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 6 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #604

Oct 282016


  • 46,000 miles


The car will not start when I push on the brake and push the button for it to start. The dealer says it is the steering column lock module. It was in a stationary position but we were stranded and had to get the car towed.

- Elizabeth, PA, USA

problem #603

Oct 122016


  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. When the contact attempted to start the vehicle, it failed to start and the steering wheel locked up without warning. The contact received an email that informed her of the failure; however, the VIN was excluded from the recall. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering wheel locked. The push to start button failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The NHTSA campaign number was unknown. The failure mileage was 91,000.

- Smithville, NJ, USA

problem #602

Apr 152016


  • 81,000 miles
Steering column lock

- Sulphur Springs, TX, USA

problem #601

Oct 222016


  • 111,000 miles


My stationary car would not start when I inserted the key. I was stranded. Nothing would happen. I had to have my car towed to the Nissan dealership where I had no choice but to pay 1000 for my electronic steering lock to be replaced. It is very frustrating because this is a known issue with 2009 Nissan Altima that the company is not taking responsibility for.

- Centerville, OH, USA

problem #600

Sep 282016


  • miles
Steering wheel won't lock there for im not able to turn on my car

- Hawthorne, CA, USA

problem #599

Apr 012016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start, both with the push to start button and the emergency key slot. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the steering column needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage and VIN were unknown.

- Opp, AL, USA

problem #598

Oct 272016


  • 105,000 miles


Car will not start because of the electronis steering column lock unit (escl) this is very unsafe I could have been with my children at a unsafe area for Nissan to tell me warranty is not avaiable anymore. The price to get this fix is 1200 this is so unfair if its a Nissan issue

- Galloway, NJ, USA

problem #597

Oct 262016


  • 85,000 miles
My electronic steering column lock has malfunctioned for the second time. This malfunction does not allow the car to recognize the key fob, preventing ignition. I was stranded in a remote part of a forest preserve and because my car would not start I had to hike out 6 miles until I got cell phone coverage and could call for help. This problem happened to me previously in 2011. At that point Nissan had covered this repair as part of a lifetime extended warranty on the electronic steering column lock, but they decided in January 2016 to cancel this warranty.

- Lake Bluff, IL, USA

problem #596

Oct 262016


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. While in park, the vehicle failed to start and "key fob" was displayed across the message board. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified and stated that there was an extended warranty for the electronic steering column lock (escl); however, the warranty was expired. The failure mileage was 50,000.

- Sunnyside, NY, USA

problem #595

Oct 252016


  • miles
Car wont start because of bad steering lock. Seems to be a common issue with 2009 Altima and should be recalled and covered by Nissan. Definitely a safety issue. Never received a notification from Nissan of faulty part.

- Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #594

Oct 212016


  • 122,000 miles


While out shopping, I returned to the car and the intelligent key warning light came on when I tried to start it. The car would not start at all. It was dark out, and I had to have the car towed because it was in the store parking lot, in addition to it not starting. When towed to dealer, they said the steering lock unit was broken and needed to be replaced. After looking online, I noticed that Nissan knew the steering lock unit was defective because they issued an extended warranty, which expired in November 2014. My problem is the same problem that they fixed for hundreds, if not thousands of other Altima owners for free, but since mine happened later that 11/2014, they refused to fix it. Now, I am out almost $1300 dollars for the repair. Defective is defective, regardless of when it happened. They knew it was defective, or they wouldn't have extended that warranty in the first place.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #593

Oct 242016


  • miles
Within the last month I've had problems with the steering wheel lock 3 times and it's very frustrasting. When I bought at the dealer they told me it was a very reliable car. This past Saturday I had to get it towed because it failed to turn on while I was grocery shopping. This problem occurs when I want to start the car.

- Orange, CA, USA

problem #592

Oct 242016


  • 105,000 miles
The electronic steering control lock disabled the starter so that I could not move my car. I was in a wal mart pharmacy parking lot when this occurred. My wife is undergoing chemo-therapy for breast cancer and we had to wait about an hour before we could get a ride home. The wait made my wife feel worse considering her condition.

