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 9 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #228

Aug 122015


  • 74,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. After opening the door with the key fob, the vehicle failed to start as the key warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was towed the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the electronic steering column lock was damaged and needed replacement. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 74,000.

- Concord, NC, USA

problem #227

Aug 032015


  • 121,000 miles
On 8/3/2015 I went to the grocery store drove my car perfectly well. When I was ready to go home my car would not start. My steering wheel was locked. I had to call a tow truck since the dealership was closed. Next day I call Nissan since I saw so many postings about this issue opened a claim, and they told me I would have to take the car to get a diagnosis from the dealership and call them back with the findings, because I was out of warranty as of March 3,2015. I took the car payed a tow truck again then had to pay $130 for the diagnosis only to find out they could and would do nothing! I had to pay $1007. And they claimed I was out of warranty for over 41 months. How is it that they know its a malfuntion, and they get away with no recall! I will never purchase another Nissan vehicle

- Salinas, CA, USA

problem #226

Jan 122015


  • 89,000 miles
I drove to walmart 5 miles from home with no problem. I came out of walmart and the car will not start. It was towed to the dealership where I was told the ignition switch was bad. I paid $900 to fix it.

- Henrico, VA, USA

problem #225

Jul 312015


  • miles


Steering lock does not disengage and the car does not start, something wrong with electronic control unit.

- Porter Ranch, CA, USA

problem #224

Jul 032015


  • 83,500 miles
My car was not starting. It was indicated as no key. I called Nissan customer care. They told that my cars warrenty expired on March 2015. My cars first registration date is November 2009. I have heared that the ecsl of Nissan Altima is having 6 years of warrenty. But I am told by the Nissan authorised dealer - pinnacle Nissan scotsdate phoenix that my warrenty expired. My car have not completed its 6 year and I am wondering how the warrently would void. I have replaced the part from my pocket as well, I am really disappointed. It would be great if Nissan can refund the cost of replacing the part. Thanks, binu.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #223

Nov 252014


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving at 45 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician diagnosed that the steering wheel lock column failed. The vehicle was repaired. However, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000. The VIN was not available.

- Greeley, CO, USA

problem #222

Jul 132015


  • miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima has been failing to start daily since 07/13/2015. It takes me 20-30 minutes to get car started. Key fobs appear operational. While pressing the break & push button to start the car, the radio comes on but the car doesn't start. It makes a clicking sound & won't do anything. I have to wait a few minutes & retry several times before starting.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #221

Jul 122015


  • 90,900 miles
Car would not start and had to be towed to Nissan dealer to have faulty steering lock mechanism replaced for $1100. And of course outside warranty period all out of pocket expense on a issue that should have been taken care of by Nissan as this is obviously a manufacture issue and bad parts out in car, this same issue has happened to thousands of other 2009 Nissan Altima owners.

- Des Plaines , IL, USA

problem #220

Jul 112015


  • 70,400 miles
The electronic steering column lock failed - the car would not start. This is a well documented and widespread, major defect issue with 2009 Altima models.this apparent defect is well documented on internet forums. The car needs to be towed to a dealer, and a new steering column lock installed. Approximate cost $1,000. The problem is very widespread. Nissan extended the warranty on this part only to 6-years. My failure occurred at 6-years, 2-months. Most failures appear to occur just after 6-years. Rather than issue a 6-year extended warranty which recognizes a problem exists, Nissan should have issued a recall because this problem is so widespread. Luckily for me, this happened close to home and in warm weather.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #219

Jul 072015


  • 142,000 miles
Drove car to work everything ran fine. Went on break and got in car it would not crank. The indicator light appeared( yellow keyless light) on the left side. Looked it up in my car manual and it says steering electrical problem call Nissan. So now im stuck without a car and I am still making car payments. This sucks. I've been reading other comments about issue. It seems that this has happened a lot. Supposedly there was an extended warranty that only lasted up until Feb. But its now July, so I guess im assed out. Smdh!! this car needs to be recalled asap

