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 9 of 36)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #544

Aug 022016


  • miles


My intelligent key warning system is going out and also my steering lock system has gone out and the dealership tells me that the part has been extended warranty on it yet I have not been notified of that one now I have to replace the part myself financially

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #543

Aug 062016


  • 140,000 miles
They got it do something with this problem that had happen to everybody that own a 09 Altima, steering lock is really expensive tp fix it.

- Moonachie, NJ, USA

problem #542

Mar 152016

Altima 4-cyl

  • 210,000 miles
My 2009 Nissan Altima VIN number [xxx] has many safety issues that are not being reported with my VIN number. The struts, steering lock box{which I paid $900 to repair], ABS speed control sensor, engine oil coolant and most of all the cvt transmission have went out on my car and Nissan will not help me repair. So I am forced to attempt this last try before joining a class action law suit. I have only had the car 2 years and now I am out $9000 and the repairs are more than the car is worth. It would take too long to give detail about all the events so I pray someone at Nissan is decent enough to stand behind their product and make this right I am a single mom of three and ride less. I have contacted att. General [xxx] and BBB. My car is at [xxx] my number is [xxx] my name is [xxx] I have opened 5 cases and been denied. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Greenville, MS, USA

problem #541

Aug 042016


  • miles


My 2009 Nissan Altima is currently having issues with the defects in the electronic steering column lock (escl). The car just cut off on me as I was parking in a parking spot. Luckily I was able to force the gear in park. It disabled the push-button ignition on my car and locked my steering column. So, I was stranded! this is big safety issue because my car could've just continued to roll if I couldn't get it into the parked gear! it's unfair that as a consumer of Nissan, I have to experience this issue after the Nissan warranty on the escl expired in March 2015 and be posed with paying over $1000 in repair costs. Per Nissan, there was no specific mileage number that this defect could occur; so they should recall the escl systems in all affected cars instead of covering their own behinds and giving a warranty with unlimited miles and an end date of March 2015. Clearly Nissan is not concerned with its consumers safety. It's not fair to consumers that bought Nissan vehicles that experience the dangerous defect after March 2015. I am a very unhappy consumer at this time.

- Palestine, TX, USA

problem #540

Jul 222016


  • miles
I was out handling business all day Friday and later that evening I had to make my last stop. I went into the store and when I came out my care had no power and my steering wheel wouldn't move. The key indicator light was on, but I still had no idea of how I would get my car started.. I called my husband because it was late and getting dark out (very dangerous). I had to go the whole weekend and week without a car that I've had for the pass 6 years. I contacted the dealership and they informed me that the part would be $1000, ridiculous! I was unaware of any recall and take my car to the dealer regularly and was never notified of a recall.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #539

Jul 042016


  • miles
Steering lock column failure. Just outside of the supposed extended warranty. Called Nissan took a week to hear back said they would not cover repairs. About a $1000 to replace!

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #538

Jul 312016


  • miles


The steering will not lock in place therefore the car will not start.

- Hamlet, NC, USA

problem #537

Jul 272016


  • miles
Drove my car like I normally do. I park. Return to my car and it would not start. The red key warning light was flashing could not turn the wheel. Nothing happened when I put my foot on the brake and push the start button. My steering column lock malfunctioned. My car is in the shop. I've been told that this has happened a lot with 2009 Nissan Altima. There was an extended warranty for this but my extended warranty and it last year and I knew nothing about this issue.

- Raymore, MO, USA

problem #536

Jul 062016


  • 130,000 miles
Left me stranded in 98 degree heat. Had to have the car towed only to find out only the dealership could determine the problem. Towed it to the dealer. Found out it was a steering lock issue that happens to most 2009 and 2010 Altima's. Nissan had issued an extended warranty, knowing it was an issue, but not a recall. Unfortunately, the extended warranty expired before my car had the problem. I've contacted Nissan corporate only to have them tell me "sorry, the extended warranty has expired". no kidding. So, about to have to spend $1,000 for a repair that should be a recall.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #535

Jan 132016


  • 113,976 miles
Car was parked so my spouse could run an errand. When he went to start up the car, the engine wouldn't turn over and the steering didn't work at all. The car could not be driven. It had to be towed to the dealer. The dealer stated that the steering lock module needed to be replaced and that it was a recurring problem in some Nissan that had been addressed in more recent year models. It cost $961.33 to fix!!! the steering module alone cost $679.44. I am outraged that this "recurring problem" isn't the subject of a recall.

