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 5 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #624

Nov 212016


  • 76,287 miles


Drove my 2009 Altima to local Nissan dealership for an evap canister ses light issue. Got out of the car to get early bird paperwork and car would not restart when I returned to it. The service advisor advised that the steering lock mechanism would have to be replaced. My receipt for the steering lock mechanism alone shows a charge of $1110.78. Filed a complaint with Nissan usa that same day and was given a case number (24724130). I was told it would have to be handled by the regional office and to expect a call nlt 11/22/16 by cob. Received a call from shonecia at 12:32pm on 11/22. The call was basically to inform me that because they had originally extended the warranty on the issue and it had ended they were not responsible for the repairs. When I protested that this is a safety issue, she just repeated the previous comments along with the fact that they only acknowledge maintenance receipts from "certified Nissan-trained service departments" when considering how to handle repair reimbursements. My understanding is that even though they know this is a defect in the car, they have no intention of doing more that the previously mention warranty extension. I stressed that this really is a safety issue because there was absolutely no warning--not a light, not a whisper, not a shout-out--absolutely nothing! I told her my only silver-lining to yesterday was that it happened at the dealership and not out in the middle of nowhere. Pretty sure she didn't care and neither does Nissan. I did advise her that I would be filing a complaint with you and my state attorney general.

- Theodore, AL, USA

problem #623

Nov 202016


  • miles
My have problem with the electronic steering lock column and righ now no move and what can you to help me? my is in my house right now but mo start.

- Wildomar, CA, USA

problem #622

Nov 182016


  • miles
Steering wheel lock recall. The steering wheel was able to be turned all the way around and would not lock causing the car to be un-driveable. Once the car was powered off and to a stop the car would not start back up again.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #621

Nov 132016


  • miles


My car would not start due to the electrical steering column lock failure. This is also known by Nissan and they still have not recalled this issue. Which is very unfortunate to the Nissan owners and it is expensive to fix.

- Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #620

Nov 162016


  • 120,000 miles
Steering wheel lock would not release to start. This occurred very far from home and without warning. Nassan is aware of this and does not act in favor of owners to remedy the problem thus allowing for costly expense and repairs.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #619

Nov 152016


  • 85,000 miles
Vehicle would not crank after steering mechanism malfunction.

- Greenville, AL, USA

problem #618

Nov 152016


  • 43,000 miles


The key light stays on. The car keeps give me low battery warning even I just changes the battery in key fob. Now the "🔑 /key" lights on. The car could not start.

- Ramsey, NJ, USA

problem #617

Nov 152016


  • miles
The steering wheel lock prevents your push to start to operate and this was an extended warranty for lifetime but Nissan since has actually made it only available till January 2016 which is def still coming up as an ongoing issue today

- Compton, CA, USA

problem #616

Nov 142016


  • 80,000 miles
I went to the mall to drop off a painting and my car wouldn't start when I left and was giving me the key indicator so after a 20 second search on google I found that a lot of Nissan owners had the same problem as me, which was the steering wheel column not receding to where it should be in order to lock the wheel. I think its absurd the piece is 600 at the dealership and 400 online. Then the key needs to be reprogrammed, if I would have known about such a tedious problem that Nissan was not accepting responsibility for, I would have just gotten another kind of car.

- Valrico, FL, USA

problem #615

Nov 102016


  • miles
Car stalled twice both parked in a parking lot. Battery works and key fob works with doors. But engine wont start with push button start. Electronic steering column lock defect.

- West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #614

Nov 072016


  • 88,888 miles


"takata recall" the steering wheel locked in my Altima and it left me stranded in the road! the battery wasn't dead, the control key wasn't bad either. The dealer says is a $1,300 repair job! it's the steeringg wheel lock that needs replacement and I have seen youtube videos and it has happened to thousands of people with 09' Altima!! why did you take the manufacture replacement in 2015!" this is so horrible! I understand that I have to replace wheels, engine oil and other wear and tear items, but how in the world can a part that is inside my steering wheel have problems!" I don't event have a key! I use "keyless control". this is so upsetting! please listen to your customers and have it fixed by the manufactures expense!!!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #613

Nov 112016


  • 100,000 miles
Steering lock assembly malfunctioned car will not start. Nissan has knowledge the problem but won't repair honor repairing a defective part.

