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 19 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #344

Nov 112015


  • 55,000 miles


Out of no where, without any warning, my steering lock broke, to the point where I could not start the car. I had to get it towed to the nearest Nissan dealership (one that I am unfamiliar with). Then I was told I had to replace this part which would cost $1200. If that wasn't enough, I was notified that my warranty expired on August 25, 2015. This occurred on November 11, 2015. Nissan was unable to do anything for me even though they were on notice that this piece was malfunctioning in the 2009 Nissan.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #343

Nov 162015


  • 72,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the push to start button failed to function. The contact had to make numerous attempts to maneuver the push button start and after multiple attempts, the vehicle was able to restart. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the steering wheel lock mechanism failed and needed to be replaced. The VIN was not available. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 72,000.

- South Bend, IN, USA

problem #342

Nov 112015


  • 120,000 miles
Car wouldn't start, left me stranded I was stationary at the time in the snow with my kids.

- Prescott Valley, AZ, USA

problem #341

Nov 152015


  • 80,000 miles


Nissan known steering lock failure issues. I was stranded at gas station at 1am because car would not start again after getting gas. Nissan is aware of issue, extended the warranty but did not notify me of potential problem. Now it is out of extended warranty by 4 months and they want me to pay 1K for being stranded in dark at 1 am for known failure issue they did not notify me about.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #340

Nov 062015


  • 68,000 miles
When purchasing such vehicle sales rep automatically without knowledge added extended warranty which did not include part(steering lock ) needed, however on 11-10-15 Nissan regional office said out of courtesy added to warranty due to the fact of knowing this was a faulty part. Steering column lock, lock up on said vehicle without offer of extended warranty on said part. Due to the thousands of complaints regarding this issue there should of be a recall, rather than expecting customers to pay for their faulty equipment. Said vehicle was stationary

- Springfield, IL, USA

problem #339

Nov 022015


  • 60,000 miles
The steering lock according to the Nissan dealership was faulty and the car would not start. Unfortunately our car was out of warranty. Nissan knows about the problem but refuses to issue a recall. Ended up costing us $1300 to replace. Call Nissan Consumer Affairs and they did nothing but make us wait 5 days to tell us they will do nothing.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #338

Nov 042015


  • 80,000 miles


On 11-4-2015 after returning home from work that evening I parked my 2009 nissian Altima in front of my residents, on the following morning 11-5-2015 I went to get in my vehicle to go to work but the car would not start, it appeared as though the car was searching for my key fob because the lights on the dash was aluminated with the picture of the key encircled, after trying for about 30-45 minutes I gave up and had to call my employer to inform them that I would be late not only was I late for work but I also had to have the vehicle towed to a mechanic to find out after the diagnostic test that the steering lock failure was the problem, after speaking with a service adviser on several occasions and getting no resolve and $750 later I'm out of pocket for a faulty mechanical steering lock I researched all the possibilties and realized that this part is known to be a faulty part it's very apparent that nissian is aware of the ongoing problem with this particular part this is not an isolated incident.

- Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #337

Nov 032015


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. The failure occurred without warning. The electronic steering key light illuminated after the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #336

Nov 012015


  • 121,000 miles
I had a failure in the steering column sensor for my 2009 Nissan Altima resulting in my car being unable to start. My car had been parked while I was at work and there were no indications this would happen. This is an issue that has been widespread enough for Nissan to extend the warranty, which ended Oct 2014. My issue occurred 11/1/15. I paid out of pocket to take a cab, get my vehicle towed, and then fixed. I submitted a complaint (case # 20709999) and was informed Nissan would do nothing about this issue. I had the car serviced at ricart Nissan in columbus, oh.

- Reynoldsburg, OH, USA

problem #335

Oct 302015


  • 66,900 miles
Stranded at night in parking lot 10/30 due to car not starting. Had car towed to Nissan and repaired 10/31 (steering wheel lock column malfunction). Cost 800+$. not covered in warranty, although the warranty extension letter states: "Nissan believes majority of its owners will not experience this unique condition" contradictory, if you ask me. The next day (October 31) the car would no longer accelerate. Had it towed back to Nissan dealer, where they said I was missing a transmission fuse? did not charge me to replace said missing fuse.

