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:
68,463 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 27 of 35)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #167

Mar 062013


  • 57,331 miles


03/06/2013, my husband attempted to pick me up from the train station, and my 2009 Nissan Altima coupe would not start. We contacted the Nissan dealership whom gave us a couple of options, place the key in the port, put the car in neutral, and get the spare key, nothing, worked! so the last option was to get the car to the dealership. First, it had to be towed there, a diagnostic was done, it was stated that steering lock control unit was needed, this was a whooping $800. Now I read the forum on this and this is a monopoly, every one whom commented whose mileage was between 30, 000 to 60,000, this problem occurred. Now this definitely needs to be recalled if you add up everyone whom has spent $800 or more to get this price fixed and is truly over a million dollars. Its really shame that people whom want a nice car have the pay such an expense, this was my first car in 10 years and was really proud of myself and still am and have recommended other Nissan to members of my family but my I am truly upset that only after having my car less than a year, I had to incur such a major expense like this one. Please recall this! we need a stop to the madness!!!!!!!!

- Burlington, NJ, USA

problem #166

Feb 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering lock failed and would not allow the contact tom move the steering wheel to start the vehicle. In addition, the anti-theft system engaged erroneously. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the steering lock unit malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance because the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 59,000 and the current mileage was 59,050.

- North Little Rock , AR, USA

problem #165

Mar 012013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 34,545 miles
While over 700 miles away from home in Minnesota winter weather, my car would not start. After trying to jump the battery, car still would not start. Lights would turn on radio, etc.. I was stranded and had to have my car towed the next day to the dealership and discovered that the steering lock mechanism (part number 48700-9N00B) had broke not allowing the steering wheel to lock so car would start. The car only has 34,545 miles on it, however, age of car is 3 yr 5 month so not covered under warranty. After extensive research on the internet, it has been confirmed that an alarming number of complaints due to the same issue with repairs running $1,000 on average have been found. I and others feel this part should be recalled or covered my the manufacturer. It is unreasonable that his particular part would need to be replace as many times as it has. By leaving consumers stranded and unable to operate their cars due to a defective part not only becomes nuisance, but in my opinion, a safety hazard.

- Cape Girardeau, MO, USA

problem #164

Feb 162013


  • 112,000 miles


Started the car one cold morning and it ran fine. Stopped for coffee at starbucks came out and the car did not start, did not click, did nothing. Turns out, the car had to be towed to a dealer which cost $85, then evaluated $120, then repaired for a broke steering mechanism lock $940. I returned to review this problem on line and found numerous complaints for the same condition. I am also told this was corrected for the 2010 models. Why is not a recall for this condition? I plan to go to the next step to recover my money...

- Massapequa, NY, USA

problem #163

Jan 282013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,221 miles
Electronic steering lock assembly failed preventing the car from powering on or starting. It took almost two weeks for the dealership to receive the replacement part. From my research, it appears that many other people have experienced the same part failure. The part was not covered under the power-train warranty and was almost $900 to get repaired. Nissan recommended we report the issue for a possible future recall.

- Antelope, CA, USA

problem #162

Mar 202012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,196 miles
2009, Nissan Altima 2.5S. Would not start, yellow illuminating key in left hand corner. Towed to dealership said could be one of 3 things. I told him I looked online and it was the steering wheel lock mechanism. He called me the next day and confirmed the problem. Cost would be 900 which included a freight fee of $50.67. First time ever for a shipping fee at a car dealership. Mileage is 60,149.

- Severn, MD, USA

problem #161

Feb 042013


  • 89,000 miles


Last Monday Feb 4 I went out to start my car an go to work. Nothing happened. It didn't even recognize my keyfob. The key light was lit up on dash. I had my battery in my car replaced and my keyfob battery replaced. After further research I found that its the steering control lock that was failing. I called my local Nissan dealer in owensboro ky and they said the part was on back order and didn't know when it would be in" I have been without a car for over a week. [xxx] at Nissan in owesboro said no rental cars where available. I have a small child and I work so I need my vehicle in working order. I called Nissan customer service and she said I would only be refunded if the part was recalled which it isn't. so I have to pay out of pocket for the part, labor, and $90 to have it towed 22 miles to owensboro to be fixed. Im sorry but in my opinion its not my fault it failed. I paid over $12,000 for the car now I have to pay another $800 to be fixed" that's unacceptable! something needs to be done! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Mchenry, KY, USA

problem #160

Feb 192013

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,915 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the start button for the ignition would not start the vehicle. The steering lock light illuminated on the instrument panel when the failure occurred. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who stated the steering lock needed to be replaced. The dealer responded as if this was an isolated issue. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage and current mileage was 57,915. Updated 3/28/13 updated 05/10/2013

