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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #45

May 162016


  • miles


I own a 2009 Nissan Altima on May 16, 2016 I arrived home at 10:30 I parked the car in my drive way turned the car off an went inside my house. I prepared my dad's lunch and went back inside the vehicle when I attempted to start the car it would no longer start the a red car light with key was blinking and a orange key as well my windows are rolled down and won't roll up and its been raining please help I called Nissan they asked if without hurting myself could I jerk the brake and start the car they want me to pay for a diagnostic at Nissan this has happened to so many people

- Lodi, CA, USA

problem #44

Sep 122013


  • 75,000 miles
The locks have stopped working when the key fob or door button are used. I have replaced 3 out of the four door locks multiple times with the problem recurring. This presents a safety issue for people needing to exit the car or enter the car quickly. Furthermore, all of the locks have locked when the key fob was left in the car (locking me out). The car is not supposed to lock when the fob is in the car. In addition, pressing the lock and unlock button will only unlock 2 doors at this time. This appears to have happened to a number of people. I think a recall is in order so the locks work as designed to prevent safety issues.

- Middletown, CT, USA

problem #43

Apr 132016


  • miles
Steering wheel lock failure- disabling the car where it will not start. Nissan is aware of the issue and has not done anything about it. To get the car fixed it's going to be over 1000 dollars.

- Boones Mill, VA, USA

problem #42

Jul 012014


  • miles


The dashboard on this vehicle is melting due to warm climate. When driving towards the sun the gloss of the meting dashboard reflects the sun back up into the lower windshield. This is blinding to the driver and obscures visibility through the lower portion of the windshield when this condition exist. There should be a recall issued due to the unsafe condition. There have been many reports in the local media of this same condition yet Nissan refuses to address the issue. Hopefully there will not have to be a traffic fatality before this safety issue is addressed and a recall is issued.

- Deland, FL, USA

problem #41

Apr 052016


  • 140,000 miles
My car started fine yesterday I saw the key light came on I assumed it was because the battery was low. I changed the battery in both keys. The next day my fiancee drove my car to work an hour away. It would not start at all, the light comes on and the steering is not locked but the car will not start at all and it can not shift at all. After looking in the manual it states that it is an idicator that the steering lock has failed. This seems to be an issue with hundreds of other cars and it is going to cost 1200 to fix this. My fiancee was stranded an hour from home and his cell died, not to mention he works nights and got off at 5am and could not find a ride or a nearby place to call home long distance.

- Vincennes, IN, USA

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problem #40

Mar 192016


  • miles
The dashboard of my 2009 Nissan Altima is melting, creating a shiny, sticky surface. The shine from the melted dash reflects on the windshield causing a glare that makes it hazardous to drive.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #39

Mar 142015


  • 90,000 miles


As I stopped at tollbooth and stop cut started right back long as I was moving it would stay on.then service engine soon light illuminated.ive heard of other complaints about this.I just bought car last year.

- Bellwood, IL, USA

problem #38

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 #37

Jan 012014


  • miles
My car has had the ABS and the tire light on constantly - does not go off and cost a fortune to have fixed - according the to manual after inflating the tires it states the light may not go off and you have to take it to the dealer to be repaired at your expense. The safety issue is since these lights are on constantly have to keep checking my tires to make sure they are properly inflated and with the ABS light all the time you don't know when there is an actual problem with the brakes

