2009 Nissan Altima Steering Lock Issue Forum & Issue Register Index

I figured I would would take a moment to document forms currently documenting this issue.  I will register to each and post a link back here to attempt to locate more people with this issue.  It is crazy how many people are saying the exact same thing.

  • Stranded
  • Towed to Nissan
  • Faulty Steering Lock
  • $900-$1200

Forums – 24 Possible Users Affected

http://forums.nicoclub.com/intelligent-key-issue-will-not-start-t550340.html (Posted:  01/2012  [Users affected:  10+])

http://www.nissanclub.com/forums/2007-2012-nissan-altima-discussion-2-5-3-5/302234-2010-altima-steering-lock-mechanism.html (Posted:  03/2010  [Users affected:  5])

http://x.nissanhelp.com/forums/altima/8879-keyless-start-problem.html (Posted:  2008 [6 Pages.  Multiple models affected.  Multiple users])

http://www.altimaforums.net/intelligent-key-system-help-t5365.html (Posted:  12/2011  [3 Pages.  5+ Users])

http://x.nissanhelp.com/forums/altima/23802-car-wont-start-steering-wheel-not-locked.html (Posted:  11/2012  [4 Users])

Nissan 370 Z with this same issue

http://www.the370z.com/diy-section-do-yourself/47181-diy-replace-dreaded-steering-lock-2009s-early-2010s.html

http://www.myg37.com/forums/tsb-technical-bulletins/245004-nissan-steering-lock-recall.html#post3599417

Issue Registers – 379 Possible Users Affected

http://www.arfc.org/complaints/2009/nissan/altima/steering/problem.aspx – 208

http://www.truedelta.com/Nissan-Altima/problems-222/2009 – 8

http://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/Altima/2009/electrical/car_wont_start_key_anti-theft_light_blinking.shtml – 20

http://www.carproblemzoo.com/nissan/altima/steering-problems.php – 143

Update 3/6/16:

After learning that the Warranty has been discontinued as of January 1st 2016 I have learned that everyone’s only hope is to file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. This is step one to teiggering a recall. Make sure you detail the dangers of this defect (e.g if the defect happened in the wild you could have died). If enough people share this level of detail they may open an investigation on this issue and demand a recall. If a recall is performed all users who paid for the repair will be refunded. Here is the form. Anyone can submit so have all members of your family at risk due to this issue submit.

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/

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Day 2 – My car started. Still collecting data on the issue!

So I woke up this morning and called around to find a cheaper tow truck (the one the dealership forwarded me to was $85.  I found one for $65).  Since I was leaving out of town  I worked with the tow truck driver to set it up so I could pay him and leave the keys in the car for him to transfer to the dealership.  I left a check and the keys in an envelope and left the door unlocked.  After flying from Charleston to Maryland I received a call from my wife who informed me that the Tow truck driver was there and that the driver was able to start my car!  Excellent news!  I talked to the driver and asked if the Key light was still on and he said no.  Whatever the issue was with the key may not have been related to the Steering lock.

After I got off the plane I called the dealership to determine what to do next and learn more about the Steering Lock issue.  The service rep told me to still bring the car in to get it checked out.  When I get home I will bring it in.  I asked the Rep another question that I think is key to the Steering Lock issue that I had been brainstorming all morning.  I asked him “When you replace Steering Locks on cars with that issue do you replace the part with the same part or a new part which does not have the issue”.  The service rep replied that he was not 100% positive but he believes that the part was newer and did not have the same issue.  I also asked him if my car was ok, was there anything I could do to prevent the Steering Lock to fail the way it has for so many others.  His response was not what I wanted to hear.  He claimed that the Steering Lock was all electronic and that there is nothing I could do to prevent the issue from happening 😦 !  WTF!  So in short, I am (and you are if you are a 2009 Nissan Altima driver) driving a ticking time bomb!

On the way to my destination I called 1-800-Nissan1 to talk to a representative.  I pretty much summed up my situation thus far and asked them to provide me any details they could about the part in my car (they have my VIN number from a previous call).  The woman pretty much said that there was nothing that they could do until I took my car to the dealership to get it looked at.  I asked them for any statistics on the issue, any formal position, who is in charge of QA for this vehicle, what is the process Nissan uses to determine that there is an issue and a recall is necessary.  As could be expected, she had no knowledge on any of these items.

In short my goal is to get Nissan to replace this part with known issues.  From my research so far they appear to have had a recall for the same part in other cars and they took the part out of their 2010 model.  Both signs point to a known issue.  Even is my current issue with my car has nothing to do with the Steering lock I do not want to drive my car knowing that it has a faulty part in it.  To move forward I have to get an analysis from the dealership including costs to replace the Steering Lock.  Once I have that they will assign my case to a regional rep who will work with me on the “Escalation”.  I expect that the escalation will have zero success but so far I have had one surprise.  Maybe they will give me another.

