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 1 of 5)

problem #85

Jan 122017


  • 73,965 miles


After my 4.5 hr. Shift at the hospital, I went out to start my car & it wouldn't start. It showed "no key". I had battery power but the owner's manual showed that the fob was not connecting to the car. I was stranded and it was below zero temperatures. The next day after changing the batteries in the fob, my son brought me to the car. Still no starting it. We had to tow the car to a dealer who proceeded to charge me $1301 dollars to fix. It was the "defective steering lock module" (exact words on the bill) and I needed a new battery even though it was only 2 years old. The dealer didn't know why my battery was affected but it would no longer hold a charge. When I looked on ebay for the steering part, it was $350. Nissan charged me double. I asked the dealer why the double charge, they said "who knows, call Nissan." When I asked why this "defective part" was not recalled, the reply was "Nissan offered an extension on the warranty. You should have been notified." This is a safety issue as there was no warning of it's going out and Nissan knows about it.

- Andover, MN, USA

problem #84

Jan 132017


  • 108,000 miles
Owner of a 09 Nissan Altima 2.5 S. my whole family got stuck with the car that didnt start at all, there's a key logo in the dash panel showing so I went to find some solutions online and found that im lost because it wont start again until fix by a dealer. No fun at all because I found that I might have to pay out of my pocket and this been a old problem that I never was mentioned by my service dealer. Nissan needs to do something about it.

- Capitol Heights, MD, USA

problem #83

Jan 022017


  • 98,000 miles
We have a defects in the electronic steering column lock (escl) which has disable the push-button ignition on Nissan Altima 2009 sl. It can happened anytime which put a persons life in danger if you get stuck on or to F the road. Based on my research I have read numerous cases where very same situation had caused by faulty electronic steering column lock (escl). The only option we have right now to get your car towed to deal ship and pay well over $1100. Even though this Nissan fault for choosing to use the faulty part. This is absolutely unfair on their part. Please advice us as what can we do to have Nissan to accept the responsibility and replace this faulty part replaced.

- Irving, TX, USA

problem #82

Nov 202016


  • miles


Arrived at a gas station to fuel up, after I was done the car wouldn't start. Come to find out that the steering lock pump (which is connected to the push to start mechanism) is worn out which stops the car to turn

- Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #81

Dec 302016


  • 129,000 miles
My car was parked on the street when I tried to start it and nothing, the engine does not turn over. The fob is recognized and the lights work. Tried jumping but nothing. The steering wheel was not locked intially but since being towed, the wheel is now locked. Brake is hard to push when attempting push start---ignition switch does nothing.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

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problem #80

Dec 302016


  • 71,000 miles
The " steering column lock actuator" is failing keeping car from starting and stranding me with no alternatives means to start car. This an apparent known problem to Nissan yet they refuse to do the right thing and issue a recall.

- West Berlin, NJ, USA

problem #79

Dec 202016


  • 55,000 miles


Car woould not start with push button. Did start remotely but as soon as tried to restart car after getting in, car would not start. Defective locking mechanism in steering wheel so would not start. If late at night in no cell service area what do you do" no way to call for help? car no start" car was parked in garage. Remotely started then tried to restart after getting in car. Push button start will not work because the steering lock mechanism is defective. Many many of them do this. After replaced ok. This should definitely be a safety recall. Note cost is $1045 to fix. Very bad safety situation. Needs reconsideration for recall.. is problem with 2009 and 2010 Altima's.

- Ludlow, MA, USA

problem #78

Dec 262016


  • miles
Electronic steering column lock (escl); this was a covered warranty replacement until January of this year. I was not aware of any recall or that this might have even been an issue. I was parked out near a lake and had to call my friends to pick me up and have my car towed. This is not a small issue, if someone was unable to start their car in a freezing situation they could die. Or if I was needing to get a family member to the hospital I would be unable to.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #77

Dec 222016


  • 58,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S won't start and left my 18 year old daughter stranded in cold weather. Appears to be a steering wheel lock failure (part # 48700-9N00B). If this occurred just three days earlier, she would have been stranded in sub-zero weather. She returned to her car after running some errands in a small town we live near and when she got in her car an amber light with a key symbol was present on left side of instrument panel and the right side of the instrument panel had a red flashing (approx. Every 4-5 seconds) light of a car and key symbol. The brake pedal felt as if it was locked, but the brake lights still came on. The steering wheel was not locked and the dashboard didn't illuminate as normal just before starting. The start push button did nothing (wouldn't even crank the engine). This vehicle has less than 60K miles on it and is in immaculate shape. I've read countless articles and postings to forums of others who have experienced the same issue and Nissan is fully aware of it. How can a car manufacturer knowingly allow this problem to exist which greatly puts lives at risk. On top of it all the cost to repair this issue ranges anywhere from $800 to $1200 at a dealer.