- Old Fort, OH, USA

problem #159

Feb 202013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
Had stopped to get breakfast. Locked my car and upon returning unlocked the car and tried to start vehicle with no success. There was no response from my car. When the tow truck arrived I then learned that the brakes were stiff and steering wheel did not want to turn. We had it towed to Nissan dealer. After leaving it there I did some investigating online about potential problems. Was shocked to see how many people had the same problem as me presently and past. Apparently, several people found themselves in similar situations with getting no help from Nissan of North America with replacement of the steering lock mechanism. I had yet to hear if this was my problem but was given the sad/expensive news a day later that indeed I would be included in the growing number of Nissan owners who would have to pay to have this faulty part replaced. But the fun didn't stop there. The part is on backorder (because so many are needed) until further notice and there are recalls on my car that no one bothered to tell me about. I called Nissan and left a message with a customer service rep who was going to forward my concern onto a regional concern specialist. When she called me back two days later she informed me that it is not Nissan job to let their owners/drivers know about recalls but the dealers job. In addition, she's pretty sure that no help will be given to replace the part that will cost me 700 dollars. But she would ask and call me back three days later. She is supposed to call me tomorrow with the answer. Shocked is the only word that comes to mind about my situation. I can't believe that this part has caused so many people so many problems but it is not on a recall list somewhere. Is there nothing to be done for it? even the service tech at the dealer has told me that they have replaced several. My car was parked when it quit responding but someone could be driving. Help!

- Canmer, KY, USA

problem #158

Feb 012013


  • 31,316 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated the manual start button on the vehicle failed to function. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated the steering lock mechanism needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the defect. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 31,316.

- Aberdeen, MD, USA

problem #157

Feb 262013


  • 75,000 miles


I got into my car with my 3 month old son to bring my fiancÉ dinner at work. After we dropped dinner off we stopped by the gas station to get gas. I turned off my car to pump, and when I returned to the driver seat I put my foot on the brake like normal and hit the start button and nothing happened. I assumed my car had died, but my lights would still come on and I noticed a warning light that said key. I had my 3 month old in the car and it was cold outside so I quickly flipped through the manual to find out what that light meant. After reading about it in the manual and looking it up online I quickly realized this is a recurring problem in the Altima. I had to call my fiances father to come pick us up and have my car towed. So now I have to pay for the car to get towed and from everyone else's complaints it will cost atleast $700 to fix. Nissan has a huge issue they need to recall. I travel a lot with my 3 month old, and what if this would have happened at a random gas station far away from family. I do not feel the we should have to pay for their mistakes in making this vehicle. Something needs to be done about this now.

- Ocean Springs , MS, USA

problem #156

Feb 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 31,396 miles
Part 2 - confirmation number 10500119 part 1 --- I wanted to add that I purchased this car new in 2009. This will cost me out of pocket $685 and of course like a said previously the warranty of 3/36,000 being the years that expired first. I've only had this car 3 1/2 years you shouldn't have major problems like this with a car this early. This should be a big red flag to the Nissan company!.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #155