Once I take in my car and learn details on the current Steering Lock part number and the part number of the part that they would replace it with in the event that I did have a faulty Steering Lock I will update this blog again.  In the mean time, I am going snowboarding 🙂

–Zane

Update 3/6/16:

After learning that the Warranty has been discontinued as of January 1st 2016 I have learned that everyone’s only hope is to file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. This is step one to teiggering a recall. Make sure you detail the dangers of this defect (e.g if the defect happened in the wild you could have died). If enough people share this level of detail they may open an investigation on this issue and demand a recall. If a recall is performed all users who paid for the repair will be refunded. Here is the form. Anyone can submit so have all members of your family at risk due to this issue submit.

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/

2009 Nissan Altima Steering Lock Failure

Today my wife sent me a text to inform me that our 2009 Nissan Altima would not start.  After telling her to change the battery in her wireless key FOB Key (stands for Frequency Operated Button) aka Intelligent Key system.  She said the dealer said to do the same thing.  After I told her where the batteries were she tried and then sent me another text to tell me it didn’t work.

When I got home I tried my key and had the same results.  I noticed a key light on the dashboard.  After researching the 2009 Nissan Altima User Manual I found the light on page 0-11 which referred me to page 2-13 which stated…

NISSAN Intelligent Key warning light:

The Intelligent Key warning light warns of a malfunction with the electrical steering lock system or the Intelligent Key system. After the ignition switch is placed in the ON position, this light comes on for about 2 seconds and then turns off. If the light comes on while the engine is stopped, it may not be possible to free the steering lock or to start the engine. If the light comes on while the engine is running, you can drive the vehicle. However, in these cases, contact a NISSAN dealer for repair as soon as possible. See NISSAN Intelligent Key (if so equipped) in the Pre-driving checks and adjustments section.

After a few quick searches for Steering Lock and Altima it didn’t take me long to find hundreds of complaints which all explained the same thing.  “I tried to start my car and couldn’t.  I took the car to the dealer who informed me that the Steering Lock was broken.  It cost me $1200 to fix”.

Here are a few examples of what I found:

Complaint 1:

The car involved is a 2009 Nissan Altima. Vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle is 1N4AL21EX9_. Drove my car to an appt and when I came out it wouldn’t start. Tried jumping battery, did not work. Changed the battery in key fob and it still didn’t work. I brought my back-up key over to the car and that one did not work either. Had it towed to the Nissan dealer and they diagnosed it as the steering wheel mechanism and the part was on a 7-10 day back order. I paid an additional $50 to expedite the part. It took 7 days to get my car repaired. I contacted Nissan USA, described the situation and sent them a hyperlink that had anecdotes of steering issues from other 09 Altima owners and requested that they cover the repair. Someone from Nissan called me and I returned his call 2 times without a return call. On the third message I and told him I would escalate the call if I did not hear back from him. That prompted him to return my call and he stated they would not cover the cost because I don’t take my car to Nissan for scheduled service. I told him I was not going to rest until I get Nissan to cover this and he basically told me he had the final say. I am contacting my local news station and my state ag for resolution. Please do the same! I am out $960 for the repair. This issue happened on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.

Source:  http://www.faqs.org/car/nissan-altima-2009/steering/

Complaint 2:

Drove to work in the morning, parked my Nissan Altima in the parking lot. When I went to leave for lunch the car would not start. The brake was extremely stiff and pushing the start button did nothing. I called the local Nissan dealer – they immediatly thought it could be the steering lock module if that was it I would have to have it towed. Once towed to the dealership they confirmed it was the steering wheel lock module had malfuntioned. They admitted they have seen 4 others in just this month for the same issue. The part was ordered and should have arrived in 3 business days. After a week I was notified the part is on back order and they do not know when they will have it in to fix my car. I contacted Nissan consumer affairs to ask for help, they declined stating it is all a case by case basis they won’t help to pay for the part, repair or a rental car. It has now been 23 days and they still don’t know when or if they will get a part to fix my car. I am stranded without a means to get to and from work. Nissan needs to recall this part or help cover the costs for those affected. After extensive research there are tons of people going through the same issue. The same part was recalled for the Nissan gtr why not own up to your crappy part and take care of the customers. The failure date was January 21, 2013.

