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:
69,392 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

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 12 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #168

Dec 242014


  • 47,000 miles


I drove my Altima to the shopping center, the vehicle was running fine, there was no sign of a mechanical problem. I parked the car. When I came out about 30 minutes later the car would not start. The key light was flashing. Changed the battery in the key fob but the car still would not start. Appears to be a steering column lock issue. I had to have the car towed to a dealer. Five days later I am still waiting for the Nissan dealership to fix it. Although Nissan has extended the warranty there needs to be a recall. It is reprehensible that Nissan continues letting people be stranded when the company is aware of this failure with the vehicle.

- St Albans, VT, USA

problem #167

Dec 232014


  • 83,041 miles
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S coupe. Car started fine in the morning, then failed to start (did not crank) after sitting in parking lot for 1 hour. Yellow "intelligent key" and red "security indicator" light were lit on dash, otherwise no other indications on the dash. Tried jumping battery and changing key battery, no luck. Called local Nissan dealership, they suspected steering interlock issue, stated that there was a warranty extension on this. Had vehicle towed to dealer. They confirmed it was the steering interlock and fixed it under warranty. Nissan is supposedly reimbursing for part of the tow charge also. Fortunately, car was still within the warranty time limit. Dealer stated there was no recall issued, "Nissan figured if there was going to be a problem, it would occur within a certain time period". I was lucky to be near home and dealership when this happened, could have been worse. Not sure why they wouldn't issue a recall on this type of thing.

- Ballston Lake, NY, USA

problem #166

Dec 152014


  • 135,000 miles
The car was driven to a doctor's appointment. When we returned to the car, it would not start. We jumped the battery and nothing would happen. No lights would turn on in the car and the brake was very hard to push down. We did some research online and found that there was a huge problem with the steering mount. We attempted to get it started the next day by following directions online but no luck. We had it towed and found out it was in fact the steering mount. It is a large expense, impacted by the fact that the car had to be taken to a Nissan plant to be reprogrammed, adding an additional 280 dollars. This part needs a mass recall!

- Brandon, MS, USA

problem #165

Dec 162014


  • 80,000 miles


Car would not start after work on 12/16/14. Locks worked fine and doors unlocked. Tried jumping car battery and changing batteries in key with no success. Had car towed to local Nissan dealership that night. After looking at car on 12/17/14, local shop advised the issue to be the electronic steering column lock. After reviewing this to be a common issue, so common Nissan extended warranty for this model for this part to 6 yrs unlimited miles (my car has about 80,000 miles). I ask the service advisor at the Nissan dealer was there any recall on this part because of all the issues with it. I was told no and it would cost $1196 to repair it. So I call Nissan Consumer Affairs for any chance of covering under this warranty. Nissan stated they would not do anything until I had a dealer review the issue. Dealer confirmed issue. But I was fully denied was told the warranty had expired October of 2014 and they could not do anything, with the large volume of complaints here and Nissan own admission of known issue by extending warranty for this model year and part, something more needs to be done. Im very disappointed with Nissan. Since 2007 I have purchased 4 Nissan an at this point I will never spend my hard earn money on another Nissan please spread the word on how Nissan is treating their so called "valued customers'.

- Elgin, SC, USA

problem #164

Nov 212014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 93,000 miles
The electronic steering column lock malfunctioned leaving the vehicle unable to start. This issue needs to be recalled before someone is stuck in an unsafe situation.

- Saint Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #163

Dec 102014


  • 41,000 miles
The electronic steering column lock failed, preventing the engine from starting and resulting in me getting stranded. Well-known issue with vehicle - was not recalled, but an "extended warranty" for the defective part was offered (now expired, requiring a $900 fix by Nissan). Defective part 48700-JF00 (versions A-C). Entire part removed from future models. Due to lack of a recall, several owners (myself included) were not informed of the "extended warranty". those that did receive a letter were told "if you are not currently experiencing this condition, you should do nothing." Additional information about this issue and the letter that some owners received is available at

