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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,392 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 6 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #288

Mar 092016


  • 100,120 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while in park, the steering wheel seized. In addition, the vehicle failed to start. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, who diagnosed that the steering wheel lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,120.

- Irmo, SC, USA

problem #287

Mar 062016


  • 80,000 miles
Yesterday morning, the car no longer recognized my key fob and I was unable to start the engine. Upon contacting Nissan, I was informed that this is related to the electronic steering control lock assembly. The vehicle was stationary at the time of the incident and located in my home garage. Even after this assembly is replaced, I will continue to be concerned about the safety of my family. If the car were to no longer recognize my key fob again, but we are no longer in the safety of our home, we would be open to the elements. It's also possible that our means of transportation for emergencies could be unavailable when needed.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #286

Feb 052016


  • 115,700 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima stop working after I started and was getting ready for work. When I got ready to leave I notice it stopped and when I try again it would not start at all. Come to find out after having to tow it to the dealer it was an internal failure of steering lock assembly. Repair cost me over $1000. Supposedly Nissan had offer an extra warranty on the issue but it expired last year which leave me with expense. I try calling Nissan to find out if they will cover the cost but did not get any assistance. I don't think it's fair that they will cover the cost since it is a known issue that they are aware of and they choose to offer a warranty that expire. They don't know at what point in time the failure will occur.

- West Haven, CT, USA

problem #285

Feb 052016


  • 73,000 miles


Car would not start due to a failure of the electronic steering column lock thus leaving myself and passengers stranded for hours. This is a latent defect in the car, and a known issue, which Nissan has already acknowledged by extending the warranty from 3 to 6 years. Unfortunately the issue only occurred after the 6 years so was not covered under warranty. Nissan needs to issue a recall as this is a major safety issue with stranded drivers and passengers.

- Miller Place, NY, USA

problem #284

Jan 282016


  • 85,000 miles
The steering lock malfunctions on this car, and other years and models. This causes the driver to be stranded when the car will not turn on due to the car being in an anti theft mode. Nissan is well aware that this is an issue and is profiting from it. The customer will have to tow the car to Nissan (since they are the only ones that can fix it), and it will cost $1000 to fix. Nissan states that due to it not being a safety concern, they do not have to recall this. This has affected countless customers however and it is unethical. This is not even something the person themselves or another mechanic can fix since it is electrical. I do not feel that Nissan should be profiting from a part that they know is defective

- Old Bethpagr, NY, USA

problem #283

Jan 252016


  • 107,000 miles
I started the vehicle at home and drove to the my mothers house(, approximately 6 minutes away.) when I went to start the vehicle it would not start. The little key light went on so, I changed the battery for the remote as some people reported that was the problem. The vehicle still would not start. Called the local Nissan dealer, they said it sounded like the electronic steering lock.after making some research I just found out that is a commmon problem with this model and year.T.. I believe this is a safety concern and request it is issued as a recall. Many people online are complaining about the lock steering issue..I beliene Nissan should at least be responsible of replacing the parts.this is our third car that we have bought and have not had any issues before.

- Boqueron, PR, USA

problem #282

Jan 122016


  • 41,000 miles


Leaving work I went out to my car to go home. When I went to the start the car, the car would not start. A yellow key light came on. Unable to start the car, I looked up online possible causes and figured out it was the electronic steering column lock. The car had to be towed which cost $30+ and had to be repaired. Nissan issued an extended warranty because of this particular part having caused problems in the past. The repair cost $1092.

- Villa Ridge, MO, USA

problem #281

Jan 232016


  • 73,565 miles
Steering lock control unit fails to disengage even though key (fob) is present. Doors and trunk will unlock/lock so vehicle recognizes fob/key. Nissan had a warranty fix, but did not notify owners. Now period has closed leaving owner wit H a $1000+ bill so car can be used.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #280

