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 27 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #184

Mar 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 97,435 miles


Steering lock assembly failure.

- Ames, IA, USA

problem #183

Apr 032013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 46,027 miles
In the early morning of March 6, 2013, I attempted to start my 2009 Nissan Altima (mileage 46027), but the car was completely dead (no crank or other sound). I noted an illuminated key symbol in the dash. I proceeded to check (1) the car battery - it was fully charged, (2) insert the key in manual slot - it would not crank/start, (3) release gear shift and manually shift to neutral - it would not crank/start, (4) use the second remote key - it would not crank/start, (5) purchase a new energizer battery for the remote key - all to no avail. Eventually the vehicle was towed to a Nissan dealership; I was advised that steering lock (replacement Nissan part number 48700-9N00B) had failed and given an initial estimate of $915 to replace the unit. Luckily. The final cost of this job was reduced to $769. After further online research, I discovered that Nissan has a voluntary service campaign bulletin (dated March 2010) to replace the same steering lock with the identical part number on the 2009 Nissan GT-R (this car's original base price was $76,840).

- Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #182

Jan 082013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the start button for the ignition failed and the intelligence key warning light illuminated. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering lock unit needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 101,000 and the current mileage was 104,000.

- Branford, CT, USA

problem #181

Mar 202013


  • 71,000 miles


Include my 2009 Altima 2.5sl to the growing list of steering column electrical short problems. I too had just turned off the car and 20 minutes later returned to find it would not start. Brake felt depressed when I first put my foot on it. Pushed the button and nothing happened. Tried the key in the dash slot, and nothing. Called dealer, he told me to try and jump start with cables and that didn't work. Had to have it towed to dealer. Was told it was the very common electrical steering column short, and the fix was $1100. Luckily I had purchased a service contract when I bought the car in 2011. Paid deductible of $100. This absolutely should be a Nissan recall. Dealer told me the problem is on the recall list for the 370Z, but had not made it yet for Altima. I did see through research and a friend who works for Nissan, that they changed that wiring in the model years that followed.

- Bel Air, MD, USA

problem #180

Mar 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
Drove vehicle this morning, got out the car for 5 minutes, vehicle would not start, key light were on, towed to dealer, steering lock unit needs to be replaced. I have viewed online that there are many complaints to this same vehicle.

- Branford, CT, USA

problem #179

Mar 122013


  • 34,000 miles
Our push button start immediately stopped working as we were at a gas station. The back-up method as described in the owner's manual would not work. We had vehicle towed to dealership. "lock steering" piece malfunctioned and cost $981 to fix. There are hundreds of identical complaints but Nissan has yet to issue a recall ( ).

- Lebanon, TN, USA

problem #178

Mar 192013

Altima 4-cyl

  • miles


I drove my car this morning without a problem. I turned it off. When I went to restart the car would not recognize my key.I tried over and over I even changed the batteries in the remote to no avail. I had to have the car towed. I read several complaints from other Nissan owners that its a steering lock. I am also being told that this is a very expensive item this does not appear to be a wear and tear item. It appears to be more of a manufacture defect.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #177

Feb 062013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 46,683 miles
I left work on February 6th and went to drive home, but my car would not start. My car is push button start and it did detect my key as I was able to unlock my car. When I pushed down on the brake to start my car it was very hard to push. My car would not start and a key warning light came on. The local Nissan dealership came to my work and had to disengage the steering wheel lock control unit in order to drive it back to their shop. They said that the car was unsafe to drive, except back to the dealership. They determined that it was a failed steering lock. This is an anti theft component of the car. My estimate was $662. The part was on back order at that time and they did not know when it would be in. Nissan did not offer me a rental car and I was without a car for a week. The part came in a week later and the car was fixed that day. My bill was $662.03. This steering wheel lock defect is a safety hazard as it could have happened while driving the car. There is no guarantee that it will not happen again either. After doing some research I found that Nissan changed this part of the Altima when making the 2010 models. I noticed a lot of people with the same issue after researching. This malfunction should be looked into further by Nissan and in my opinion it needs to be a recall. It's understandable when normal wear and tear issues happen to your car, but an issue like this is a defect and needs to be paid for by Nissan. My car is of course out of warranty at this time. Below is a website that I came across when doing research and found a lot of other people with the same issue:

- Carey, OH, USA

problem #176

Mar 142013


  • 73,000 miles
My husband called me to let me know the car would not turn on when he got out of work. I was currently training across the state so was unable to assist I told him to call the car insurance if getting a jump or changing the key fob batteries didn't work. $85 later and a tow I was told the steering wheel control lock unit needed to be replaced and the part is on national back order and when it did come back in stock the part is going to cost me $1200!!!! I will never buy another Nissan again and the last 5 cars I have purchased have been a Nissan.

