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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
47,478 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.

2010 Nissan Altima steering problems

steering problem

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2010 Nissan Altima Owner Comments

problem #12

Aug 302016


  • 43,800 miles


The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the steering locked up when using the push to start feature. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed, but not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the repair. The vehicle was part of a manufacturer communication, which had expired. The failure mileage was 43,800.

- Stafford, VA, USA

problem #11

Mar 202016


  • 150,000 miles
The steering lock mechanism is faulty and will not let the car start. The vehicle was stationary where failure occurred. I've done research on this problem and it appears Nissan extended the warranty for this part but never issued a recall so that it could be fixed. It is a safety issue that needs to be taken care of by Nissan. People are being stranded because their car will not start but seems no one knows about the potential problem until they are stranded. This is an issue that Nissan has admitted is a manufacturing problem. I for one will never buy a Nissan again because of the poor customer service. Things break, and parts fail, but this particular issue is very very common on 2009-2011 models.

- Warrior, AL, USA

problem #10

Jan 222015


  • 56,800 miles
My check engine light came on and I made an appointment for Monday at planet Nissan. On Saturday 1/24/15 the light went off, but I've heard some knocking and the steering makes a rubbing sound. So far the master cylinder had to be replaced, which I filed a complaint here, and was reimbursed, but before reimbursement they told me my VIN did not match. So I find that questionable. I've put on new struts on the front and rear. Nissan said the check engine light had to do with the transmission and it was under warranty and has been repaired. Now they are telling me that the front strut mounts are cracked which is not covered. I've been on line and see that 2010 models have had this problem. They have not located the rubbing sound in the steering wheel. I've called Nissan consumer department and am awaiting a reply. So far the master cylinder, struts front and back, the transmission, and now the front strut mounts. On a car with this little mileage, I don't feel secure in this car and will never own another Nissan. I think they should repair the strut mounts. I've never had so many problems with a car before. I would say very poor workmanship. I was looking forward to paying the car off as I owe very little at this time and I keep my cars a long time, but feel I have a lemon and am very disappointed. As much as we pay for cars today there shouldn't be so many problems.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #9

Aug 072014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 70,121 miles


To whom it may concern: This particular incident date was on 8/7/14 but also reported 8/23/14 & 9/30/14 at two Nissan dealerships. I was driving at 65mph for 1 hour on the highway and felt a loss of control. The steering wheel abruptly turned right, I had to attempt to keep the vehicle within the lane and slowly decelerated to a stop on the roadside without immediate braking. While braking at 15-20mph I applied the brake which jerked the entire car to the right, suspension was stiff on passenger front strut. The car had barely 70000 miles, had been up to date on services, was towed to the dealership. The service department could not duplicate the steering incident. 8/23/14 the car experienced a sudden loss of steering with a "dragging" feel and nearly hit another vehicle, car seemed to "float" and could not find a "straight" line, either it turned slightly left or sudden right. This was incredibly concerning and I felt it was no longer safe to drive. Dealership could not duplicate, told to install brake booster. 9/30/14 unable to operate the vehicle, upon start it would "knock" when put into gear, grinding noise to the passenger front side, turned the steering wheel right if coasting at 5mph. Dealer could not duplicate on a test drive but advised a new steering rack, a diagnosis to a problem that was not seen in the shop. Almost every time the car has been running for longer than an hour or at highway speed I have lost steering control. I have had my wife with me on two events, this is unacceptable and dangerous, I will be towing the car from the dealership as I feel it is unsafe to drive. The steering, "knock" from suspension and transmission are all compromised and documented.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #8

Sep 282014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
My 2010 Nissan Altima is not able to start due to the push button ignition. It is having the same issue as the 2009 Nissan maxima's and Altima are having, which is the electronic steering column lock (escl). Nissan has issued a warranty extension for this issue for the 2009 model but not for the 2010 and other Altima models that are having the same issue. I believe that Nissan should extend it coverage to this vital part due to the cost being over $700 to replace and the fact that without this part, the car cannot function at all.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #7

Sep 052014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 74,400 miles
The car will not start, steering lock malfunction.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #6

Aug 282014

Altima 4-cyl

  • 64,000 miles


This issue force me to spend 1600 for a new steering column because I car would not started.

- Smyrna, GA, USA

problem #5

Oct 172012

Altima 6-cyl

  • 39,590 miles
Went out to start vehicle, no start...towed to dealer, denied under warranty, made me pay for towed to a Nissan dealer to perform install of steering lock assay. And misc hardware.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #4

Dec 112010


  • miles
I was driving normal speed limit 60 mph on the fwy when we heard a noise like a big pop sound. Right away when I tried to slow down to get over ( when I applied the brake) the steering wheel began shaking so bad that I was unable to control the wheel. It felt as if the brakes weren't working. The car spun out of control and crashed in the carpool divider. This was a brand new Nissan Altima 2010 coupe with 60K miles on the car. We did not hit anything at the time or even before the accident occurred, all parts on the car was brand new. I remembered that the more that I tried to apply the brakes the steering wheel shock harder and harder to where I was unable to even control it.

- Lancaster , CA, USA

problem #3

May 012010


  • 3,000 miles
2010 Nissan Altima 2.5sl has been experiencing vibration through the steering wheel, accelerator pedal and drivers seat when driving on highways above 60mph. I had the tires rebalanced, rotated and an independent shop wheel alignment to no avail. The tires are showing a choppy or feathering wear pattern. This vibration began soon after purchase after the break in period. The vehicle currently has under 8,000 miles on it. The dealer claims that they cannot duplicate the condition even though it is constantly felt.

- New Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #2

Oct 282010

Altima 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 230 miles
The contact leased a 2010 Nissan Altima. The contact stated that the suspension failed while she was driving 70 mph; the vehicle also shook at low speeds as well. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated that the vehicle was working mormal. The contact called the manufacturer who referred her to the dealer. The failure mileage was 230 and the current mileage was 897. Updated 01/20/11 the consumer believed the shocks were too weak for the vehicle. Also, the steering wheel became stiff and would not turn, and the speedometer was not giving the accurate speed. Updated evoq 02./18/11 upadted 04/15/11

- Temple City, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 162010


  • 2,800 miles
The contact owns a 2010 Nissan Altima. While traveling at speeds of 60 mph, the vehicle began abruptly veering to the right without driver intent. The contact attempted to maintain control of the vehicle; however; the steering wheel became hard and resistant to driver input. The contact was unable to move the steering in either direction. The vehicle then spun out of control and proceeded to crash into a cement wall. The air bags did not deploy on impact. The police arrived and a report was filed at the scene accordingly. The driver suffered from minor injuries. The vehicle was towed to a local repair shop. She was advised that the front suspension and tires were damaged. There were no repairs made to the vehicle. The contact inquired about a recall campaign on the suspension but upon contacting the manufacturer, was informed that his VIN was not included in the campaign (NHTSA campaign id number 09V358000: Suspension). The approximate failure and current mileages were 2,800.

- Chino Hill, CA, USA

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