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 26 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #204

Dec 092013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 110,200 miles


I was driving on the freeway and my car shutdown. I pulled over and tried to restart my car but it would not turn on.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #203

Nov 292012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
I got into my car to start it to realize it was locked down. I couldn't start it or even roll my windows down ! it ended up being the steering lock box and have had several problems with it since. I don't have that many miles on it and have heard of several others being recalled but not 2009.... it needs to be !!!

- Madisonville, TN, USA

problem #202

Nov 042013


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering wheel lock control failed and prevented the steering wheel from being maneuvered. The vehicle was not taken T the dealer for repairs or inspection of the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 66,000.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #201

Oct 152013


  • 31,614 miles



- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #200

Oct 142013


  • 68,800 miles
2009 Nissan Altima coupe, SE. While making turns (without stopping), the car stalls in the middle of the turn and the steering locks up. The most recent time was October 14, 2013, and while making a right hand turn from a busy street and onto a busy street, the vehicle stalled which almost caused an accident due to another car making a left hand turn. Nissan has a current recall on several models regarding this happening due to a faulty accelerator sensor, however this vehicle (make, model, year) are not in the recall, and I suspect it should be. Could be a very dangerous situation. This has happened to me at least 10 times.

- Canton, OH, USA

problem #199

Sep 292013


  • miles
Faulty steering wheel lock system causes car to not start up and locks up car's ABS and brakes. You cannot start the car without taking to dealership to get it repaired. I've heard many cases online about the Nissan Altima ranging from 2009-2011 models locking up having the same issues. And they have not recalled this. Affected parts is selected in unknown factor due to only knowing a few issues that branches from this malfunctioning part and system.

- Dayton, OH, USA

problem #198

Sep 152013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles


I attempted to start my 2009 Nissan Altima on Sunday night but it would not start. It has a push button start; I pushed the button, with my foot on the brake. The vehicle did not start, so I checked the directions in the owner's manual to start the car but still was not able to start the car. Finally, I had the car towed to a local Nissan dealer. They said the steering lock unit had gone bad and charged $775 to fix the problem. I did some research on the internet and see that hundreds of other buyers are having the same problem. I see that this is a defective part that Nissan should not have used. I think this part should be recalled and we the consumers should not have to pay for Nissan bad design.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #197

Sep 192013


  • 66,700 miles
I left my house for work, made a stop at the local panera when I went to start my car I noticed the yellow highlighted key on the dashboard and my car would not start, not even make any noise. I called triple a they came out and told me I had to tow it to the dealership. I just found out it was the steering lock control unit that needs to be replaced at a cost of $789 plus a $32 towing fee. My warranty actually expired a while ago so I can not put in a claim on that end. This is my 4th Nissan since 1990 and this is the first time I have had a problem with one of their vehicles. Earlier this year there was the recall on the muffler system, which was covered. I feel that if there are this many cars having this problem that it should be covered and if your warranty is up you should be reimbursed for the cost.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #196

Sep 052013


  • 100,456 miles
My boyfriend was leaving a friend's house to come home and the car would not crank. We had to call roadside assistance to tow the car. The next day I was told that it was the steering unit and that it would cost about $1200 to fix. Looking on the internet I see that this is a big problem with the 2009 Altima. Think that Nissan needs to be held responsible. This is not negligence of the owner of the car this is Nissan's oversight. I pray that this can be fixed. And that someone gets Nissan's attention.

- Florence , SC, USA

problem #195

Aug 292013


  • 60,000 miles
The car failed to start; I see lots of complains where the steering wheel locks in place and so does the brake and the car fails to start. I had the same problem twice already and the dealer told me to replace the key less switch however, the problem continues and I see that the problem was not the key. As I can see others are having similar issues of the car locking in place and the problem is more than just the key problem.. this should be definitely recalled.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #194

Jun 222013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 39,000 miles


Over the weekend I stopped at a shell gas station when I returned to my vehicle, it would not start and just had a key in the dashboard. I check to make sure it wasn't the battery, etc... and had the vehicle towed to a locale Nissan dealership. I was told that my electronic steering column lock had to be replaced and that I needed to reprogram the key which was a total of $995. This vehicle was just in for routine maintenance prior to the factory warranty expiring 2 1/2 months ago. I was told this is a common theme with 2009 Nissan Altima but there has been no recall or any solution on how to correct this problem. I'm not sure how the government can allow this company to put out cars that have issues and not fix the problem but have hard working people pay for it.

