Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,627 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 24 of 30)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #126

Feb 062013


  • 73,800 miles


I parked the car and locked it with intelligent key. Came back, was able to enter the car without any problems, used the key to unlock the doors. While inside, the dashboard had two warning lights on: Key light(yellow) to the far left corner and flashing security light(red) to the far right. The car would not start. Ignition button is on lock and the steering is stiff unable to turn. Engine seems to be locked, no other lights are on. I have tried everything by the owner's manual and nothing works. I called the dealers and they told me that I would have to get it towed to the dealer and quoted me $600 to fix the problem, parts will take a couple of days, no guarantee problem will not happen again. For a recent bought vehicle, there are many issues with the car's intelligent key and in this case I have been left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Towing charges and everything will make amount close to $1000.

- West Des Moines, IA, USA

problem #125

Jan 312013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,126 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that when he attempted start the vehicle, the engine failed to start. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where a diagnostic was performed. The failure was located at the steering assembly. The dealer replaced the steering assembly. The failure mileage was 50,126 and the current mileage was 50,400. Updated 03/04/13

- Bellmore , NY, USA

problem #124

Jan 182013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 48,132 miles
I drove to work, and parked my car. 8 hours later, I got in my car to go home. Tried starting it, but the key indicator light was on, the brake wouldn't push in, and the car wouldn't start. I had to have the car towed to the Nissan dealership. They determined that the steering lock unit needed to be replaced. The part was on back order which seemed fishy to me, so I did some research. It seems that 100's of other Nissan Altima owners have had the same problem in the past year. Nissan North America, Inc informed me that there is no recall, and I should contact the national highway adminstration to have a recall put into affect. This could be a serious safety issue, and needs to be addressed. Thankfully I was at work when this happened, but what if I was in the middle of nowhere, in the freezing cold, and my car wouldn't start. The steering lock unit should be recalled! I had to pay over $1,000 to have this part fixed, and since the part was on backorder, I didn't have a vehicle for an extended amount of time. Please help the 100's of people affected by this faulty part!!!

- Pocomoke, MD, USA

problem #123

Jan 282013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles


I had driven the car from home to the gas station approx. 5 miles from home. I turned the car off, filled the car with gas and upon starting the car to leave the car wouldn't start. A red key light came on in used to be towed to dealership. It was there that it was found to be a steering lock malfunction. That cost me a total of $1000.61. $402.50 in labor and $538.81 in parts plus tax and misc. The pats was on back order. I just got my car back after a week because the part was overnighted. Otherwise they estimated me getting my car back after the 8th of Feb. When asked about a recall I was told it was unknown but also that this part was unusual for backorder.

- Park Forest, IL, USA

problem #122

Feb 022013


  • 115,000 miles
I was left stranded in the freezing rain/sleet this past Saturday. After a couple of hours of trying everything, my car was placed on a roll back and took to a local garage. I was told it was the steering lock control unit and would be between $600-$800 dollars to get it fixed. I was also told the part was not in stock, so my mechanic will have to call daily to check on it. I'm furious at Nissan. This is actually my 5th Nissan to own. I will not purchase another one.

- Fort Payne, AL, USA

problem #121

Feb 022013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,581 miles
Car was found to not start. Battery had power, no other obvious issues. Car was inoperable for the weekend. Towed vehicle to Nissan dealership. Battery tested low and was later replaced. However, the steering lock was found to be defective and needed to be replaced. Battery replacement is understandable being that the car is more than 3 years old. Lock steering mechanism however resulted in the car being inoperable. Parts for the lock steering mechanism totaled $534.19 plus labor which totaled $282.88. Total bill with new battery was $1,037.64. Considering all failures listed on this page of this same part, a recall should be considered. Nissan apparently has recalled other steering locks similar to this on gtr models.

- Norwood, MA, USA

problem #120

Jan 242013


  • 71,996 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key warning light illuminated and the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician stated that the failure was located at the steering lock control unit. The steering lock control unit was replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 71,996 and the approximate current mileage was 72,000.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #119

Jan 272013


  • 38,000 miles
Last Sunday my vehicle was unable to start with the fob key. Had car towed to Nissan and was told that it was the steering lock system. Was told the part is on back order and will received in approx 3 wks. Also, the cost would be $930 before tax. My car is 38,000 miles and no longer under warranty. Because my windows were accidentally lowered due to someone holding down unlock button on fob and they were unable to close my windows since my car failed to start, they are also saying I have to pay a daily storage fee since they are unable to leave my car outside due to all the windows being down.

- Farmingdale, NY, USA

problem #118

Jan 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,173 miles
Drove to work in the morning without any problems. Tried to start my car at the end of the day. Car would not start. The intelligent key warning light was on. Called the dealership. They suggested trying my other key fob. I had someone bring that to me, but the car still wouldn't start. With no other options, I had the car towed to the dealership (for $165, which included an extra $75 fee to have the car removed from a parking garage). They diagnosed the problem as a faulty steering lock assembly and replaced it for $624.91. I filed a complaint with Nissan and was offered a $250 service credit for a future repair, which would need to be used in only 6 months. When I indicated that this was unacceptable, the manufacturer would not offer any other compensation, nor acknowledge that others were having the same problem. Given that there is no warning for this problem which renders a less than 4 year car completely inoperable, nor is there any way to prevent this problem from happening, this part needs to be recalled! keyless entry is one of the reasons why I bought this car..... now it's my biggest complaint.

