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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2009 Nissan Altima:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Dec 042015


  • 95,000 miles


Electronic steering column lock malfunction. Parked vehicle in the driveway, came out an hour later and the vehicle will not start. A yellow key light and a red vehicle light with a key symbol inside are the only things on the dash that will appear. Brake pedal is hard and the push to start will not work.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #24

Nov 252015


  • 44,000 miles
"takata recall"-thanksgiving eve stranded with a key/keyfob unable to start car on lock. November 2015-cincinnati, oh (highland/ridge) parking lot I thought it was the key fob not working. Had a kind women take me to a store to purchase and / replace my 2032 battery within key fob. Still did not work. Read the manual several times including contacting the dealership to assist in working through any unknown issues that I might have not discovered or tried. Came back out and tried to start the car, a key light was flashing on the dash, brake was hard to press. The car still would not start. I was forced to have car towed to dealership several hours later. While waiting, I googled the result, I was shocked at all the complaints on the same malfunction."

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #23

Sep 302015


  • miles
Dashboard is sticky and melting causing a glare across windshield making it difficult to see when driving.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #22

Feb 012014


  • 50,000 miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima dashboard got a shiny sticky substance which I thought I may have used a bad dash cleaner, but it appears it is actually melting. It is sticky to touch, and the reflection from the sun makes it difficult to see while driving.

- Stockbridge, GA, USA

problem #21

Oct 282015


  • 98,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima would not start. Dealer said that it was an issue with the steering lock mechanism being stuck. Went to Nissan usa's website and saw that a lot of people were having this issue, and it has been talked about all over the internet. So many complaints about this very issue that it looks like Nissan extended a warranty covering the cost to fix the problem if this happened to your vehicle. The caveat, they only extended this by 6 years. Took it to the dealer and they told me it was the steering lock. I called Nissan, and they told me that I missed the coverage by two months. If there are so many people having this very issue, why isn't there a recall. It's a clear product defect.

- Beavercreek, OH, USA

Search for these popular complaint phrases...

problem #20

Oct 192015


  • 116,000 miles
There was a malfunction with the electronic steering column lock. I went to start my car and it would not start. The electronic steering column lock needed to be replaced.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #19

Oct 192015


  • miles


The electronic steering column lock issue is prevalent in Nissan Altima model year 2009-2010 and Nissan has failed to take responsibility for this known issue. I experienced the issue conveniently outside of Nissan's "extended warranty claim period" and as a result I am stuck with a $1000 repair that I have taken full financial burden from. This was a known issue that should have been fixed by Nissan under a recall as this is in fact a safety concern because nobody should be concerned about their car not starting especially if they are in an uncomfortable situation and need to get to safety quickly. This issue occurred while the vehicle was stationary and that by no means excuses it from being a safety concern, because it is very much a safety concern.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #18

Oct 272015


  • miles
Nissan will not honor a recall on my vehicle for the steering lock due to the fact that the extension for the recall has ended even though it end on 02/04/2015 of this year and it is now October 2015 and was never notified of the recall. They should be held responsible for any and all recalls on there brand even after the end dates.

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #17

Oct 222015


  • 86,000 miles
Car deesn't start, it is because of faulty steering lock system. Nissan extended warranty on this part but didn't do recall. It has happend to many people and yesterday I was stranded and my car wouldn't start. The repair is costly and Nissan is not paying for it.

- Billerica, MA, USA

problem #16

Sep 172015


  • miles
I got in my car fine this morning with my key fob, but the key light was on when I got inside. When I pushed the break to push the button trying to start my car it would not turn on. The light stayed on lock. The steering wont budge and the break is locked. My car is in park and the wheels are straight.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #15

