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:
68,497 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 29 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #144

Jan 252013


  • 27,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that she attempted to start the vehicle but to no avail. The key warning icon was also illuminated. The vehicle was towed to a private mechanic, who diagnosed that the steering lock control unit failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 27,000 and the current mileage was 27,291.

- Hewlett, NY, USA

problem #143

Feb 192013


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that after several attempts, the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the steering assembly needed to be replaced. The part was on back order and the vehicle would be repaired upon the arrival of the part. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000.

- Quantico, MD, USA

problem #142

Feb 172013


  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that when trying to start the vehicle, a warning erroneously appeared stating that the steering was locked. The vehicle was later towed to a dealer. After diagnosis, they advised him that a switch in the steering column malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they advised him that the parts were on back order. The failure and current mileages were approximately 117,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Georgetown, KY, USA

problem #141

Feb 182013


  • 36,000 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 later towed to the dealer where it was found that the steering lock control unit failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and current mileages were approximately 36,000.

- Hollis, NY, USA

problem #140

Feb 132013


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that all attempts to start the vehicle failed. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for inspection where it was found that the steering column needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 56,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Brielle, NJ, USA

problem #139

Feb 162013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 28,100 miles
Drove to a store about a mile from my home and when I came out the car would not start and the key warning light illuminated (car went into lock mode and it could not be reset). The vehicle was towed and the technician stated that the failure was located at the steering lock control unit. The steering lock control unit is being replaced and the cost is $918. The approximate failure mileage was 28,100.

- Delran, NJ, USA

problem #138

Feb 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


Leaving work to go to lunch and my Altima wont start. Push button start not responding and will not move from lock position. Changed the battery to my car along with battery for key. Still nothing. After doing research on the internet I found that my problem is the steering lock control module, which seems to be a big problem for several other people as well. My brother was able to locate the steering control module and held in the start button, and the break and at the same time he tapped on the module and my car started. We were able to drive it home thankfully without calling a tow truck. 100% without a doubt that is the problem with my car and it will need replaced. I am scared to drive my car anywhere because I don't want to get stranded somewhere. I started my car the next morning and it did start, who knows how long it will last until the part fails again. I will need this replaced but really feel as through Nissan should be doing something about this problem due to the hundreds of people with the very same problem.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #137

Feb 172013


  • 78,000 miles
Car was driving perfectly fine, parked at a friend's house for 2 hours and then got in it to leave and it wouldn't start. The key warning light was on, and the lights on the dash indicated that the key was not in the car even though it was in the ignition hole. After speaking with the technician, it is the steering lock mechanism and needs to be replaced. My issue is that there was no warning at all, it was below 30 degrees outside and I was unable to get my children home. Were I not at a friend's house, I would have been stranded somewhere with two small children in the middle of winter. There was no warning at all that this was going to happen, no warning lights, no signals to indicate to me that something needing replacing or fixing. And it's an $800 dollar fix with parts and labor... there needs to be a recall, this is ridiculous. Apparently this happens after about 2-3 years in this year make and model.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #136

Feb 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
The key warning light appeared on the dash; replaced batteries in both of the keys and the warning light disappeared. One week later, with no additional problems or warning, I parked the car to go to a doctor appointment and when I returned less than 1 hour later, I was able to get into the car, but the brake would not depress, the steering wheel would not lock, and the car would not start. Car will not go into accessory mode either nor does the other key start the car.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #135

Feb 052013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 50,137 miles
Drove my car to an appt and when I came out it wouldn't start. Tried jumping battery, did not work. Changed the battery in key fob and it still didn't work. I brought my back-up key over to the car and that one did not work either. Had it towed to the Nissan dealer and they diagnosed it as the steering wheel mechanism and the part was on a 7-10 day back order. I paid an additional $50 to expedite the part. It took 7 days to get my car repaired. I contacted Nissan usa, described the situation and sent them a hyperlink that had anecdotes of steering issues from other 09 Altima owners and requested that they cover the repair. Someone from Nissan called me and I returned his call 2 times without a return call. On the third message I and told him I would escalate the call if I did not hear back from him. That prompted him to return my call and he stated they would not cover the cost because I don't take my car to Nissan for scheduled service. I told him I was not going to rest until I get Nissan to cover this and he basically told me he had the final say. I am contacting my local news station and my state ag for resolution. Please do the same! I am out $960 for the repair.

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #134

Jan 212013


  • 40,000 miles


Drove to work in the morning, parked my Nissan Altima in the parking lot. When I went to leave for lunch the car would not start. The brake was extremely stiff and pushing the start button did nothing. I called the local Nissan dealer - they immediately thought it could be the steering lock module if that was it I would have to have it towed. Once towed to the dealership they confirmed it was the steering wheel lock module had malfunctioned. They admitted they have seen 4 others in just this month for the same issue. The part was ordered and should have arrived in 3 business days. After a week I was notified the part is on back order and they do not know when they will have it in to fix my car. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to ask for help, they declined stating it is all a case by case basis they won't help to pay for the part, repair or a rental car. It has now been 23 days and they still don't know when or if they will get a part to fix my car. I am stranded without a means to get to and from work. Nissan needs to recall this part or help cover the costs for those affected. After extensive research there are tons of people going through the same issue. The same part was recalled for the Nissan gtr why not own up to your crappy part and take care of the customers.

