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 13 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #464

Mar 282016


  • 140,000 miles


"tamara recall" I'm a nurse and I was dressed and ready for work upon arrival to my car my fob allowed me to unlock my door but whom I got in and attempted to start my car I noticed I couldn't press my breaks they were tight and steering wheel was also locked. I pressed the push to start button but nothing happened I looked at the information center and only noticed a amber key light up and lock light on around the start button. I have no other way to work and its pass my clear call out time to work but I have to call my don crying because I can't get to work I don't know what's wrong with my car it won't do anything. I'm a nurse my patients depend upon me being there to help them a well as my fellow nurses and doctors!! I had to call a tow truck to take my car to the Nissan dealership and I was told it was the steering column lock. I asked him how much would it cost to repair he said 800 dollars. I'm a single mother with a son who is a senior in high school it's his spring break week, I have pictures, class rings, announcement, cap and gown, prom etc to pay for but I need my car to get to work!! I don't want favors, want what's right!! a 6yr/ unlimited mileage is a cheap way out. Nissan knew and knows about this manufacturer defect but still out these cars on the road not really caring or concern about what the results could be.. I've been a nurse for over 10 yrs, so does people have be stranded be it old or young with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or even someone who requires use of oxygen to breathe/live to die and family members sue Nissan before a recall is issued? prevention saves more lives and its a lot less expensive. Thank god for all these petitions pages with 100S and 1000 of signatures along with people sharing their stories about this unfair too off to people!! I expect a class action lawsuit soon.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #463

Feb 162016


  • miles
Just stop the car in front of my garage door and never start again the light with the key inside the car is on and off I stop by the dealer change the battery on the key they told me if does not work then it is gone to be the steering lock a common problem on the Nissan just $850 plus tax was the estimate of course I have to tow 45 miles to the dealer

- Freeman, SD, USA

problem #462

Mar 302016


  • 112,000 miles
Approximately 2-2.5 weeks ago an indicator light with a picture of a key and the word "key" appeared on my dash. It stayed on for about an hour that morning but then disappeared. It drove fine however I wanted to make sure I took the appropriate action. I looked online and read about people having problems with the steering column so I contacted the service department at the dealership immediately. The employee/mechanic that I spoke with told me I just needed to change the battery in the fob and guaranteed me that was the problem. I mentioned that I was aware of many people having issues with the steering column locking on them and he laughed and said that was not the problem in my case and that I simply needed a new battery. I asked if I should bring it in just to be safe and he said no just change the battery. I changed the battery and it drove fine however when I went to start my car this morning the light was on again and now my steering column has locked up on me. I called the dealerships service department again today and the guy I spoke with confirmed that was what that indicator light warning means. He said now that it's locked I have no choice but to tow it into the dealership and they will have to replace the escl. They are telling me it will cost me $1200 to fix. I feel Nissan needs to be held accountable for their faulty parts and should be forced to do a recall and replace these parts since it is a frequent and continuous issue.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #461

Mar 292016


  • 55,465 miles


I drove my Nissan Altima to work as I normally do, parked in the same spot I always park in. No problem at that point. At the end of my work day I got into my vehicle to drive home and it would not start. I noticed an icon showing on the instrument panel, it stated one word: Key. I called my husband who brought our spare key to see if that would start the vehicle: No. I left the vehicle parked at my place of work. The next morning I called the Nissan dealership only to be informed that I could not have an appt for at least 2 weeks and that the issue is known but not covered under a recall or warranty. I was very thankful that I was at work and not stranded in an unfamiliar area. I believe that Nissan needs to correct the faulty part. This is something that is happening with more than just the vehicle I own. A quick look on the internet brought up many complaints on the same issue in different models. Hopefully this will not result in a death before something is done forcing Nissan on the correction. I remember the GM ignition recall that did not take place until people died!

- Camas, WA, USA

problem #460

Jan 012016


  • 80,000 miles
I live in the country and was prepared to leave town to visit my sister. I pack my car and get ready to leave (my car was in perfect condition in my garage all night) I went to start my car and nothing! I assumed the battery at first but the lights would turn on. I called Nissan and I was told my steering wheel lock device needs replaced. I was told that I would have to tow my car in, pay for parts and labor. I ask Nissan, if this is so common then how was I not notified of this" I learn this device was put in place for protection against car theft and designed for the key fab to undo the lock up. My car was not in threat of being stolen, and my key fab would not allow the engine to start. I was left stranded for no reason and without warning. I start researching that I am not the only one. There are hundreds effected by this faulty device. I can't believe Nissan has not recalled or set out notice to warn people, or offer an extended warranty. I watch a video on how to trick start the engine. You pull down the bottom of steering wheel and tap the metal lock device with a hammer. This allows my car to start some times. I've been stranded out of town, at a grocery store, and in the middle of no where all due to this defective device. What if it goes out while driving and causes an accident and/or death" I'm scared and upset until Nissan does the right thing to fix this

- Hutchinson, KS, USA

problem #459

Mar 302016


  • miles
My Nissan Altima would not start. A yellow key shows up on the dash board that prevent it from starting. This problem prevented me from going to work and would cost me over a 1000. Imagine if location my car stop was unsafe with my kids in the car. This unsafe and Nissan should cover the cost for their faulty product.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #458

Mar 192016


  • 99,000 miles


Went on a trip with my 2 granddaughters, on our return the car would not start. A key light pop on the display. I thought my fob battery was bad. Tried with my second key. Still no starting. Had to call my local mechanic and had the car towed back to my house. Learned later on that escl is the problem. There was an extension of the warranty on this issue but nobody notified me of this.