- Medford, NY, USA

problem #36

Feb 102016


  • 115,000 miles
I have a 2009 Nissan Altima with push-start ignition and respective 'smart key'. while 2 hours away from home and alone, the electronic steering column lock mechanism malfunctioned and therefore did not recognize my smart key was in the vehicle and would not allow me to start the car. I was stranded alone, at night, 2 hours from home with a vehicle that would not start due to malfunctioning part. I had to have the car towed to my local Nissan dealership where the diagnosis was made that the steering column lock malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. Upon calling Nissan corporate, I was informed that this was a known issue, however my car was no longer under warranty and it would not be covered. I purchased this car as certified pre-owned with the expectation that any safety related known issues would be addressed. I was never made aware of the issue or the possibility that I could be put in a dangerous situation. Nissan told me that while they were aware the part was mis-manufactured, the part was not a 'recall' (as determined by NHTSA) criteria) and as such would not have been proactively fixed if not broken. They did however extend the warranty on the part, but only for 6 years, assuming is a driver had this problem it would have occurred in the first 6 years of occurrence was when the vehicle was 8 years old. I feel like this a major safety concern especially if there was potential for the steering column lock to malfunction while driving and Nissan should have issued a voluntary recall or indefinitely extended the warranty.

- Mantua, NJ, USA

problem #35

Jan 202016


  • 84,500 miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima had its steering column lock malfunction and left my wife stranded in a blizzard. She went to work, was going to head home for the day and the car wouldn't start. So I started the process, check the batteries in both the car and the key fob. As it turns out from researching the problem that it's a steering column lock failure. This is a very common problem with 2009 and 2010 Altima. Nissan has full knowledge of this issue, but fails to recall these cars. They did extended warranty on this part, but of course, this occurred after the extended warranty had expired. Its a $1000 plus repair minimum and the part that they want to replace it with is faulty as well. In efforts to contact Nissan Consumer Affairs I was treated like crap. They cant do anything for me until I have it towed(at my expense) to a certified Nissan dealer(45 miles away) and have them diagnose the problem. After watching numerous videos on this issue. I'm sure that this is the issue and I have many hesitations on having the part replaced because again the new part is also faulty, and comes with no warranty. So Nissan has left me with two choices. Option a: have car towed, pay the labor, and replace with another faulty part($1100 at least). Or option B: try to fix myself by bi-passing the part all together. Unfortunately this option is going to be a temp fix and the part is riveted so access to it is difficult. Not to mention affects my resale value. Its almost like this was Nissan's plan with designing this steering lock mechanism. Its a safety hazard as my wife and countless others have been stranded alone. After watching numerous diy videos I was able to get the car home by tapping the part numerous times with a hammer. We were able to get the car home, but there it sits in the driveway useless. Ive tried to start it since and guess what...nothing. The vehicle is useless.

- Sleepy Eye, MN, USA

problem #34

Jan 192016


  • 44,050 miles
Parked my car in a store parking lot. When I returned my car failed to start with a failure to recognize my key fob. I replaced the fob battery still won't start. It was getting dark I had to leave my car in the parking lot. Returned the next day. Nothing will start my car. When online to see that this is a common problem with my car. I had my car towed to the dealership. Was told the extended warranty had expired 03/15. I only have 44500 miles on my car. Nissan never notified me that there was a problem. It cost me $964 to get it fixed. And of course this all happen when my husband was out of town. Why was this not a recall?

- Merritt Island, FL, USA

problem #33

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 #32

Dec 262015


  • 120,500 miles
Merry christmas Nissan! thanks for making it a memorable one. I drove to a relatives home the day after christmas. The car was parked on a city street. When I went to leave, the car would not start or do anything. A yellow key symbol appeared. The car would not start, nothing was happening. The brake was very stiff. No ability to shift. No radio or dash lights would work. I had to have the vehicle towed to a local Nissan dealership. Electronic steering lock failure at a cost of $900. I was then told by Nissan dealership that Nissan was well aware of the issue and they had added an extended warranty to fix the bad part but it had expired earlier in 2015. I only went to dealership 3 times with sterring lock issues previously only to be told that it was my fob not the steering lock. I have 2 fobs and questioned how 2 would be having issues. Never a good answer or option. Never was I told there was bad part that was covered under warranty! shady business, the part should be recalled for safety and negligence. What if it stopped working and locked while I was actually driving" I travel for work and what if it stopped in a bad area leaving me stranded? what if it was extreme cold or heat" the issue is that Nissan knows about a bad part but have left customers to pay $900 to fix their bad part leaving people in danger. There are countless stories online about this same issue. Nissan changed the part in approx 2010. They need to own their mistake and stop leaving people stranded in harms way. I don't understand why Nissan is allowed to make a bad part, know that the bad part will disable the car and leave people stranded without any notice. The consumer gets insult to injury and has to pay for Nissan's mistake at a $900 cost. Again, merry christmas Nissan.

