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:
87,296 miles
Total Complaints:
376 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace steering wheel lock (143 reports)
  2. not sure (99 reports)
  3. replace steering lock controller unit (84 reports)
  4. make it recall (14 reports)
  5. replace brake switch (8 reports)
  6. replace electronic steering wheel column (8 reports)
2009 Nissan Altima steering problems

steering problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 1 of 19)

problem #376

Dec 062016

Altima SL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles


Bought my Altima in 2009 new and have many problems with it. Including replacing my battery twice and alternator in the first year. Luckily, those were covered under warranty.

Now my electronic steering column lock is stuck and I need to get it replaced. Will cost roughly $700 as told to me by the service technician at my local dealership. Besides the cost, the inconvenience is high. I've had to hire rides to get me back and forth, must hire a tow truck to get my car to the dealership and, of course, pay the service fee.

I read that Nissan once acknowledged the issue and offered an extended warranty. I never knew about this and feel the offer should be extended to anyone experiencing this problem.

- , Prairie Village, KS, USA

problem #375

Nov 192016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,455 miles

There are not words to describe how unethical and dishonest Nissan is. The steering lock problem is a known defect, the cars were built with a substandard part and Nissan abandons the consumer. I will never own another Nissan.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #374

Dec 012016

Altima S 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 90,400 miles

Went to an appointment, car started and drove fine. Parked the car and 20 mins later went to go to work. Car wouldn't start. Tried everything I could, nothing seemed to help. Had it towed to Nissan dealership, within 20 mins of having the car they called me with the problem. STEERING WHEEL LOCK FAILURE! I looked it up and was shocked by how many reports. $975.00 plus towing and lost time at work.

Why hasn't Nissan stepped up to repair this when they know its an issue. We were going to trade our other car (no Nissan) in for a Nissan but this has me really questioning if they really care about customers. I have always loved Nissan but they are very pricey when it time to fix them.

- , Harr, PA, USA

problem #373

Dec 022016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,770 miles


Daughter came out from school and car did not recognize key fob to unlock the steering wheel lock. After a short search it was easy to see this was the steering wheel lock failure issue that has occurred on thousands of vehicles and Nissan is well aware of the issue. Even the tow truck driver towed the exact same car the day before for the SAME issue. So with towing $85 and $900 for the repair the car is now running. Nissan had extended the warranty a few years ago for this issue which has expired so they are well aware they are pissing off consumers which I am one. I also own a 2015 Rogue and now I am second guessing if I should keep it past 50K miles. So other than cutting a fuse wire to bypass the wheel lock or hitting the module with a hammer to get it started, we as Nissan owners are screwed. Probably moving onto another brand that backs up their screw ups. So in summary: This occurs in thousands of vehicles leaving motorists stranded, you will have to tow the car, the repair is 1000 (hopefully you are still in warranty period), not sure why a small part costs $678. Nissan USA will just humor you and do nothing if you file a report and lastly you pissed off an 18 year old college girl and a dad that WAS loyal to Nissan and we will both not buy the product again. Congrats!

- , Bethel Park, PA, USA

problem #372

Dec 012016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,009 miles

Stopped to get something before work this morning at Walmart and came out to my car not starting! Walked back inside and bought a key fob battery even though the car locked and unlocked. It didn't work. Then I walked back inside and bought a new battery for the car.... that did not work. So after getting online and watching youtube videos and reading forums I've come to the conclusion this is ECSL is my darn problem! Talked with Nissan and they said its around $1000 to fix. Enough people have had a problem that Nissan offered an extended warranty on the problem but didn't let any of us Nissan owners know to have it checked! Its freaking Christmas and to have to pay $1000 on something Nissan should be covering is just plain rude and wrong!

- , Fate, TX, USA

problem #371

Nov 132016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,467 miles

This a common problem known by Nissan, but instead they only extended the warranty instead of recalling this failure in the Altima's. I was never notified about the extended warranty so my steering lock column effected after my warranty expired which is a huge inconvenience.

- , Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #370

Nov 272016

Altima 2.5S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


After researching the problem, it seems as if Nissan is dropping the ball on this. The steering column locking up and not letting you start car and then having to pay $1,100 to have it fixed should have been a recall item!!!! There are soooo many reports of this on the 2009 Altima's. My son was stranded at midnight after he shut his car off to fill up with gas to head back to college after Thanksgiving.

- , Cadiz, KY, USA

problem #369

Nov 162016

Altima LS 2.5s

  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,835 miles

I am stuck now. My car is not starting because the Steering Wheel Lock Failure. I think Nissan should recall for this problem.

- , Nashua, NH, USA

problem #368

Nov 222016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,552 miles

I purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima for my 19 year old daughter who is a college student.This was her dream cr and we were driving past a Mitusbushi Dealer there it was the color she wanted. The other day she unlocked her car with the keyless remote and got in and the car wouldn't start. She of course panicked and called me, I had roadside assistance go check out the car and the battery was fully charged but car wouldn't start.Had to have it towed to Nissan who after looking at it said it was the steering lock and would cost 1192. I honestly thought this would be something Nissan would cover being that it wasn't anything my daughter did to the car and a failure of the keyless ignition start button. I was very mistaken, I called Nissan consumer affairs that declined to refund this money.

After reading all the forums about issues people have with year Nissan I am convinced they should be standing by their default in this year that they started making a keyless entry. I still have a 12,000 balance on what was my daughters dream car, I promise I am going to try to get get rid of this car and vow never to buy from Nissan again after their consumer affairs department declined to refund us the money. I will continue my argument with whom ever I can and am selling the car as soon as possible.