- Jensen Beach, FL, USA

problem #175

Mar 142013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 88,150 miles
Drove my car to location, turned car off, returned to car 5 minutes later would not start. Thought it was battery, fuse, or dead key fob battery. Called dealership service manager stated other people have had same issue. He instructed me to turn steering wheel and push ignition button...didn't work. On my dash panel I noticed the key light symbol was lit up, when I tried to start car with the keyfob that didn't work either. Had to have car towed and at dealership to change the steering lock. It malfunctioned and cannot be repaired needs to be replaced. Part has been ordered and should be replaced on 03/21/2013. Estimate is $914.

- Napoleonville, LA, USA

problem #174

Mar 132013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 63,000 miles


On 3/13/2013 I drove my vehicle to work at approximately 8:55am and parked everything in car was fully operational and functioned properly. At 6:30pm I approached my vehicle unlocked the door using my key fob, entered the vehicle and proceeded to press the ignition button and nothing happens. After switching on the headlights and noticing no power issues I noticed a flashing indicator light in the dash that said no key present. After being the only car left in the dark secluded parking lot I started off on a journey to purchase a battery for the key fob and it did not solve the phenomenon. I had the vehicle towed to the nearest dealership which is about 60 miles away from my home. The dealer after investigating for a matter of minutes were quickly able to diagnose the problem which was a steering lock module that was very costly. Upon further research, I found that there are a great number of Altima's and other Nissan vehicle that are infected with the same defective steering lock devices that causes you to randomly be stranded in secluded areas without prior notice. This I find highly unethical for Nissan to be totally aware of such defective equipment and not have any concern for the welfare of it's customers nor their children. Im hoping that the NHTSA can protect consumers from bullies like Nissan and help us get the recall we deserve. All we want is a reliable product that can perform the way it was intended to perform. So let's do what is necessary to hold Nissan up to the american standard of putting out quality reliable products and not ripping off consumers.

- Powder Springs, GA, USA

problem #173

Feb 082013


  • 41,000 miles
As with dozens of other complaints online, when I attempted to start my 2009 Nissan Altima (which had been sitting with its engine off for no more than five minutes), the key illuminated on the dashboard, the steering and brakes felt unresponsive, and the car would not start. Late, cold, and rainy the night of the incident, the car was towed to the dealership the next morning. The dealership diagnosed the problem as a failed steering lock unit--a result that is unsurprising to anyone who types those symptoms into a google search. For the small fee of $900, my car was back on the road two days after the incident. Given the frequency with which this appears to be happening to other owners, there is little doubt that this a manufacturing defect that presents a significant risk of injury should the car not start in a remote area or in the path of traffic.

- Kennett Square, PA, USA

problem #172

Mar 112013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
Drove car to work. After work went out to vehicle and it would not start. After extensive research learned this has happen to many Nissan Altima owners. There is no warning. Once the car is turned off the steering lock control unit has been failing leaving people stranded - I am one of them. The part can only be purchased at a Nissan dealer. The cost is $1000. No warning. The safety issue is I live in mn. We have extremely cold winter. If I went ice fishing in the middle of no where and came back to my vehicle I would have been stranded with no source of heat. My only hope would be a cell phone, providing I have one. The second part is a local garage wouldn't even be able to repair the vehicle. It can only be repaired by Nissan. I hope you recognize my concern.

- Burnsville, MN, USA

problem #171

Feb 252013


  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that while parked, the intelligent key warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact shut the engine off and attempted to restart the vehicle but to no avail. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the steering unit would have to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 58,000.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #170

Mar 082013


  • 26,500 miles
2009 Nissan Altima-26,500 miles when vehicle would not start. Key light on dashboard illuminated. Car was towed to dealer who informed me the problem was a faulty steering lock control unit. Cost $900 to repair with no guarantee new part isn't defective. Seems to be a common problem with this vehicle and known to the manufacturer. Nissan needs to recall and refund everyone who has paid to repair their defective cars.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #169

