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:
69,556 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 1 of 18)

problem #343

Oct 032016


  • 67,000 miles


Electric steering column lock (escl) failed and left me stranded at work. Had to wait 2 hours for someone to come get me.

- Fargo, ND, USA

problem #342

Oct 032016


  • 12 miles
The push button start will not recognize the key "fob". I can still unlock and lock my doors with the fob, pop open my trunk, but the system that is supposed to recognize my key and unlock my steering wheel is faulty. Reading up this has been a problem for many '09 Altima and Nissan even extended a warranty on this part, unfortunately that warranty is expired and my car now has the problem.

- Olathe, KS, USA

problem #341

Oct 022016


  • 96,000 miles
The electrical steering column lock (escl) failure which wouldn't allow the car to start is the most stupid thing I've ever heard. And that Nissan wouldn't recall it is a big shame on the manufacturer. On top of that, they charge ridiculously expensive to have the part replaced ($600+labor)"?!! this is super unsafe for drivers in the northeast as we may get stuck in a cold winter freezing to death for what? there is even no mechanic problem with the car. Just a little wedge-like thing that wouldn't drop to where it's supposed to be???" ridiculous!!

- Plattsburgh, NY, USA

problem #340

Sep 272016


  • 90,000 miles


We are currently experiencing what so many Nissan owners have noted online... the steering lock mechanism has malfunctioned. (the key light is on, the steering wheel won't lock, doors still lock/ unlock). This is a widespread problem in the electrical system, and many people have expressed frustration online. It is electrical, so all our proper maintenance performed means nothing. Our situation was the 90 year old grandfather stranded at the grocery store parking lot for 2.5 hours. Once he returned to the car, it would not crank. The car is just now to 90,000 miles, and now we learn that Nissan was aware and extended the warranty for a time, and now it has expired. There was no notice sent out nor was there an official recall. Our $1000 repair bill for a common problem spanning several years and several models is not acceptable. Please force them to do a recall!!! it's a widespread, known issue that they are already aware of.

- Ringgold, GA, USA

problem #339

Sep 162016


  • miles
Ecsl went out and my high school daughter was driving the car at the time as we were out of town, this could really be a hazard and definitely was costly as far as towing, thank god we have an extra vehicle but she had to find transportation, had the stress being 17 and not really knowing what to do, the car sat until we got home to have to towed to dealership, missed some of school. This part definitely should be recalled and put back out there indefinitely to be warrantied. I had heard nothing prior but good things about this vehicle and then after reading about the same year and model of vehicle I am praying after the fix this will be the only time it happens!

- Helena, MT, USA

problem #338

Sep 142016


  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. When the contact parked the vehicle and locked it with the fob, it failed to start upon her return. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the ESC needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 68,000.

- Paso Robles, CA, USA

problem #337

Sep 152016


  • miles


While I was at work and done with my shift I went out to my car and press the break and push the push start button it did not start it turns out that the electronic steering control lock is defective I could've been hurt or killed or put it in a dangerous situation if I had no one around me to help me out. My life was put at risk with a car that would not start. The car was stationary when this happened and it happened in a rule area of California which is the searne valley which is almost all desert. I was able to have the car towed to the valleyhigh Nissan in victorville California and they are quoting me $947 to have this part replaced.

- Lucerne Valley, CA, USA

problem #336

Sep 082016


  • miles
Nissan has refused to recall their faulty electronic steering lock unit that is needed to turn the vehicle on. If it does not lock the wheel in place it will not allow the push start ignition to start the vehicle, thus leaving their occupants stranded with no option other than to have their vehicles towed to a Nissan dealership and forced to pay upwards of $1200 for the replacement of a defective factory part. They offered a extended warranty to address this issue, but neglected to inform consumers of this. They are clearly trying to get out of paying for their mistakes and are passing the cost on to their unsuspecting customers.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #335

Sep 012016


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle experienced a complete loss of power. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the key fobs were defective and needed to be reprogrammed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 135,000.

- Nashport, OH, USA

problem #334

Aug 302016


  • 78,634 miles
I have a 2009 Nissan Altima that I purchased as a pre owned in 2012. Since that time I have brought the car to the dealer for oil changes and repairs on many occasions. At no times while the car was getting serviced was I informed that there was a potential problem with the steering wheel lock sensor and the car would ot start and because of that Nissan had extended the warranty to cover the repair or replacement of the part, earlier this week my car would not start and I had to have it towed 35 miles to my mechanic who diagnosed the problem as a steering lock sensor failure. The cost to repair the car was $725. I conducted some research the problem and found several articles on line concerning the problem and that Nissan had extended the warranty. Again, I was never notified in person while the car was being serviced or by mail by the dealer or Nissan. Based on my research I believe that the dealer or Nissan had the obligation to notify me of the potential problem. At the time that the sensor failed I was approximately 35 miles from home and had to have the car towed. At times I have my grandchildren with me and this could have been a more serious situation if they were with me.