- Thibodaux, LA, USA

problem #591

Oct 192016


  • 72,000 miles
My steering wheel locked up and now it will not start...... I have researched this and it is a huge problem with the 2009 Altima and I was told this is not coever under warranty

- Kankakee, IL, USA

problem #590

Oct 072016


  • 128,000 miles
Steering lock switch failed, which prevented the steering wheel from locking when parked, and the car from starting. Battery is in good condition. Required towing for repair. Nissan is aware of the steering lock issue, but has not issued a recall although this seems to be a frequent part failure.

- Rowlett, TX, USA

problem #589

Oct 102016


  • miles
"the 2009 Nissan Altima has a defective "steering lock" which causes owners to be unable to start their vehicles. This defect can affect owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima without warning and without cause. When this issue occurs the only way to resolve the issue is to have the car towed to a Nissan dealership to have the faulty steering lock replaced. The car cannot be started at all. Thus, owners of the 2009 Nissan Altima continuously find themselves stuck in very inconveniant circumstances with no ability to drive their car. This can be very dangerous for drivers who are in remote or dangerous areas." This was exactly what happened to my 2009 Nissan Altima on Oct 10, 2016. I was further disappointed to receive a phone call from Nissan to the effect that they knew this but their extended warranty expired last year and they will not even cover the cost for this defective product that imposes great danger.

- Westlake, OH, USA

problem #588

Oct 152016


  • 57,000 miles
Car will not start due to escl issues headlight turn on door locks and unlock, red and yellow key icon flashes

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #587

Oct 092016


  • 50,000 miles
Nissan Altima steering lock issue I called Nissan customer service on Monday (Oct.9) and explain that my car did not start. I already knew what the issue is, since it is written in Nissan booklet(the symbol that on dashboard) they told me to go to Nissan shop, and we will see what we can go to resolve the issue. So I was thinking they will cover or partially cover the cost to fix the problem. On Thursday(Oct.13) I am getting phone call from corporate office and they give me the whole speech. So basically they told me, you need to fix it yourself. The guy name rod give me excuse that I am not loyal customer, since last time I went to Nissan service was 2 years. But I try to explain that I have my own mechanic in different body shop and you are welcome to call him and get my history of taking care of my car. Plus pep boys can pull my history as well. But I was not sure what loyal to Nissan has to do with defective part. So bottom line I need to pay $1007 or I am without car. Rod told me if you would go more often to Nissan service, they would catch the problem earlier, not sure how. I told him there are at least 3 ways to get in touch with me and most of the customers by phone, email, text message, and mailing address. No one letter came, so how any of us with this problem should know about steering lock recalled. So we are little people, can't really fight with such a big corporation like Nissan, unless government can get involved with this problem. It is clearly Nissan fault that steering assembly is malfunction

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #586

Oct 042016


  • miles
After leaving a doctor's apt on 4 Oct, I get to my car and it want start. The intelligent key warning is lit up O the instrument panel and when I hit the push start button, the lock light is illuminated and I cannot push the brake pedal down. The steering column is completely locked. I recalled getting a letter from Nissan extending the warranty on the escl fro 6yrs/unlimited mileage. Nevertheless, I had to have my car towed to Nissan and as of today they are telling me that the extended warranty has expired. How is that possible when I got the letter a year after I purchased the car. So now I am stuck with paying $900-1200 to get this fixed. Nissan should be ashamed of themselves and should do a recall. I am so disappointed in Nissan response and service and I was looking at buying a new car at the end of the year from them. But they will not get my business.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #585

Oct 042016


  • 142,822 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima won't start. I had to get it towed to the dealership and they have stated that the steering lock assembly has failed and will need to be replaced for $1,000!! I soon found out that this is a common problem with Nissan Altima and that there was an extension for this problem but only for cars under 120,000 miles. What are the chances that a 2009 car will have less than 120,000 miles; not very likely! at one point it looks like they are doing something in good faith until you realize wait this doesn't even apply! I have been a loyal customer to Nissan and have really loved my Altima up to this point but this is really turning me into a critic more so than an enthusiast very quickly. I would at least appreciate Nissan at least paying for the part in good faith and showing some sympathy. Had I not been taking care of my car with routine maintenance I could understand but this is a known manufacturer problem that should be addressed for all people affected not just a certain mileage group of people. Apparently Nissan removed this part from the 2010 Altima. I assume there was some knowledge of the parts failure (apparently there was a recall for the same part in the Nissan 370zs).

- Houston, TX, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?