- St. Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #117

Feb 022013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 53,550 miles
I woke up for work and went to start my car and it would not start, I noticed there was a red key light on so I went to change the battery for the key and the car still would not start. I looked through my owners manual to see if there was anything I was missing and no luck! I had to have my car towed to the local Nissan dealer and was advised they would run a diagnostic test to see what it was. I was then told that my steering lock module had failed and would need to be replaced in order for the car to work. I was told that with tax the bill would be $834. I was in utter shock and was given no explanation except for I've seen this happen with other Nissan and its to be expected! I don't understand how my cars works 1 day then not the next. It seems to be a pattern with this car and I am absolutely shocked to see how many people are experiencing this same problem! a recall is needed!

- Lake In The Hills, IL, USA

problem #116

Jan 122013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


Car was driving fine earlier in the day, and came home to park the car in the driveway. Got back in the car to head to my night job, and car would not start. It would not even switch to accessories position. Called the Nissan dealership and they gave me some tips on how to start the car, but none worked. Had to get he car towed to Nissan. It took 2 days before they could look at it on a Saturday. I was told my steering lock unit had malfunctioned and would cost me $747 before taxes to get it fixed. Also, the part was on back order (1100 other people need the same part) and there is no eta on the part. I still do not have my car back and have been having to find ways to and from work.

- Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #115

Jan 212013


  • 42,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering column lock mechanism caused the vehicle to become inoperable. The contact also stated that the key fob warning light illuminated. The contact attempted to personally remedy the failure by replacing the battery in the keyless entry remote but the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the steering column needed to be replaced but the part was not readily available. The manufacturer was notified who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 42,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #114

Jan 282013


  • 29,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start using the keyless entry. Also, the contact stated that the intelligent key warning light illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for a diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the steering lock mechanism needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 29,000.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #113

Jan 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 49,960 miles
I stopped for lunch at a fast food establishment and at this point everything with the car was fine. After I ordered and got back into my car, I tried to start it. The car would not start. The key light appeared on the dash. After calling the nearest dealership, they suggested replacing the battery in the keyfob. I did replace battery and placed the keyfob in the alternative start port. The car would still not start. After trying to jump the car battery, it was determined that I needed to tow the car to the dealership. The dealership confirmed that this problem was caused by the steering column lock mechanism. This malfunctioning part left me stranded in a parking lot during a snow storm. Upon searching the internet, it appears that Nissan has issued recalls on this part in other vehicles and have stopped using this part in new vehicles. There are also hundreds of reports of this part failing in my model and year. This problem has the potential of immobilizing a car during severe weather, leaving the driver and passengers stranded.

- Bellefonte, PA, USA

problem #112

Jan 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,340 miles
Went to start vehicle and it did not start. Had to have it towed to dealership for $90. Was told it was not covered under warrenty and my car was out of warranty by 2 months. Advised to call Consumer Affairs. Waited 13 days with repeated phone calls just to be told they will not warranty the repair with no written explanation. Repair cost $757 and is only warranteed for 12,000 miles. Was told repair would take 3 days but they had my car for 21 days because the part was on back order. By the way, my car was also in for 2 recall issues: Head gasket and master brake cylindar. Pretty big issues! I was also told by service manager that if I had all my service done thru them instead of outside source they would have covered the steering lock issue. Sounds a little fishy to me. They need to recall this problem!!! or at least have a manual over ride.

- Canyon Lake, CA, USA

problem #111

Jan 122013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
The car would not start with my smart key. I have had the car for three years and there were no mechanical issues with the car. But after turning it off to go inside, I came back out and it would not start. I had the car towed to Nissan dealer and the service tech already new the problem, told me the part was on back order, and that it would take three weeks to fix, on top of the 800+ bill to fix it. This problem is frequent and I feel there should be a recall or at least a reimbursement for service done on the vehicles.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #110

Jan 282013


  • 75,100 miles
The lights, locks, trunk and battery worked fine but the vehicle refused to start. I contacted the dealership and was told the car would have to be towed in to access the problem. Amazingly they called me 10 minutes after it arrived and told me the issue was my steering lock which needed to be replaced and could no longer communicate with the "intelligent key". I was quoted a price of $841 and advised it was on back order and could not give me an estimated time of when it would be replaced. I went by the dealership the next day and was told there were 1500 of the parts I needed on back order. They still couldn't give me an estimated arrival date. Said it could be days, weeks or months. Sounds like a recall to me. I did some research and found that this is a common problem and Nissan needs to replace these parts free of charge. This car had me stranded in cold winter weather and I am just lucky that someone was able to give me a ride home. This car is a 2009 Nissan Altima. If Nissan does not correct the issue I can honestly say I will never buy another one again.

- Ellenwood, GA, USA

problem #109

Jan 282013


  • miles
Steering lock mechanism $1200 bucks Nissan better do something.

- Garfield, NJ, USA

problem #108

Jan 212013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
Car would not start / computer lock / car had to be towed.

- Saddle Brook, NJ, USA

problem #107

Jan 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 37,500 miles
My daughter and 2 year old were trying to get home under an ice storm warning. The push button start did not operate. They were stranded in the cold under a severe weather warning. Nissan says the steering wheel lock controller caused the failure and would not communicate with the intelligent key fob and start button. There is not a method to override the push button with a mechanical key. This is a known problem for the 2009 Altima. My Altima has only 37,500 miles but is past the 3-year warranty period. The repair was $803. The service writer at the dealership stated that he expects a recall in the near future because of the frequency with which they see this faulty module. The part was changed in 2010 but Nissan refuses to replace the bad ones in the 2008-2009 models.

- Roswell, GA, USA

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