Source:  http://www.faqs.org/car/nissan-altima-2009/steering/

Complaint 3:

Our Altima has failed to recognize our intelligent keys and will not start. the doors will lock and unlock. the alarm will sound and the trunk will open but the car will not start. i’m being told this is due to a faulty steering lock mechanism that has been recalled in some nissan models but not the altima. the part itself is $500 and the labor will take it to almost $1000 or more. this is completely absurd. what would happen if this happened to my wife and infant daughter on the wrong side of town. what if this part had failed when we were in the mountains or off the beaten path. if a part is going to be recalled in one model, it needs to be recalled in all models. this is extremely unsafe and to know that nissan is aware of this issue is unacceptable. we also own a murano that uses an actual key to start — i’m considering replacing both after learning about this. i hope someone will respond to this.

Source: http://www.faqs.org/car/nissan-altima-2009/steering/#ixzz2MuvnVpz3

Complaint 4:

My 2009 Altima would not start. There was absolutely no activation of the ignition system. After following all trouble shooting advice in the car’s manual, I towed the car to dealer where they stated an open circuit in Steering Control Unit (ie., bad circuit) is not telling the control unit that the steering wheel is unlocked and ready to start (mechanically, the steering lock was functioning and unlocked). The Steering Lock Control Unit (Part# 487009N00B) needed to be replaced. This is all part of the vehicle anti-theft immobilizer system. The cost to replace this unit was $1,062.90. I feel this is a serious safety flaw in the 2009 Nissan Altima. 1. This was a fully functioning car (except for anti-theft circuit glitch) that left me and my daughter stranded in a very remote area. 2. Nissan promotes how safe, reliable and economical their cars are, but the anti-theft system can disable the vehicle leaving driver stranded with only one option, which is, to be towed to a dealer because of ant-theft system glitches. 3. The car, being economical, should not require an over $1,000 repair because of an anti-theft device circuit malfunction. 4. There are several conditions that can occur that will result in the Nissan Altima becoming immobilized stranding drivers. I am stating only one. This is particularly dangerous especially to female drivers. 5. I feel that Nissan should come up with an override code or device that will allow a driver to escape from potentially dangerous situations that were created by Nissan’s vehicle immobilizer system. Especially when the car is fully functional except for an anti-theft immobilizing circuit falsely telling that the vehicle is not ready to start when it is. I believe this is a serious safety flaw in their vehicle security system.

Source:  http://www.nissanclub.com/forums/2007-2012-nissan-altima-discussion-2-5-3-5/302234-2010-altima-steering-lock-mechanism.html

There are literally hundreds of these. 😦

I have ordered a tow truck and am sending the car to the dealer.  I am pretty sure I know what the response is going to be and I am preparing to contact Nissan Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-Nissan1.  I also expect to receive the same response that everyone else has – “Sorry bub,  nothing we can do for you here”.

Since many of the complaints I have read so far are relatively recent I expect that they are reaching a breaking point and I expect more will be looking form more information.  I hope this blog will serve as a central gathering point for this information.  Since nobody has yet made any movement on a class action lawsuit I have already made contact with a law firm to learn more about how one starts a class action lawsuit.  If you or anyone you know has had this same issue on the same model please comment below so that we can get in touch with you.  So far I have engaged the following law firm to get the ball moving:

Tucker Cottingham
866-981-4800
Ask for Tucker
ctc@girardgibbs.com
http://www.girardgibbs.com/

Apparently Nissan removed this part from the 2010 Altima.  I assume there was some knowledge of the parts failure (apparently there was a recall for the same part in the Nissan 370zs).

I doubt they will recall this. It’s too late. The part will arrive at the dealership in about a week there are so many being recalled.
I talked to a guy at Town North Nissan in Austin and he has 5 Altimas waiting for the part.
Nissan did eliminate the part in 2010 of course full well knowing the ticking time bomb for all the prior years’ cars.
What a nightmare.

Source: http://www.nissanclub.com/forums/2007-2012-nissan-altima-discussion-2-5-3-5/302234-2010-altima-steering-lock-mechanism.html

I will continue to update this blog as I progress with Nissan Support.  I will update with details such as part number and the explanation provided by Nissan for the failure.  I look forward to learning more about this issue.

–Zane

Update 3/6/16:

After learning that the Warranty has been discontinued as of January 1st 2016 I have learned that everyone’s only hope is to file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety administration. This is step one to teiggering a recall. Make sure you detail the dangers of this defect (e.g if the defect happened in the wild you could have died). If enough people share this level of detail they may open an investigation on this issue and demand a recall. If a recall is performed all users who paid for the repair will be refunded. Here is the form. Anyone can submit so have all members of your family at risk due to this issue submit.

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/