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 14 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #444

Jan 022016


  • 85,000 miles


At any given time or place, our 2009 Nissan Altima would lock up. The brake pedal was hard as a rock, or the steering wheel would totally lock up. Sometimes it would happen in July on a nice warm day, or in January when your driving across the country at 20 below. This is a huge and dangerous problem, please help us before somebody else gets killed. This problem always happened to our car when it was parked and turned off.

- Sayner, WI, USA

problem #443

Mar 172016


  • 97,000 miles
My Altima recently had a steering lock failure. This is very common and a known issue.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #442

Mar 172016


  • 120,000 miles
I drove my car to work in the morning, went to crank it when I left work & the car wouldn't crank & the orange/yellowish key was on..the car was in park. I replaced battery in my fbo & didn't work so come to find out it was the electrical steering box. Now I'm fixing to have to spend 1000$ for Nissan mess up in this part. It left me stranded & couldn't get home to my family.

- Hilliard, FL, USA

problem #441

Dec 262015


  • 70,000 miles


Our 2009 Altima, left us stranded in a remote location. The car was parked and turned off. We have aaa so we didn't have to pay for towing. But we thought it was something simple like battery, or batteries in the remote key. Research has shown us that is a known problem with this specific year make and model of vehicle. And Nissan is clearly not helping they're customers with this safety issue. We where luckier than some people that have been stranded in worse places, with children and no warning. This fix is costing us $894 at the Nissan service, I filed a case with Nissan they refused to help, so we where stuck once again with our car at the service center with a $105 diagnostic charge. So we couldn't take it somewhere else for less expensive repair. They caught us hook, line, and sinker.

- Boring, OR, USA

problem #440

Mar 102016


  • miles
This car leaks water into the drivers side floor, and keeps trapped rain water inside of both panel doors for weeks after it rains. I've already had to get the exhaust manifold leak fixed (which luckily was covered under a recall). Not to mention that I ended up having to go to the er last year for a breathing treatment because fumes were leaking into my cabin via the air conditioning(problem unknown/undiagnosed). But now like many other owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima, unfortunately the steering wheel ignition lock/switch malfunctioned causing my engine not to be able to turn on suddenly. When I returned to my car, the key fob was not recognized and the engine will not turn on. After towing it to a local Nissan dealership, it was diagnosed as a faulty steering wheel ignition lock, and will cost me an average of $1100 to fix. After contacting Nissan headquarters to see if it would be covered even though their "campaign" ended in Jan 2016 for my vehicle, they denied the request to provide assistance. I don't understand how any auto manufacturer can be allowed to get away with installing a faulty part into the car, and then pass along the ultimate cost of fixing it to any owner. It's not okay to simply cover the cost of those owners who's switch fails during a certain time period, and then inform the rest of us that they are unwilling to help. Nissan installed the defective part, and the right thing to do would be to own up to that mistake and issue a recall. Clearly Nissan does not have the best interest of their customers at heart. And from what I understand, they must have known that part was faulty enough not to issue a temporary extension of the

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #439

Mar 082016


  • 60,100 miles
Steering lock would not disengage preventing vehicle from starting. Key fob was not recognized. Car was disabled and had to be towed. I was stranded in a city parking lot for 6 hours awaiting assistance and feared for my safety. Towed vehicle to Nissan dealer for repair.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #438

Mar 092016


  • 85,000 miles


Steering wheel lock is malfunctioning and preventing the car from starting

- Southaven, MS, USA

problem #437

Mar 112016


  • 0 miles
Takata recall steering lock failer, engine will no longer work. Car was parked when it happened. Part defective. Nissan is apparently aware of problem. They should fix part.

- Springerville, AZ, USA

problem #436

Mar 092016


  • 100,120 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while in park, the steering wheel seized. In addition, the vehicle failed to start. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, who diagnosed that the steering wheel lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,120.

- Irmo, SC, USA

problem #435

Jan 012016


  • 71,000 miles
Steering wheel lock the specialist said that she was unable to help me out with the repair that I am needing done for the second time since the recall is expired. The point I am trying to get across to Nissan in Tennessee is that the part they put in my car in November of 2011 was more than likely a recall or a defective part since it went out again for the second time and I only have 71,000 miles on the car. Even the dealership where my car is waiting to get repaired said that it is very rare that this part to go out twice. With the dealership saying that makes me come to the conclusion that the steering wheel lock that was put in my car was a recall/defective part since it went out again and I was never notified that there was a extended recall for the steering wheel lock or I would have taken my car in and had it checked out. Now this repair is going to cost me $1344.80 and I think that is ridiculous!!! I am seeing on of other 2009 Nissan Altima owners are having the same problems with their vehicles as well. Other owners are getting help to repair their vehicles for this part and other owners like myself are not getting help. I am glad that Nissan in Tennessee reimbursed me for the repair in November of 2011 but I need something resolved for the repair that needs to be done now!! I don't want to have to trade in my car since it is paid off and only has 71,000 miles but I also do not need this car leaving me stranded somewhere with my 5 year old son either for the third time especially at night time anywhere!! I am retired from the post office and only receives a check once a month and I am a single mother. So yes this kind of repair is way too expensive for me to afford! please help me with this issue asap, I dont want to be left stranded again with my son!!

