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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,341 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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2009 Nissan Altima:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 20)

problem #383

Jan 022017


  • 98,000 miles


We have a defects in the electronic steering column lock (escl) which has disable the push-button ignition on Nissan Altima 2009 sl. It can happened anytime which put a persons life in danger if you get stuck on or to F the road. Based on my research I have read numerous cases where very same situation had caused by faulty electronic steering column lock (escl). The only option we have right now to get your car towed to deal ship and pay well over $1100. Even though this Nissan fault for choosing to use the faulty part. This is absolutely unfair on their part. Please advice us as what can we do to have Nissan to accept the responsibility and replace this faulty part replaced.

- Irving, TX, USA

problem #382

Dec 292016


  • 80,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2009 has a defective steering lock system. Suddenly this evening after work when I get back to the car, it just did not start. This is a dangerous situation if it would have happened any remote place and I would have been stranded. I see there have been several people complained about this on the internet but Nissan has not recalled this car. Please investigate and take appropriate steps. They should either replace the defective part of just replace the car.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #381

Dec 262016


  • 0 miles
Takata recall, defect steering lock unit, unable to start engine! after parked Nissan 2009 Altima at a shopping mall, "nokey" light is on, car can be lock and unlock through remote control key, but no display information visible at the dash board, wheel is locked and unable to switch gear. Nothing can be done to the car!

- Agoura Hills, CA, USA

problem #380

Dec 262016


  • miles


Electronic steering column lock (escl); this was a covered warranty replacement until January of this year. I was not aware of any recall or that this might have even been an issue. I was parked out near a lake and had to call my friends to pick me up and have my car towed. This is not a small issue, if someone was unable to start their car in a freezing situation they could die. Or if I was needing to get a family member to the hospital I would be unable to.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #379

Dec 132016


  • 64,000 miles
Steering wheel lock /ignition, car not able to start using key fob, total steering and brake lock. Got off work and could not start car, was running fine prior to work 7am

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #378

Dec 172016


  • miles
The power lock steering keeps on locking the start system and car can`T start.

- Guntersville, AL, USA

problem #377

Dec 082016


  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start and the intelligent key warning sensor illuminated. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the ignition lock/smart key lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer informed the contact that the extended warranty expired. The failure mileage was 60,000.

- Wantagh, NY, USA

problem #376

Dec 152016


  • 60,000 miles
3 times in the last 2 weeks my wife has been stranded in sub freezing temperature due to the electronic steering column lock (escl) not unlocking. Each time the car has been stopped and does not restart. Having read multiple reports Nissan extended the warranty on the part and even removed it from 2010 models however I am out of luck since the extended warranty has expired. This defective part should be part of a national recall and consumers should be reimbursed for fixes and towing cost. Currently Nissan will not fix the issue until it is occurring which means you have to wait to be stranded some where and have it towed to a Nissan dealership to be fixed which is absolutely insane. I am lucky that me and my wife are handy and have been able to restart the card by literally hammering on the escl until it unlocked. If we had kids or were in the middle of an emergency this would be gathering national news attention on how Nissan knew about a defective piece and (even replacing it in the next years model). I would appreciate anyone's help if bringing awareness of Nissan's negligence.

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #375

Dec 092016


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start and the steering wheel locked. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering column had to be replaced and reprogrammed. The manufacturer was notified. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 45,000.

- Butler, PA, USA

problem #374

Dec 132016


  • miles
My car will not start this is the 3rd time this has happens in 2012 they changed my car battery and in 2013 it wouldn't start after work and I towed it to the dealership and they changed the steering and break lock mechanism and now 2016 my car won't start and it is the electronic steering column lock and now there is no warranty, so it is costing me about $900 to 1,000 to fix a problem that should not be happening or that should have a life time warranty.