Feb 252013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 31,396 miles
First problem started with a funny sound when the car would start and sometimes it would not start the first time with pushing the auto start. This was about 6 months ago and about 4 months ago I got the visual on the column that the smartkey was low and had them replace by the dealership and reprogrammed in both keys. This is when all the problems started delayed start not starting then I left home and arrived at work fine the morning of 02/25/13 and had to travel to another site and tried to start car and it wouldn't even attempt to start. I had a mechanic friend come look at it and then the illumination of the low key and the no key showed up but still would not start. We took smartkey out to dealership and replaced again tried this and it didn't start. We checked everything and called dealership back and they said we could put the smartkey in the slot to start car this didn't work either. I finally had it towed to the dealership and they said it's a steering lock mechanism and electric problems. I've had this car only 3 1/2 years and this is ridiculous and seems to be a big problem with numerous other Nissan. I've been told by the dealership they are using the same part to fix my car and it could happen again. What scares me and could put my life in danger is the steering could go out while I'm driving and could kill me. I have told my family if I'm in an accident to test my steering and if that's the reason for the accident or my death they are to sue Nissan. This should be a recall and fixed with dependable parts and if it happens again and again they should replace with no cost to the consumer parts or labor. Of course, my warranty has expired because of the 3 yr. Always the case. I want full reimbursement from Nissan because this definitely needs to be a recall!!!!!!!!

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #154

Feb 242013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the push-to-start warning light illuminated while driving at an unknown speed. The contact shut off the engine momentarily and was unable to restart the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where a diagnostic was performed, which located the failure at the steering module. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 58,000...updated 04/25/13 updated 05/21/2013

- Montpelier , VA, USA

problem #153

Feb 232013

Altima 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
Electronic steering lock control board - car will not start and is illuminating the yellow key symbol. Had to have it towed to the dealership and they diagnosed it as a failing electronic steering lock control board. They told me that the part is around $500 and with labor the total is $724. I was told the part is on back order and could take up to 3 weeks to come in. I was told it has been happening a lot with this model and mileage. After researching the issue I found many complaints. I filed a formal complaint with Nissan and inquired about recalls. I can't understand why if so many others are having issues why a recall hasn't been done. Waiting for a response. Really upset and frustrated.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #152

Feb 012013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated the that the push-to-start would not engage and the vehicle could not be started. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, who advised that the steering lock unit needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified but offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 58,000. Updated 03/27/13 updated 3/28/13 updated 04/19/2013

- Southington, CT, USA

problem #151

Feb 192013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
I purchased this used 2009 Nissan Altima from a dealer in my local town. When I bought the vehicle it had around 36-38,000 miles on it (can't remember at this time). Had the vehicle for a little over a year, I do regular maintenance on it and have had no problems. I drive this vehicle approx 100 miles a week, and when I went to leave work the other day the vehicle wouldn't turn on. The intelligence key battery was charged, the battery for the car was charge, I unhooked the battery and reset it, still nothing. The vehicle was in park and I couldn't do anything to get it to turn on. I towed it to the local dealership who ran a diagnostic and said it was the, "steering lock control unit" which would cost $717 for part and labor along with a $70 diagnostic fee. I was lucky I wasn't stranded in a bad area or without a way to reach someone. They need to recall this part, too many incidents with this part in Nissan vehicles.

- Grand Island , FL, USA

problem #150

Feb 232013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 57,000 miles
Parked can in front of store and attmpted to start it but it would not start. Yellow "key missing" light comes on but it won't start. Key battery is new, car battery is new, won't jump start. Car is dead. Turns out to be the steering lock mechanism. Only 57, 000 miles and this is only one of many issues we have had with this car. New battery (2) new brake switch new alternator new A/C pump new front rotor.

- Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #149

Feb 202013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 49,230 miles
Electronic steering lock control board - car will not start and is illuminating the yellow key symbol. Had to have it towed to the dealership and they diagnosed it as a failing electronic steering lock control board. They told me that the part is around $500 and with labor the total is $779. Was told it has been happening a lot with this model and mileage. My car is less than 4 years old so I should not have to spend this much money to drive it. Please insist on them recalling this issue and reimbursing the full amount to me. If not, this will be my last Nissan.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #148

Feb 172013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
When my daughter went out to start the vehicle, the security system for the steering column lock/unlock would not allow the car to be started due to it saying that the steering column was locked when it actually wasn't.this seems to be a very common problem in all of the 2008-2009 Nissan has been at the Nissan dealership for 5 days now, and they are telling me it will be another 5 days before they can get the part needed due to it being on backorder.these cars should be recalled by Nissan before someone gets stranded.the only thing that can be done when this relay quits is to have the car towed to the closet dealership.this repair costs around $1000 (labor, parts, towing),and that is if and when they can get the part.

- Georgetown, KY, USA

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