- Idaho Falls, ID, USA

problem #133

Feb 112013


  • 41,000 miles
I just wanted to let the people know that there is no guarantee that the new steering lock mechanism that is placed in your car will not malfunction. I picked my car up from the dealership after having the part repaired at the cost of $1055 not including towing and wasn't even home 40 minutes before the same thing occurred again and the car had to be towed back to the dealership to be repaired again. I'm now finding out that the replacement part is not a newly manufactured part without the defect making the probability of having to deal with situation again very high and of course the Nissan Corp. Is still acting like there is no problem at all. Please people call your attorney general news stations and whoever you think will listen because the more waves we make forces Nissan to recall this part.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #132

Feb 072013


  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, the vehicle stalled and the brakes also became stiff. The key symbol on the dashboard also illuminated. The contact replaced the battery but the vehicle did not start. The vehicle was towed to a dealer for diagnosis and the contact was informed that the steering lock assembly would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified and stated that they may assist in the cost of repair. The contact was awaiting a final decision. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure and current mileage was 44,000.

- Modena, NY, USA

problem #131

Feb 052013


  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis where the contact was informed that the steering lock assembly would need to be replaced. The contact was also advised that the part needed to complete the repair was on a national back order. The manufacturer was notified but no assistance was offered. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 44,000.

- Pine Meadow, CT, USA

problem #130

Feb 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
On Saturday morning, my wife took my son to the library, the car started with no issues, when they left the library she could not start the car. She called me to come help her, we changed the batteries in the key fob, I tried to jump-start the car, I checked the fuses, but it would not start. I made sure the fob was still communicating with the car by pressing the buttons and everything seemed to be working fine. Finally, after trying everything I could, we called the Nissan dealership, and they had us tow the car to them, and said they would not get to it until Monday. Well Monday morning comes and they called my wife to tell her the steering lock unit failed, and it would cost ~$1000 to replace. Of course I am ticked so I decide to research this issue and realize it is very common in the 2009 Altima?S, which makes me even more ticked, because Nissan doesn't seem to care if they leave my wife and son stranded because they built their car using garbage parts. And yes they know because, more times than not, this part is out of stock and the newer cars don't use it. So this sounds like a very nasty scam by Nissan. I have sent letters to my state's attorney general, Nissan motor company, and this database...we need a recall. Stand behind your product!

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #129

Jan 222013


  • 34,000 miles
Wife's 2009 Altima would not start. As others have stated, the little key light on the dash lit up. We had the car towed to our dealer, and they told us the steering lock control had failed. Having no choice, we then ordered the part, only then to find out that it was on back order and they could not estimate when the part would be available. The estimated repair bill was going to be about $750. When I got home that evening, I searched the internet and was amazed at how many cases exactly like ours are occurring. The next morning, I filed a formal complaint with Nissan of North America. They have put all owners of 2009's in jeopardy and obviously knew there was a problem as the part was changed out in late year 2010 cars built. Our final results are better than most of the others we have read about. Between Nissan and our dealer, they covered the repair which was done as the part did arrive, as well as our car rental while the dealer had the vehicle. My advise is to file a formal complaint like we did and to be persistent. An attorney I know said we should contact the state attorney general and/or the local tv stations trouble shooters, because publicity and legal action are exactly what Nissan doesn't want.

- Novelty, OH, USA

problem #128

Feb 052013


  • 26,200 miles
The vehicle had no problems driving into work in the morning. End of work day, return to the car to find out that it wouldn't start. The amber light with "intelligent key" logo had turned on and the vehicle was immobilized. Checked the battery of the intelligent key and it was perfectly operational. Check batter of the car, and it was working fine as well. Since the car wouldn't start, no other option but to call for towing service. Spent hours in the cold waiting for the truck. The following day Nissan service ran a diagnostic and determined there was electrical problem that triggered the vehicle immobilizer and needed steering lock unit replacement. Parts and labor and tow cost over $900. The Nissan mechanic hinted at the problem being a manufacturing defect, but refused to say it directly as it puts Nissan liable. Part is strategically not covered under warranty. Found out from the Nissan folks that numerous cars came in with the same problem. Got onto the internet and found so many more Nissan Altima owners with the same problem. Clearly a manufacturing defect and Nissan needs to recall the part and fix it for all affected users of the car. I am happy that this happened while my vehicle was stationary. I think this is very dangerous if it were to happening while driving. I request NHTSA to investigate this problem asap and help to issue a recall for several hundreds (maybe thousands) of user affected. Nobody wants to lose their hard earned money for no fault of theirs.

- Warminster, PA, USA

problem #127

Feb 062013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 26,000 miles
On a regular day, I drove my car to work in the morning. And it was parked at my workplace parking lot (luckily). In the evening, my keyless entry got me inside the car. But the brakes wouldn't engage and ofcourse, the push button wouldn't start the car. There is an amber light with a key sign inside it flashing on my dash screen. Lights would turn on so I was convinced it must not be the battery. When I looked it up in the car manual, it's supposedly an intelligent key sign. Since it was around 7:30pm, I couldn't get it towed immediately to the dealer workshop since they were closed. The next morning, I got it towed and the dealer workshop diagnosed it as "steering wheel lock unit needs to be replaced" and it would cost a whopping $850 (not including towing). Not just that, the part is back-ordered! so my car is in the workshop indefinitely as of now! I bought this car from a certified pre-owned dealer just six months ago and I have the seven year limited warranty on it too. The workshop said that this is not something my warranty can cover! my current mileage is 26000. And Nissan is supposed to be reliable? this problem is not something I have brought to my car and when I researched it on this very website, hundreds of other Nissan Altima users have the same problem. This is clearly a manufacturing defect and I truly hope Nissan address this problem asap and reimburse our hard earned money.

- White Plains, NY, USA

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

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