- Rosharon, TX, USA

problem #612

Nov 102016


  • 160,000 miles
The electronic steering lock has malfunctioned. The car would not start, leaving myself and two children stranded.

- Columbia, IL, USA

problem #611

Nov 012016


  • 135,000 miles
Electronic steering column lock failure. Leaves car disabled where ever you are. Car will not start. Must be towed. Nissan had an earlier recall but never published it to 2009 Altima owners.

- Auburn, MA, USA

problem #610

Oct 312016


  • 131,000 miles
Steering wheel lock malfunctioned causing car not to start. Was having a severe asthma attack at the time and was in a life or death situation. Thankfully others were around that could take me to the er. This part was a known issue as evidenced by an extended warranty on this part but no customer notification was ever issued to me. I was lucky! to be in a situation where you are panicked and not thinking clearly and trying to get help only to be held hostage by a known faulty part that would not let my car start is infuriating.

- Portage, IN, USA

problem #609

Nov 052016


  • 75,000 miles
When parking in reverse, car does not start after 2 minutes. The electronis steering column lock unit (escl) malfunctions and shows error symbol on dashboard showing that immobilizer is activated and steering is locked. It is unsafe, dangerous and scary situation. I have family, with little kids in the car and stranded on side of a road, with car parked while the traffic is flying by. Nissan dealership and service center representative informed that there is no warranty and no recall. The cost of replacing steering wheel lock system is $1250. This can not done by any other repair shops as all the parts must come from Nissan. It is a Nissan monopoly and ransom to get this repaired.

- Sammamish, WA, USA

problem #608

Nov 052016


  • 90,000 miles
Takata recall my daughters 2009 Nissan Altima was running fine, she parked it and ran inside to grab her school lanyard and right back out to go back to school when it wouldnt start. The key fob was in the car, and it was as if the car didnt recognize it. We searched online and did our own trouble shooting and replaced the brake switch and key fob batteries which didnt help. Had the car towed to our dealership and it is the steering lock at the tune of $1,005. There was no warning of any issue and there was nothing we could do other than have it tested and pay.after looking at the national highway traffic safety admin page and seeing all of the complaints I do not understand how this has not been recalled. My daughter couldve been stranded anyplace and that is not acceptable to have no way to start this we play the waitin game to see if and when it happens again? this seems to be a recurring issue for the Nissan and hopefully they will have to take responsibility in fixing the problem. Our family cannot afford this, as I'm sure nobodys family can.

- Lawton, OK, USA

problem #607

Nov 052016


  • miles
The key icon displays and the car does not start while it was stationary. Dealer said steering lock unit (Nissan part #: 48700-9N00B) is short circuited. Nissan dealer is asking for $1,100 to fix it.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #606

Oct 262016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
I was at a friends house in downtown albany doing some work, but when it came time to leave I got in my car which was parked on the street and my car just wouldn't start. I towed it to a Nissan dealership nearby and they told me that the issue with my car is the steering lock assembly. Apparently there was a recall on this issue and the warranty was extended because of this problem but neither my parents or I were notified by Nissan that the car was having this issue and there was a recall on it. The extension ended last year and now I'm here having to pay for this problem out of my pocket. I shouldn't have to pay for something that was clearly their manufacturers fault. The part is not cheap and there are a lot of people experiencing the same problem with their Nissan Altima.

- Astoria, NY, USA

problem #605

Oct 192016


  • 42,000 miles
I have Nissan Altima 2009. My car was parked at home and just would not start. Able to open doors with key fob but not start with the push button. Found the electronic steering column lock was the problem and needed to be replaced. Cost me $1100 to fix it. Nissan has known about this problem and had extended warranty on this part to 6 years, without informing the customers. I realized this when the part had a problem in the 7th year and Nissan denied to cover the costs. Thank fully this happened at my home. Would have been extremely dangerous if I was travelling with my family had the problem at an isolated place.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

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