- Lexington, NC, USA

problem #218

Jun 302015


  • miles


Truly cant believe Nissan Consumer Affairs, on 6/30/2015, my electric steering column lock went out. I called Consumer Affairs on 6/30/2015, to see if its part of this extended warranty, ( which I found out though google), rep explain mine expired on 6/3/2015, and I needed to tow it to dealership. Which I did, and found out that was the problem, so I called back on 6/30/2015, and ask since it was less than a month will they help with the cost. On 7/1/2015, I had to call 4 times and message Nissan though facebook to even get a call back from the regional consumer affair agent, when she finally called back an hour before the dealership service dept. Closes, she explain they wouldn't help with any cost. The cost to fix this problem, that Nissan knew about since 2009, would be 1,000 dollars. Personally I don't have the money to fix it, at this point of time it is sitting at the dealership, I'm missing work everyday because of an issue that could have been avoided if Nissan took responsibility of there failure.

- Byram, MS, USA

problem #217

Jun 122015


  • 76,000 miles
Car could not be started and had to be towed to a Nissan deal where they charged me $900 to fix. This is a defective part, electronic steering column lock, that Nissan knows about. They extended the warranty for this part and have it listed on the website. It is specific to the 2009 Altima and maxima. They refused to help with cost in anyway because the warranty expired 2 months prior...even though they know it is a big enough issue to have the extended warranty on it. If the part is defective...why put any time frame on it. Do a recall, or fix them as it happens.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #216

Mar 022015


  • 96,644 miles
I finished work late at night during a snowstorm, only to find that my car would not start and I had to get a tow. Nissan later explained that the cause was a defective electronic steering column lock (escl) unit. Because this malfunction occurred a few months after the 6 year extended warranty, in addition to waiting hours for a tow truck in a snowstorm, I was then forced to pay $1000 to fix Nissan's defective part.

- Marlborough, MA, USA

problem #215

Jun 182015


  • 93,000 miles
Got into my car & it would not crank. Brakes were pressed & stayed in lock position. After turning the steering wheel back & forth it started.

- District Heights, MD, USA

problem #214

Jun 122015


  • 13,000 miles
My car will not start. It is a push to start system and the nothing happens when I attempt to start my car. Turns out that I have a defective steer lock switch and this is a very common issue in the 2009 Nissan Altima. This is a safety concern and should be recalled.

- Williamstown, NJ, USA

problem #213

May 182015


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while in park, the vehicle failed to start. In addition, the security indicator warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 98,000.

- Collins, MS, USA

problem #212

Oct 032013


  • 18,250 miles
Engine with push button start would not turn over after 3hr stop and a long drive previous to stop. Battery was totally dead, but after repeated attempts to jump start it did turn over. There was no unusual draw on battery during stop either. Stopped at Nissan dealer to check the starting system and everything checked out normal. Service tech recalled this problem with my particular year and model, and said a brake switch and sub harness assembly should be replaced, but at $800+ cost I declined offer. Purchased a new battery later and as of this date I have not had a problem, but every time I start it I cross my fingers.

- Burnsville, MN, USA

problem #211

Jul 062011


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. A warning light illuminated on the instrument panel when the contact attempted to restart the vehicle. The dealer could not locate a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 62,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #210

May 152015


  • 76,237 miles
Car will not start and battery is fine. Appears to be a known defect with 2009-2010 Altima related to the steering lock sensor and happens just out of warranty. Apparently because it is not deemed a "safety issue" the NHTSA is not mandating a recall. However, this is a safety issue as my dog and niece were locked in the car and we could not open it because this defect shut down the entire electronic system. Make Nissan replace this defective part before someone is injured or killed.

- Rohnert Park, CA, USA

problem #209

May 142015


  • 128,000 miles
Steering column locked and has to be replaced. Car will not turn on at all. Had to get it towed to dealership where they are trying to slam me with a $1100 repair bill. Car was bought in Feb 2009, and extended warranty for said specific part ended Feb 2015.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

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