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:
68,617 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 33)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #85

Jan 202013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 102,000 miles


My daughter stopped to fill up with fuel and when she tried to start the car the brake and steering wheel remained locked.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #84

Jan 182013


  • 64,000 miles
Parked the vehicle, it was not parked straight, got right back in to park straight, car would not started, got towed to hall Nissan chesapeake, told I needed a steering lock control and cost was $620 got on google and read all the complaints, there should be a default, a recall, we must stand together, please help!

- Suffolk, VA, USA

problem #83

Jan 022013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 40,906 miles
We drove the car to dr.'s office. When going to leave, the push start button failed to start car. Ended up having car towed to our local mechanic, who called up to the closest Nissan dealer and they recommended to replace brake sensor, that wasn't the problem. Than we had it towed again up to Nissan dealer 45 miles away, ended up being the steering lock unit failed and had to be replaced. They ordered the part which was on back order. Finally car was ready 13 days after incident. Final cost was $848. Car has always been well taken care of and maintained on a regular basis. This defective part should be recalled!

- Newton, IL, USA

problem #82

Jan 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles


I went to the valero in cabot, ar to get gas this past Wednesday morning before I was to go to work, and when I got back into my car and it wouldn't start. The intelligent key indicator light was on, and would not start. I could not press the brake it was very stiff and the start button would not come out of the lock position I read the owners manual, called the North little rock Nissan dealer, and realized there was nothing I could do except have it towed to the dealership. This is a 2009 model with 55,000 miles, and I take great care of it. The mechanic called me later and said I need a new steering lock unit. He said it would cost about $1200 to repair, and he said it isn't covered under warranty, and there was no recall, and to let him know what I wanted to do. This is faulty equipment from Nissan and this issue could not have been prevented by anything I could have done or not done. Not only do I not have $1200, but I have 3 kids and a job I that I need to get back & forth to. I have been stranded for 3 days now, I have missed work because I don't have another mode of transportation, my insurance covers nothing except $75 for the tow, and I have spent countless hours on my phone with Nissan. I'm without car, no way to get to work to support my family, and do not have enough groceries to survive the w/E !!! there should already be a recall on this, as I have read & been told by Nissan this has happened to 08,09,10 models. There definitely needs to be a formal recall on this part because it has affected too many people and it could easily result in death if the lock out takes place in traffic.. I have been unable to get the dealer to work with me, much less return my calls or emails. I may very well lose my job if I have to take off work anymore, because I do not have another means of transportation... pathetic.

- Cabot, AR, USA

problem #81

Jan 142013


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the engine failed to start when engaging the push-to-start switch. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer, who informed the contact that the steering lock mechanism would need to be replaced. The required part was ordered and the vehicle was scheduled for repairs when the part would become available. The manufacturer was not notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 70,000.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #80

Jan 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
My wife was about to head home from work in the afternoon. The key fob unlocked the car like usual but the car was unresponsive in her attempt to start it. The key light was illuminated on the dash. We tried a number of things but the push-to-start button wouldn't change out of the 'lock' position - even to go to 'accessory' mode. I had the car towed to a local Nissan dealer which informed us that the steering lock unit malfunctioned and will have to be replaced. The car will not be able to start up until it is fixed. The part is not under warranty and costs close to $500. My final quote was $864 from the dealer. The car will have to be reprogrammed, so there is no way to circumvent the dealer's cost. Nissan needs to own up to their mistake and recall this defective part.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #79

Jan 162013


  • 35,000 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 towed to the dealer where it was determined that the steering lock mechanism failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure and current mileages were 35,000. The VIN was not available.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #78

Dec 012012


  • 64,980 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was later towed to the dealer where they advised her that the power steering lock failed. The vehicle was repaired for the steering lock mechanism. The manufacturer was contacted and offered her the component at a lower price. The failure mileage was approximately 64,980. The current mileage was approximately 65,900. The VIN was unavailable.

- Witchita Falls, TX, USA

problem #77

Jan 052013


  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while starting the vehicle, the intelligence key malfunction warning light illuminated and the vehicle failed to start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the electronic steering column lock needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and advised the contact that the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage and current mileage was 59,000.

- Killen, AL, USA

problem #76

Jan 122013


  • 42,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering lock mechanism failed. The contact attempted to start the vehicle by engaging the push-to-start button but to no avail. In addition, the intelligent key malfunction indicator light was illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, who performed a diagnostic test, and advised the contact that the steering lock mechanism failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the issue. The VIN was unavailable. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 42,000.

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #75

Jan 082013


  • 40,000 miles


I went to work on the 7th for 11-7 shift. When I try starting my car to leave on the 8th @ 7:07, it would not start. The yellow warning key came up on the dash. The lights, locking the car works, the horn works. I call aaa they could get it started. I called Nissan after I took the car home as I have stuff in it that I couldn't leave at a shop. They said I should take it to a Nissan dealer and let them know the cost and what the problem was. I went on line and search it up only to find so many with this same or very similar problem. I call back Nissan and let them know it is not an isolated problem am having. The dealer knew what the problem was in less than 30min. It was the steering column need to replace. Now I spend $910 and Nissan telling me they can not finance it as there is no recall on the part. Please, everyone, let us join together and claim what is ours.

