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 1 of 35)

problem #687

Jan 032017


  • 50,000 miles


Electonic steering wheel column lock failed. It failed in a parking lot in the evening and left me stranded.

- Laurel Springs, NJ, USA

problem #686

Jan 022017


  • 170,000 miles
I am unable to start my car due to the steering wheel lock. My key fob works perfectly fine and I did not do anything out of the ordinary when I went to start my car yet I cannot drive it and I am stuck in the frigid cold in front of my job.

- Brooktondale, NY, USA

problem #685

Nov 202016


  • miles
Arrived at a gas station to fuel up, after I was done the car wouldn't start. Come to find out that the steering lock pump (which is connected to the push to start mechanism) is worn out which stops the car to turn

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #684

Dec 022016


  • miles


Dec 2 2016..on my way to work at 5am car would not start at gas pump after all fail attempt to start even by nissian was hour to repair 880 dollar steering lock..lost 2 day pay.. never recieved extended warranty yet was told car has 65000 excellent condition so I thought..nissian need to be accountable

- Grenada, MS, USA

problem #683

Dec 292016


  • 80,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2009 has a defective steering lock system. Suddenly this evening after work when I get back to the car, it just did not start. This is a dangerous situation if it would have happened any remote place and I would have been stranded. I see there have been several people complained about this on the internet but Nissan has not recalled this car. Please investigate and take appropriate steps. They should either replace the defective part of just replace the car.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #682

Dec 292016


  • 125,000 miles
Parked car at a planet fitness because my 6 year old austitic daughter was having a meltdown. When that was all and done with we come back to the car and it will not turn on. The no key icon comes on the left top side the lock sign is blinking, and no key in the middle red sign.. my children and I are stranded.

- Ogden, UT, USA

problem #681

Dec 152016


  • miles


Power steering lock, has broke again after being fixed just 50,000 miles before. It is time for a recall. This happened in situation where I could do nothing to fix it. Getting a tow and a bill of over 1000 is not my version of a good day. Recall!!

- Citrus Heights, CA, USA

problem #680

Dec 252016


  • 70,000 miles
The steering lock mechanism is defective the car shut off causing it to steer hard. Then car won't start. It costs $800+ to fix the car. It only has 70,000 miles on it.and at one time this part had a lifetime warranty on it then Nissan changed it to 6 years when they started to get complaints. Our car ran out of the warranty in July but we didn't receive a notification about it. Luckily we was able to bypass the steering lock. Someone needs to check Nissan Altima's car accident deaths because this could cause a serious car wreck and I predict this has already happened. Nissan needs to recall this defective part.

- Galesburg, IL, USA

problem #679

Dec 232016


  • 75,000 miles
Nissan Altima 2009 parked on side of road in order to change drivers. The electronic steering column lock activated after the vehicle was turned off and the vehicle could not be restarted. This was an extremely dangerous and emotionally damaging experience. What should have been an easy routine change to an experienced driver in an unknown neighborhood resulted in passengers being stranded and requiring assistance to contact and wait for a tow-truck for an otherwise functioning vehicle. The vehicle was ultimately brought to Nissan for repairs (at the recommendation of Nissan Consumer Affairs) with estimated cost of $1290. Compared to the listed kbb price of the vehicle at $6442, the costs for repair is about 20% of the value of the vehicle. Nissan Consumer Affairs later informed us that the vehicle is outside of warranty (which was extended for a period of 6 years up to 2015 as Nissan was aware of the escl defect for our VIN) and will not assist with repairs.

- Beltsville, MD, USA

problem #678

Dec 212016


  • 151,000 miles
Recently my 2009 Nissan Altima experience a steering column lock failure that left my car incompacitated (unable to start) and left me in freezing cold temperatures.

- Valparaiso, IN, USA

problem #677

Dec 262016


  • 0 miles


Takata recall, defect steering lock unit, unable to start engine! after parked Nissan 2009 Altima at a shopping mall, "nokey" light is on, car can be lock and unlock through remote control key, but no display information visible at the dash board, wheel is locked and unable to switch gear. Nothing can be done to the car!

- Agoura Hills, CA, USA

problem #676

Nov 262011


  • 59,125 miles
On 12/26/11 I went to do an errand. I parked the car, came back, and the car wouldn't start. All the electrical worked. I had the key with me, yet the car would start. I had the car towed to the capitol Nissan in atlanta. They diagnosed it as a faulty steering lock unit. They replaced the part as well as the ignition switch assembly. The mileage at that time was 33,572. I purchased the car in Oct 2011. On 12/21/16 I went out to do an errand, returned to my car, and it wouldn't start. I had the car towed to nalley Nissan, who bought capitol Nissan. The same scenario. All electrical worked. I had the key yet the car wouldn't start. They diagnosed it with a faulty steering lock unit and replaced it. At this time the mileage was 59,125. The first replacement of this unit the car was still under warranty. This recent incident it wasn't.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #675

