CarComplaints.com 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 NissanProblems.com.

8.6

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$956.00
Average Mileage:
87,869 miles
Total Complaints:
425 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace steering wheel lock (163 reports)
  2. not sure (100 reports)
  3. replace steering lock controller unit (95 reports)
  4. make it recall (22 reports)
  5. replace electronic steering wheel column (12 reports)
  6. replace brake switch (8 reports)
2009 Nissan Altima steering problems

steering problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 22)

problem #425

Jun 082016

Altima SL 2.5L V4

  • CVT transmission
  • 97,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Car in good condition, only time this problem as occurred. Car would not start, battery was fine, read online about the known issue concerning the 2009 Altima steering lock mechanism that for some reason Nissan did not recall, which they clearly should have. Now I am out $1100 to replace a part that should have been replaced for free through a recall. I will be contacting Nissan directly as well. I have owned Nissan cars for over twenty years, if they do not pay for what is their issue I will never buy a Nissan again.

- , Denver, CO, US

problem #424

Jul 282017

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

I went into Starbucks for a few minutes and when I came back to the car (2009 Altima) it wouldn't start and the steering wheel was locked. There was also a red 'key' indicator displayed in the instrument panel. I also tried manually inserting the key fob but that did not help either. So I had the car towed to Premier Nissan in San Jose. The service advisor pulled up my VIN on his computer system but did not see the ECSL replacement recall/replacement campaign for my car. I now will have to pay for the cost of this repair which is due to Nissan's poor build quality. I will never again buy a Nissan vehicle. I've reached out to Nissan consumer affairs about this. Not sure why my VIN is not part of the replacement campaign.

Update from Jul 30, 2017: The dealership today confirmed that this is the ESCL problem. I had to pay for the repair myself since for some reason my VIN does not show up as part of the replacement campaign in their computer system. I've submitted a reimbursement request with Nissan.

- , San Jose, CA, US

problem #423

Mar 232016

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

The car would not crank. It had to be towed. The electronic steering lock had gone out. The repair shop replaced the steering column and the car would crank. However, the rear wheels would not turn. The vehicle was towed to a Nissan dealership and the repair shop was told that the steering column caused the security system to think that the car was being tampered with so it locked the brakes. The dealership told the repair shop what needed to be done to fix the problem. The car had to be towed back to the repair shop, fixed, then towed again to the dealership for electronic programming. Nissan instituted a recall on the steering column and said they would pay for repairs if they had already been done. The repair cost $1370.65.

When Nissan contacted the repair shop after receiving my claim, they obviously did not remember the work they did. It had been 16 months prior. They told Nissan that the brake problem occurred later. The car could not be driven until the brakes were repaired from the security system lockdown caused by the steering column. How could I drive a vehicle with back wheels that would not turn? I did not drive a vehicle with non-turning wheels away from the repair shop and the bring it back later for the brakes to be unlocked. Nissan denies that the steering wheel lock could cause this problem. They deny that there has ever been a problem or recall regarding Nissan brakes.

If they are going to "make things right and whole" they should pay for the entire repair since everything was caused by the steering wheel column lock that they are recognizing. Just because a mechanic does not recall everything regarding a car 16 months earlier does not mean it did not happen. What are the chances of the steering column lock, brake lock, and electronic security system all going out, individually, at the same time. Nissan says they will reimburse between $400 and $500 dollars and will let me know the exact amount in a week.

Do not buy a Nissan. They do not stand behind their vehicles. Also, if they had taken the initiative to make the recall sooner, it could have been fixed before it messed up other systems.

- , Monticello, US

problem #422

Jun 122016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

All I have to say is DON'T sell any vehicles until the problem is fixed PERIOD.

- , Avondale, AZ, USA

problem #421

Mar 282016

Altima 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,554 miles

MY CAR ALL OF A SUDDEN WOULD NOT START AND I NOTICED THE YELLOW KEY LIGHT WAS ON. I LUCKILY PARKED ON A CITY STREET, SO I DIDN'T HAVE TO MOVE MY CAR. IT WAS AT NIGHT AND I WAS BY MYSELF. I HAD TO WAIT FOR A FRIEND TO PICK ME UP AND LEAVE MY CAR OVERNIGHT. THE NEXT DAY I HAD TO GET A RIDE BACK TO MY CAR, I STOPPED AND PICKED UP A REPLACEMENT BATTERY, THINKING IT MAY HAVE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE KEY. I WENT BACK TO MY CAR AND IT STILL WOULDN'T START. I HAD TO CALL A TOW COMPANY TO BRING MY CAR TO A NISSAN DEALERSHIP.

