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 20 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #324

Sep 292015


  • 127,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering wheel seized and the key warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 127,000.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #323

Oct 082015


  • 96,000 miles
Received notification from Nissan in the mail that the steering column lock control unit can break causing the vehicle not to start. This event occurred to me on 10/08/2015 resulting in a towing bill, rental car fee and a repair fee at Nissan. Nissan Consumer Affairs will not reimburse since vehicle is outside warranty period even though they admitted in their corporate letter that this malfunction is a known issue. Vehicle was parked at the time of the occurrence.

- Naperville, IL, USA

problem #322

Oct 072015


  • 84,578 miles
Electronic steering column lock replaced for $974.97. Bought car new 9-7-09. Warranty for this known problem extended to 72 months/unlimited mileage. It failed on 10-7-09, one month after warranty expired. These vehicles should have been recalled.

- Quincy, MA, USA

problem #321

Oct 092015


  • 100,000 miles


Tried to start my car one day and it would not start. The car was located in front of my children's school. After getting a diagnosis from the dealer I was told it was the electronic steering column lock. I was later told that it was an extended warranty issued for the part because tons of people are having the problem but the warranty ran out June 29, 2015. How would I know that the part was defective if they do T contact me? now they want to charge me $1100

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #320

Oct 052015


  • 70,300 miles
Car was parked for 8 hours, went to start and nothing would happen, key light on dash was light. Steering wheel was not locked. Battery ok, fob working opening door locks.

- West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #319

Oct 022015


  • 145,000 miles
Without warning the vehicle would not start after being driven an hour prior to the malfunction. The key fob indicator light comes on but the car will not start or respond to the start button. The key fob unlocks/locks the car. Upon researching the issue online, I discovered that the issue is with the electronic steering control lock that keeps the car from being stolen or started without the key fob. This is, from what I discovered, a known issue with Nissan and in my view a major safety issue. Nissan has made this a warranty extension instead of a safety recall for reasons unknown. With no way to tell when and if a steering lock will fail it is a game of chance that many Nissan owners are losing. If you are like me, and purchased your car used, it is safe to say that you will not know about the issue until its already too late. On top of that, since it is a warranty it has an expiration date. Which means that if you are unfortunate enough to no know about this and it fails there is a good chance that Nissan will not fix it for free.

- Fayetteville, GA, USA

problem #318

May 072015


  • 31,689 miles


Notified by dealer that right inner tie rod was failing - slight play - at the time of a pa state inspection with only 31,869. No external damage noted. Recommended replacement.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #317

Aug 112015


  • 71,000 miles
This vehicle was purchased at 60,000 miles from a Nissan authorized dealer. The push button does not start the car. Sometimes it does start and will go off by itself. The shift tick is locked and won't change gears. I have called the dealership and Nissan and they both said nothing can be done. So I am paying for a car that does not work. When it does turn on I have to press the lock release on the shifter for it to engage into drive. Dangerous really. No accountability

- Clifton, NJ, USA

problem #316

Oct 032012


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While driving in a parking lot, the power steering seized without warning and the vehicle stalled. The vehicle was towed to a dealer. The technician diagnosed that the electronic steering column lock was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 30,000. The VIN was not available.

- Pooler, GA, USA

problem #315

Sep 172015


  • miles
I got in my car fine this morning with my key fob, but the key light was on when I got inside. When I pushed the break to push the button trying to start my car it would not turn on. The light stayed on lock. The steering wont budge and the break is locked. My car is in park and the wheels are straight.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #314

Sep 062015


  • 94,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While the vehicle was being serviced at a dealer, the steering wheel seized. The dealer informed the contact that that the sealing lock needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 94,000.

- Richmond, CA, USA

problem #313

Sep 012015


  • miles
It won't start because of steering lock they said (service center ) need to change, I ask them if it is still under warranty.

- Richmond , CA, USA

problem #312

Sep 072015


  • 122,000 miles
I purchased my vehicle from diamond valley Honda. I have only had my car for about 6 months with a 90 day warranty. My car was working absolutely fine on 9/7/2015 (labor day) until the evening my ignition locked. I read the manual and it stated that my key may need to be reprogrammed, but I did have a spare and when neither worked I towed my car to my dealership. A day and a half went by and they ran a diagnostic test on my car stating that the starter locked, but that they did not have the proper system in fixing my car in which they had to tow it to Nissan to be fixed. My dealership waved the diagnostic test, but wanted to charge me for towing to the Nissan dealership. I refused, because I towed my car to the place it needed to be taken to and I was not going to be charged to simply have my car taken across the street. The Nissan dealership wanted to charge me $120 to run another diagnostic on my car, but I explained to them that my dealership did one and told me what the problem was, but they continued to come up with excuses as to why they needed to run it through their system. I was extremely frustrated that not only I was unable to get to work, but that my dealership was unable to fix the problem. I pleaded with Nissan to do payments, because this was my only source of transportation, but they refused and stated that I needed the entire payment of $850 to walk off the lot with my car. Upset and extremely emotional that I just purchased this car and now have to come out of pocket to pay this obscene amount of money, I have to push back my car payment along with my registration and insurance payments. I feel that my dealership cheated me, for not being able to fix a car that was purchased from them. I have read many reviews and feel that Nissan should recall this, because no car with the proper keys should lock on persons thinking it's in theft mode.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #311