- Pocono Summit, PA, USA

problem #457

Mar 292016


  • miles
Just found out Nissan issued a temporary recall for an extremely common problem with the steering lock control for the push start vehicles. Nissan knew this was a common problem with the 2009-2010 models. Why would they issue a temporary recall but not inform their costumers. I never received a letter and took my vehicle in for service before the recall expired and they didn't inform me either. Luckily, this happen while parked at my home... but what if this happen in either bad weather or an isolated location? they are saying this is not a safety issue but it clearly is. I'm actually here at the dealership and a $1371.44 invoice. But because the vehicle won't start no other way, I'm forced to pay for it. What if I didn't have the money. I'm a single military parent. This is completely unsatisfactory service from Nissan. This issue needs to be recalled indefinitely, not temporary when the issue has been reported by thousands of people.

- Gulf Breeze, FL, USA

problem #456

Mar 212016


  • 76,900 miles
Steering lock control unit got locked in middle of no where. It's a serious safety concern. Since this is a manufacturing defect Nissan should recall 2009 models. It costs me $1065 + $87 towing charges.

- Henrico, VA, USA

problem #455

Mar 272016


  • miles
2009 Nissan Altima steering lock car won't start

- Stratford, CT, USA

problem #454

Jan 152016


  • 0 miles


No star. Steering lock bloqued

- Mcallen, TX, USA

problem #453

Mar 242016


  • 67,313 miles
I was in a parking lot, at night, trying to return home, when the vehicle would not start. The ignition switch won't press even though all lights in car worked. A quick search on the internet for symptoms showed its a problem with the electronic steering lock column in the 09 Altima that lots & lots of people are facing. Nissan is not offering free replacements for the part. The dealer also told me they get hundreds of complaints every week and the replacement cost of $1000 has to be paid by the owner. The car company knows there is a part in their car that can malfunction anyday leaving the vehicle not started but they are not replacing it. You never know where you might be when the vehicle does not start - late in night and stranded in a parking lot on a rainy day is what happened to me. Please look into this complaint, the safety of owners and trust factor with their car is at stake.

- Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #452

Mar 172016


  • miles
The key symbol came on and my car wouldn't start. I was stranded for an hour in a parking lot with my toddler before I got help. I had my car towed to Nissan and they said my warranty ended in January and that it would cost $1000. Too many people are having problems with this part. This is dangerous. This could happen anywhere.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #451

Mar 222016


  • 76,520 miles
Defective electronic steering column lock is causing disabled push start button. Car is not starting at all.

- Henrico, VA, USA

problem #450

Mar 152016


  • 145,000 miles
Steering lock was recalled with extended warranty offered for all Nissan Altima 2009 vehicles. However, our car locked up March 15, 2016, which is after Nissan ended the extended warranty. Towed the car to the dealership for a $1,300 repair. Contacted Nissan to have them pay, but they denied at all costs.

- Prosper, TX, USA

problem #449

Mar 232016


  • 42 miles
Steering lock mechanism failure 2009 Nissan Altima

- Lincoln Park, NJ, USA

problem #448

Nov 302015


  • 90,000 miles
Around 90,000 miles, my 2009 Nissan Altima SE wouldn't start. It turned out to be the steering lock mechanism that had an issue. This wouldn't allow the push button start to work. This problem could only be fixed by a Nissan dealership and it cost just over $1,000. I searched the internet to find out if this was a common issue and to make sure that this was a decent price and it turns out that there are thousands of Nissan owners that have had the same issue plus probably ten times more that didn't bother writing about it. I believe that Nissan should recall these since it seems to be an issue with this piece that Nissan has put into their car.

- Whitman, MA, USA

problem #447

Mar 212016


  • 120,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima would not start leaving me stranded in a parking lot in New York. I needed to get towed to NJ. I was lucky I was lucky I was alone it is a dangerous. Thing to happen and now 1000 dollars to repair even though there are hundreds of complaints

- Middletown, NJ, USA

problem #446

Mar 202016


  • miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima will not start. Just so happen my car was parked at my house, thanking god I was not stranded out anywhere or worst getting off work late at night. I keep hearing this humming noise when I push the start button but the car won't start. With 3 biopsy patients waiting on my arrival to the clinic, and I'm waiting on a ride to work. I decided to google the issues I was having with my car. I see others have this same issue as well. Nissan should be held accountable when its a malfunction of there's. its a disgrace that we as a consumer investing and entrusting the lives of our families to the safety of there cars and they refuse to fix the problem. This should have been a recall since it happened on other Nissan models as well. My livelihood as a single parent is based on me going into work daily and I can't do that without a car. This is a serious matter to me. I can't afford to pay for a rental car for two or more weeks. Please help with this issue. I will be contacting the Nissan customer satisfaction at 1-800-Nissan asap

- Desoto, TX, USA

problem #445

Mar 142016


  • miles
Intelligent key warning light came on. Went to the store and the car will not start.

- Newport News, VA, USA

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