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #434

Mar 082016


  • 60,000 miles


Unable to start my car due to the steering lock

- Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #433

Dec 242015


  • 1 miles
Dear sir/mam, my 09 Altima broke down on christmas eve night in front of a friend's house, blocking friend's cars in garage, and cannot start no matter what. After 6hrs trying and contacting, finally found a towing company can come onsite at that hour on a holiday night, snowy and rainy. The dealership concurred my research that this is caused by a defective part - the electric steering lock failure, on all 2009 Altima. However, Nissan extended the warranty on that to 5 years instead of a recall, and they refused to cover any of my loss in this case simply because the extended warranty expired 4 months ago, for a defective part... a lot of victims like me formed a website and more being reported every week as we speak. We are trying to start a class action case against, meanwhile, we are encouraged to tell our stories here too. Best regards,

- Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #432

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 #431

Feb 282016


  • 70,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima would not start on Sunday so I had to get it towed. I soon learned from a Nissan mechanic that the [electronic steering lock] is malfunctioned, which meant my car would not recognize my smart key, even when inserting it into it's respective slot (plan B). How is the NHTSA letting consumers drive a car that won't start at any moment and even plan B that the manufacture installed doesn't even work" I could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere which is a huge safety concern. Worse, I could have been driving and then loose control of the vehicle. Above that, I was told that Nissan did not need to proactively let their customers know about the issue because it fell under a 'warranty issue'. I don't get it. 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? for a malfunctioned piece that was installed on my Nissan Altima that was ultimately put in a warranty? with having a warranty, Nissan has admitted their equipment was sold malfunctioned, so how is there not a recall about it" to put the cherry on top of the cake, the rep (which I asked for permission to post), said that "vehicles are man made - they aren't made perfect". so meaning, their own reps are acknowledging they don't have high-quality products.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #430

Feb 272016


  • 62,000 miles
Turned car off in parking lot. Would not start due to steering lock, towed to dealer. Awaiting results as per Nissan

- Staunton, IL, USA

problem #429

Feb 232016


  • 175,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While attempting to start the vehicle, the steering wheel seized. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering column lock (escl) needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 175,000.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #428

Jul 042015


  • 18,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that on several occasions, the push button start failed to operate as intended. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to the dealer to be diagnosed. The contact was informed that the steering lock assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 18,000. Updated 04/20/16

- Berlin, NJ, USA

problem #427

Jun 132015


  • 190,000 miles
Takata recall service bulletins. I have a 2009 Nissan Altima that is very dangerous on the road with my children we have had it a year amd already spent alot. Call this dept and Nissan several times with no result I have 13 of the service bulletins wrong with this car amd many lives at stake I may have to get am attorney before we loose a life. I paid $9000 for this one year ago amd no one can help the strut, the cvt the engine cooler leaks, push start, cruise control vehicle speed sensor ABS ect please help is figure out what T9 do so I can sleep at night with all my babies safe

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #426

Feb 052016


  • 115,700 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima stop working after I started and was getting ready for work. When I got ready to leave I notice it stopped and when I try again it would not start at all. Come to find out after having to tow it to the dealer it was an internal failure of steering lock assembly. Repair cost me over $1000. Supposedly Nissan had offer an extra warranty on the issue but it expired last year which leave me with expense. I try calling Nissan to find out if they will cover the cost but did not get any assistance. I don't think it's fair that they will cover the cost since it is a known issue that they are aware of and they choose to offer a warranty that expire. They don't know at what point in time the failure will occur.

- West Haven, CT, USA

problem #425

Feb 172016


  • 74,000 miles
Vehicle will not start due to faulty steering lock mechanism. I was in a parking lot with my two young children when my car would not start. Apparently, this issue has caused a lot of people to be stranded. Nissan is well aware of the problem and that their mechanism during '09 and '10 was faulty. How could any malfunction that leaves people stranded not be considered a safety issue! the part is very expensive and only carried through Nissan... that in itself should be suspicious.

- Destrehan, LA, USA

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