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 28 of 30)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #46

Dec 272012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 44,000 miles


On December 27th I was sitting in my car with the car on and everything worked fine I got out of my car turned my car off and locked it up as usual. Later that evening I got back into my car to go some where and my car would not start the yellow key indicator light was illuminated in the left side of the car I could not press the brake it was very stiff and the start button would not come out of the lock position. After researching via the internet I have found that there is a very common problem with all 2009 makes of Nissan and the steering lock mechanism malfunctioning after having the car for approximately 3 years and the car being under 50,000 miles this part has been recalled in other models of Nissan but not in the 2009 models after speaking with a Nissan representative and a Nissan dealer I was advised to have my var towed to the dealer and have the malfunctioning part replaced at the cost of $1175 for the part the labor and towing. There definitely needs to be a formal recall on this part because in the last day I have read over 300 instances of the same malfunction happening to various Nissan car owners that own the 2009 model. I am right now putting together a class action suit against Nissan for the unfair treatment of there consumers and for overlooking a very serious defect in the product they are selling. Also this repair is not covered under the warranty someone really needs to investigate this.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #45

Dec 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,250 miles
While driving my Nissan 2009 Altima today the warning light (yellow key) came on after hitting a pot hole, when I had to press on my brakes to stop at a red light the car killed and the red car warning light started flashing, when the car came to a complete stop I put it in park and tried to depress the start button. Nothing happened, the car was not recognizing the intelligent key. The yellow key warning light means the steering mechanism is failing so the intelligent key won't work. So here I was sitting in the middle of traffic with a car that won't start and I cannot get out of park to put in neutral to push out of the traffic. I had to have the car towed. After much research I am finding this is an issue known by Nissan they no longer put this part in the 2010 have done recalls for this on other models and years but not this one. This is a safetyy issue and should be a recall are they waiting for someone to get hurt before they issue a recall?

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #44

Nov 152012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 28,575 miles
My husband went to start his 2009 Nissan Altima one afternoon to pick up our daughter from the bus stop and the car would not start. It was not something simple as a battery or starter and there was no way to start the car. It completely locked up. We ended up having to have the car towed and discovered that the steering lock unit was broken. The repair shop did research and testing and found out that this is a known issue from Nissan with no recall. Nissan indicated that this was not a safety issue and therefore no recall was necessary. Our concern is that Nissan knowing that they have a defective part, where they know their cars will not start at any given time without warning and in fact may potentially place their consumers in an unsafe situation. Not to mention the cost of the repair is steep and it is a repair that the consumer is responsible for at no fault of their own. Also another concern is if the replacement part is truly an "updated version" or still has the defect" is this bound to happen again at any given time not knowing when or where, and also rack up another costly repair" I have researched and came across multiple websites of hundreds of other Altima owners that have had the same thing happen. We sent a letter to Nissan expressing our concerns but also wanted to make sure that this situation pertaining to the steering lock unit is brought up to your attention to be reviewed and considered as a recall. Thank you for your time. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brunswick, OH, USA

problem #43

Dec 252012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 84,350 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the key-less entry system failed and the vehicle could not be started. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where a diagnostic was performed. The failure was located at the steering lock system and the contact was advised that the key-less computer needed to be reprogrammed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The consumer stated the vehicle would not start after multiple attempts, the dash read " no key". even though he tried the spare key and tried to jump start the battery, all attempts failed. The dealer informed the consumer it was not a wear and tear problem, and it was nothing that he did or didn't do to create the problem. Updated 03/14/13...updated 04-03-13 updated 04/12/2013

- Budd Lake , NJ, USA

problem #42

Dec 262012


  • 21,000 miles
Have had this car for 2+ years now, lived in Arizona and Florida. I now live in Maryland. This morning was slightly colder than normal, with sleet coming in last night. My wife attempted to start the car this morning while I was away at work and could not get it to start. Looking at the dash indicators, it showed the orange intelligent key light on, and when I tried to start the car, the ignition button would not switch out of lock. Tried to get the car into neutral, but brakes appear to be firm in place and will not unlock the shifter out of park. Looked online for a few solutions, but none have worked so far (unhooking battery, moving the steering column). Called the Nissan dealership near here and they want me to tow it in before they can even guess at the cause (which I would have no issue with if this was an uncommon thing, but there are numerous reports of this online, most pointing to the same thing: A shoddy part that I need to pay $500 plus labor to replace ). eventually this will have to get fixed, but what is most disheartening is the fact that this could have happened anywhere and left my wife stranded for some time. I just lucked out and it was sitting at home. Mileage is ~21K.