- , Masapequa, NY, USA

problem #367

Nov 282016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,536 miles

Car won't start, security indicator kept flashing. I was on my way to work and stopped to get gas. Mechanic told me to go to dealer as they have my car locked out. Steering wheel locks out, read a lot of same complaints on Google for Nissan Altima 2009. Please recall it!!

- , Kitchener, ON, Canada

problem #366

Oct 262016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


I went to turn my car on last Wednesday at around 1 am and the car wouldn't turn on. At first I thought it was the battery but I remembered that I had just replaced the battery not to long ago but I went ahead and called road side service just to make sure it was not the battery, the road side service gentleman tested the battery and determined that the battery was not the problem. I had to get my car towed to the Nissan Dealership close by to get it diagnosed and they had called me the next morning saying that the problem was my steering lock assembly . Looking through forums about the issue, I saw that nissan did a recall for this as many others were having a problem so they extended the 3yr/36,000 mile to 72 months, neither my parents or me were aware of this extension or that the vehicle had any open recalls, nissan never notified us of this. The extension apparently ended on March 31,2015 and a little over a year later I am having an issue with this. I believe that I should not be paying for this issue out of my pocket especially if so many other people are also experiencing the same issue. This a fault on Nissan and they should be the ones to take care of this problem not me. I am highly disappointed that I have to responsible for an error they made on the vehicle. I really hope they will re-open this and take care of it themselves.

- , Astoria, NY, USA

problem #365

Oct 142016

Altima S 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

My 2009 Altima would not start using the electronic key. After being stranded and then replacing the battery and following a few other suggestions by the local dealer I ended up getting my car towed. They said it was a steering wheel lock failure and it cost $1000 to fix. It looks like this is not a rare occurrence and feel that Nissan should pay for this faulty system.

- , East Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #364

Nov 012016

Altima S 2.4L

  • CVT transmission
  • 135,250 miles

Electronic Steering Column Lock stopped working. Had to get car towed to dealer. Do not have $ to repair but i must get car out of dealers lot

Royal pain in the ass.

- , Auburn, MA, USA

problem #363

Oct 052016

Altima S 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 135,305 miles

The day after I received my car back from being in for service, my Intelligent Key Light came on again. I immediately called the dealership to schedule another appointment. Their next available appointment was the following week on 10/11/2016. I had to evacuate my house due to Hurricane Matthew. I filled my car up with gas and them came back home to pack my stuff. An hour later, my car wouldn't start again! I was forced to leave my car behind during the mandatory evacuation of Hurricane Matthew because the dealership failed to correctly diagnose and fix my car!

- , Richmond Hill, GA, USA

problem #362

Oct 232016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 55,000 miles

My wife was stranded at a local grocery store because of our 2009 Nissan Altima. There are many youtube videos about the ESCL (Electronic Steering Column Lock) therefore I determined that was the problem. I tried the youtube fix which was to tap the bottom of the ESCL rectangular unit many times (maybe 100 times) before I pushed the accessory button and voila; I put my foot on the brake pushed the button a third time and the bugger started. I drove the bugger home and left it running while I pulled the steering lock fuse. I am now going to see if this will solve the problem. My local Nissan dealer sells this part for $833.00 and charges about $130.00 an hour for labour. I was told the job is about 1.5 hrs. I complained to Nissan Canada about this part as there are many complaints about it. I know they extended coverage on this part from 3 years to 6 years but maybe it should of been a recall and I told them so. I asked if they would compensate me at all and they just said sorry Sir. Needless to say; but I will say it anyways; I think this is our last Nissan.

- , Ottawa, ON, Canada

problem #361

Oct 052016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

i have to fix the car and the recall is over and nissan never let me know on the time to fix it

- , Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #360

Oct 092016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Nissan Altima steering lock issue. It seems like many customers have the same issue including myself. For some reason most of time it happened to 2009 Altimas, according to complaints from other people who has same car/issue. Cost to replace about $1000, I just got estimated from dealership. At some point Nissan was recalling some models but I never receive any recalls about this issue, not sure if other customers did. I am not sure if there is anything evidence to start any lawsuit, but Nissan know about this issue but not much being done.

The 2009 Nissan Altima has a defective "Steering Lock" which causes owners to be unable to start their vehicles. This defect can affect owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima without warning and without cause. When this issue occurs the only way to resolve the issue is to have the car towed to a Nissan dealership to have the faulty Steering Lock replaced. The car cannot be started at all. Thus, owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima continuously find themselves stuck in very inconvenient circumstances with no ability to drive their car. This can be very dangerous for drivers who are in remote or dangerous areas. (Copy from

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #359

Aug 012016

Altima 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

I heard that the warranty expired for the electronic steering column lock on 12/30/14 my vehicle is 2009.

I never got a letter on this recall. In 2014 I had my transmission replaced which was under warranty and the dealer never told me or sent a recall letter. My brother Angel Ortiz bought the vehicle but I drove the vehicle we never got word that there was a recall. Now they want to charge over $1,000 dollars to get fix. I'm so upset that my warranty expired. I wanted to trade in vehicle to get another Nissan altima but I will have to look else where for another vehicle because I'm not happy for another disappointed

- , Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #358

Oct 012016

Altima LE 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


- , Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #357

Oct 022016

Altima SL 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 96,000 miles

The Electric Steering Column Lock (ESCL) failure is the most stupid problem I've ever heard about a car. And shame on Nissan for not recalling it or taking care of it at a reasonable price! $600 for the stupid part and more on the labor??!!! Just for a wedge-like little thing that wouldn't drop to where it's supposed to be?

Seriously, at least do it at a reasonable price!!!!!

- , Plattsburgh, NY, USA

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