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


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,699 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #65

Oct 032016


  • 67,000 miles


Electric steering column lock (escl) failed and left me stranded at work. Had to wait 2 hours for someone to come get me.

- Fargo, ND, USA

problem #64

Sep 012015


  • 50,000 miles
Dashboard has a sticky residue that continues to worsen. The glare from the sticky residue reduces visibility.

- Panama City Beach, FL, USA

problem #63

Jan 012016


  • 18,000 miles
Melting dashboard. Makes it very hard to see. Also the cracking and peeling may be effecting the airbag functions.

- Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #62

Aug 262016


  • miles


Takata recal: 2009 Nissan Altima has a faulty steering lock. This is causing me to be stranded and not able to have a functional car. I have no receive any noticed about an extended warranty and this is unsafe being stranded. I am looking to get a recall on the part of have a part provided to me which I should now have to pay 500+ for the part and then also labor. Please look into this issue I know I am not the only one have the same problem. The car was purchased in 2012 as well. This is ridiculous that Nissan is making me pay for something that is a defect with there cars!

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #61

Sep 082016


  • miles
Nissan has refused to recall their faulty electronic steering lock unit that is needed to turn the vehicle on. If it does not lock the wheel in place it will not allow the push start ignition to start the vehicle, thus leaving their occupants stranded with no option other than to have their vehicles towed to a Nissan dealership and forced to pay upwards of $1200 for the replacement of a defective factory part. They offered a extended warranty to address this issue, but neglected to inform consumers of this. They are clearly trying to get out of paying for their mistakes and are passing the cost on to their unsuspecting customers.

- San Diego, CA, USA

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problem #60

Aug 252016


  • 130,000 miles
I parked my car in the school parking lot, ran in to take care of some errands. When returning to my car to leave it would not start. It kept saying to press the brake when I was pressing the brake and trying to start. It never started. I had to have it towed home. It will not even come on auxiliary to get mileage or anything else. I then talked with someone at autozone to see what the problem was - he advised me that it was the steering wheel lock that has gone bad and that Nissan would not fix it due to the warranty running out. I found that many people have had this problem and Nissan knew about it and did not file a recall. I now have to pay $1200 to have this fixed on my car and I don't think that this is fair.

- Dudley, NC, USA

problem #59

Aug 242016


  • 210,000 miles


Steering lock failure caused car to be unable to be started. Owner stranded at work with vehicle in parking garage. Needed a tow and not easy to find tow company that was willing to pick up on 5th level of parking garage. Dangerous situation. This is a known defect with 2009 Nissan Altima...owner was never notified of earlier recall. This recall should not have been ended...many more people continue to be put at risk!

- Hartford, WI, USA

problem #58

Aug 172016


  • 136,000 miles
Issue: Steering lock fault preventing car from starting. Dear sir: I am very angry, frustrated and disappointed with this ongoing issue with my ż09 Altima. I am sure you can imagine how disconcerting it is to not know when or if your car will start. I have been repeatedly stranded by this problem and have had to be jump started on many occasions and finally towed to the dealership to hopefully fix once and for all. This is the 2nd repair Iżve had to have done on the same or related issue: Steering lock. The first repair was resolved by replacing the brake light switch for a total of $177.18. The second repair was fixed by replacing the steering lock for a total of $908.04 plus rental of $45. The towing was included in my auto insurance policy. I realize this is not a new vehicle, however in my mind, this is an item that should not fail as there is no manual/alternative starting mechanism. Not to mention, IżD be fine with the żold fashionedż key start. IżM not sure why Nissan hasnżT stepped up in a major way to fix this known problem. A simple google search will tell you this is no small/isolated issue. As a multiple Nissan vehicle owner and hopefully a long time, repeat customer I am respectfully requesting a full reimbursement in the amount of - $1,130.22.

- Peachtree City, GA, USA

problem #57

Aug 172016


  • 210,000 miles
Steering lock. The steering lock will fault and prevent the car to be started. This is a safety hazard because a person can be stranded. It sounds like this might be a frequent occurrence of this year and model (dealer had mentioned this fact).