Dec 272016


  • 77,000 miles
I have a 2009 Nissan atima. I got in my car today it started ok, went to drop my daughter at daycare, and after getting back to car, it would not start, showed picture of steering wheel and push button would not start the car, I have researched online here and found out it was the steering security lock box, it's very common issue for 2009 Nissan and there was a extended warranty on it, which ended in July 2016 since it's defective part. It's a security problem with all 2009 Nissan Altima plus with my work sometimes I go into very bad neighborhoods at night and being stuck there is a very dangerous situation, I can¿T afford to pay what the dealer wants to fix this obvious faulty part that Nissan new about and never receive a recall at all and I have own this car since 2011, so now my job is in jeopardy because I need this car for my job. This problem is a definite safety problem., I just hope no one with children or a pregnant woman is stuck while in labor or in very cold temperatures, or in a place where cell phones do not work. Shame on you Nissan for not fixing this problem in these cars indefinitely, it is a defective part and should be replaced free of charge I paid today $1268.74 for replacement and fixing.

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #674

Dec 232016


  • 119,000 miles
While home from college for the holidays, my daughter's car was stranded at a gym after hours. We had to have her car towed to the nearest Nissan dealership, which was 60 +/- miles away. We have since found the steering mechanism is a common issue with the 2009 Nissan Altima and in fact the warranty for this concern had been extended until 2015. Since it's 2016 the $900+ repair is not covered. Had this been a recall we would have been notified and would have repaired the mechanism long before this became an issue. I would first of all like to report this incident as a safety concern and secondly request an explanation as to why this hasn't elevated to recall status.

- Scroggins, TX, USA

problem #673

Dec 202016


  • 55,000 miles
Car woould not start with push button. Did start remotely but as soon as tried to restart car after getting in, car would not start. Defective locking mechanism in steering wheel so would not start. If late at night in no cell service area what do you do" no way to call for help? car no start" car was parked in garage. Remotely started then tried to restart after getting in car. Push button start will not work because the steering lock mechanism is defective. Many many of them do this. After replaced ok. This should definitely be a safety recall. Note cost is $1045 to fix. Very bad safety situation. Needs reconsideration for recall.. is problem with 2009 and 2010 Altima's.

- Ludlow, MA, USA

problem #672

Dec 192016


  • 77,300 miles
Went out to go home from work and it would not start...waited 3 hours for aaa and finally cancelled it when I realized it was not a battery issue...I had called Nissan dealership and the service person told me that it should work if I put the fob in the little fob insert on the car...did not start...I had my sister bring me the other fob and it made no difference...after 3 hours, I cancelled aaa service and just went was very cold and it was dark. I drove my daughter's Altima to work the next day and called aaa to tow it to the dealership(towed at 8:30 am). They did not have time to look at it because they were so busy. I had left a note in the drivers seat about the steering lock issue with the 2009 Altima. The next day they told me it was no longer under the "extended warranty" and the part might be in Chicago and if so would be ready the next day (3 days later). When I went in to discuss this with the service manager about why this was not a recall or Nissan should cover the charges because it was a defective part that had been installed...he told me that the part was on "back order." He was not helpful at all...we can't just pay for everyones repairs. Things fail on cars. Nissan needs to recall this and restore the trust in Nissan cars. I have been a customer for about 30 years and there is no loyalty with customers with Nissan as I can see. It was a $1092 repair for the defective part that Nissan used. I am thankful that I was not on vacation or in another area. This needs to be a recall because it is very unsafe and can happen with no warning.

- Fishers, IN, USA

problem #671

Dec 132016


  • 91,000 miles
The electronic steering lock module for my car is starting to go bad. Once the module does go bad I will not be able to start my car and would have to have it towed to a dealership to be fixed where the charge begins at $800 to have the part repaired. This seems to be a common issue among Nissan cars in general. They have extended warranties for this issue but won't issue a recall even though this is a known and common issue.

- Kaneohe, HI, USA

problem #670

Dec 202016


  • 87,000 miles
Unable to start car due to steering lock failure. Car was parked outside on cold winter night. Left businees early am, car recognized smart key but would not pass out of lock position. Had battery and remote checked issue due to failure in the ignition control module

- Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #669

Dec 202016


  • 142,000 miles
My vehicle was in a parking space and when I went to start the car it didn't make a sound and the steering column was not locked. Got towed to the dealership and was told it was a steering wheel lock malfunction. Read on the internet that this is a known problem for my 2009 Altima. I repair cost was almost $1000 which it totally ridiculous but it needed to be fixed. This could be a safety hazard that can be avoided

- Phillipsburg, NJ, USA

problem #668

Dec 212016


  • 105,000 miles
The car would not start with fob. Was not the battery, had power throughout the car. The key indicator light was flashing in the dash. Brake lights worked. Did some research and found that there was a know problem with the escl unit. Never received any type of notification. Luckily, I was at work when I got stranded.

- North Augusta, SC, USA

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