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 8 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #564

Sep 082016


  • 85,300 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering wheel seized without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering wheel lock failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated they would get back in touch with the contact. The failure mileage was approximately 85,300.

- Egg Harbor Township, NJ, USA

problem #563

Sep 072016


  • miles
Malfunction with the steering lock that won't allow the car to start. When I push the brakes to start the car the car it is stating that there is a malfunction with the steering wheel lock.

- North Charleston, SC, USA

problem #562

Aug 272016


  • 93,000 miles
The car was sluggish driving in to the driveway and went dead. It would not start and could not depress the brakes they were locked. Had to have the car towed to the dealer. If this would have happened while on the driving on the street or freeway my son could have been hit from behind since it just went dead without warning. After 3 days the dealer determined it was the electronic steering lock. Found out that there was a 6 year warranty added to this part on the car but I was never informed by Nissan. Unfortunately we did not have the problem until the 7th year, 1 year beyond the warranty. Nissan knows about the potential of this part failing and added the 6 year warranty but if outside of that time period you are responsible. This is a defect not something cause by an owner for lack of maintenance and should be a part of a recall not a limited warranty.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #561

Sep 072016


  • 50,000 miles


After sitting I cannot start my car, steering seems to be stuck and brake is very hard to press has only 50.000 mi.

- Concord, OH, USA

problem #560

Sep 012016


  • 82,377 miles
Car will not start. Steering lock mechanism malfunction. Car parked on street in front of our house. At least I'm not on a trip. Nissan won't fix under a recall. They had an extended warranty to cover this problem, but it expired. Owners of pre-owned cars were never notified.

- Greenville, TX, USA

problem #559

Sep 012016


  • miles
My steering wheel lock is defective, my sister got stuck after a pit stop traveling from boston to New York. After doing some research online I came across informations showing it was a factory default. I purchased the car in 2013 and was never told about this at the dealership

- Salem, MA, USA

problem #558

Sep 022016


  • 146,000 miles


Notice a key indicator light on dash... vehicle wouldn't start! I was in a very dark area by myself and didn't know what to do! I was scared for my life because I was alone and didn't know what would happen!!

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #557

Aug 312016


  • 100,500 miles
My car would not start. The car battery is fine and the intelligent key fob is also working fine and was even tried with a new battery. Pushing the start button does nothing and the two key lights on the dash both light up when in the car. After checking the manual, calling the dealer, and checking the internet, it is clear that my steering lock mechanism has malfunctioned. This seems to be a very common problem as Nissan extended the warranty on it indefinitely and then went back and shortened it to run out in January of this year! they even tell you to call the dealer in the manual if you encounter it and it is then a $1000 repair. I'm just glad this didn't happen over the weekend while I was camping and potentially stranded!

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #556

Aug 182016


  • 80,000 miles
This problem is occuring in 2009-2011 Nissan Altima and maxima vehicles. When turning off vehicle, the steering locks and when you go to turn it back on, the steering wheel will not unlock after turning key on. Vehicle will not start due to steering wheel being locked. There are numerous complaints regarding this on the internet and the dealers want $1200 to fix problem. This should really be a recall item.

- Peyton, CO, USA

problem #555

Aug 202016


  • 65,000 miles
Car will not start due to steering lock on vehicle malfunctioned X 4. towed to dealership for diagnostic only to be told repair is $900. Contacted Nissan who is going back on their word to pay for repair. Car also has airbag lights that come on while driving. Car is always in parked positioned when there is a problem.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #554

Aug 192016


  • 65,000 miles


Car will not start with key fob. Called tow on three different occasions. Last tow was told to knock on steering lock box to start car. Car was towed due to inability to get car running. Unable to pay for diagnosis at dealership because of cost of 100. Unable to pay for tow because of 65 dollar cost. Stuck out in the middle of no where and now my car is useless. Will not be buying another Nissan or recommend to anyone. I am afraid I am going to lose my job because of no transportation thanks to Nissan.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #553

Jul 062016


  • 93,000 miles
Steering lock failure. The car had an extended warranty on this part but Nissan refuses to pay to have it replaced because the warranty expired last year. My car is unusable due to the high cost to replace this part. (1000.00) Nissan should be required to recall this part and cover the cost since it is a defect on their part. The car was stationary when this happened. It just wouldn't start back up.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #552

Aug 182016


  • 117,000 miles
I have just learned that I have a problem common to 2009 Altima. The steering lock is defective and left me stranded. I was on the side of the road, and depending on the area and time of day, this is extremely dangerous. I need a car that works properly and I believe there should be a recall on this clearly defective part.

- Clayton, NC, USA

problem #551

Aug 162016


  • 113,000 miles
Steering lock is stuck on my car and it will not start. The key light came on randomly and the car is locked down and wouldn't start. I was stranded in a very scary part of town that I had to wait at forever for someone to come get me.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #550

Aug 132016


  • 134,000 miles
Car would not start steering locked up, told it was the steering lock box which was on recall and I never recieved a recall notice, dealer said VIN number did not match with recall but my Nissan is clearly a 2009, I am afraid to drive it if this part is not replaced I can not start my car and the part is very expensive. I feel if this part was recalled it should be replaced in good standing by the dealer, I surely will never buy another Nissan if the dealer will not work with it's car buyers in good faith. Car was stationary as it would not start but do not want to get somewhere from home and have this happen again

- Niantic, CT, USA

problem #549

Aug 152016


  • 148,000 miles
I got gas at a station in havana, then tried to start the car and nothing. The key symbol came up on the dash. My husband brought the extra key fob and still nothing. Brakes were locked, no power to the engine. Key fob worked for locking but not for power. Aaa towed my car to krafft Nissan where I was told of the problem. I googled the problem and saw that it was common with the 2009 Altima. I was glad to be close to home with no grandchildren in the car. I need a car I can depend as I approach 70.

- Havana, FL, USA

problem #548

Aug 092016


  • 133,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to restart after being operated and turned off. In addition, the steering wheel was extremely difficult to move. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the steering wheel lock failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 133,000.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #547

Aug 042016


  • 109,167 miles
On my way home my intelligent key light came on. I was thinking that I had to change the battery in my remote.. once I did that, nothing changed. I continued to drive my car. The next day I drove to work. When I got off my car wouldn't start and the key light was on again!! I looked it up and it's the escl going bad!

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #546

Jul 112016


  • 105,000 miles
Takata recall I am emailing with hopes that Nissan will issue a recall for the 2009 Nissan Altima's steering lock failure. The warranty on this part was extended, but I didn't have any issues until after the warranty expired. I don't understand how a company can acknowledge that a part is defective and not issue a recall. I had to discover this issue at the end of my work day in 100 degree weather. It is not fair to expect car owners to pay for this out of pocket when Nissan is aware of the defective part.

- Olive Branch, MS, USA

problem #545

Aug 082016


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Nissan Altima. After starting the vehicle, the ignition switch warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The technician stated that the electrical steering lock system needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 110,000.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?