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

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 18 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #364

Nov 302015


  • 58,200 miles


"steer lock" my car had the steer lock failure. Car was parked and would not recognize key. Car would not start. Nissan created an extended warranty for the one specific item for 6 years unlimited mileage. This failure occurred 161 days after the warranty expiration. Nissan or dealer would not provide any assistance.

- Plymouth, MN, USA

problem #363

Oct 132015


  • 81,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the keyless ignition failed to operate. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the steering wheel lock was replaced. After the vehicle was serviced, the intelligent key failed to start the ignition. The vehicle was not repaired for the second time but the details were not available. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 81,000. Updated 02/19/16

- Lawton, OK, USA

problem #362

Nov 302015


  • 112,000 miles
I purchased my brand new 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5S on April 14, 2009. On November 30, 2015 I was stranded after dining in at a restaurant to find that my car would no longer start. I read the manual and it stated that the electronical steering column was locked and it would need to be serviced at a Nissan dealership. I contacted a local dealership in pine bluff, ar and was given an estimate of $961.01. I contacted Nissan corporate about the problem to see if they could assist me with the issue and was told that my warranty expired in April 14, 2015. The warranty was originally 3 yrs/36,000 miles then was extended to 6yrs/unlimited miles. The representative told me there was never a recall on it. The issue I have with that is, Altima owners were never notified of this problem when in fact Nissan knew there was a problem because they extended the warranty from 3 to 6 years. How would an owner know there was ever an issue with the electronic steering lock until they've experienced it? something should be done, Nissan should be held accountable.

- White Hall, AR, USA

problem #361

Nov 292015


  • 40,100 miles


The electronic steering wheel lock system didn't engage on my 2009 Altima. This would not allow the car to be started. Nissan extended the warranty on this part but mine expired in August of 2015. I feel this is a safety issue as you could be stranded at anytime anwhere with this issue and should have been a recall. There was a bad snow storm in denver on Sunday when this occurred and if it had happened up in the mountains cross country skiing I would have been stuck in a very unsafe situation. I contacted Nissan and they said they will not do anything for me as the extended warranty has expired. However they never contacted me stating it would be covered and had I know I would have taken the vehicle in before it left me stranded without a car for 4 days. I had to get the car towed to the dealership to get it worked on. This issue is so bad they had to order the part and won't get it in until 2 days after I had brought it in to get fixed. Someone needs to look into this before people start getting hurt or worse stranded and die somewhere.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #360

Nov 302015


  • miles
I parked my car went into the store everything worked just fine before I got out, but when I came out my car wouldn't do anything! I was stranded, after reading the owners manual I found it was the steering lock unit! if I had been on the (wrong side of town) it could've been even more dangerous than it already was! I called the this simple part is $764 plus labor! after reading many complaints online this part should have been recalled as it was on the 350Z

- Ward, SC, USA

problem #359

Nov 302015


  • 54,000 miles
The steering lock failed, and I could not start my car. I had to have my car towed to the topeka Nissan dealer to have it fixed. It cost $973

- Topeka, KS, USA

problem #358

Nov 082015


  • 57,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked and would not start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the electric steering column lock was damaged and needed replacement. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence and was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 57,000.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #357

Nov 282015


  • 87,000 miles
I will never buy a Nissan again. I really liked my car until the steering wheel locking system went bad. My son and I were stuck in a parking lot with no help, in a not so good area. I then had to get a tow truck and get to a shop. Where then at the shop I was told they couldn't do anything because is had to be done by Nissan. We then had to find a way to get the car to a Nissan dealer. Then when I started looking this issue up on my 2009 Altima I see that is has happened to lots of others and Nissan won't help or make a recall for it. Then come to find out, surprise, surprise, the warranty ran out on June of this year. Nissan never even gave a second glance at helping cover it when they know that this is an issue. $1000 later I have a list of thousands of dollars of things that they said need to be done. Funny, had them checked, not at all issues like they said.

- Wellman, IA, USA

problem #356

Nov 252015


  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. A warning light illuminated and displayed a message. The contact was stranded for over an hour. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering lock control unit needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 74,000.

