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Issue w/Nissan Altima - won't start (intermittent)

Okay. Have 2001 Nissan Altima, 140k miles. Car been well maintained thru years. 2 weeks ago for some inexplicable reason car would not start after visit to store. Put key in ignition, doesn’t even turn 1 iota but able to turns lights on. go to auto zone to see if battery - he tells me bad battery go to original place got battery. go there - they tell me battery fine might be my alternator. he won’t take it out says I have to. alternator was replaced a while back so i don’t think it’s that. car has been fine since then, no troubles in starting car etc. etc. On Wednesday night go to car, same darned issue won’t start… lights can turn on, but key doesn’t move one iota. have to call tow truck to take car to nearest repair shop. by time car arrived at shop etc. darned thing was working and they said they couldn’t diagnose it. Can anyone tell me what to do or what issue might be? I’m travelling to California soon and concerned if I’m by myself car will just not start and I might be in middle of desert and God knows what will happen. Sorry to be so stupid about my own car which I’ve had since 2001. Any help appreciated in advance. Thank you… (battery less than year old, had same key for ages w/no issues)… 1 more thing even tow truck driver tried to start it and he couldn’t but by time he took to repair shop car was working again…

Check all the battery connections and clean any corrosion you find. Intermittent problems are usually due to corrosion deposits breaking the contact between the battery cable clamp and the post of the battery. I’m surprised none of the shops said or did anything about that.

thank you…

If the dashboard lights are coming on but you do not hear any starter solenoid click sound when you turn the key to the START position and IF the car has an automatic transmission then I would suspect a faulty neutral safety switch.

The neutral switch is the device that prevents the engine from starting in anything other than PARK or NEUTRAL.
While the following is not 100% definitive, the next time it acts up try shifting into neutral and see if it starts. If it does then odds are the neutral switch is bad. This is not a rare problem with any car. Hope that helps.

Put key in ignition, doesn't even turn 1 iota
key doesn't move one iota.

Are you saying the key will not turn in the lock? … Or that the key does turn to the start position but nothing happens with the starter? It seems more likely that you are describing intermittent lack of response from the starter, in which case the previous advice is right…it’s just that the way you wrote this makes it a bit confusing.

BTW: On your trip to California, or any trip, be sure to bring drinking water, food, warm clothes, flashlight, blanket or sleeping bag, just in case, even if you resolve this problem (which you will). Have a great trip!

fulwood, I had the same issue happen to me about a week ago. I came back from a hike and the car wouldn’t start at all. I have a 97 Nissan Altima with 112k miles and automatic transmission. I’ve kept it in great shape for the two years that I had it so it was news to me that this happened. So I had friends give me a jump and nothing. The lights would come on the dashboard but nothing happened. I left the car overnight and then called for a tow the following day. Once the tow truck driver arrived, I told him what happened and he told me to put the car in neutral. He was able to start the car right then and there. I then drove it home, saved myself the tow. Needless to say, I have never had an issue with it not starting in park since then. I guess this is a workaround that I wasn’t aware of until that day. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again but now I know what to do. Were you able to get any more feedback on what’s going on with your car when it does that?