- Fort Meade, MD, USA

problem #41

Dec 202012


  • 60,200 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while attempting to start the vehicle, it failed to respond. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was confirmed that the steering lock module failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 60,200.

- Fair Oaks, CA, USA

problem #40

Dec 192012


  • 47,500 miles


Drove my Altima to work, as usual and parked at my work parking lot. Once it was time to leave, got into my car to drive home but car wouldn't start. Blinking key light in upper left and corner and car/key light in upper right hand corner. Had to get vehicle towed to a Nissan dealership by work (30 miles away from home). Nissan has had my car for two days now and just figured out it was the faulty steering column actuator. Quote given over the phone was $777 plus towing and car rental fees! why the heck is this not covered under a warranty if my car is only 3 years old and not even 48,000 miles!!!! so disappointed with Nissan. I'm so thankful that I wasn't stranded by myself at night in a large city with no where to go - which is what would have happened when I was out of town just days before. I have friends with Altima's and I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to them however, based on the number of people this has happened too, it's basically a guarantee that it will happen!!!!

- North Port, FL, USA

problem #39

Dec 152012


  • 50,400 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact was unable to start the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing where the technician advised that the steering lock mechanism would have to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 50,400.

- East Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #38

Dec 122012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
On a recent cold morning I got into my 2009 Nissan Altima, at 7:00 am and drove son to school. Came home and parked vehicle. Got back in car at 3:00 pm and car would not start. The car had been fine that morning. Push start would not get out of "lock" position. Headlights, inside lights, brake lights all worked. Steering wheel was not locked. Would not get out of "park". battery was tested and not the problem. Fuses were checked and brake switch checked and not the problem. Looked on internet and found multiple incidents where steering lock mechanism was faulty on 2009 Nissan Altima, and was not engaging and therefore the car would not start and was locked by immobilizer. The only option is a $500 plus part from Nissan and another $500-600.00 to install. Car was towed to dealership at cost of $109 to me, and the estimate from the dealer to fix the now diagnosed steering lock malfunction was $1,100 making this a total cost of $1,209 on a vehicle that has less than $60,000 miles. I looked on the internet and found the following information by another dissatisfied customer : 1. Nissan did a recall on their more expensive model Nissan gtrs was recalled, part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, being replaced by 48700-jf00C and called campaign id P0309. 2. same part number is failing for Nissan 370zs as well, same years and same part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, yet they are not being recalled. 3. this problem is also occurring in Nissan maximas and Nissan muranos however I could not find the part number. 4. in all models of Nissan this part was removed in mid 2010 due to consistent failure. There should be a make-wide recall for all models for this part, not just the gtr because it's the most expensive of them. Call 1-800-Nissan 1 and complain, I am...

- Quitman, TX, USA

problem #37

Dec 162012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
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.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #36

Dec 142012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 53,000 miles


My wife went out to go to lunch and the car would not start. The only thing on the display was a yellow indicator light that looked like a key. We called Nissan dealership and after explaining the problem they said have it towed as the steering lock control module is bad. We had it towed and repaired cost $667 plus towing. If Nissan knows that this is a issue potential to all 08 and 09 Altima, they should do a recall. If this had been an emergency and driving the car what then or if you needed to it for an emergency departure? wrong way to do business!

- Chickamauga, GA, USA

problem #35

Dec 112012

Altima 6-cyl

  • 33,212 miles
After our first real freeze of the winter (low 20's), the car was locked up for no reason. Pressing the push button ignition, inserting the fob into the key holder, nothing will start the car. The brake pedal is heavy, no lights comes up on the instrument panel and the steering wheel is totally locked out. Had to get the Altima towed into a local dealership and come to find out it's a steering wheel lock out control unit that needs to be replaced. Car just came off the 36month warranty in September'12 and I am now turning in the 39month lease and now a $1K repair. Thanks Nissan... also, had the Nissan original battery replaced twice! original battery only has an 18month prorated warranty! not sure if it all relates somehow. This steering wheel lock control should be a manufacturer's responsibility to keep it for the life of the car.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #34

Dec 112012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 60,913 miles
Steering lock that engages the engine malfunctioned when I tried to start the car. The car would not recognize the intelligent key, after watching a utube video I wiggled around the steering wheel not gently and the intelligent key was then recognized and I was able to start the car. Now while driving the warning light for the intelligent key stays on. This seems to be an issue with Nissan Altima 2007-2009 is there a recall on this?