Aug 102015


  • 92,551 miles


I had stopped at the grocery store and went to get back in my car and it would not start, it would not even recognize the key. My key fob would unlock, lock & pop my trunk but my car acted like it wouldn't accept my key fob. My steering wheel was not locked & it has been towed and sat overnight & its still not locked, my electronic steering wheel lock has gone out on my car & with all the research I have done I found out several other people are having the same problem. Nissan extended the warranty on this part to 6 years but it seems all these failures are happening after that 6 year mark has been hit. Nissan is well aware of the problem and released a bulletin on it but not a recall, I believe with all the problems that everyone is having that a recall should be issued I was quoted 800-1000.00 to fix this problem. This is evidently a faulty part installed by Nissan and they should make it right

- Henderson, KY, USA

problem #14

Jun 012015


  • 72,000 miles
On occasions my car would not start. We would shake it, press the start button continuously, sit and wait up to 60 minutes before the card restarted. I did a lot of research online and assumed it was the brake switch. I had the battery, alternator, and starter checked. Told their were no problems. So, after researching, I contacted the dealer. Was informed it would cost about $400 to repair, as they had been experiencing other customers coming in with the same problem. I contacted my personal mechanic and informed him after extensive research, and speaking to the dealer, I believed it was the brake switch. The brake switch/brake light switch cost $45 from dealer, and he charged me $35 to put on. A big savings from what the dealer would have charged me..$400, plus a diagnostic cost of $125. I have not had any problems since having this little switch replaced.

- Yeadon, PA, USA

problem #13

Jul 042015


  • 164,000 miles
On a 3 hour trip, the Altima lost speed. Current speed was 75-80 mph, dropped to 60 mph on the hwy. Transmission fluid check to be good and no warning lights or anything happen. Car lost power/speed on a small incline and this has happen on several occasions doing a road trip. This should be a recall

- Braselton, GA, USA

problem #12

Aug 012014


  • miles
The dashboard of the car is melting. The areas on the dashboard that are affected are very sticky and can't be cleaned. With the dashboard melting, there is a glare that comes up from the dashboard onto the windshield which makes driving during the day both difficult and hazardous because of the limited visibility. I also don't know if this melting issue is causing any type of toxins or fumes to collect in the car interior.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #11

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 #10

May 132015


  • miles
My dashboard is sticky and shiny in certain parts and it makes it difficult to drive in the sun because of the glare from the stickiness. There's nothing to wipe. It's just sticky, anything I put on it, whether it's paper, cloth, etc will just stick and not make a difference

- Pembroke Pines , FL, USA

problem #9

May 082015


  • 32,000 miles
I have an issue with my dash being very sticky. I have never been able to clean my dash due to the stickiness. I believe that Nissan should be forced to fix the issue since there is definitely reason for the dash to be fixed and I know I am not the only Nissan owner with this problem.

- Decatur, AL, USA

problem #8

Feb 262015


  • 107,000 miles
Vehicle will not start minutes after a successful start. All other factors such as battery, electrical, and fob key issues eliminated as possible cause. Similar problem has been widely reported, most likely a defective steering lock mechanism, or in some cases, a defective brake light switch wherein the brake pedal is depressed but the ignition system is registering an unpressed brake pedal. A safety issue as motorist could be stranded during inclement weather or other dangerous situation.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #7

Aug 102014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
There are long lines of cracks all over my dashboard. It appears the material from which it is made, is extremely inferior. Both the dealer from which is was bought (coral springs Nissan) and the Consumer Affairs section of Nissan na tell me there is nothing they can do as the warranty is up. What will happen to me if the dashboard falls apart while I am driving? I am also experiencing, to a lesser extent, the shiny spots which I have also read about from comments online, on the dashboard. I previously owned a 1999 Nissan Altima and never had this problem and fail to see how a car which I purchased December 2009 - note even 5 years old - should be having this problem. I'm extremely dissatisfied that the company is unwilling to assist in rectifying this defect.

- Lauderhill, FL, USA

problem #6

Jun 012012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Around 2012 the dashboard in this Altima is melting. It's turning into a glossy goo that is causing a extreme glare into the drivers side of the windshield. Nissan has not issued any recalls on this, so they wont fix it. I went to and found that apparently this is a widespread problem with Nissan, Toyota, Mazda & Lexus.

- Natchez, MS, USA

Read the next 5 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?