Steering wheel locked, key will not turn

Tiny
JONEESQX4
  • MEMBER
  • 2000 INFINITI QX4
  • 3.3L
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 105,000 MILES
This is a car I just bought. It has an aftermarket "remote start" system installed. The remote start will start the engine, but the key will not turn in the ignition cylinder. They key (not an original factory "transponder/chip key") has been working fine, but suddenly the key would go in, but would not turn. The aftermarket remote was installed with what is called a "key wrap" - the key or the chip from the original factory key was placed somewhere on the vehicle in order for the remote to function.

I don't know if I somehow triggered the Nissan Anti-Theft System (could this lock the steering wheel?) Or the Infinity Immobilizer system? Or what?

I have tried turning the steering wheel while turning the key (like on "normal" cars where the steering wheel locks), but no luck.

I had to have the car towed home, and here it sits.

Any help greatly appreciated.
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019 AT 9:51 AM

9 Replies

Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Welcome to 2CarPros.

My first thought would be a failed ignition cylinder as the key doesn't turn at all. The NATS system only prevents the engine from running if the attempt is made to start the engine with the wrong key. It won't prevent the lock from turning. I will say I do not like that type of remote start because it eliminates all of the OEM security because of the chip inside the car (likely right near the factory ignition switch so the transponder will function) which makes any key that turns the switch into a valid key, even if it's a screwdriver that forces it to turn.

The entire unit is replaced with a new one, the lock cylinder isn't a replaceable part.
Nissan/Infinity # 487006J326.
Replacement isn't that hard. You remove the top and bottom plastic covers on the steering column. Then use a sharp punch or chisel to break the tamper screws loose. Disconnect the electrical connectors and remove the old switch. Install the new switch, tighten the screws until the heads break off. Reconnect the electrical parts. Now you may need to get new non-transponder keys made to keep the remote start as the new switch will also have new transponder keys that may interfere with it.
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019 AT 12:34 PM
Tiny
JONEESQX4
  • MEMBER
Steve, thank you for the quick and thorough answer, that was very kind of you. You obviously know what you're talking about. Replacement of the complete lock cylinder ($500.00) plus new keys will be my last resort. Great point about the NATS (Nissan Anti Theft System) system not being the problem, I hadn't figured that part out. I'm trying to understand the Infinity Vehicle Immobilizer System also, to see if that might lock the steering wheel. There is a box under the dash that (I think) controls the Immobilizer, or may even lock the steering wheel.

Also, there are several types of "reset" codes I'm trying to learn about. An example would be putting the key in the drivers' door and holding it left/right for certain amount of time or certain sequence. Another method is insert the key into the ignition six times within ten seconds. Etc. Also, removing and reinstalling the battery may reset some electronics on the car.

So very confusing!

This is a a fantastic web site! I'll keep posting what I've found or tried in hopes it may help someone else, and gladly accept any additional ideas others may have.
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019 AT 1:48 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
None of those resets will help with the key issue. If you put the key in and it doesn't turn the interior of the lock is the only place that can cause that. Also being that you have the remote start with the transponder key chip that works, none of them will do anything as that makes the system think that the correct key is already in the car and that overrides everything else. As for the part, you can get them cheaper. Oh, the Infinity system is just NATS by another name. Works the same way. When a key is inserted into the ignition, the PCM and security module send out a pulse that wakes up and powers that chip. If the chip is not recognized by either one the NATS system shuts of power to the fuel and ignition systems. However an easy way to tell it isn't causing your problem is that the remote start works and the engine runs. If it was anything to do with NATS it wouldn't run.

