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:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,727 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #54

Apr 232016


  • 75,000 miles


The escl wheel lock will not release to let the vehicle start

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #53

Apr 102016


  • 66,500 miles
Was going out of town and due to bad weather conditions on the area I was supposed to drive to, I did not go. However, on Sunday afternoon I got into vehicle, tried to start it and it would not start. Now, if I had of gone out of town like I was supposed to, I would have been stranded. I often have my small granddaughter with me. Glad she wasn't this time. Had to call tow service.

- Newark, OH, USA

problem #52

Jan 012016


  • 80,000 miles
I live in the country and was prepared to leave town to visit my sister. I pack my car and get ready to leave (my car was in perfect condition in my garage all night) I went to start my car and nothing! I assumed the battery at first but the lights would turn on. I called Nissan and I was told my steering wheel lock device needs replaced. I was told that I would have to tow my car in, pay for parts and labor. I ask Nissan, if this is so common then how was I not notified of this" I learn this device was put in place for protection against car theft and designed for the key fab to undo the lock up. My car was not in threat of being stolen, and my key fab would not allow the engine to start. I was left stranded for no reason and without warning. I start researching that I am not the only one. There are hundreds effected by this faulty device. I can't believe Nissan has not recalled or set out notice to warn people, or offer an extended warranty. I watch a video on how to trick start the engine. You pull down the bottom of steering wheel and tap the metal lock device with a hammer. This allows my car to start some times. I've been stranded out of town, at a grocery store, and in the middle of no where all due to this defective device. What if it goes out while driving and causes an accident and/or death" I'm scared and upset until Nissan does the right thing to fix this

- Hutchinson, KS, USA

problem #51

Jan 152016


  • 0 miles


No star. Steering lock bloqued

- Mcallen, TX, USA

problem #50

Mar 102016


  • miles
This car leaks water into the drivers side floor, and keeps trapped rain water inside of both panel doors for weeks after it rains. I've already had to get the exhaust manifold leak fixed (which luckily was covered under a recall). Not to mention that I ended up having to go to the er last year for a breathing treatment because fumes were leaking into my cabin via the air conditioning(problem unknown/undiagnosed). But now like many other owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima, unfortunately the steering wheel ignition lock/switch malfunctioned causing my engine not to be able to turn on suddenly. When I returned to my car, the key fob was not recognized and the engine will not turn on. After towing it to a local Nissan dealership, it was diagnosed as a faulty steering wheel ignition lock, and will cost me an average of $1100 to fix. After contacting Nissan headquarters to see if it would be covered even though their "campaign" ended in Jan 2016 for my vehicle, they denied the request to provide assistance. I don't understand how any auto manufacturer can be allowed to get away with installing a faulty part into the car, and then pass along the ultimate cost of fixing it to any owner. It's not okay to simply cover the cost of those owners who's switch fails during a certain time period, and then inform the rest of us that they are unwilling to help. Nissan installed the defective part, and the right thing to do would be to own up to that mistake and issue a recall. Clearly Nissan does not have the best interest of their customers at heart. And from what I understand, they must have known that part was faulty enough not to issue a temporary extension of the

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #49

Mar 112016


  • 0 miles
Takata recall steering lock failer, engine will no longer work. Car was parked when it happened. Part defective. Nissan is apparently aware of problem. They should fix part.

- Springerville, AZ, USA

problem #48

Jun 132015


  • 190,000 miles


Takata recall service bulletins. I have a 2009 Nissan Altima that is very dangerous on the road with my children we have had it a year amd already spent alot. Call this dept and Nissan several times with no result I have 13 of the service bulletins wrong with this car amd many lives at stake I may have to get am attorney before we loose a life. I paid $9000 for this one year ago amd no one can help the strut, the cvt the engine cooler leaks, push start, cruise control vehicle speed sensor ABS ect please help is figure out what T9 do so I can sleep at night with all my babies safe

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #47

Jan 202015


  • 46,517 miles
Keyless start malfunctioned, steering wheel lock mechanism failed and rendered the car unable to start. Part:lock assy strg 48700-9N00B replacement part used at the cost of towing and $899.95 at mentor Nissan Ohio. Through research found this is a widely know issue, many cases involved this. 250,000 hits on internet. Certainly the consumer should be protected and reimbursed by Nissan.