- Muskogee, OK, USA

problem #162

Dec 012014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 74,728 miles


Car would not start after a school meeting on evening of 12/1/14. Locks worked fine and remote start would still start vehicle, but would kill again after hitting start button. Tried jumping car battery and changing batteries in key fobs with no success. Had car towed to local shop next morning on 12/2 for review. After looking at car on 12/3, local shop advised the issue to be the electronic steering column lock. After reviewing this to be a common issue, so common Nissan extended warranty for this model for this part to 6 yrs unlimited miles (my car has just under 75,000 miles). Called my dealer (who I purchased car brand new and have all regular oil/service maintenance done there) and asked about it. My 6 yrs expired on 11/22 (9 days prior to issue) so would have to call Nissan Consumer Affairs for any chance of covering under warranty. Nissan stated they would nożżT listen to me until I had a dealer review the issue. Had to pay local shop for their diagnosis and incurred another towing expense to get to my dealer (which is the closest) 30 miles away. Dealer confirmed issue and in order to get my car back as I needed to use, I authorized repairs (over $1200 for just the repair). Submitted my claim then to Nissan for all my incurred expenses (which was $1500) but was fully denied. Was told 9 days is the same as 3 years over the warranty in their eyes and they can nożżT do anything, including even covering the additional towing and diagnosis fees incurred to meet their requirement of the dealer to review. Seeing the large volume of complaints here and Nissanż's own admission of known issue by extending warranty for this model year and part, something more needs to be done. Very disappointed in Nissan.

- Faribault, MN, USA

problem #161

Dec 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
The car would not start and a dash light indicated a small key. When I pushed the start button nothing happened. It was diagnosed as an electronic steering column lock (escl). After researching the issue, I found that this is a known issue with this particular make/model/year of Nissan specifically (2009 Nissan Altima). As a result of this knowledge, Nissan placed that part under extended warranty. That however does not appear to be enough, since many of the issues don't begin until after the extended warranty is up, as in our case. The cost of the repair is approximately $1,100. I contacted both the dealer and Nissan directly for assistance, asking that they cover the part, especially since the extended warranty had just expired in August. Of course, they chose not to help in anyway. It's my understanding that when this part fails it does not give much if any warning. You simply come out to start your car one day and it does not start or attempt to turn over. Nissan choosing to extend the warranty on a part we knew nothing about having issues, does us no good. A recall however would be more appropriate, I feel, in this situation. Many drivers are having the issues after all warranties have expired and the cost is theirs to cover. When it's a known defective part, that does not seem fair.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #160

Nov 272014


  • miles
I drove my 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S to work on 11/27 and it started up just fine as usual. However, when I went to leave work for the day the car did not start. The keyless remote will allow me to lock and unlock my car, but when I go to start the car, it will not register my keyless remote. An error code shows that the electronic steering column lock (escl) mechanism was malfunctioning. Also, there is a yellow key icon on the left side of the dash that intermittently flashes no key. The ignition is indicating that the steering wheel is locked although I can turn the steering wheel. There are or were no prior warning that the part was about to fail including anylights on the dash panel. I had to leave my car in the garage and was stranded for sometime trying to find a way home. My car is still sitting in the garage as I cannot afford to pay the repairs at this time. After doing further research into the issue I have come to see that multiple people have complained about this same exact problem. A very disturbing factor since Nissan is aware of the problem, and for some customers has issued an extended warranty for this specific problem. Although either issuing a recall or removing the part from the later manufactured models to avoid this from occurring again. Hopefully, my vehicle does not fall outside the extended warranty window as Nissan is not assisting with the repairs.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #159

Nov 282014


  • 122,000 miles
My keyless remote will allow me to lock and unlock my car but when I go to start the car, my car will not register my keyless remote. It is not the battery of my car or the remote or any blown fuses; those were all checked as well. Apparently multiple people have complained about this same exact problem. Nissan has an extended warranty for this problem but only for so long. This issue has left a lot of people, including myself, without a vehicle or sometimes stranded.

- Gilbert, AZ, USA

problem #158

Nov 302014

Altima 4WD 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles


When trying to start my son's 2009 Nissan Altima 3.5se coupe, it will not start and displays a yellow key icon on the left side of the dash. We reviewed the car's manual, which states the light is an intelligent key malfunction. We changed the key faub battery and tried removing and reinstalling the battery, as some others suggested, but still nothing. After reviewing several different web sites, I see this is a common issue with 2009 Nissan/Altima. From reading different owner's comments and complaints, I believe it will be an issue with the steering lock and will have towed to Nissan tomorrow. I am surprised with so many comments over the same issue, there is not a campaign to fix? I've been a faithful Toyota patron all of my life and this is my first Nissan. Not good a first impression!!

