the safety of our home, we would be open to the elements. It's also possible that our means of transportation for emergencies could be unavailable when needed.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #286

Feb 052016


  • 115,700 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima stop working after I started and was getting ready for work. When I got ready to leave I notice it stopped and when I try again it would not start at all. Come to find out after having to tow it to the dealer it was an internal failure of steering lock assembly. Repair cost me over $1000. Supposedly Nissan had offer an extra warranty on the issue but it expired last year which leave me with expense. I try calling Nissan to find out if they will cover the cost but did not get any assistance. I don't think it's fair that they will cover the cost since it is a known issue that they are aware of and they choose to offer a warranty that expire. They don't know at what point in time the failure will occur.

- West Haven, CT, USA

problem #285

Feb 052016


  • 73,000 miles
Car would not start due to a failure of the electronic steering column lock thus leaving myself and passengers stranded for hours. This is a latent defect in the car, and a known issue, which Nissan has already acknowledged by extending the warranty from 3 to 6 years. Unfortunately the issue only occurred after the 6 years so was not covered under warranty. Nissan needs to issue a recall as this is a major safety issue with stranded drivers and passengers.

- Miller Place, NY, USA

problem #284

Jan 282016


  • 85,000 miles
The steering lock malfunctions on this car, and other years and models. This causes the driver to be stranded when the car will not turn on due to the car being in an anti theft mode. Nissan is well aware that this is an issue and is profiting from it. The customer will have to tow the car to Nissan (since they are the only ones that can fix it), and it will cost $1000 to fix. Nissan states that due to it not being a safety concern, they do not have to recall this. This has affected countless customers however and it is unethical. This is not even something the person themselves or another mechanic can fix since it is electrical. I do not feel that Nissan should be profiting from a part that they know is defective

- Old Bethpagr, NY, USA

problem #283

Jan 252016


  • 107,000 miles
I started the vehicle at home and drove to the my mothers house(, approximately 6 minutes away.) when I went to start the vehicle it would not start. The little key light went on so, I changed the battery for the remote as some people reported that was the problem. The vehicle still would not start. Called the local Nissan dealer, they said it sounded like the electronic steering lock.after making some research I just found out that is a commmon problem with this model and year.T.. I believe this is a safety concern and request it is issued as a recall. Many people online are complaining about the lock steering issue..I beliene Nissan should at least be responsible of replacing the parts.this is our third car that we have bought and have not had any issues before.

- Boqueron, PR, USA

problem #282

Jan 122016


  • 41,000 miles
Leaving work I went out to my car to go home. When I went to the start the car, the car would not start. A yellow key light came on. Unable to start the car, I looked up online possible causes and figured out it was the electronic steering column lock. The car had to be towed which cost $30+ and had to be repaired. Nissan issued an extended warranty because of this particular part having caused problems in the past. The repair cost $1092.

- Villa Ridge, MO, USA

problem #281

Jan 232016


  • 73,565 miles
Steering lock control unit fails to disengage even though key (fob) is present. Doors and trunk will unlock/lock so vehicle recognizes fob/key. Nissan had a warranty fix, but did not notify owners. Now period has closed leaving owner wit H a $1000+ bill so car can be used.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #280

Dec 302015


  • 100,000 miles
My car was stationary in a grocery parking lot and push button starter would not start. It was the dead of winter with sub zero temperatures. The dash displayed an illuminated key indicating there may be something wrong with the intelligent key, so I replaced the battery in both keys and the car still would not start. I then tried to jump the car with no success. So I googled "car won't start, 2009 Nissan Altima" and that opened the flood gates. I read tons of complaints about this same part malfunctioning on the 2009 to 2011 Nissan. When I finally towed my car to the dealer, guess what--I had that very issue, something called the "steering lock malfunction". during my research, I even read an article that indicated Nissan was aware of the problem, and had extended their warranty to help, but that extension ended in March 2015 and Nissan would not complete a recall because it was not a safety issue. I say it is a safety issue. Again, my car stopped on me in the dead of winter in the middle of a cold snap. What I also read was that Nissan knew that at least 50% of these cars manufactured would have to have this part replaced and decided to leave the consumer on their own to pay for the repair. I viewed youtube videos where tons of consumers were doing desperate things to avoid spending the $1000 for this repair. They were pulling their fuses for the steering lock system. They were pulling out the part and banging on it. They were sticking a screw driver in the part to release the stuck mechanism to get the car to start. It's a shame that Nissan is aware that this part is defective and has the tendency to get stuck, resulting in disabling the push button starter and they won't do anything about it. I will never, ever, ever buy another Nissan car, especially not a 2009 through 2011. I wouldn't own another Nissan if they were giving them away. This company is unethical.

- Romeoville, IL, USA

problem #279

Jan 022016


  • 66,000 miles
My vehicle was parked at a gas station after getting fuel. I attempted to start my vehicle but had no response from push button start. After some online investigation I found that Nissan had a defective electronic steering column lock causing the issue. This defective part left me stranded. The service advisor at the dealership I ended up at told me that this is a very common problem on models within a certain range with of vins. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and they acknowledged the issue and informed me they had now obtained an upgraded part to prevent this issue. If this is a known defective part that places owners of these vehicles in a position of being stranded at any time in any types area it then becomes a safety issue. Nissan should be responsible enough to insure the safety of their customers and replace this part on the vehicles involved.

- Manchester, MO, USA

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