- Neenah, WI, USA

problem #56

Jul 222016


  • miles
I was out handling business all day Friday and later that evening I had to make my last stop. I went into the store and when I came out my care had no power and my steering wheel wouldn't move. The key indicator light was on, but I still had no idea of how I would get my car started.. I called my husband because it was late and getting dark out (very dangerous). I had to go the whole weekend and week without a car that I've had for the pass 6 years. I contacted the dealership and they informed me that the part would be $1000, ridiculous! I was unaware of any recall and take my car to the dealer regularly and was never notified of a recall.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #55

Jul 232016


  • 88,213 miles


I was parked at the hairdressers I came out my car would not start. It is the steering module which Nissan knows is a faulty part but doesn't want to do a recal for. They extended the warrenty instead of doing a recall I am 7 months past the extended warranty so am paying $1000 for a part that Nissan knows is their issue

- Johnston, RI, USA

problem #54

Jul 082016


  • miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima slows down from 75 mph to 40-35 after traveling for 4 hours on long distance (trips). I have had to pull over several times in order for the car to cool off and gain speed. It is extremely dangers to when big trucks and other vehicles are coming behind you at a fast speed and you have to pull over quickly. I have to put a transmission valve kit and cooler on my car because Nissan neglected to put these parts on my car. Shame on you Nissan. How can you sleep at night knowing your error, greed, or lack of compassion can cause people their lives while on the highway. This is a safety issue that has been complained about on various blogs and no recall has taken place. I am annoyed and then my case manager for my complaint told me I should have taken out the extended warranty. No, don't blame this on me. This is a manufacturing issue. It is unfair to pass the blame unto the consumers. Safety is first or has the new generation of manufactures forgotten about this

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #53

May 052016


  • 85,000 miles
Steering lock control unit failed. Car would not start left me stranded and needed to be towed to dealer. $ 1000 out of pocket cost for deffected part that extended warranty did not cover expensives due to end of their extended waranty campaign "??"like obviously Nissan North America Inc., have knowledge of the defective equiptment and need to recall the part.

- Firebaugh, CA, USA

problem #52

Jun 202016


  • 103,000 miles
I have a defective steering lock which won't allow the car to start. There was no warning and for my general safety and use of my car, this problem needs to be resolved by Nissan motor Inc.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #51

Jun 102016


  • 134,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima had a defective steering lock that caused me to be stranded alone late at night on June 10, 2016 - not able to start my car. My car had to be towed to a dealer the next day. This is a very dangerous situation to be in because I had no warning that this was going to happen and this time it was not too cold. I was able to use my cellphone to call a friend to help. I had to get a ride back to my car the next day and wait for a tow truck. I was without my vehicle for 3 days waiting for it to be serviced. This cost me $900 to fix. This is a defective part in the 2009 Nissan Altima and there is no way to know if it will happen again and should be covered by a recall for the life of the car.

- East Providence, RI, USA

problem #50

Jun 182016


  • 47,000 miles
The steering lock control unit failed, resulting in my car being unable to start. If this had happened while I was parked in a remote location, I could have frozen or starved to death. This is a common issue as I found from doing some searching on the internet, with hundreds and hundreds of similar complaints. Nissan should recall the 2009 Altima or issue a recall to preemptively replace this part.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #49

May 262016


  • 85,000 miles
Steering lock control unit died. No signs of wear, car just didn't start on a random day. Dealership specifically said, "found steering lock cont- unit internally oepn...)" when I asked the service guy at the dealership how this can happen, his response was "it can just happen over time".

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #48

Jan 092015


  • 6,055 miles
Dashboard is melting and cracking. This car has been garage kept since bought brand new in 08, it only has 6055 miles on it, & when ever it was out, it always had a sunshield. Been reading thousands of complaints, & a lawsuit should be filed as was done for Toyota. It does create a vision hazard and it cant be cleaned.

- Spring Hill, FL, USA

problem #47

Apr 102016


  • miles
On April 10, 2016, the steering wheel on my 2009 Nissan Altima suddenly, without any warning or prior problems, completely froze while I was parked in a different city from my home. I was unable to start the car or do anything. I tried jumping the engine and it did not help. I had no choice but to have it towed to the nearest Nissan dealer, which was closed that day, and had to wait until the next day to have it checked. The dealer said it was a faulty steering wheel lock. They charged me $699 for new parts and $250 for labor, just to replace a defective part, which I later discovered was a widely known defect. Fortunately I was parked in a relatively safe area while it was still daylight. Had this occurred at night in an unsafe area, this could have been quite a dangerous and frightening situation not being able to start or drive the car.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #46

May 182013


  • miles
I live in South Florida and purchased a 2009 Nissan Altima in 2013. The dashboard has melted to the point where it is becoming a problem. It reflects off the windshield and causes a terrible glare on the windshield. It is a sticky mess. I took it in to the dealer within a year of purchase and they stated it was out of warranty so they couldn't do anything about it. It has gotten worse and I would like Nissan to take some responsibility for this mess. I know I am not the only one with this issue and they really need to take notice. This is poor customer service and not good for their brand!

- Coconut Creek, FL, USA

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