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

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 13 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #148

Jul 242014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,300 miles


Car will not start.dash display illuminates "no key",which is a "fob" type system which has a start button.this happened multiple times over the past 2 left at mike eardman Nissan of merritt island, fl today for replacement of the electronic lock module under the dash.Nissan warranty extension for up to 72 months just for this issue, a known problem.not a recall yet. Better not be a "diagnostic" fee for this.somebody needs to step up and demand a recall for this is all over the internet for the past several years, affecting 2009-2010 Nissan Altima's.

- Satellite Beach, FL, USA

problem #147

Mar 122014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 64,451 miles
Vehicle would not start. Appeared not to be a battery issue. Vehicle was towed to the dealership where I purchased the car. However, car started and electrical system seemed fine. Subsequently (after a discussion with the service person), it seemed apparent the there was a wheel lock switch assy failure (which is under a formal recall). I was told that the part is severely backordered. I then decided to return in a few months (during the next oil change) and attempt to schedule a warranty replacement per the formal recall. However, the dealership (grubbs Nissan in hurst, Texas) told me that "since the switch was not broken now, that they would not be able to honor the warranty". I was given a phone number to call corporate. After some research on the web, it appears that my warranty request should have been honored (especially since I already was stranded and had to pay for towing once before!). I will call corporate on Monday, but wanted to file this official complaint (if you look on the web, you can note countless people in the same situation with mixed results (obviously, very poorly communicated from corporate out to the dealerships or very poorly complied with at the dealerships (whichever is the answer, it is not acceptable). Thanks for listening, [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #146

Mar 282014


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle stalled. When the contact applied the brake pedal and pushed the ignition button, the vehicle restarted and resumed normal operation. The failure occurred nearly 30 times. An independent mechanic stated that a sensor was faulty. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #145

Jul 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 72,300 miles


Car will not start.dash display illuminates "no key",which is a "fob" type system which has a start button.this happened multiple times over the past 2 left at Nissan of medford, MA today for replacement of the electronic lock module under the dash.Nissan extended the warranty for up to 72 months just for this issue, a known problem.not a recall yet.better not be a "diagnostic"fee for this.somebody needs to step up and demand a recall for this is all over the internet for the past several years, affecting 2009-2010 Nissan Altima's.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #144

Jul 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima intermittently will not start. Car will only click over and unable to shift car into neutral. Air conditioning and radio work, but when you press on brake to start car nothing happens. Dealers were unable to duplicate problem, but have been got caught out many times when car would not start and had to notify aaa. This is a common problem with many Nissan's and it is not covered under any warranty or recall.

- Newbury Park, CA, USA

problem #143

Jul 102014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
The car will not start. All electrics work, car and key fob batteries are new, but when you press the start button the car won't start. This 'gimmick' of a key-free vehicle is fundamentally defective and an internet review shows thousands of Nissan Altima owners having the same problem. Common wisdom says that the anti-theft steering lock is engaging when it should not and the repair cost is @ $1,000. Nissan should be required to fix this on recall as they did so on other vehicles and made changes to newer Altima models to address the problem. The effect is that I can't use my car at all even though it is in excellent condition in every other way.

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #142

Jun 062014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,100 miles


Car will not start after pressing brake + start button. The steering wheel locks and the brake pedal becomes stiff. Only after trying multiple times will the car actually starts.

- Rosemead, CA, USA

problem #141

May 172014


  • 60,412 miles
Car doors unlocked normally, the dash showed a yellow key light blinking, no response to pushing the ignition button. Car locks and unlocks with the remote. Headlights worked battery was charged full. Exited the door, locked the car, unlocked the car, entered in - held the remote close to the ignition button. The dashboard still showed yellow key light blinking. Pushed ignition button no response. Upon googling there was a suggestion to removed negative from battery wait for a 5 minutes, reconnect and try. Same results after connecting the battery. One article suggested to move the adjustable steering up and down vigorously. I released the steering button underneath the steering and moved the steering up and down. Pushed the ignition button and the engine started. Drove to the dealer who refused to do correct the problem stating that at the time the dealer inspected the vehicle everything was fine. He did not want to see the video I captured showing the yellow key light blinking.