Dec 302015


  • 100,000 miles
My car was stationary in a grocery parking lot and push button starter would not start. It was the dead of winter with sub zero temperatures. The dash displayed an illuminated key indicating there may be something wrong with the intelligent key, so I replaced the battery in both keys and the car still would not start. I then tried to jump the car with no success. So I googled "car won't start, 2009 Nissan Altima" and that opened the flood gates. I read tons of complaints about this same part malfunctioning on the 2009 to 2011 Nissan. When I finally towed my car to the dealer, guess what--I had that very issue, something called the "steering lock malfunction". during my research, I even read an article that indicated Nissan was aware of the problem, and had extended their warranty to help, but that extension ended in March 2015 and Nissan would not complete a recall because it was not a safety issue. I say it is a safety issue. Again, my car stopped on me in the dead of winter in the middle of a cold snap. What I also read was that Nissan knew that at least 50% of these cars manufactured would have to have this part replaced and decided to leave the consumer on their own to pay for the repair. I viewed youtube videos where tons of consumers were doing desperate things to avoid spending the $1000 for this repair. They were pulling their fuses for the steering lock system. They were pulling out the part and banging on it. They were sticking a screw driver in the part to release the stuck mechanism to get the car to start. It's a shame that Nissan is aware that this part is defective and has the tendency to get stuck, resulting in disabling the push button starter and they won't do anything about it. I will never, ever, ever buy another Nissan car, especially not a 2009 through 2011. I wouldn't own another Nissan if they were giving them away. This company is unethical.

- Romeoville, IL, USA

problem #279

Jan 022016


  • 66,000 miles
My vehicle was parked at a gas station after getting fuel. I attempted to start my vehicle but had no response from push button start. After some online investigation I found that Nissan had a defective electronic steering column lock causing the issue. This defective part left me stranded. The service advisor at the dealership I ended up at told me that this is a very common problem on models within a certain range with of vins. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs and they acknowledged the issue and informed me they had now obtained an upgraded part to prevent this issue. If this is a known defective part that places owners of these vehicles in a position of being stranded at any time in any types area it then becomes a safety issue. Nissan should be responsible enough to insure the safety of their customers and replace this part on the vehicles involved.

- Manchester, MO, USA

problem #278

Jan 112016


  • miles


Electric steering lock failed and rendered car useless and unable to start. Wheels locked in place. The car was parked. Nissan ultimately removed the mechanism in further generations of cars and denies all responsibility after an arbitrary 3 year warranty extension. No science behind the 3 year warranty extension and no help past the deadline. Cars continue to fail beyond the initial 3 year warranty and become inoperable unless a >$1000 repair is performed. A car not starting is a safety issue depending upon where this issue occurs.

- Covington, LA, USA

problem #277

Jan 102016


  • 145,000 miles
I went out to start my car and it would not start. The Nissan intelligent key warning light was on which the manual warns of a malfunction with the electrical steering lock system. The car will not start and so I will have to have it towed to the dealer to have it fixed. When I check to see if it is on recall it does not appear to be however there are numerous complaints just within the past few weeks of this problem. I think Nissan should look into this and recall the faulty part.

- Alexander, AR, USA

problem #276

Jan 082016


  • 61,000 miles
Went to get gas vehicle wouldn't start. Called dealer and concluded electronic steering lock was defective causing car not to start. Had car towed to dealer since car out of extended warranty had to pay $933 to dealer for repair. This problem is quite common and had it fixed in a short time. This needs to be a recall. Herba Nissan of johnstown NY completed repair.

- Amsterdam, NY, USA

problem #275

Dec 312015


  • 122,000 miles
While driving back to work from a lunch break, I noticed the"key warning" light illuminated. When I arrived L put the transmission in park then shut off the engine. Proceeded to exit the car then to lock the car. Nothing happened. Tried again and had the same result. Tried to restart car and had the same result. Electronic key with a new battery did not work. All electronic mechanisms did not work.

- Cutler Bay, FL, USA

problem #274

Nov 112015


  • 72,000 miles
Car won't start due to failure of the electronic steering column lock.

