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


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
85,146 miles
Total Complaints:
340 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace steering wheel lock (122 reports)
  2. not sure (98 reports)
  3. replace steering lock controller unit (81 reports)
  4. replace brake switch (8 reports)
  5. make it recall (7 reports)
  6. replace electronic steering wheel column (6 reports)
2009 Nissan Altima steering problems

steering problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 17)

problem #340

Jun 282016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


My Nissan Altima 2009 world not Start after I Went to THE fármacy to get my prescription. THE car would not start. I became very worried and started sweating profussely. I am diabetic, hypertensive and have heart problems. Someone had to help me and call a toll truck that cost me $40.00, from THE pharmacy to my house. I called THE Nissan Dealer in ponce, and THEy told me I have to Pay another tow truck to Take it to THE Dealer and have to Pay THEM $39.95, for revisión of unit, and probable that this Will be at least $1,000.00. I dont have this Kind of money. If I knew of this recall, I would not have purchased this vehicle. I purchased this vehicle on february 2016. I am so upset, and can not use this car or get it fixed.

- , Ponce, Anguilla

problem #339

Jul 012016

Altima LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I went out to my car and it wouldn't start. The lights came on so I knew it wasn't the battery. It was towed to a Nissan dealership, they stated that it was the steering lock control unit that needed to be replaced along with needing to be reprogrammed and new keys. $1,121. WOW! Then looking online NISSAN KNEW about the problem for the 09 Altima and extended the warranty until Oct 2015. So they know it is an issue but I was NEVER told that there was a recall on that part. They should be cover this expense. This is ridiculous.

- , Naperville, IL, USA

problem #338

Jun 092016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Left the office to get gas during my lunch break, pumped my gas and got back in my car and it would not start, make a sound, brake did not work now gear shift. Nothing...had to call someone to come help me unlock the shift lock to shift the car into neutral to push it out of the way. Car still sitting at the gas station...keys won't work, can't jump start it. Gotta find a way to pay for the $900 repair + towing. PLEASE RECALL THIS! Glad I wasn't stranded at night somewhere....This is on top of the A/C going out last year...this car is a magnet for disaster will never buy another Nissan...

- , Auburn, AL, USA

problem #337

Jun 162016

Altima S 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 123,000 miles


Went to start car to run an errand while at work on lunch break to get in the car and the car would not start. I'll have to get the car towed not to include the daycare late fees that I'm going to have to pay because I am unable to pick my child up from daycare because they close, needless to say it's $1 per minute that I'm late and it is due at the time of pick up. I likely will get to the daycare only 2 hours late if AAA doesn't take to long to arrive at five o'clock then fight rush hour traffic and then get a ride to pick up my child. So that's $120 on top of the cost for the part which is $708.66 not including the labor, stress, and anxiety that this inconvenience has caused. I am infuriated. I was considering buying another Nissan as I have already purchased 6 vehicles from Nissan but this has been a great deterrent. My other 2009 Nissan Altima had to have a new transmission replaced just 2 months ago. The Nissan quality is going DOWN THE DRAIN!

- , Randallstown, MD, USA

problem #336

Jun 062016

Altima 2.5S 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

I was not aware this was a known issue with Nissans. I went to the doctor, came out and my car wouldn't start. It's hot outside and I was several miles away from work and home. My sister had to come pick me up from 25 miles away and take me to work. I also had to have my car towed to the dealer. I believe this should be a recall considering this could have stranded me somewhere where I could not get assistance easily.

- , Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #335

Jun 092016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I went to start my car at work and the wheel locked. There was power to the battery and we tried jumping the car. Nothing. I had the car towed to a certified national dealer and they stated that the steering column module needed replacement with a bill of approximately $850.00.

- , Orchard Park, NY, USA

problem #334

May 082016

Altima 2.5L S Cvt

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


My Dad has a 2009 Nissan Altima, Which he services regularly and keeps in his garage.