- Racine, WI, USA

problem #355

Nov 192015


  • 69,000 miles
Vehicle was parked, stationary when I went to start it. Nothing happened when start button was pressed. The car was recognizing the key fob, due to the fact that when I didn't have it, it was saying no key. However would not start even when fob was present. Contacted Nissan service department, they said it was a common problem, after googling the issue I was surprised at how many sheer numbers of the same exact thing was happening. $1200 later, my car is fixed just because of a faulty steering column lock, which even the private mechanic stated was a big problem, adding that Nissan responded by changing the lock on the 2010 and up models, however not compensating any current owners. Mechanic also advised that the part is so faulty that it will go out again in time.

- Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #354

Nov 262015

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the steering lock system needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 30,000. The VIN was unavailable. Updated 02/19/16 updated 02/25/16.

- Clearfield, PA, USA

problem #353

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 #352

Nov 202015


  • 150,000 miles
Electronic steering lock mechanism failed when car parked. This caused steering lock to be stuck in lock mode. Failure of this mechanism does not allow car to start and car must be towed. Mechanism did not fail due to security reasons or electrical issue. Part replaced ($500 part) and vehicle running fine now. There are many documented reports of this mechanism failing in 2009 Nissan Altima, and there have been no product safety recalls to my knowledge

- Duluth, MN, USA

problem #351

Nov 242015


  • 101,800 miles
On November 24 2015 at 7:35 a.M. I attempted to start my car and nothing happened! it was not the battery or the key fob. The car was parked in my parking garage.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #350

Nov 192015


  • 70,000 miles
This is very frustrating, specially finding out that so many people are going thru this too and Nissan knowing it is a problem and just offering a temporary warranty extension not just recalling the part. The steering lock warranty just expired 4 months ago and I find it very weird that I had taken the car to the dealer just 2 weeks ago for an oil change and replaced the batteries for the key, the light with the key symbol was turning on and thought it was just he new batteries in the key, then it happened my car went dead and wont start, towed it to the dealer and the bill $1,100M come on the car is only 6 years old and still making payments. Now my car is sitting idle as I can't afford this. Nissan needs to pay for this.

- Chula Vista, CA, USA

problem #349

Nov 242015


  • 61,000 miles
Car was turned off (stationary) while I was in drive thru atm lane. Steering lock mechanism locked and car would not start. While I waited over an hour to be towed to dealer, many bank customers were unable to use atm - very embarrassing! dealer said warranty expired 3.5 months ago and cost will be $850! research shows numerous problems with this mechanism/model reported to Nissan but no recall!

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #348

Nov 232015


  • 72,000 miles
Car was parked in an apartment complex. It wouldn't start, the steering wheel was locked, and you couldn't changed it to neutral to position it for jumper cables. Found it it was a steering lock failure. Had car towed to my house, where we took the car apart to try and fix it ourselves. Ended up taking out a fuse to get it working. While this isn't a direct hazard (accident, injury, or death), this has happened to too many people for it to not be looked into. Nissan is unwilling to help. More and more people will become desperate and jerry-rig their cars to avoid paying $800-$1000 for repairs. That is the bigger hazard. You will continue to have unlicensed people looking at youtube for ways to "fix" their own cars, probably creating more issues. Then you will get the accidents, injuries, and deaths you need to investigate Nissan. Please don't let it get to that point.

- Rocklin, CA, USA

problem #347

Oct 152015


  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While the vehicle was parked, the steering wheel seized without warning. The failure occurred once. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering lock mechanism failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 63,000.

- Springfield, IL, USA

problem #346

Nov 022015


  • 0 miles
The steering lock columm actuauator goes abd causing the car to not start and leaving driver and passengers stranded. Nissan refuses to replace or recall the part. It is a dealer only part that costs $1,000+ to fix. Nissan cares more about quantity than quality at their plants and fail to quality control check their vehicles. Reference this forum:

- Christiana, TN, USA

problem #345

Nov 142015


  • 80,000 miles
I was in a parking lot, about to leave from plasma center. Entered vehicle and attempted to start up. Would not start. Looked up warnings of key symbol and car symbol. Referenced to steering lock failure. Was never able to get vehicle cranked. Numbed var battery and changed battery in fob. Still nothing. Had vehicle towed home. Contact end Nissan who stated warranty is out. Please help.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?