- Trinity, FL, USA

problem #193

Jan 062013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 76,438 miles
1. I drove to church on a Sunday morning and parked the car. When leaving church, the car showed a yellow key light and would not start. I had the car towed to love Nissan dealership in St. Albans, wv the following day. I was told by the dealership service repair person that they found an internal failure/malfunction of the steering lock control unit. The invoice says....... B26E9 lock malfunction, found internal failure of steering lock control. This repair, I was told, was not covered under the warranty I had and cost me $767.72. Why was this repair/breakdown not covered in full or part by a warranty or by Nissan? 2. in mach 2013 in a second mishap, I had to call roadside assistance. This same vehicle locked (without me doing it) with the remote key laying in the center cup holder. Nothing was in the cup holder other than the remote key and a small piece of paper. The car had to be unlocked by the towing company as I was outside a store in charleston, wv. Could there be a faulty wiring/electrical problem with this car?

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #192

May 162013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 24,300 miles
Nissan North America has sent me a letter informing me that our vehicle is equipped with a electronic steering column lock (escl) unit that locks the steering wheel when the vehicle is parked and the ignition is turned off to help prevent theft. On some vehicles, due to a (manufacturing irregularity) that has since been corrected, the escl may malfunction after the vehicle is locked and could prevent the engine from starting. The only thing that they are willing to do is they are extending the warranty from 3 years/ 36,000 to 6 years unlimited miles. They do not know which vehicles has this defective escl. My argument is that what if myself or both of us are on a trip and whether we are one mile or 500 from out home we are stranded this could become a very dangerous situation for us or if we have sold the vehicle to another party out in no where. We do not own a sell phone. Since they cannot tell us if our vehicle is one that might have the defective escl they should be responsible for replacing the current escl in our Nissan.

- Point Pleasant, WV, USA

problem #191

Apr 302013


  • miles
I just wanted to let everyone know that Nissan is finally excepting responsibility for the steering lock malfunction and is sending out letters extending the warranty on that part and reimbursing consumers for the repair of the part. If you have not yet gotten a letter you can go to to fill out a reimbursement form or find out how to have your warranty for that part extended.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #190

Apr 252013


  • 70,154 miles
One day at the gas station car wouldn't start. I replaced remote battery thinking that may be the problem. It didn't start right away, but eventually it did. The next day it did the same thing, so I had to get it towed to the Nissan dealer. This is a disaster for me because I purchased the car in April of 2012. The service technician told me that it was the steering lock control unit and the price for only the part would be over $700 not including the labor. The devil is a lie........

- Pleasant Grove, AL, USA

problem #189

Apr 232013


  • 90,000 miles
Hi, I'm [xxx] from the united arab emirates living in abu dhabi and I have a 2009 Nissan Altima which I never had any issues except this one. It started when I woke up in the morning as usual going to work and trying to start the car but it did not start, I opened the hood trying to figure out if it was from the battery but I could not find anything unusual as I already had my battery changed before 3 months ago, then I decided to call Nissan workshop and explained what happened to me and then after trying two couple things asked from the Nissan supervisor I found that the problem still exist. Later on they decided to send a towing car to me and took the car to the workshop after that they called me and told me that the cost will be around 1100 $ for replacing the steering lock assembly !!. after reading all the complaints in this site of the same problem I decided to file this complain about steering lock assembly issue hopping to recall this part from Nissan. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Greer, SC, USA

problem #188

Apr 182013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 68,393 miles
The steering lock sensor burned out as described by the service center at West covina Nissan in California. As I was researching to verify that in fact it was the steering lock sensor, I found that there were many Nissan owners that had the same problem as I, the sensor burned out at about 70K miles on the vehicle. It occurred to me that if this sensor had burned out while I was driving it could have been a disaster. I believe that this part should be recalled for the potential danger and defective part. The repair is about $750. Which I paid.

- West Covina, CA, USA

problem #187

Dec 122012

Altima 4-cyl

  • 73,125 miles
Went to walmart came out of the store to find my car would not start. Had to have it towed to Nissan dealer which was around $200 and then the part for the steering lock assembly was $700.

- Wellington, KS, USA

problem #186

Apr 112013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Steering lock failure.. had three kids in the car away from home, went to start car, nothing happened. Had to have car towed and was told steering lock needed replacement at about $1,000!!!! come-on Nissan - recall this part...

- Naugatuck, CT, USA

problem #185

Mar 012013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 94,430 miles
The electronic steering control lock malfunctioned and would not allow me to turn the vehicle off. A certified mechanic had to pull the fuel pump fuse to stop the engine. Dangerous. Could not start the vehicle after shut down. Nearly $1000 in repairs.

- Greenville, MI, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?