- Tumwater, WA, USA

problem #31

Dec 072015


  • 120,000 miles
Was out of town. Got into car. Would not start. Change battery in key fob. Still would not start. Researched on internet. Very common well known issue all over the internet. Exact same issue. People stranded. I called the dealership. They knew exactly what is was 100%. said I had to have it towed in so I did. Estimate for electric steering wheel lock was $1400. I got a second opinion from another Nissan dealership which again new exactly what the problem was and gave me a estimate for $650. So I had it towed to this dealership. I found out Nissan extended the warranty but mine expired a few months ago. My complaint is Nissan is not owning up to their reputation knowing that people are getting stranded because of this faulty electrical steering wheel lock and not informing their customers of the defect until its too late. Yes they extended the warranty but if I had known that I was going to one day get in my car and it not start I would have paid for it myself and had it fixed or traded the car in. Being stranded alone out of town is unsafe. I was out the expense of getting a car to get home which was a hour and half away and back to the dealership the next day, two towing expenses and $650 for repair. I expected more from Nissan. This will be the last Nissan I purchase.

- Greenwood, AR, USA

problem #30

Oct 012015


  • miles
Takata recall. My 2009 Nissan Altima has suspension problem might be the struts not exactly sure what it could be. Reading the press release by nthsa explained that 2009-2010 Nissan Altima and maxima has suspension or struts recall that was built out of spec and explained the feel of drive and I experience the same exact feeling that was described in the press release. The car seems like it slides and seems shaky when exceeding a certain speed. I feel the shake and sliding when I drive on the freeway and at freeway speeds. Not sure how it happened just drove down the freeway one day and felt a lot of shaking. Brought it to a Nissan service center and a Firestone as well but they couldn't pin point the problem. It was alot of " it could be's " and " I think". so please help me out not sure what is going on with my daily driver.

- Silverdale, WA, USA

problem #29

Dec 062015


  • 102,000 miles
I was leaving work as I approach my vehicle which was parked in the secured lot; I used my smart key to unlock the door in which it did. And when I entered my vehicle it did not start. The indicator on the dash was showing representation of no key in the vehicle but my key could still lock & unlock the doors. I proceeded to change the battery to my smart key 3X and to no avail did that fix my situation.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #28

Dec 022015


  • 42,000 miles
My family and I were stranded in the middle of the night last week for several hours for my car to be towed cause the engine would not start and jump start the battery did not work. After towed it home and research / diagnostic, found out that it is a well know that the steering lock box is defective. However, calling Nissan dealer about it and will not make the recall on the part. My car just die after 5 years. 3 months after the extended warranty. My dealer will not fix it and Nissan will not assist to get it fix either. They keep wanting me to bring it to the deal for diagnostic, when in-fact it is obvious that the steering lock bock is disabled the car from starting. I brought it in, and they kept telling me no recall and want me to pay for it (almost $1,000), yet recommending me to fix other issues saying it could have been tune up needed that why my car would not start.. ugh!!!

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #27

Dec 042015


  • 84,000 miles
Our 2009 Nissan Altima sl experienced a steering lock failure leaving my wife stranded with two young children in the car. The car was not able to turn on or even shift into neutral. Nissan is aware of the problem but would not do anything about it. Repair costs were nearly $1000.

- Bernardsville, NJ, USA

problem #26

Dec 052015


  • 75,000 miles
Push to start cars are not starting. It must be towed to the dealership where replaced a faulty break switch and now have to replace itelligent key system. In both cases the car will not turn over and must be towed back to the dealership as they are the only ones who can repair the car.

- Mesquite, TX, USA

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