On his return from a trip, he stopped to put gas and the car never started again. We had the car towed home and after some research on the internet we realized it was the steering lock mechanism and that they are aware of the problem because they extended the warranty on the 2009 Altimas for an extra 6 years. We contacted our local Nissan Premiere Dealership of Fremont, thinking this would be covered, only to find that it was not. We towed the car to the Dealership to get it checked out, GUESS WHAT? It's the steering lock mechanism! The part which is sold only through Nissan is around $800 and that it would take them 2 hours to install it. So, my Dad who is in his 80's and on a fixed income is going pay around $1200. to get his car fixed. I remember when they sold him this car, he was told how great and dependable the cat would be. Aahaha! I think Nissan should do the honorable thing and fix this car for free under it's extended warranty or under a recall.

- , Fremont, CA, USA

problem #333

Jun 102016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

My car was unable to start because the steering wheel wouldn't lock, we eventually got the car to start and I was able to drive it for just a couple of days until it started acting up again. Now the main issue is that we can not get the steering wheel to unlock. After countless times of tapping the steering lock mechanism, like suggested in some videos I watched, nothing seemed to work. I haven't even had this car for a year and I really do not want to pay an arm and a leg for something that needs to be recalled.

- , Taylorsville, GA, USA

problem #332

Jun 042016

Altima 3.2L

  • CVT transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I went to start my 09 Nissan Altima and it wouldn't start. I had to get the car towed to my mechanic which was on a Saturday so he wasn't going to be able to get to the car till Monday. After researching online I found out that this is a known issue with the Nissan vehicle's. When Nissan made the car they knew that this was a problem because they put it in the users manual letting drivers know that they would be stranded because the car will not start. I find this ridiculous because this is a major safety issue. Thank god I wasn't left stranded at night in a bad neighborhood.

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #331

May 242016

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,865 miles

Apparently this is a known issue that happens to the 2009 Nissan Altima's right around 70k miles. Nissan extended the warranty on this part by 3 additional years, making it covered for a total of 6 years, however most people are not hitting 70k miles until the car is 7 years old. Instead of extending the warranty for a period of time, it should be covered until a certain mileage number (perhaps 80k) or just completely recall the part entirely. I would really like my money back for having to replace this part.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #330

May 292016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles


Steering lock release malfunction indicator on . . . can't start car!!! One-car family . . . have to beg a ride to work if this causes me to have to have the car towed.

- , Bristow, OK, USA

problem #329

May 102016

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Yesterday (05/10/2016) I drove into work, pulled up to clock in and then went to go move my vehicle over to the next lot when I got into my car, my vehicle would not allow me to press the brake and the my entire car was shut down.

When I called our local Nissan dealership she explained that there is not a recall and I stated all the complaints that I have reviewed, she stated that this was not an issue she was aware of and that if a recall is noted they would let me know.

I have owned my car for almost 4 years and have had to replace the catalytic converter x2 (almost 1 year to the date of each repair...which was costly in itself)

I then get on here to find out a recall was noted for August of last year....I was never notified....

I have never had any major issues with my vehicle but this is ridiculous. My car is my only mode of transportation, and I have a 3 year old and I could not imagine being stranded with her....this needs to be fixed ASAP before it ends up getting someone hurt

- , White Bluff, TN, USA

problem #328

Apr 202016

Altima 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Online Forums note this issue yet Nissan has done nothing to help owners. This is for my daughters car, she stopped to buy milk and came out and car would not start. Repair $1025 plus $100 to tow. Nissan is well aware of this issue and has done little to assist consumer. My concern is there is not warning, no diagnostic, just a car that will not start and a repair bill that is beyond reasonable.

As the parent I paid the repair bill. I tried to discuss with the dealer but did not get any resolution as they claimed this was a Nissan problem and I would have to deal with them help at all

- , Union City, CA, USA

problem #327

May 062016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,923 miles

Very expensive, annoying, no good support.

- , Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

problem #326

May 062016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

On May 6, 2016 had to be at hospital at 7a.m. for a procedure and car would not start. That evening after looking on the Internet found possible cause. Was able to hit on the Steering Box and got it to start. It did fine for about 5 days. It has done it to me 2 more times as recent as 5-18-16. It started for me to come to work and now it wont start. Tapping on the box is not helping.

I can't afford $800 to $1000 to get Nissan to fix. There should have been a recall since there are so many with this issue for 2008-2009. I read where Nissan quit using the device in 2010. I feel Nissan should have notified the owners of this problem. This is my only means of transportation and I don't know what I need to do. Any Suggestions??