- Waltham, MA, USA

problem #273

Dec 212015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
My wife and I purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima in October 2009 and did not encounter any major issues until a few days ago. On 12/17/2015, my wife was left stranded in a parking lot outside a grocery store at night due to unable to start the car. We tried using a key fob with a good battery and jump starting the Altima, but it would change the car from ┐lock┐ mode to ┐on┐ mode (where the car can be started). We did extensive research, and found there were a tremendous number of 2009 Nissan Altima owners that had encountered the same issue, some stranded on the highway, and some in snow with kids. Many people post on blogs and youtube about this issue. We ended up having the car towed to a Nissan dealership for examination for $110, and their diagnosis result confirmed that the steering lock mechanism (part # 48700-9N00B) needed to be replaced ┐ they quoted us $1152 for part ($650) and labor. The part is for sales for $360 on Nissan usa was well aware of this issue, and they extended the warranty on the steering lock mechanism part for 3 years. However, we have not received any notice from them about this. As our car is 10 weeks out of the extended warranty window, Nissan usa won┐T cover the repair expenses. As a Nissan Altima owner for 13 years, we felt betrayed by Nissan ┐ they were supposed to keep the owners informed on this issue and should have issued a recall, or worked with the oem provider and dealers for a cost effective solution. Instead, they have kept the 2009 Nissan Altima owners in the dark, until many of them got stranded in danger. We sincerely urge you to investigate this issue, and help us and other fellow 2009 Nissan Altima owners. As of 12/2/2015, a google search of ┐2009 Nissan Altima steering lock failure┐ yielded 46,600 results. Sample online posts about the issue:

- Dublin, OH, USA

problem #272

Dec 132015


  • 73,000 miles
12-13-2015 failed electronic steering lock which stranded us on the side of the road with the windows down exposing personal items and our personal safety for a part the manufacture has recognized as faulty and extended the warranty until 120 days before the part fails. 715 times" does someone have to die in a snow storm or get hit on the interstate before action will be taken on this" the part by itself was $715 from the dealer. Make this problem right before someone dies if they haven't already.

- Buda, TX, USA

problem #271

Dec 192015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,280 miles
Steering lock assy. Became defective while away from home and had to be towed to Nissan dealer, was told the new assy. Had warranty good for 12month/12000miles after repairs were made. This may be a safety feature for the car itself but becomes a safety hazard for the occupants if it breaks down in a hazards area away from home or in a area of bad weather itself. The dealer informed me that there was an extended warranty of 72mons.or unlimited mileage added to the original 36mon./ 36000miles for this part. I was not notified or aware of this add-on. So it seems there was reason for concern by the car maker by adding the additional warranty. It was a out of pocket expense for me and no guarantee the car would not brake down again since I do not know if the new replacement part is any better than the one that broke! my car was beyond the additional warranty. I do not trust the car, it could break down at a really unsafe location next time if there is a next time. I need security for me and my family! thank you P.S. the car had been turn off luckily in a post office parking lot, but would not re start under any circumstance when we were ready to go on.

- Van Buren, AR, USA

problem #270

Dec 242015


  • miles
Was stuck at work over the weekend. Car did not work. Intelligent car key remote changed new battery and still did not work had to tow to dealer Nissan, was told to run a diagnostic test on the car, and found out the electronic steering lock is not working. Ive checked online and found out alot people have the same promble that I had. The cost to replace cost about $1200. Since too many people have the same problem. Nissan should have recall all the 09 model. I want Nissan reimburse the cost of replacing new lock.

- Lino Lakes, MN, USA

problem #269

Dec 152015


  • 94,000 miles
Car left me sit due to steering wheel lock needing replaced. It affects the push start ignition and the brake pedal too. Upon researching, I found that this was a common problem and that Nissan fixed some at no charge but others had to spend $1000 and up to repair it. There are copious amounts of complaints regarding this same issue and I suspect that Nissan are fixing some to appease those who are pushing for a recall. My vehicle was stopped at a rest area on the pa turnpike to use the restroom and when I returned the car would not start when I pushed the button. The brake was also very hard to push. The key fob battery light came on and the key fob holder in the dash also was flashing. I started looking for ideas to help us on the internet and right away the steering wheel lock information came up with pages and pages of complaints regarding this same repair. We had car towed to closest dealership to have them diagnose it as the steering wheel lock. I cannot believe with all the complaints online that this has not been recalled. What if that would start a fire?

- Camp Hill, PA, USA

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