- Fulton, MO, USA

problem #76

Dec 172016


  • miles
The power lock steering keeps on locking the start system and car can`T start.

- Guntersville, AL, USA

problem #75

Dec 092016


  • 60,000 miles


Driver side door will not open. Online research refers to "actuary" needing to be replaced. The door will lock and unlock but door will not open. Fortunately, other doors still function.

- Cortland, NY, USA

problem #74

Dec 052016


  • 70,000 miles
Defective steering lock system. Does not allow car to start at all. Car was parked and after school, was not able to start.

- Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #73

Nov 192016


  • 90,000 miles
My wife was driving her 2009 Nissan Altima and parked. When leaving to go home, the car would not and could not start. The key lock symbol (red) and lock symbol (yellow) were lit on the dashboard. I did some research and found that the it was the steering column lock which many has been complaining about. I took it to the Nissan dealer and the part would be $600. Attached is the printout of the warranty. This had me and my wife stranded on one of the coldest day of the year. They wouldn't consider fixing it unless it was a standard repair. This is crazy!!! it's the holidays and now this is happening. Good grief!!!

- Crown Point, IN, USA

problem #72

Nov 292016


  • 85,000 miles
Steering column lock system I was stranded in freezing temperatures with my 3year old when the steering lock system failed and my car would not start. I had stopped to drop off my 6 year old at school and when I returned to my car it wouldn't start. I had no warning or indication that there was a problem. Not was I aware of the frequency of this happening to other Nissan vehicles.

- Clifton, CO, USA

problem #71

Nov 282016


  • miles
Takata recall the steering wheel lock mechanism failed on me with my eight month year old baby in the car on a cold fall day I was stuck for 2 hours waiting for a tow truck company Nissan is aware of the problem but it would cost 1000. Dollars out of pocket if it fails again another 1000 dollars I make 35000 a year I can afford this every time

- Blakeslee, PA, USA

problem #70

Nov 102016


  • miles
Car stalled twice both parked in a parking lot. Battery works and key fob works with doors. But engine wont start with push button start. Electronic steering column lock defect.

- West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #69

Nov 072016


  • 88,888 miles
"takata recall" the steering wheel locked in my Altima and it left me stranded in the road! the battery wasn't dead, the control key wasn't bad either. The dealer says is a $1,300 repair job! it's the steeringg wheel lock that needs replacement and I have seen youtube videos and it has happened to thousands of people with 09' Altima!! why did you take the manufacture replacement in 2015!" this is so horrible! I understand that I have to replace wheels, engine oil and other wear and tear items, but how in the world can a part that is inside my steering wheel have problems!" I don't event have a key! I use "keyless control". this is so upsetting! please listen to your customers and have it fixed by the manufactures expense!!!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #68

Oct 312016


  • 131,000 miles
Steering wheel lock malfunctioned causing car not to start. Was having a severe asthma attack at the time and was in a life or death situation. Thankfully others were around that could take me to the er. This part was a known issue as evidenced by an extended warranty on this part but no customer notification was ever issued to me. I was lucky! to be in a situation where you are panicked and not thinking clearly and trying to get help only to be held hostage by a known faulty part that would not let my car start is infuriating.

- Portage, IN, USA

problem #67

Oct 142016


  • miles
I am an owner of a 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl in Louisiana. The dashboard of the car has become very sticky and shiny as if it is melting. On a sunny day the reflection on the front windshield causes poor visibility resulting in a serious safety concern.

- Hammond, LA, USA

problem #66

Aug 012012


  • 45,000 miles
Dash board has melted and gotten sticky. Because of the melting it has gotten very shiny and causes terrible glare on the windshield thus restricting view and making driving dangerous because of lack of vision on the road. It is also very messy if you touch or lay anything on the dash. I would suspect it to be unhealthy also since the chemistry in the material has changed. I live in houston, Texas and my car is out in the sun and weather most of the time. We depend on this vehicle for most of our transportation. This problem is always there, but is significantly worse in hot/sunshiny weather. It looks like puddle on the dash and also looks like the dash is about to drip off. It is even sticky and shiny at night. This has been a gradual thin that started about 2012 and has gotten worse and worse.

- Houston, TX, USA

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