- , Mooringsport, LA, USA

problem #325

May 092016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,245 miles

Car completely died on me on 5/9/16. Had just left my house and went to gas station to get air on a low tire. When I went to restart the car, it was completely dead. Had to have car towed to dealer for repair

- , West Covina, CA, USA

problem #324

Apr 262016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

The local dealer has 3-5 of these parts in stock always. It was said they've replaced 50 in the last few years. With an hour shop time for replacement, total loss of engine start, and failure to be able to put transmission in neutral, the disabling profile of this part is complete.

Steering Lock Unit failure can happen anytime, ours was at home in the garage, our car has only 48k miles. But the 90 degree turn from driveway to garage stall, unable to shift to neutral, and cramped access meant the tow driver and I had to dolly the front wheels to push the car out for the tow- a 2 man operation. We had smooth surfaces to do it, too.

With the amount of Internet info on this problem, dealer admittance to frequency of replacement, and people needing to keep their cars longer- this SLU part failure is a pathetic comparison of warranty length and trust. The warranty has been extended for this vehicle, for other reasons too? The dealer replaced the head on the engine on same car because of a stuck valve at 33k miles! The initial blame for that was us using "cheap gas", really? What level of replacement frequency is enough to trigger a "Duh, it's a bad design" response so the car owner has freedom of usage, safe usage, and having to waste money, energy, and time when parts like this one take a hike?

We bought the car new, we have had a decent and understanding dealership to help us with issues, but the consistency of problems- large and small- has left no doubt our money will go elsewhere when buy time comes.

- , Galesburg, IL, USA

problem #323

Feb 282016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Wow, is customer service valued at Nissan? Was it ever? Here's my story: My 2009 Nissan Altima would not start on Sunday so I had to get it towed. I soon learned that the [electronic steering lock] is malfunctioned, which really means "sorry the smart key to your car is not recognized so the car won't turn on. On top of that, plan B of inserting the smart key in the hole will not work either." After following the Nissan service mechanic's advice, I put in a case with Nissan Corporate as my costs would run at least $1,000! After finally getting in touch with the Regional Case Manager in TN, I learned that Nissan won't cover any of my costs as my request came in 5 months after they had an extended warranty. Apparently, I would have had to experience this issue on my own during that time in order for Nissan to cover my costs. Above that, I was told that Nissan did not need to proactively let their customers know about the issue because it fell under a 'warranty issue'. I don't get it. I didn't cause this issue, nor does it fall under the normal circumstances of typical wear, tear, or replacement like battery, tires, etc. How is it fair to make me, Nissan's consumer, pay $1000+ dollars for something I did not cause? For a malfunctioned piece that was installed on my Nissan Altima that was ultimately put in a warranty? To put the cherry on top of the cake, the rep (which I asked for permission to post), said that "VEHICLES ARE MAN MADE - THEY AREN'T MADE PERFECT". As a consumer, I'm interpreting that as "Sorry, we don't have high-quality products". Am I upset? Yes. Would I currently recommend Nissan automobiles? No. ........ Anyone else with similar experience? Can anyone on the Nissan team help??

- , Charlotte, USA

problem #322

Apr 202016

Altima 2.5S 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

I own a 2009 Nissan Altima had not had any major issues until about two weeks ago, when the vehicle wouldn't start upon leaving work on a Friday afternoon. I assumed it was the battery but all lights were working on the car, and eventually had it towed to the dealership. The Nissan dealership stated that the car started automatically upon arrival and they could not diagnose what was wrong with the car but to bring it back if it has anymore issues.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #321

Apr 112016

Altima SL 4 Cyclinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,560 miles

When I called the Nissan Dealership to inquire about why my car wouldn't start, I was advised that it was most likely the steering wheel lock. I told them that my Nissan Altima was a 2009 model & I was advised that the car would've been under warranty to have this fixed last year. But now it would cost me $1200 out of pocket to have fixed at the dealership. On Nissan forums, I found that this was a KNOWN DESIGN DEFECT by Nissan. I feel that they should be replace at no charge on all the cars since they knowingly sold a DEFECTIVE PART.

- , Fairfield, OH, USA

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