- Elgin, IL, USA

problem #373

Dec 122016


  • miles


Instrument panel does not light up and car will not start, it doesn't crank, not even a click form the starter, the steering wheel does not lock. Seems to be the electronic steering column lock (escl) as I googled for similar complaints of other owners. Nissan extended the warranty to 6 years on this issue, however cause they know this is a safety issue with this car. They should extend the warranty for a well known defect indefinitely. If this happens in the middle of nowhere is a very serious life and death issue.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #372

Dec 112016


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While attempting to start the vehicle, the intelligent key malfunction indicator illuminated and the engine would not start. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Fairview, NM, USA

problem #371

Dec 112016


  • miles
I drove to work everything was fine went out on break to start my car and can't do anything windows are lowered and it started to rain the steering lock has went out and leaves you know way of doing anything with the car now I have to miss work to get vehicle put in to a dealership I see many others with the same problems

- Palmyra, MO, USA

problem #370

Dec 092016


  • 114,000 miles
Went to work car, will not start when I went to leave work. Standard for a couple of hours. No warning it was going bad.

- Batavia, OH, USA

problem #369

Dec 032016


  • miles
When leaving to go home from an event for my kids, the car would not and could not start. The key lock symbol (red) and lock symbol (yellow) were lit on the dashboard. I did some research and found that the it was the steering column lock which many has been complaining about. This should be considered a recall with all the problems.

- Wyoming, MI, USA

problem #368

Nov 262016


  • 60,000 miles
The car doesnt start because the car's starting system is faulty. It is called electronic steering column lock (escl) failure. Only Nissan dealers can fix this issue and they charge exorbitant amount of money for replacing a small part and for labor. This is not caused by a user error but because of a defect with this model itself. There are many such complains online and happens to people randomly. This is a severe health and life hazard. Me and my wife were about to leave for remote places when this issue happened and if that would have happened, we would have been in a huge mess! Nissan does not even have the courtesy to reimburse the full repair amount. I didn't even ask for the hotel and trip cancellation reimbursement but still they are not ready to budge. I escalated it to three levels but to no effect. This is sad. There must be a recall on this model. My car just has 60K miles on it and I feel cheated to have to pay $1100 for Nissan's fault just for the repair, let alone additional expenses I had to incur to book hotel last minute for two days and incur charges for the hotel stays for the rest of my trip. My honeymoon trip was screwed up because of Nissan and they are saying they can only reimburse me for the part which is only half the cost. I will sell this car as soon as I can and will never ever buy a Nissan car again. But, I would like to see this car recalled asap before it leads to someone's death.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #367

Dec 042016


  • 78,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the push to start feature failed to start the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering lock mechanism failed and would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 78,000.

- Lowell, MA, USA

problem #366

Dec 072016


  • 107,000 miles
The date was 12/7/2016. My 2009 Nissan Altima failed to start at the end of my shift at work. After some research I found that what I had was a faulty escl. I found that this is a very common problem for this model car. The car fails to even turn on the to the acc mode. Nissan knows that this is a problem and extended the warranty for only 72 months and has refused to make a recall since it involves a parked car. The temperature for today was 26 degrees and had I been somewhere far from home where my father couldn't pick me up then I'd be stranded in the cold to freeze. This is also a safety concern because the car may fail to start in an unsafe neighborhood or other unsafe conditions. Nissan needs to either recall or extend their warranty on the escl.

- Lansing, IL, USA

problem #365

Dec 062016


  • 118,000 miles
The escl died today, at night here in Maine. Searching the for this problem, it seems that this is a known issue with Nissan, which did nothing to prevent my teenager from being stranded, at night. I see the part is on amazon for only $400, and takes about 30 minutes to install. Why does a dealer want $1000 for a repair of this sort? this is crazy - considering that Nissan even extended the warranty on this part to 6 years - I just missed the deadline.

- Brunswick, ME, USA

problem #364

Dec 012016


  • miles
I got in my car the other day to run to the store and the cars push button ignition would not start the car, the llght on the dash suggests that the steering wheel is not locked, but it is locked. Vehicle is parked in my driveway

- Franklin, LA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?