- Franklin, CT, USA

problem #534

Jul 152016


  • 90,000 miles


I parked my car in my driveway after coming home from the gym. About 45 min I left out to go to work. I tried to start my car and it would not come on. My push to start button locked light appeared and a picture of the steering wheel and brakes with arrows pointing in both directions. I called roadside assistance, they could not help...I had my car towed over to pep boys they stated it was nothing they can do and that I had to take it to the dealership. The dealership did not communicate with me what was wrong with my car but they went and fixed it without my permission and stated that I owed them 850 dollars. I was very upset that they did not update me before fixing it. I did some research and notice that it was a recall on 2009 Nissan Altima steering lock but they suspended it. I was very upset because I never received any notice by phone, mail or email that it was a recall on my car. I really hope they they issue another one and some how I can get my money back because I feel like I should have had to pay for an issues that wasn't my fault.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #533

Jul 192016


  • 170,000 miles
The electronic steering lock fails and locks the steering-wheel. The car fails to start again. I am worry this will lock while driving. Is unreliable. Repair cost goes up to thousand dollars.

- Baycity, TX, USA

problem #532

Jul 192016


  • 65,000 miles
Steering lock becomes stuck (will not allow car to be started). This happens for seemingly no reason. Many others have complained as well. Only option is to have the vehicle towed and have the steering lock replaced. Nissan issued a warranty extension of 3 years which expired in January 2016. However, there is no reason that this should happen and no reason that the fix should not be covered infinitely. Could have been stuck on the highway or a bad neighborhood or anywhere. Additionally, the fix is extremely expensive (>1,000 --- see attachment). This is no wear & tear issue. This is a faulty part. Nissan knew about it. They should have to make it right.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #531

Feb 012016


  • 119,504 miles
Electronic steering control lock escl. When it fails, you instantaneously, with no warning cannot start your vehicle. The only remedy is to tow car to a dealer, which will charge you a large amount ($1000 or more) to replace it. This should be the subject of an immediate recall as this has long been a problem. Mine failed soon after the warranty extension expired. Why allow unlimited mileage, yet not unlimited time? the car has been unmoved for months now while payments are still being made on it.

- Berryton, KS, USA

problem #530

Jul 152016


  • 70,000 miles
Common problem from all Nissan 2009 owners.... steering wheel lock has failed. This is obviously a manufacture defect and the safety point is that it can go out at anytime and leave my wife stranded in places she should not have to worry

- Biloxi, MS, USA

problem #529

Jul 092016


  • 98,374 miles
Electronic steering lock sensor fail unable to start car or lock or start. Fortunately had just park vehicle.. on city street

- Thornton, CO, USA

problem #528

May 182016


  • 900,000 miles
Steering wheel lock causing the car to stall completely.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #527

Jul 012016


  • 92,000 miles
2009 Nissan Altima will not start they said it was the steering lock control unit that needs replaced. $1,100. Nissan knew of the issue and extended the warranty only until 2015. If there was an issue why was I never told about it. I would have had them replace it a long time ago. We should have been told and they should cover the cost!

- Naperville, IL, USA

problem #526

Jul 012016


  • 110 miles
Takata recall my steering is locking and won't let me turn on the car it was stationary. Had to have it towed. Needs to be recalled again and fixed for everyone.

- Herriman, UT, USA

problem #525

Jun 222016


  • 106,000 miles
Car would not start at all and it was discovered that it was a failure of the steering lock mechanism. A part that Nissan has knowingly extended the warranty on multiple times.

- Caledonia, MS, USA

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