The steering lock is nothing more than a chunk of metal that rises up into a notch on the steering shaft right in the key housing. It isn't controlled by anything other than the key turning in the cylinder to lower it. On the attached image, the circled part is the steering lock.
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Thursday, January 10th, 2019 AT 4:02 PM
Tiny
JONEESQX4
  • MEMBER
Steve; Wow, I'm impressed with your knowledge of this system! I feel guilty asking more questions and taking up your time. Do you have a fee or any way to donate to the web site?
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 1:38 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Ask away, we're here to assist people with their automotive issues.
No real trick to knowing the system, pretty much all of the systems used these days work the same way. Some vehicles have just ignition shut off, others just fuel. Some do both. Then if it has a true alarm system there are other items added in for content protection. Like door switches, interior sensors like IR, sonic or radar to detect someone breaking in. Then you just need to know which parts are in the system on the make/model you're looking at.
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 4:41 AM
Tiny
JONEESQX4
  • MEMBER
Thank you sir! Please, allow me to explain; if we weren't retired/fixed income, I would just have it towed to the dealer, say fix it, and write the check, but right now, that's not possible.

My hope is just get the vehicle driveable and hopefully make a proper repair at a later date.
Security is of no concern, we live out in "the sticks".
I'm not concerned with re-sale value or keeping the vehicle original.

They say there's no stupid questions, but:
1. Crazy idea, but could I take the lock cylinder out and remove/cut off that "steering wheel lock/piece of metal" as shown in your diagram?
2. Is there any other way to just defeat the steering wheel lock?
3. Could I somehow rig a simple start button and bypass the ignition cylinder?
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 7:23 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Your initial issue was that the key would not turn in the cylinder correct? Or is it that you can turn the key but then the steering wheel will not turn?
If it's the first one there is no option other than replacement of the entire switch assembly. The ignition switch does more than just starting the engine. It also selects the power routing for the various systems on the vehicle depending on the position of the switch. In off it shuts off power to things like the transmission controller, ABS, the engine controller and more. The remote start will let the engine start but will not power the rest of the system. If it's installed correctly it will even shut the engine off if you move the shift lever out of park without the key being turned to run.

Now if the issue is that the key itself does turn and you can start the engine with it but the steering wheel stays locked. The answer then becomes "maybe" As it will depend on which part is causing the failure. If the lock mechanism broke you might be able to remove it and get the wheel to turn, however it would really depend on what failed and where.

As for the price of the part, there are other sources than a dealer as that switch was used on a lot of Nissan and Infinity vehicles and the QX4 is basically a fully optioned Pathfinder with a nicer fit and finish. As such it shares a lot of parts with them. The part number crosses to a Airtex/Wells 1S6107 switch that runs under $200.00 or even less if you bought it online.

There was also a recall # 00V410000 on those ignition switches in 2000, you might want to see if yours was ever repaired. If you call Infinity/Nissan at 1-800-662-6200, give them your VIN and ask them if it was ever done. Not sure if they would still do anything after 18 years but it's a free call. Just don't mention the remote start as they might say you are on your own irregardless of the actual status of the recall.

Another option that could work would be to have an automotive locksmith look at it. If it's something in the cylinder at fault they might be able to repair it. But it would depend on what the issue is.
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 11:50 AM
Tiny
JONEESQX4
  • MEMBER
Steve - Again, thank you for the fantastic information! I will certainly buy the lock cylinder at that price, but I have one more issue: I called tech help at WVE/Airtech (Dave) to verify the 1S6107 part number (I didn't want to pester you again). He said the part # was indeed for the Pathfinder (and Maxima?), But could not cross-reference to the QX4. Not sure where I found it, but I had a Nissan Part # 487006J386. He said he showed cross-reference to J387 and J388, but not J386!
I hate to ask you this question Steve, but are you confident the 1S6107 will work in the QX4? If so, I'll order it, problem solved. Thanks.
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 1:53 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
The # 487006J386 shows as a number for the QX4 in alldata. But they have been wrong before.
Best thing would be to call an infinity/nissan dealer with your VIN and have the parts guy look it up just to be sure of the current part replacement.

The parts listing I have shows
48700-6J385 fitting the QX4 from 12/98-1/01
But it also shows that it replaces 48700-6J387 and 48700-6J386
I suspect that is because the 48700-6J386 also shows as a discontinued part and the others are ones that fit. It may even be the difference is simply that the keys have different insignia's which would change the part number. Hard to say for 100% without having the Nissan parts data.
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Friday, January 11th, 2019 AT 2:23 PM

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