- West Orange, NJ, USA

problem #333

Sep 012016


  • 82,377 miles


Car will not start. Steering lock mechanism malfunction. Car parked on street in front of our house. At least I'm not on a trip. Nissan won't fix under a recall. They had an extended warranty to cover this problem, but it expired. Owners of pre-owned cars were never notified.

- Greenville, TX, USA

problem #332

Sep 022016


  • 146,000 miles
Notice a key indicator light on dash... vehicle wouldn't start! I was in a very dark area by myself and didn't know what to do! I was scared for my life because I was alone and didn't know what would happen!!

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #331

Aug 202016


  • 65,000 miles
Car will not start due to steering lock on vehicle malfunctioned X 4. towed to dealership for diagnostic only to be told repair is $900. Contacted Nissan who is going back on their word to pay for repair. Car also has airbag lights that come on while driving. Car is always in parked positioned when there is a problem.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #330

Aug 192016


  • 65,000 miles
Car will not start with key fob. Called tow on three different occasions. Last tow was told to knock on steering lock box to start car. Car was towed due to inability to get car running. Unable to pay for diagnosis at dealership because of cost of 100. Unable to pay for tow because of 65 dollar cost. Stuck out in the middle of no where and now my car is useless. Will not be buying another Nissan or recommend to anyone. I am afraid I am going to lose my job because of no transportation thanks to Nissan.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #329

Jul 062016


  • 25,290 miles
Issue: Unintended acceleration conditions: 2pm/clear/parking lot while making U-turn to the right, brakes did not respond. Stepped again on brakes, more firmly, but did not slow car which continued to roll slowly forward about 7 mph. Suddenly, loud revving, car continued forward roll. Immediately, added left foot to brake, pressing with full weight. No response. About 2-3 second after revving/hard braking, the car opened full throttle and hurtled forward about 1-1/2 to 2 car lengths; slammed into wall. Airbag did not deploy my car had only 25290 miles (only about two years of normal usage) at the time the system failed. My left knee sustained small gash from the underside of the steering column when I was slammed back after impact threw me forward, forehead knocked the upper steering wheel. Note: About 1 month prior to accident, the audio controls on my steering wheel honked the horn instead. The next day, they were ok. The same thing happened when tested at the collision center after accident; it's on tape. The rep at the collision center was informed of the switch problem from the start. When I them tested days later, the audio controls worked properly. Also, an indicator on the dash went from showing the mpg with a bar as I accelerated or slowed, then switched to a digital report of 18 mpg/city. It kept shifting between these indicators without my interference. Finally, the airbag failed to deploy although impact clearly exceeded 15 mph. I believe there was a severe failure of the electrical system; the cvt system with its sensors, etc. Is dependent on it. My account parallels reports I have uncovered about sudden acceleration. I noted that often an event was precipitated by a slowing, and a turn. When I recently talked to a Nissan tech about the switches, airbag, indicator failures, he mentioned pinched harness could be a possibility.

- Laguna Woods, CA, USA

problem #328

Aug 032016


  • 120,000 miles
The brake switch on the Altima has needed to be replaced three times since new. The first part was replaced in June of 2015 due to the car not starting, and the vehicle not recognizing the brake was depressed (requirement for key less start). Upon dealer inspection, I was charged a very hefty fee for a small part and labor. Part: 25320-ax00C showed to be at fault. At second time, August 2016, the same problems persisted. This time, there was a burning smell. I found the part that was replaced, opened it up, and found the inside connectors frozen to the contacts and what look liked a small flash or burn had occurred. The contacts were separated and the car started again. Shortly thereafter, the burning smell reappeared and the part was noted to have possibly started on fire very briefly, or been subject to a significant amount of heat. Part has been retained. Part was replaced with aftermarket part, and car now starts without any smells. Dealership deny's problem with brake switch, despite widespread internet chatter about same issue happening to other owners of key less start Nissan vehicles.

- Gilbert, AZ, USA

problem #327

Aug 012016


  • 127,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While attempting to start the vehicle, it failed to start. The key failure and security warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer to be diagnosed. The contact was informed that the steering lock mechanism needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 127,000.

- Boardman, OH, USA

problem #326

Mar 282016


  • 72,554 miles
My car would not start after I parked it on a city street, I was stranded at night! after thankfully being able to safely get a ride and leaving my car, I had to go back to my car the next day. I had changed the key battery thinking that could be reason, but the car still would not start. I had to call a tow company to bring my car to a Nissan dealership. I learned that there had been an extended warranty for 2009 Altima, because the electronic steering column lock had failed. I never was notified and had no choice but to have it fixed. This was a baffling and frightening experience and I was lucky that I was not stranded in the middle of nowhere!

- Braintree, MA, USA

problem #325

Jul 202016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that ignition key failed to turn to the on position, the vehicle failed to start, and an unknown key symbol illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but the diagnosis was unavailable. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Wrightsville, GA, USA

problem #324

Jul 012016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that after pressing the push to start button, the vehicle failed to start. In addition, the passenger side air bag warning light flickered. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was 70,000. Updated 09/06/16 updated 09/08/16.

- Miami, FL, USA

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