- Olathe, KS, USA

problem #157

Nov 162014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
My wife parked her 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S and turned off her engine on 11/15/14.the next day when she went to start her car, it refused to start, giving her an error code that the electronic steering column lock (escl) mechanism was malfunctioning. There was no way to get around the problem and we eventually had to tow the car to the dealership to get it fixed. My wife was lucky, in that she was somewhere safe when she was stranded. But, since she had no prior warning that the part was about to fail, she very easily could have been stranded somewhere much less safe. Nissan is aware of the problem and has issued an extended warranty for this specific problem for the 2009 Altima, while issuing a recall for all other models with this part. Unfortunately, our vehicle fell outside the extended warranty window and Nissan will not help with the repair. I find it very disconcerting that Nissan would prefer to have its customers figure out that they have a problem by getting stranded in possibly dangerous situations than issue a recall to ensure that the problem never happens in the first place. I am asking that the NHTSA makes Nissan issue a recall for this problem so that others are not put in potential danger.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #156

Nov 182014


  • 95,000 miles
I tried to crank my car this morning (push start) my anti-theft light on my dashboard came on and it would not crank. The lights came on in my car but the car would not crank at all. Tried everything I could do and made calls but it will not crank.

- Blackshear, GA, USA

problem #155

Nov 092014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 78,862 miles
I went to osh with my kids. When we got back in the car it wouldn't start. Sat in parking lot for two hours. Had to have car towed eventually. Problem was a faulty steering lock control unit. Looked online - apparently hundreds of people have had this problem with the 2009 Altima (and imagine all the ones who haven't posted online). If you do a search in yahoo for "steering lock control unit, " 2009 Nissan Altima automatically pops up. They need to be recalled. It's not safe to have a car with a known problem that will cause it not to start and leave you stranded. Eventually, someone is going to get stuck somewhere and be hurt or killed.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #154

Sep 032014


  • 44,000 miles
I was trying to start my car and it would not start. The switch which allows the car to know you are pushing the brake did not work (push button ignition). I tried to put my key in the slot to start the car, but the car does not start if the car does not sense the brake is being pushed. This is a huge hazard. Good thing I was not stranded somewhere. I called Nissan with no help at all. A search on the internet revealed this is a problem that has not been addressed. The part number replaced is intermotor SL2110. Please respond with your investigation on this. Thank you.

- Springhill, FL, USA

problem #153

Sep 302014


  • 35,129 miles
Vehicle did not start. Vehicle was successfully jumped, driven for one (1) hour, then turned off, and then failed to start again. Vehicle was towed to mechanic. Mechanic diagnosed the problem to be a faulty brake pedal ignition switch, which is identical to Nissan service bulletin # ntb10-139. Vehicle was taken to pine belt Nissan, 111 highway 36, keyport, NJ, 07735-1424, who fixed the car and recommended I contact Nissan corporate for any reimbursement. Corporate Nissan, under confirmation number 315521 (spoke to raven), stated that "they are not in a position to pay for the parts", even after I told them that I would pay the labor. Nissan knowingly has put out a defective brake ignition switch that could cause the car to fail (not start) at any time, and will not work with the customer financially to replace the defective part with a good one. The vehicle was beyond its warranty time/mileage.

- Keyport, NJ, USA

problem #152

Oct 082014


  • miles
Vehicle would not start after short visit to convenience store. Problem believed to be "ignition lock cylinder" as many other complainants have already attested to. A continuing serious physical safety issue that should be recalled immediately. NHTSA has dropped the ball on this one!

- Anytown, NY, USA

problem #151

Sep 052014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
Will not start. Lights come on but engine won't start.

- Slidell, LA, USA

problem #150

Aug 082013


  • 31,000 miles
The car didn't want to start. It was parked at my house and I tried to start it wouldn't.

- Antioch , TN, USA

problem #149

Aug 062014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 72,822 miles
Have had several issues with my 2009 Nissan Altima. I bought it November 2012. By February 2013, I replaced tires. Was sold a car with incorrect license plates that owed registration fees to dmv. I almost got towed and didn't know why. Between February and November 2013, I replaced brakes, another set of tires, third brake light twice, and battery. May 2014, took it to rogers & rogers dealership for an oil change. Maintenance other light and tires on. (car was bought with a flashing tire maintenance light on) mounts and struts were replaced and was advised to replace sensors. August 2014, car wouldn't start again. Steering lock unit needs to be replaced. It's not covered under extended warranty. Rear left window doesn't work either. Everything adds up to over $3000.

- El Centro, CA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?