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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,497 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2009 Nissan Altima Owner Comments (Page 10 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #524

Jun 272016


  • 99,000 miles


I went to start MY2009 Nissan Altima car that was parked in front of my door and it did not start, the doors would lock and unlock but it would not start it was in the lock position. I had my car towed to the dealership and was told that the electrical tech found that the steering lock failed. It is vey expensive to fix. It will cost me around a $1,000.oo to have it fix. I spoke with the custome service rep with the Nissan department and I was told that the extended warranty has expired and that I needed to take my my car to the dealeship and let them dignosed the problems and call back and they may be able to help. Called back with the ddiagnostic result and my claim was denied because the warranty has expired in September of 2015 and their was nothing they can do about it. I feel a recall should be call on this part. If there was an extended warranty to have this fix they should have informed buyer of this like it was a recall.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #523

Feb 082016


  • 50,000 miles
After work tried to start the car in the parking lot after, but it wont start. We towed it to the Nissan dealer who said it was an 'electronic steering lock column ' -escl failure. Just google it there are thousands of customer complains about this problem. It cost us about $1000 to fix it. Nissan corporate refused to pay for the repair. I need to be refunded because this is strictly the fault of Nissan.

- Romeoville, IL, USA

problem #522

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 #521

Jun 082016


  • 80,000 miles


Nissan Altima 2009 had a defective steering lock that caused me to be struck alone late at night on at cvs store. My car was not at all starting. My car had to be towed to a dealer the next day. I found this issue as manufacture defect. This is a very dangerous if someone struck in isolated place in cold. I had no idea that this was going to happen. This is expensive. I paid 1200 which should be bare by Nissan but they have ignored it. 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. Better to sell of 2009 model

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #520

May 302016


  • 103,000 miles
Car won't start. Steering lock is defective causing ignition problem.

- Yorktown Heights, NY, USA

problem #519

Jun 182016


  • miles
Steering lock malfunction!! got stranded in the Arizona heat because escl malfunctioned!!! Nissan Altima 2009 wouldn't start, had to get it towed to auto shop to be told it's a steering lock malfunction!! Nissan knows about this but hasn't done anything about it!!!! I'm dissatisfy with Nissan

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #518

Jun 122016


  • 90,000 miles


I was parked in the driveway at a relatives, had to move my vehicle from the driveway to the streets. When I came back out to start my vehicle to go home six hours later, it would not start. I contacted triple a, they wasn't successful getting my vehicle started, so I had the vehicle towed to pep boys which was unsuccessful, then I had the vehicle towed to the dealership.

- Avondale, AZ, USA

problem #517

Jun 162016


  • 123,000 miles
Went to start car to run an errand while at work on lunch break to get in the car and the car would not start. I'll have to get the car towed not to include the daycare late fees that I'm going to have to pay because I am unable to pick my child up from daycare because they close, needless to say it's $1 per minute that I'm late and it is due at the time of pick up. The cost for the part is $708.66 not including the labor, stress, and anxiety that this inconvenience has caused. I am infuriated. My other 2009 Nissan Altima had to have a new transmission replaced just 2 months ago. The Nissan quality is going down the drain!

- Randallstown, MD, USA

problem #516

Jun 132016


  • miles
Steering lock on a 2009 Nissan Altima broke June 13,2016. 1100 dollars to fix at dealer.

- Gonzales, LA, USA

problem #515

Jun 112016


  • 106,000 miles
On 6/11/16 drove to gas station went home came out to my car and it wouldn't start all the lights were on saw a yellow key light googled it didn't have to finish it automatically came up Nissan power steering went the place I'm financing my car from says that my fob key had to be reprogrammed to my car so now the tow company comes get my car brings it to the Nissan dealer and tech calls and says its the power steering and it will cost me 700$ are U serious I don't have that kind of money I just made a car payment last week and paid my car insurance along with rent and bills this is crazy I have a extended warranty and of course its not listed for cover I lost work today and now have to find ways for the rest of the week if this was recalled last year and expired last year that's not right that we still have to pay for Nissan mistake

- Hoosick Falls, NY, USA

problem #514

Jun 042016


  • 89,000 miles


Drove to work on 6-4-2016. Went out to move my car and it wouldn't start. Lights were working, alarm was working but car would not start. I noticed a tiny key emblem on the dash that I had never seen before, come to find out it is the steering lock which there was a recall on. Called Nissan dealership to fix it and was told the recall expired in July 2015 and it would cost me approximately $900 to fix. I cannot afford 900 dollars for something that they should be fixing for free as it is a Nissan induced issue and nothing personal. I have been without a car for almost a week, having to beg rides from people just so I can support my family with the (2) jobs that im working.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #513

Jun 092016


  • 84,000 miles
Try to start the car and nothing happens. The push button start and inserting the key into the dash do not work. Tried jumping the car and nothing. Had the car towed to a certified Goodyear repair facility. The service manager stated that the vehicle required a new steering column module. Cost of approximately $850

- Orchard Park, NY, USA

problem #512

Jun 092016


  • 130,000 miles
Steering lock broke down at gas station, won't start, brake won't work, car is locked up. Now I have $1,000 bill to fix a problem I should not have had in the first place.