NISSAN SAID THAT THE ELECTRONIC STEERING COLUMN LOCK NEEDED TO BE REPLACED. IT ENDED UP COSTING ME $942! I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO PAY IT, WHICH WAS A GOOD AMOUNT OF MONEY. DURING THE TIME I WAS TRYING TO LOOK FOR REASONS MY CAR JUST STOPPED STARTING, I READ THAT NISSAN HAD OFFERED AN EXTENDED WARRANTY FOR THIS EXACT PROBLEM. I WAS NEVER NOTIFIES, OR ELSE I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT IN THE CAR TO HAVE THE PART REPAIRED. THIS WAS A VERY UNCALLED FOR EXPERIENCE, NISSAN SHOULD'VE LET THEIR CAR OWNERS KNOW ABOUT THIS ISSUE! I FEEL THAT I SHOULD BE REIMBURSED!

- , Braintree, USA

problem #420

Dec 242016

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Unfortunately, this incident happened to me on Xmas Eve while dropping off Xmas present to my family and once I returned to my car, the steering wheel would not move. I called the dealer and the service department had left early due to the holiday. I made arrangements for the tow truck to pick me up on Xmas morning at 8:00am and tow me home and even though I had insurance to tow, the cost was over my limit. This was not a good Xmas for me, especially with the cost of repairs being $954.00 and the extra $100.00 for the tow truck.

- , Victorville, CA, US

problem #419

Jan 102017

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

My car locked up on me in the morning when I was about to leave for work. I had to call a tow truck and have the car taken to the dealership. I also missed a day of work to take care of this issue.

- , Clermont, US

problem #418

Apr 272017

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Left me stranded and the authorized dealership declined it under the Altima recall for the Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL) Service Campaign. They are charging $1030 to fix this.

- , Lake Forest, US

problem #417

Aug 042016

Altima 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

My 2009 Nissan Altima is currently having issues with the defects in the Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL). The car just cut off on me as I was parking in a parking spot. Luckily I was able to force the gear in park. It disabled the push-button ignition on my car and locked my steering column. So, I was stranded! This is a big safety issue because my car could've just continued to roll into another car if I couldn't force it into the parked gear! It's unfair that as a customer of Nissan, I have to experience this issue after the NIssan warranty on the ESCL expired in March 2015 and be posed with paying over $1000 in repair costs. Per Nissan, there was no specific mileage number that this defect could occur; so why in the world would they place an end date on the warranty...I'll tell you why...to cover their behinds and save them money in the end. Better yet it will make them money if the affected consumers pay for the repairs or buy/lease a new Nissan! They should recall the ESCL systems in all affected cars instead of covering their own behinds and giving a warranty with unlimited miles and AN END DATE OF MARCH 2015. Clearly Nissan is not concerned with its consumers safety. It's not fair to consumers that bought Nissan vehicles that experience the dangerous defect after March 2015. I am a very unhappy consumer at this time.

- , Palestine, TX, USA

problem #416

Aug 022016

Altima S 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

It looks like I'm one of thousands, It's keeping me from buying a new altima, as everything else with the car to this point has been great.

- , Kalispell, MT, USA

problem #415

Aug 012016

Altima ES 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I am currently making a monthly payment on three Nissan vehicle plus one more which my Daughter owned. I will not buy another Nissan vehicle since they will not help me fix my Nissan Altima steering lock failure column. Even though a letter was never sent to me regarding the steering lock failure. Nissan would not pay for the repair. This is just unacceptable and poor customer service and unsafe for people who has health problem.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #414

Dec 282016

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,474 miles

AM VERY UPSET...THIS CAR HAS ONLY 124K ON IT AND THIS STEERING WHEEL LOCK IS A MANUFACTURERS DEFECT. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS.

- , burlington, ON, Canada

problem #413

Oct 032016

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

This failure was extremely surprising to me as I had NO issue with my car one moment then the next it wouldn't start. Then I had to have it towed, then my mechanic had to order the very expensive part and now I'm without a car for a couple of days. Who would have thought that this module that is required for your car to operate would fail after 7 years. On top of that it appears to be an issue with this year's make and model and yet no recall. I bet if someone on the recall team had this happen, it would have gotten recalled. Please look at the history of complaints and do the right thing.