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #33

Dec 102012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 4,449 miles
The steering lock assembly stop working, so because the car only start with the push button it was impossible to turn my car on. So I took my car to Nissan and they said that I have to pay $1100 to change the steering lock assembly. And my car have only 48,449 miles.

- Pasco , WA, USA

problem #32

Dec 082012

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
When I entered my car I noticed that the push brake light wasn't on like it normally is for the intelligent key start. I pushed down on the brake and it felt very stiff. A yellow key light kept flashing and everytime I would try and start the car it would stay in lock and wouldn't even try to start. I didn't hear the ignition, nothing. I tried to check the battery, I used a different key, I put the key in the slot and nothing worked. I was stranded. The car was working fine and had no previous indicators that something could go wrong. As I searched online for a fix I found many people who had the same problem and had to pay a huge amount of money to get it fixed. Nissan promotes how safe, reliable and economical their cars are, but the anti-theft system of the steering wheel lock can disable the vehicle leaving a driver stranded with only one option, which is, to be towed to a dealer. This a serious safety flaw in the 2009 Nissan Altima. Nissan was supposed to be a reputable company. However, with these types of malfunctions, and no support for their customers, I feel very unsatisfied and unsafe with my purchase. Nissan needs to provide a recall and fix these sensor issues.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #31

Nov 212012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 69,532 miles
Steering lock unit malfunctioned. Car would not start.

- Washington, NJ, USA

problem #30

Nov 282012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 90,521 miles
Upon attempting to start the car, ignition would not change from "lock" to "acc" or "on". intelligent key warning lamp was lit steady on dash. Steering wheel column was not locked. All power and other functions worked (lights, door locks, etc). Battery is fine. Independent testing found steering lock control module part 48700-9N00B faulty. Similar/same part on Nissan gtrs was recalled, part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, being replaced by 48700-jf00C same part number is failing for Nissan 370zs as well, same years and same part number 48700-jf00A or 48700-jf00B, yet they are not being recalled. This problem is also occurring in Nissan maximas and Nissan muranos however I could not find the part number. In all models of Nissan this part was removed in mid 2010 due to consistent failure. The part costs approximately $500 from Nissan, is usually out of stock and back ordered, and also costs another $400-$500 to be installed at a dealer. There should be a make-wide recall for all models for this part, not just the gtr because it's the most expensive of them.

- Bothell, WA, USA

problem #29

Dec 032012


  • 68,000 miles
Without any warning my 2009 Nissan Altima would not start. I could not depress the brake in order to start the car. The car recognized the intelligent key was inside the car, I could lock/unlock the doors and trunk, dome lights worked. Basically I was stranded. I contacted the dealer I purchased car from (whom are not familiar with Nissan vehicles) and an extended warranty, they had me troubleshoot. I called lock & key company, not familiar working with this Nissan problem. Called Nissan dealer while waiting, they advised me a typical problem with this yr/make and I was at the mercy of Nissan to repair, he forgot to tell me that it wasn't covered under any warranty program and no recall. Vehicle towed to dealership/service dept I purchased car from, they towed to local Nissan dealer. Now they want $750 for repairs on something that even Nissan is aware of (I called Nissan no. America) and they will investigate if perhaps something else triggered the sensor to not work properly. My car will stay at dealer until I get an answer and the $750. It could have happened at any time, no warning lights, car didn't act up in any way. This poses huge risks, people could be stranded at night or on the side of a road.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #28

Dec 032012


  • 60,150 miles
After work my wife's car would not start. The intelligent key warning light was on but the push button was non responsive even with the fob in the key fob slot. We had the vehicle towed to the dealer and was told it the steering lock control unit had gone bad and is preventing the ignition swith from working. This part should be recalled by Nissan since it prevents starting the car leaving you stranded.

- Cedar Park, TX, USA

problem #27

Nov 262012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
Vehicle was parked and engine was turned off, upon return to vehicle to start engine with the intelligent key, steering wheel was locked and the car would not recognize the smart key even while inside the car or when it was inserted on the smart key port. Attempted to jump vehicle but it was not the battery, car was towed to nearest Nissan dealership, not selling dealership. Part was back ordered so no vehicle or rental offer by warranty as the part itself is not covered by warranty, so this part and service totals approximates $1000, this does not include car rental of approximately $300 for a week, as I wait for the vehicle to be fixed. Car insurance would not cover any part of either repairs or car rental as it was not in a car accident. I may add the vehicle shut off in an unsafe area; luckily, towing came right as it was getting dark. Please consider recalling this part.

- Mays Landing , NJ, USA

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