Mar 042013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 32,800 miles
I went to drive home after work and when I got into the car there were no lights illuminated on the instrument panel except for the intelligent key and security indicator lights. I attempted to start the car but it would not even start to turn over. I noticed all of the locks and headlights still worked so I knew it was not an electrical issue. Luckily this happened in the daytime and I was not left, stranded in the middle of the night and/or I harsh conditions, though I have read on forums about others who were not so lucky. Upon calling the tow truck and being taken to the Nissan service station, I was informed by the mechanic there that my car problem could be caused by either a malfunction to the key fob or with the steering lock mechanism. After doing some research I found that it sounded exactly like problems that hundreds of other customers had with the steering lock control. The next day, I was informed by the service dept. That it was indeed the steering lock control (part #48700-9N00B) which was responsible of the car not working. My car is not even 3 1/2 years old and looking at the accumulated mileage, has not been driven extensively. This, compounded with the fact that there are literally hundreds of Nissan customers who have had the exact same part malfunction on the same exact year and model of car with the exact or close mileage is very telling about the quality of the part. There is no reason why a car as young as mine/the others involved should be having a major and extremely costly malfunction such as this one. Clearly this part is faulty and should be recalled.

- Astoria, NY, USA

problem #168

Feb 102013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 34,900 miles
I would like to add my 2009 Nissan Altima to the growing list of owners who've experienced the illuminated key of death. I've had the car for 4 1/2 months and the vehicle had 34,900 miles on it. Noticed the illuminated key on Friday, researched it and saw it said call the dealer in the manual. Saturday the light was off so I figured I was good. Had a major snowstorm Saturday. Sunday, went to the shopping center, parked and went inside. Came out an it was dead. I knew exactly what it was from reading the hundreds of reports on it. Had it towed to the dealer on Monday. He had the parts and back on the road later that evening. Only $950 poorer and aggravated that I only purchased this "reliable" vehicle 4 months earlier. This is definitely my first and last Nissan. When you see that key, or even if you don't, its not a matter of if you'll break down, but when and where. Nissan, you suck! step up to the plate and at the very least, cover the repairs and towing. I know you don't give a rat's [xxx] about your customers but do the right thing. A Nissan will never be in my driveway. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Trenton, NJ, USA

problem #167

Mar 062013


  • 57,331 miles
03/06/2013, my husband attempted to pick me up from the train station, and my 2009 Nissan Altima coupe would not start. We contacted the Nissan dealership whom gave us a couple of options, place the key in the port, put the car in neutral, and get the spare key, nothing, worked! so the last option was to get the car to the dealership. First, it had to be towed there, a diagnostic was done, it was stated that steering lock control unit was needed, this was a whooping $800. Now I read the forum on this and this is a monopoly, every one whom commented whose mileage was between 30, 000 to 60,000, this problem occurred. Now this definitely needs to be recalled if you add up everyone whom has spent $800 or more to get this price fixed and is truly over a million dollars. Its really shame that people whom want a nice car have the pay such an expense, this was my first car in 10 years and was really proud of myself and still am and have recommended other Nissan to members of my family but my I am truly upset that only after having my car less than a year, I had to incur such a major expense like this one. Please recall this! we need a stop to the madness!!!!!!!!

- Burlington, NJ, USA

problem #166

Feb 262013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering lock failed and would not allow the contact tom move the steering wheel to start the vehicle. In addition, the anti-theft system engaged erroneously. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the steering lock unit malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance because the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 59,000 and the current mileage was 59,050.

- North Little Rock , AR, USA

problem #165

Mar 012013

Altima 4-cyl

  • 34,545 miles
While over 700 miles away from home in Minnesota winter weather, my car would not start. After trying to jump the battery, car still would not start. Lights would turn on radio, etc.. I was stranded and had to have my car towed the next day to the dealership and discovered that the steering lock mechanism (part number 48700-9N00B) had broke not allowing the steering wheel to lock so car would start. The car only has 34,545 miles on it, however, age of car is 3 yr 5 month so not covered under warranty. After extensive research on the internet, it has been confirmed that an alarming number of complaints due to the same issue with repairs running $1,000 on average have been found. I and others feel this part should be recalled or covered my the manufacturer. It is unreasonable that his particular part would need to be replace as many times as it has. By leaving consumers stranded and unable to operate their cars due to a defective part not only becomes nuisance, but in my opinion, a safety hazard.

- Cape Girardeau, MO, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?