- , Springfield, PA, USA

problem #412

Aug 292016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 77,456 miles

This problem should be recalled with the 2008-2010 Nissan Altima, I have been doing my research and seen about close to 500 other people have had the same problem as I did, if not more. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING PEOPLE WANT TO DEAL WITH unexpectedly NOT BEING ABLE TO MOVE YOUR CAR. HAVE THIS RECALLED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #411

Dec 022016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,571 miles

I left out the house to got to work, and the car wouldn't start. looked it up on YouTube, called the dealership had it towed there around 9:30. they tell me its not a common problem that happens a lot. a couple hrs go bye I get a call around 12 noon. they say they find out the problem and tell me the part alone is gonna COST! ME! $1000 plus the labor that will take a few hrs. but they have to order the part maybe can get it tomorrow and can start on the car on Monday. I call back 42 mins later to get the name of the part. They can't find my paper work and the person who helped me is busy helping someone right. I get a call back around 2pm, they tell me they found the part for a few hundred dollars less and can get started on it and be finished by the end of the day, OK. I get a call back right at 3:20 '' your car is ready for pick up do you need a ride". To me this is a scam Nissan knows about this problem and is doing nothing about it. how can you extend the warranty on a problem for this year, make, model but don't notify owners. this needs to be RECALLED AND REFUNDED. $1200 with Christmas three weeks away. this will be the last Nissan I will Own if this is how Nissan is going to do Owners.

- , Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #410

Feb 082017

Altima LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,558 miles

I'm very distressed that Nissan failed to do a recall in regards to steering lock failure which appears to be a problem in 2009 Altima. Fortunately I was in a parking lot area, but I could easily have been stranded alone at night. Thus, a big safety concern. I had the added inconvenience of taking three hours to tow my car to the dealership. They had to order the part. Therefore, I had no car until the next day. All car manufacturers have recalls.

Right now I am interested in Nissan since I have an Altima. It would have cost Nissan a lot less to replace my steering lock than it will cost Nissan $20,000 plus since I will not buy another one. Nissan will have to decide whether or not they made the right decision not to do a recall. There are a lot of other good cars out there and due to the concern for safety plus the cost you passed on to me, I feel no loyalty in purchasing another Altima, and won't.

- , Lombard, IL, USA

problem #409

Dec 102016

Altima V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I can't understand why there is not a recall on this. The tow truck guy knew what the problem was before we got to the service station. He said 90% of all Nissans he picks up has this same problem. Only other disappointment was paying 1,042 to fix this problem. I will always look to this site in the future before buying

- , Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #408

Feb 162017

Altima

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,934 miles

I think it' ridiculous just how many failures there have been with the steering wheel lock controller unit. in the 2009 Altima. Obviously, Nissan knows about this problem but is unwilling to own up to the problem by issuing a recall. I knew it was a common problem when my local dealer diagnosed the issue over the phone. It's bad enough for Nissan to know about the problem but to never notify owners of the potential threat of failure is completely irresponsible. Fortunately I know many Nissan owners and will go out of my way to discuss the way Nissan has responded to this problem. Nice job Nissan, save a few hundred thousand dollars and cost the company millions in future sales.

- , Caledonia, US

problem #407

Feb 052017

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,648 miles

I just got my Nissan Altima and I haven't had it a month and I went to the store and I come out to start the car and it won't start! The steering wheel was locked and the key symbol was light up and I put my foot on the brake to push button start and nothing. So I call the car lot and they give me a number of someone who can help. They called me and tried to walk me through some things but nothing. So I had to wait an hour at the store. The guy starts banging on something under the steering wheel and tells me it's the escl and it's going to cost anywhere from $600 to 1,000 to fix it. I have to get it fixed because it could happen again. I went to my car lot and big help they were, they didn't want to change the car for something else and they didn't want to fix it either. I left the car there and they say they are going to fix it. This is a big pain in the ass that a car I'm buying and haven't had it a month does this and on top of the car payment, I have to make now this!! I'm really upset I wanted an Altima for a while but this is making me regret my choice in cars

- , Sevierville, TN, USA

problem #406

Dec 202016

Altima 2.5S V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 132,000 miles

My car wouldn't start and of course it was cold as crap and I wasn't home. Any who turns out it's because the steering lock control unit needs to be replaced. I didn't know this last month, I just found out this morning when the dealer called me. I had the same issue this week and turns out that unit needs to be replaced. In Dec I had my car towed but it started right up the next morning so it didn't cost me anything but it's going to cost me almost $1000 this time. The part is $800+ and after reading the multiple compliments online I'm pissed Nissan has made this a recall. They know obviously there's an issue and instead of handling it they've put the cost off to their customers. Me and my checking account are steaming right now!

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

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