- Auburn, AL, USA

problem #511

Jun 082016


  • miles
Car would not start, towed to dealership, diagnosed as failed steering lock mechanism, a known issue on the 2009 Nissan Altima that Nissan did not recall. The car was not in motion at the time, had difficulty getting it towed since even in neutral the steering was locked down.

- Federal Heights, CO, USA

problem #510

Jun 082016


  • 130,000 miles
I drove my car to work on 6/8/16. I came out to my car after work and my car recognized my key to lock/ unlock it. My car would not start at all. My steering wheel was locked and my break was tight. It was 90 degrees outside and my car was scorching hot. I had no one to come pick me up for over an hour. I googled "09 Nissan Altima" and didn't even have to finish typing it, and the second thing that pulled up was "09 Nissan Altima won't start." Apparently this is a common problem with the steering lock in this model car and is not very safe. There are hundreds of cases reported online about them having this same problem and it is ridiculous that Nissan has not recalled this. I had a beach trip planned to leave on Saturday and drive my car. Imagine how dangerous this could have been had it have happened while I was 500 miles from home. Stranded no telling where for how many hours waiting on a ride. Im already having to get my car towed to the dealership which is 55 miles from where I live, not to mention having to pay for that bill too. This has been such an inconvenience considering it is the only vehicle I have to get me to and from work. I understand that they have issued an extended warranty at some point in time, but came to find out it has since expired. What about all the other people that this has happened to since this expired" I think this should never expired considering it is a manufacturer defect and pretty much unavoidable at some point in time. I am completely disgusted at Nissan that they have not addressed this problem and issued a recall. I didn't cause this issue, nor does it fall under the normal circumstances of typical wear, tear, or replacement like battery, tires, etc. How is it fair to make me, Nissan's consumer, pay $1000+ dollars for something I did not cause? how can Nissan knowing sell a defected part on a car and not try to fix it"

- Stevenson, AL, USA

problem #509

May 172016


  • miles
Not too long ago my car would not start in several ocassions I had my children with me ages 4 & 7 in the heat stranded because my car would not recognize my key... I have contacted Nissan consumers affairs at one point their was a recall but has expire in its June 2016 and my car just started doing this I made 1yr with my pre owned car still makin payments not once was I notified about this recall..I just felt scared and this vehicle is not safe for me and my could leave us stranded any time and its June I cannot risk it in this heat.... this is a safety issue... Nissan did state to me that their was a recall and their sorry but it has expired and im responsible for the part... this is a manufacture issue they knew their vechicles had a safety issue when they made them I believe they are responsible for this costly matter... I am a single mom of 2 still making payments on a car that wont unlock and read my key I need help please someone..... this part is $680+ labor=$1150!!!! I believe Nissan is responsible for this issue...

- Vineland, NJ, USA

problem #508

Jun 042016


  • 109,000 miles
My car left me stranded because the steering wheel lock failure. I went to start the car and the car wouldn't start at all. Nissan doesn't see this as a safety issue which is ridiculous because this issue is clearly unsafe because it strands the driver. The car becomes immobile and dead. The only way to fix this is to pay at leave $600 for the part plus another $200-$300 for installation. The worst part is that Nissan was aware of this problem when they manufactured the car because it is in the owners manual warning the driver that the car will leave you stranded. How is this not a recall?!

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #507

Dec 042015


  • 50,000 miles
I parked my car when arriving home one night, I noticed the intelligent key light was lit, but didn't think anything of it. I came out to my car the next day to take it to work, I noticed that the light was still lit and tried to start my car, but it wouldn't start. So I replaced the batteries in my intelligent key because the light was on. I tried to start my car, but it still didn't start. I got the car towed to Nissan and learned that it was the steering column lock that needed to be replaced for over $800. My car only had 50,000 miles on it at the time, so I did some research and learned that there are many complaints about this part and it should be recalled. I learned that there was an extended warrenty through November 2014, but I didn't drive the vehicle enough to have this problem sooner for it to be covered by the warrenty.

- Abington, PA, USA

problem #506

May 292016


  • 80,000 miles
Electronic steering column lock is defective and will not allow the car to start leaving me stranded with my family without any other way or form of starting my car. Nissan will not respond or fix the issue due to expired warranty with only 80K on the car.

- La Habra, CA, USA

problem #505

Jun 022016


  • 103,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima would not start for me today while I was on my way to atlanta. I stopped for gas and once I hopped on my car, in an unknown location, my car would not start. I haven't had any signs or issue with my car since I bought it 3 years ago. After waiting for hours in a town in which was very creepy I've finally found out it was my escl (electric steering column lock). Not only did I have to get my car towed way back to North Carolina, I also ended up paying an arm and a leg at Nissan!!! come to find out everyone with a 2009 Altima has had this problem it seems like! they extended the warranty for a few months and that ended a year ago! I got nothing in the mall from Nissan regarding this so I was totally unaware of the defect! this has been a liability for me and my family being that I've spent over $1000 getting this done as well as towing fees! Nissan has to do something about this defect or else their will be thousands more than end up stranded who knows where because of Nissan defects! and their irresponsibility of their product!!

- Raleigh, NC, USA

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