Sep 012015

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles
I haven't been happy since I had my car, which I purchased in 2012 with 45, 0000 miles at the time of purchase. I complained about so many things every other month I was going to get it checked. When you hit a bump you can here something loose underneath the front end of course I seemed like the only crazy one hearing the noise. Then when I took it back again I was told the sway bar arms need to be replaced when this was a problem when I first purchased the car they just ignored now my warranty is expired. The steering lock was one issue and I was told through the dealership that there was not a recall on my car. Until I contacted you guys I was told that there was a recall. Now when I drive the car at a certain speed it starts wining and slows down to 60 mph with the gas pedal to the floor I am furious because I was traveling on the interstate 4 different times going out of town and this happened. Someone could have ran into the back of me. I changed out the air filter thinking that may have been the problem but no it continued. Also sometimes the car wouldn't start I was told by Nissan I needed a new battery and I had it checked by someone else they said the battery was fine. The passenger sensor light stays on when an adult is sitting there. Now my sister 2013 Nissan Altima transmission is gone and she only had the car almost two years and we were complaining about the issue with the car going a certain speed and making noise. I went to Nissan and they told me my car can be put on the machine, but I would have to pay to have it checked. Too many people having the same problems with these cars.

- Pleasant Grove, AL, USA

problem #310

Sep 022015


  • 73,200 miles
I went to start the car and nothing was working and a red key sign showed up in the dash. I tried changing the batteries in the keyfob (which had already unlocked the car before replacing the battery) and it still wouldn't work. I had to have it towed to a dealership and they said it is the steering lock mechanism. I googled this and it is apparently a well known issue with 2009 Nissan Altima and yet Nissan had stopped the warranty. This is ridiculous that they no longer fix a known issue or have found a way so that this will not happen O to customers who still have 2009 Altima.

- Beverly, MA, USA

problem #309

May 092014


  • 106,000 miles
I was parked at a store and the car wouldn't start. I looked up a temporary fix and was able to get the vehicle started. Once I got home, I researched the problem and discovered that Nissan knew what the issue was: The steering lock assembly was malfunctioning. This is an intermittent problem. It can occur anywhere or any time. Nissan extended the warranty (just for that part) 6 years. The dealership informed me that they wouldn't honor the extended warranty unless they could duplicate the fault...and they would charge an $80 fee...just for a mechanic sitting in the car and starting it. And if I wanted to have the work done anyway, it would cost approximately $1200. Obviously, I didn't leave the vehicle with them since I knew it would start at that time. The problem is, from every comment about the problem on Nissan boards, from what the Nissan dealership itself said, this is an intermittent problem. So the next time it happens I could be at work late at night. I could be driving across Texas and stop for gas, then I'm stuck at a gas pump unable to shift into neutral to move the car. I (or my wife) could get stuck anywhere when this problem occurs again.

- Killeen, TX, USA

problem #308

Jul 132015


  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While parked, the vehicle failed to start with the key fob. The contact stated that the key warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the electronic steering column was damaged and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 96,000. MA 10/25/15

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #307

Aug 122015


  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. After opening the door with the key fob, the vehicle failed to start as the key warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was towed the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the electronic steering column lock was damaged and needed replacement. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 74,000.

- Concord, NC, USA

problem #306

Aug 032015


  • 121,000 miles
On 8/3/2015 I went to the grocery store drove my car perfectly well. When I was ready to go home my car would not start. My steering wheel was locked. I had to call a tow truck since the dealership was closed. Next day I call Nissan since I saw so many postings about this issue opened a claim, and they told me I would have to take the car to get a diagnosis from the dealership and call them back with the findings, because I was out of warranty as of March 3,2015. I took the car payed a tow truck again then had to pay $130 for the diagnosis only to find out they could and would do nothing! I had to pay $1007. And they claimed I was out of warranty for over 41 months. How is it that they know its a malfuntion, and they get away with no recall! I will never purchase another Nissan vehicle

- Salinas, CA, USA

problem #305

Aug 102015


  • 92,551 miles
I had stopped at the grocery store and went to get back in my car and it would not start, it would not even recognize the key. My key fob would unlock, lock & pop my trunk but my car acted like it wouldn't accept my key fob. My steering wheel was not locked & it has been towed and sat overnight & its still not locked, my electronic steering wheel lock has gone out on my car & with all the research I have done I found out several other people are having the same problem. Nissan extended the warranty on this part to 6 years but it seems all these failures are happening after that 6 year mark has been hit. Nissan is well aware of the problem and released a bulletin on it but not a recall, I believe with all the problems that everyone is having that a recall should be issued I was quoted 800-1000.00 to fix this problem. This is evidently a faulty part installed by Nissan and they should make it right

- Henderson, KY, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?