- East Orange , NJ, USA

problem #74

Jan 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 58,910 miles
Car would not start. Yellow key light and flashing red key light on panel. Seemed like a security anti-theft problem but it turned out to be a faulty steering lock mechanism. A $700 repair. And, what's worse is, there was no recall for this item even with many complaints reported. This was recalled on other Nissan models (cube, 390, etc) but no on the Altima. Not happy.

- Carlisle, PA, USA

problem #73

Jan 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
On 01/09/2013, I drove my grandmother to an appt. And came home. Five hours later, I got into the car and it would not start. I made some calls and researched online and discovered many other complaints about the same problem, the steering lock mechanism isn't working. The little yellow key appears on instrument panel. I have brake lights and replaced the battery in both the car and the key fob. Nothing helped to start my car. The steering wheel isn't locked so it moves freely and the ignition button illuminates but will not leave the lock position. I placed a phone call to the number provided by conroe, tx. The "Consumer Affairs specialist", [xxx], hung up on me!! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Gallup, NM, USA

problem #72

Dec 272012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
[xxx], atlanta, Georgia my daughter's 2009 Nissan Altima did the same thing. She came over for a visit and upon leaving her car would not crank. My husband and I did all of the troubleshooting according to the manual to no avail. I called the dealership where she purchased the vehicle and he immediately knew what the problem was. He wanted to sell here another Altima, because Nissan knew this was an issue, so they stopped putting this mechanism on the 2012 models. Nissan who has a good standing and have millions of cars on the road should do right by consumers who purchased their vehicles and had this problem. I am going to send this complaint site to my local news station and try to put some fire under Nissan. This is ridiculous and other consumers need to be aware of this problem. The repair cost of our Nissan Altima was $919. I see several differences in the repair cost too. We cannot sit by and let consumers continue to be charged substantial amount of money for repair cost when Nissan know there is a problem with the steering lock mechanism. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #71

Jan 072013


  • 60,000 miles
I just wanted everyone to know that this same situation happened to me a couple of days ago and it is not a cheap cost ($~1000). I called Nissan (1-800-647-7261) and made a complaint and they are going to reimburse me 50%. it should be a 100% but it's better than nothing. I encourage everyone to call them and make a complaint and file a complaint with your local better business bureau and the attorney general office. They must recall this defective part!

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #70

Jan 072013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
My wife drove the car to her class and parked it on a parking lot. The car couldn't be started (push button couldn't start the car) when she was done with the class and wanted to get back home. The yellow key light showed on the left top panel and red security light flashed. The fob key still worked in locking/unlocking the car doors. The aaa was called and they came to try to jump start the car. It didn't start. The car had to be towed to the nearest Nissan dealership. They found it was the steering wheel lock assembly problem. It cost $700 to repair it. I called Nissan North America and was told the part has not be on the recall list.

- Mildord, CT, USA

problem #69

Dec 302012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
I got into my car after work(12-27-12) and noticed the yellow key light on the dash. The car started and drove just fine. Then the next time I went to start my car (12-30-12) the car wouldn't start. I couldn't do anything. Got the car placed on a trailer and hauled to the nearest Nissan repair shop and my steering column lock mechanism needs to be replaced which is an awfully expensive fix. To top things off, this part is on back order so I know I'm not the only one with issues.

- Dorchester, WI, USA

problem #68

Jan 082013


  • 70,000 miles
I started my car to leave for work around 6:30am and left to get gas before continuing to work. I was able to drive the car to the gas pump and turn off the engine without incident. When I attempted to start the engine after pumping gas the car failed to start. I noticed that there was an indicator in my dash that I had never seen. It was a red indicator that I would later find out showed a problem with my steering lock mechanism. The car would not move past the "lock" stage and I had to promptly have it towed to the Nissan dealership. I later found out that this repair would cost almost $800 before taxes. After researching, I have found that there have been many similar claims in the past few months. I would just like for my case to be known with others that have had a similar position.

- La Vergne, TN, USA

problem #67

Jan 072013


  • 65,000 miles
Drove the car into work just fine. Seven hours later when I was leaving to go home car would not start. Key light was on in dashboard but nothing would happen. Jumped the battery, reset the batter, even took out the battery to get it tested. Still nothing. Finally paid $70 to get it towed to Nissan dealership (less than 3 miles) and it is the steering lock control unit, which cost $978 to replace. Apparently this happens when it is cold out. Nissan needs to recall these vehicles and reimburse everyone who have had similar issues. I will never buy another Nissan and you bet I'm going to tell everyone I know!!

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #66

Jan 072013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,497 miles
Veh was driven for a period of time and then stopped to get gas. Veh would not start again. A yellow key indicator came on the dash and vehicle still would not start. Had it towed to dealer and diagnosed as the steering lock module.

- Laveen, AZ, USA

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