- Mentor, OH, USA

problem #46

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 #45

Dec 042015


  • 64,000 miles
Our 2009 Nissan Altima hybrid died without warning. We were unable to turn the car on, nothing on the dashboard lit up except a yellow key symbol. The lights, locks, and key fob continued to work, however. I researched the issue we were having and discovered a number of consumers had similar problems with their Nissan. It is a manufacturer's defect with the steering lock which renders the car inoperable, apparently. This is not normal wear and tear. Our car gave no indication of something being wrong. It has only about 64,000 miles on it and we have had no major issues previously, and no indication that anything was wrong prior to it dying. When I contacted Nissan of marlboro, MA, the individual I spoke with diagnosed the problem over the phone. He said he was 99% certain it was the steering lock. This was confirmed once we brought the vehicle in for repair. For him to diagnose the problem accurately over the phone, they must see this issue often enough. Only further solidifying that Nissan is aware that there is a manufacturer's defect. I was told however, that despite Nissan being aware of the problem, we had missed the deadline for the extended warranty which ended in June 2015. Again, this is not due to normal wear and tear. Our car was in perfectly good condition until the moment it simply stopped working. When I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to report the problem, I was also made aware that the reason we never heard of the problem was that they had the previous owner, michael something, listed rather than us. So the mailing may have gone to him, not us. We purchased the car from Nissan of woburn as a certified pre-owned vehicle. By the time I spoke with the second individual from Nissan, our information was updated and she claimed Nissan can not guarantee that recall information is mailed to the correct owner.

- Acton, MA, USA

problem #44

Oct 302015


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While the ignition was turned to the on position, the vehicle failed to start without warning. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering wheel seized and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Ward, AR, USA

problem #43

Oct 022015


  • 145,000 miles
Without warning the vehicle would not start after being driven an hour prior to the malfunction. The key fob indicator light comes on but the car will not start or respond to the start button. The key fob unlocks/locks the car. Upon researching the issue online, I discovered that the issue is with the electronic steering control lock that keeps the car from being stolen or started without the key fob. This is, from what I discovered, a known issue with Nissan and in my view a major safety issue. Nissan has made this a warranty extension instead of a safety recall for reasons unknown. With no way to tell when and if a steering lock will fail it is a game of chance that many Nissan owners are losing. If you are like me, and purchased your car used, it is safe to say that you will not know about the issue until its already too late. On top of that, since it is a warranty it has an expiration date. Which means that if you are unfortunate enough to no know about this and it fails there is a good chance that Nissan will not fix it for free.

- Fayetteville, GA, USA

problem #42

Aug 012012


  • 80,000 miles
While on a 4 hour trip in the middle of the summer, the engine would wine and then suddenly start losing speed and be unable to accelerate. It is extremely dangerous when your top speed is 45 mph in a 75mph speed limit zone. No one knew what the issue was and it only happened in the middle of the summer. Nissan is now aware of the issue and a) cannot guarantee it can fix the problem and B) cannot guarantee it will not happen again even if they replace the transmission.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #41

Aug 042014


  • 120,000 miles
This is the third exhaust manifold I had to put on my car within a year. It is an 2009 Nissan Altima, it should be a recall on this part. Exhaust fumes are coming on the inside of the car from the exhaust manifold.

- Port Gibson, MS, USA

problem #40

Feb 122014


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving at an unknown speed, the contact noticed a loud abnormal noise coming from under the hood and fuel fumes emitted from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician diagnosed that the intake manifold fractured. The vehicle was repaired. The failure recurred and the vehicle was repaired again, however, the failure recurred once more. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 120,000.

- Port Gibson, MS, USA

problem #39

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 #38

Jun 192015


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving 40 mph, the steering wheel seized and the engine stalled. The vehicle continued to coast and crashed into a curb. The contact mentioned that the front passenger side tire bent inward. The contact was unable to restart the engine. The contact did not specify if a police report was filed or if any injuries were sustained. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the power steering failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #37

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 #36

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

problem #35

Apr 042015

Altima 4-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
I'm stranded. It won't recognize my key. The internet tells me that this is happening to many others and that Nissan is unresponsive. Unless you count being willing to take $1000 plus to take care of what seems to be a well known problem.

- Douglassville, PA, USA

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