- Alpharetta, GA, USA

problem #140

Jan 302011


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start when activating the push-to-start button. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 95,000 and the current mileage was 125,000.

- Washington , DC, USA

problem #139

Mar 312014


  • 83,974 miles
Three months after installation of a new (dealer provided) battery, the positive terminal and cable had to be replaced due to heavy corrosion. The original car battery failed because of heavy corrosion around the positive terminal as well. The dealer service department said that the harness and cable should have been replaced at the time of battery replacement and do not know why this wasn't recommended. They stated that these batteries routinely vent excess gas that should condense into the battery compartment. They did not address the issue that heavy corrosion re-accumulated in a very short period of time (shorter than recommended maintenance intervals for the car). Further, this is not the first time I have heard of an Altima battery issue as my sister had to replace her battery twice as well. I would like the NHTSA to investigate if this is a repetitive issue with these batteries as this could lead to a safety problem if the car were to spontaneously shut down during driving due to battery malfunction.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #138

Feb 172014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 51,000 miles


When returning to my car after work on February 14th, 2014 the engine would not start using the automatic start intelligent key system in my 2009 Nissan Altima. Upon doing research, I found this is a highly common issue with the 2009 Nissan Altima model. There are also various independent petitions and class action suits being filed by individuals who have been affected by the same part malfunction. In fact, the complications involving the electronic steering column lock (escl) mechanism was so common that Nissan did not implement this part into the 2010 or in any future Altima vehicles. In addition (and in effort to avoid a recall situation) Nissan North american, Inc issued a warranty extension - "as it applies to the electronic steering column lock unit to 6 years/unlimited miles." Furthermore, Nissan also sent a technical service bulletin to all service shops on how to handle this problem concerning 2009 Altima's. ultimately Nissan North America, Inc. Denied my request to utilize a buy back program toward their 2009 Altima and also denied me any further details as to how they reached their decision. The regional specialist said she could only say ┐┐arbitration decision(s) are always based on the service history of vehicle. Too close, it is in my opinion Nissan has monopolistic controls on consumers in this situation. Only a Nissan dealership/service shop can diagnose the escl malfunction, as it requires a Nissan product specific scan tool, and it is their company's arbitration department who facilitates all legal decisions at which are typically not in favor of the consumer. I do not believe a service history of vehicle is material information in this scenario. Nissan should be obligated to buy back any-and-all 2009 Nissan Altima when asked to do so by their consumers who purchased this product in good faith. Updated 04/07/14

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #137

Feb 192014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
On the morning of 2/19/14 6:00 am proceeded to start car to use in walking distance. Both remote batteries were changed within 30 days previously by dealer. Every command on remote seem to work except that the car didn't recognize the remote to start the car. There were "no key" symbols on the dash. The car just returned from a hundred mile trip. Thank god it didn't happen then. Missing work, towing charges, big inconvenience. Nissan is responsible for this under recall!!!

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #136

Feb 052014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 61,989 miles
While I was driving my vehicle two alarms were going of on my dash board. I had no clue what either one meant but both include a key type alarm. I was afraid that my car would shut down in the middle of the road thinking I was a burglar. I pulled off to the side of the road, with the vehicle still running, and called a friend to drive behind me while we both had our hazards on. Since then I could only start my vehicle once and at that time I took it to a dealership, with my friend so I had a ride back, and I told them I was having trouble starting my car. They knew exactly the problem and what type of Nissan I was driving, they had two others come in within the last month, before I could explain anything and proceeded to explain to me that the part was on back order and said they would give me a call if they could do anything. Driving back home without ever turning off my car was very stressful and when I did return I turned it off and immediately tried to turn back on and it would not start.

- Big Spring, TX, USA

problem #135

Feb 142014


  • 26,000 miles
Replaced battery in fod still want crank says no key.

