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Pete
Pete, Mechanic
Category: Car
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Experience:  15 years automotive training and experience.
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Nissan Altima 2009 not starting

Customer Question

I have had twice a problem with my Altima 2009 not starting. Push the button and goes from Lock to Acc to On, but when on On it does not start the engine. There is no sound of an engine trying to start. Everything else is normal, battery not an issue, key battery not an issue, i tried putting into the "slot" etc. Two likely candidates, reading other posts, are break switch and steering lock. Brake switch is unlikely because the brake lights do turn on, and because I replaced the brake switch after the first time. Steering lock is unlikely because the steering wheel unlocks no problem and there is no yellow light warning signal. Both times the car did eventually turn on (first time after 1 hour, second time after 2 hours) and after it turns on again I am unable to reproduce the problem (both events are about 2 months apart, car used daily). Ideas?

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a professional here at Just Answer. I noticed that your question was not getting a response and thought I would ask to see if you still need help with this.

Is your vehicles key light coming on at all when this occurs?

Let me know so we can continue,thanks Pete.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No the key light is not on, which is why I thin is not the steering lock (i have seen other posts where that is used to be diagnosed).


 


ALl lights come on when it goes into ACC as it should. But no particular warning light is provided.


 


Additiona piece.


If i push the start button without pressing the break it goes into ACC.


If I push the start button pressing the break it goes into On


 


This tells me futher that it is not the break. Right?


 


 

Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
You are correct this does sound like the brake switch signal is present.The most common cause for this issue is the steering lock itself,usually this can cause the key light to come on if it is at fault but it may be possible this lock is still at fault here with part of its circuit to where the key light isn't coming on yet it may be disabling the starting of the vehicle.If possible I would have the fault codes checked in all computers in the vehicle to see if any codes have set.If any have set then they should be diagnosed to see what is at fault and there may be a code set for a steering lock fault.

This could also possibly be a fault with the electronic ignition switch as this switch may not be supplying the correct signals to start the vehicle or that start is requested.This can be seen with a scan tool plugged into the vehicle to view the start signal,the only problem is is the vehicle would need to be acting up to see if this is an issue here.

Both of these can be common in some cases and should be checked into when acting up to see if one is at fault here.

I hope this has helped in some way here.If you need anything else don't hesitate to ask thats what I am here for.If you are not satisfied with my help here let me know before rating my help.3 to 5 smiley faces for a rating is appreciated.

Thanks Pete
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Pete,


 


Quick follow ups on these possible causes.


 


If the steering wheel were the problem, shouldn't it remain locked while I am unable to turn the engine on?

I did the following test while the car was not turning on:


I took the key out of range of the car. The steering wheel locked.


I then brought it back and it unlocked. The engine would still not start. I assumed that ruled out that explanation. I assume that for the steering lock to be the problem the wheel would need to remain lock while the push button does not work.


Also, the fact that it goes into ACC, does that rule it out? I think a steering wheel lock would remain the car in Lock, not allowing it to go into ACC or On.


 


If it were the electronic ignition switch, are there any other clues that that would give? Any other observable oddities I should expect? I realize you say it needs to be acting up to be formally tested, but for instance we have ruled out the brakes because the brake lights were on.


For example, the engine was not "trying" to start when I push the button, there was only a resopnse on the dashboard but nothing audible from the engine itself. And then, when the car started it was 100% able to turn off and on without a glitch, like 10 times in a row. Does any of this make it less likely to be the electronic ignition switch


 


Thanks again,


 


 


 


Uri


 

Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
I have seen on some vehicles to where the lock can fail internally to allow the steering to unlock but the signal to the computer can be incorrect stating that the lock is still engaged (even though it is disengaged) and keep the vehicle from turning over to start so I wouldn't rule out the lock completely as it is still a possibility.It does sound like your brake switch is sending correct signals as your lights/ignition status changes when on and off the brake using the push start so this sounds o.k.

The electronic ignition switch can act up internally and can be intermittent to where it may only act up once and a great while so this is also still a possible fault.The lock is the most common though even with it locking and unlocking it may send incorrect signals to the computer.

I would have the fault codes checked if possible to see if any codes have set related to this issue as this would be the best place to start.

I hope this has helped in some way here.If you need anything else don't hesitate to ask thats what I am here for.If you are not satisfied with my help here let me know before rating my help.3 to 5 smiley faces for a rating is appreciated.

Thanks Pete
Pete, Mechanic
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 15213
Experience: 15 years automotive training and experience.
Pete and 2 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Pete,


 


Last question: Do you recommend a shop in the greater Philadelphia area?


 


Thanks for the detailed and prompt review. I will let you know what ends up being if I ever find out.

Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with that area myself.It may be best to check around to see if you can find one that has a good feedback or possibly even a dealer.

Thanks Pete
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Pete,


 


Actually, another followup, if you think it deserves a separate payment let me know, but feels like part of the same idea.


 


I understand your point that the steering wheel may be unlocked and the computer/car not realize it. But then wouldn't I expect everything else controlled by the computer to behave as if locked? So that when I push Start it would not go into Acc and On?



In other words, is it compatible with the steering wheel malfunction that the car goes into Acc and On, and that I can shift gears from Park to N,R,D?


 


Thanks again,


uri


 

Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
The car will usually power up even with a lock fault but the lock can disable starting so it is still a possibility of this being the fault here.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Pete,


 


This will count as a separate new question (i.e., new payment upon satisfied answer).


 


This morning the same problem happened, car won't start, about to tow it to dealer and then it started again.



Drove car to Nissan dealer (no tow), They called me and said the steering whee lock seems fine that they cannot replace it if they cannot reproduce the problem (it is under warranty, but they say they need to send it with a problem back to Nissan, and it is not showing any problems to them).


 


Questions for you


 


1) If it had been the steering wheel lock in the past, would there be any record of it the dealer could look at? Any way to rule it out now base on info they can get from the car while it is with them?


 


2) If it is the ignition switch, is there something I can do to diagnose it separately? I googled "ignition switch altima" and am finding no relevant hits so it wouold seem that that would be a rather unlkely explanation for it.


 


Seems like a cheap part so I would replace it just to be safe if there was any reason to think that's what's going on, any diagnostic you would recommend?

3) What can I ask the dealer to do, other than wait for them to reproduce the problem, to move forward? Tests to ask for?

Expert:  Pete replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,

1) If it had been the steering wheel lock in the past, would there be any record of it the dealer could look at? Any way to rule it out now base on info they can get from the car while it is with them?

If there is any history fault codes set for the steering lock malfunction then they would see this but if the vehicle is not acting up then they wouldn't be able to diagnose it as the fault until it is acting up unfortunately.Under warranty the dealer usually wont do anything until they duplicate it.

2) If it is the ignition switch, is there something I can do to diagnose it separately? I googled "ignition switch altima" and am finding no relevant hits so it would seem that that would be a rather unlikely explanation for it.

The ignition switch would have to be acting up as well for the diagnosis/testing to be done on it to see if it is at fault.In some cases there may be history codes set for it but once again it would need to be acting up.It can be a rare part to fail in some cases but is possible.

3) What can I ask the dealer to do, other than wait for them to reproduce the problem, to move forward? Tests to ask for?

Unfortunately the only thing they really can do is try and duplicate it so they can diagnose/test the fault to see what is causing this.You can ask them if they can contact their technical support based on the history of this fault and see if their tech support can recommend anything to be done.

No needed payment on this answer as it is related to the original fault.

Thanks Pete

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