- Endicott, NY, USA

problem #334

Nov 032015


  • 111,900 miles


I couldnot able to start the car, it was showing the lock light and key malfunction lights are displaying. It would be basically a steering lock issue.

- Mifflintown, PA, USA

problem #333

Oct 282015


  • 98,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima would not start. Dealer said that it was an issue with the steering lock mechanism being stuck. Went to Nissan usa's website and saw that a lot of people were having this issue, and it has been talked about all over the internet. So many complaints about this very issue that it looks like Nissan extended a warranty covering the cost to fix the problem if this happened to your vehicle. The caveat, they only extended this by 6 years. Took it to the dealer and they told me it was the steering lock. I called Nissan, and they told me that I missed the coverage by two months. If there are so many people having this very issue, why isn't there a recall. It's a clear product defect.

- Beavercreek, OH, USA

problem #332

Oct 192015


  • 116,000 miles
There was a malfunction with the electronic steering column lock. I went to start my car and it would not start. The electronic steering column lock needed to be replaced.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #331

Oct 192015


  • miles
The electronic steering column lock issue is prevalent in Nissan Altima model year 2009-2010 and Nissan has failed to take responsibility for this known issue. I experienced the issue conveniently outside of Nissan's "extended warranty claim period" and as a result I am stuck with a $1000 repair that I have taken full financial burden from. This was a known issue that should have been fixed by Nissan under a recall as this is in fact a safety concern because nobody should be concerned about their car not starting especially if they are in an uncomfortable situation and need to get to safety quickly. This issue occurred while the vehicle was stationary and that by no means excuses it from being a safety concern, because it is very much a safety concern.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #330

Oct 302015


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While the ignition was turned to the on position, the vehicle failed to start without warning. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering wheel seized and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Ward, AR, USA

problem #329

Oct 262015


  • 0 miles
I have an 09 Altima and the steering lock module has gone bad. Started it up for work got left stranded. Had to have it towed home, and did some internet work and there are a lot of complaints about this locking up on people leaving them stranded. Nissan extended the warranty to 6 years but the part goes after the warranty ends. If you searched the internet there so many complaints about this. I called the dealership and they said it's a common problem with these cars. So why are we being stranded for a faulty part than Nissan all knows to well. And it's not cheap to fix this either. Why are we paying for their craftsmanship. There are a lot of stories of women, children bring stranded. As I was one (female) that had to find a way to tow my car home. Please hear us we need help, we need your help.

- Euclid, OH, USA

problem #328

Oct 222015


  • 120,000 miles
I went drop kids off at the bus stop came home cut car off went in the house not even three minutes came outside to start car nothing happens, brakes are hard, car does not start the key symbol comes on the dash to the left, start switch says lock, engine won't budge, the vehicle was stationary.

- Jeanerette, LA, USA

problem #327

Oct 222015


  • 86,000 miles
Car deesn't start, it is because of faulty steering lock system. Nissan extended warranty on this part but didn't do recall. It has happend to many people and yesterday I was stranded and my car wouldn't start. The repair is costly and Nissan is not paying for it.

- Billerica, MA, USA

problem #326

Oct 172015


  • 51,371 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 sl started without a problem. Stopped at the store, was in there for 10 minutes. Came out, my car wouldn't start. It would lock and unlock, lights worked, but wouldn't start. Attempted fixing for 2 days by driving up to the parking spot with a bunch of tips and tricks online but ended up towing my vehicle to Nissan dealership and spent $800+ to get it fixed. Refer below links for similar complaints, should have been a recall

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #325

Oct 012015


  • miles
I been having problems with steering for some strange reason Y car would not start there was no warning sign of anything.this is very un-safe I was stranded with my daughter in the car late night. I thought it was my key fob that was low in battery, but no luck I was stuck for hours trying to figured what was going on with my car.

- San Pablo, CA, USA

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