- Dalton, GA, USA

problem #134

Feb 082014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 18,800 miles
This past Saturday 2/8/14 at approximately 9pm I ran to the store. After shopping when getting back into my car it would not crank; it's like the car did not recognize the key. Steering wheel was locked, brake was stiff and red key light appeared on dashboard. I tried everything, nothing. I had to call my husband, to come get me. Luckily I didn't go far!! we had the car towed Monday morning to the dealership where it was purchased and were informed it was an issue with the sensor in the ignition recognizing the key fob and that it would be covered under extended warranty. The part to fix this problem is however on back order and they cannot give me a definite answer as to when it will be received? on Wednesday 2/13 I was provided with a rental until our car is repaired so at least I have transportation for work. Our car has less than 20,000K miles (I know I don't travel too far) and is paid for, so this is very disturbing. I suppose as long as it's fixed and is warrantied for any future issues for this same problem, I will have to deal with it - but this could be a very dangerous and inconvenient situation to place people in. If this is a known problem there needs to be a recall to alert customers to the situation. Our dealership has been very pleasant to deal with, have been accommodating, just can't answer the "when the part will be here question"; which isn't their fault; I have no complaints with them they have been great. I would just like the problem to be acknowledged so that others don't have to suffer the same inconvenience and possible danger of having this happen to them. From previous posts this is not an issue that just happened to me!

- Pascagoula, MS, USA

problem #133

Feb 102014


  • 104,000 miles
I was trying to get to the er and when I went to start my car the word "key" flashed on and the car will not start!!! I have already had to have the transmission replaced at 98K I am stranded and mathews Nissan in clarksville, tn says they will be glad to help for a price. I explained to them it was an emergency and they suggested " I call a friend".. said they didn't build it and I wasn't paying them for the car, I was paying the bank and to call Nissan if I had a problem with how they were built!!! terrible service and unreliable car!!! still haven't gotten medical attention!!!! thanks alot Nissan!!!!!!!

- Pleasant View, TN, USA

problem #132

Feb 042014


  • 61,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start as the security warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 61,000.

- Covington, GA, USA

problem #131

Feb 102014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
This is probably the coldest day we have had in East Texas this winter especially when including the windchill factor. I came home at 5:45, parked my car in the garage, and went inside. When my son when to start the car at 9:30, it would not start. It would not recognize his key, he woke me up and we tried mine, it still will not start. We spent the next four hours disconnecting the battery, manually moving the car in and out of the garage, and even tried to jump start it as suggested on this site. Nothing worked. The car will not recognize the key and has the key light flashing in the top left corner. There was no warning and I am grateful after reading all of the complaints on here that it went out in my garage. We have narrowed it down to the steering lock module failure. The battery is only 2 years old and all the lights work, the car just won't start because it won't recognize the key fob. I'm going to call the dealership where I purchased this car this morning but I am very concerned about the lack of availability of this part and how I am going to get alternate transportation until this is fixed. This is a known problem with this part and was covered by warranty which was extended for unlimited miles for this part only. Currently, the part is not available due to high level of failures across the us. Part is susceptible to higher failure in extreme cold weather. Nissan you need to make good on this or it will be the last car many of us will buy from you.

- Tyler, TX, USA

problem #130

Feb 082014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 61,012 miles
I went to run an errand and when I came back out to my car from the store, it wouldn't start. I found that the "no key" warning light was lit on the dash and the vehicle security warning light would turn on when I tried to start the vehicle. When I pushed the start button, nothing happened, it stayed in the "lock" setting. After trying everything I could think of (with no tools available), including using both keys, to get the car to start and reading the owner's manual I realized that my car was not going to start. I was able to get a ride home and researched the issue where I found hundreds of complaints on the NHTSA website, along with threads on forums describing the exact same issue. I had to get the car towed to the dealership, where it was replaced free of charge because Nissan knows that this is a failed part and has extended the warranty. However, there should have been a recall on this as this failure renders the car incapable of starting and since there seems to be a lot of people affected by this failure. I have contacted Nissan about paying for my towing bill since, if there was a recall, I could have driven my vehicle to the dealership while it was still working to have the part replaced proactively instead of having to be stranded and charged for a towing bill.

- Abingdon, MD, USA

problem #129

Feb 072014


  • miles
Trying to start my 2009 Nissan Altima, it would not start!!! the brakes were almost stuck and the car simply would not start! the lights in the car turned on with out a problem so I know it wasn't the battery, plus I changed it 2 years ago. After reading many many reviews, 2009 Nissan Altima are having issues with the start button, now I have to pay tow company to take to dealer and pay so much money. Please please Nissan help replace this!!

- New Carrollton, MD, USA

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