This is an update on my original "locked steering wheel, key will not turn, but I can remove and insert the key" problem:
We ended up not replacing the entire ignition switch assembly, and only replacing the electrical switch ($40.00 to $50.00). The primary reason for not replacing the entire assembly was cost. The best price I could find for the actual 2000 Infinity QX4 switch was $340.00.
After seeing the ignition assembly and how it works, I'm convinced Steve W. Is right and other Nissan/non-Infinity (Infinity = $$$) switches would work (at half the price), but replacing the switch would still involve, as Steve W. Explained, a trip to the dealer to have new keys and/or reprogramming.
We removed the ignition cylinder following Steve W.'s directions (aided by a fantastic YouTube video called "How to fix a broken ignition lock/switch-steering column type). This is a very detailed well-done 24 minute video with many great tips on this type of ignition lock system. The same mechanic has another 11 minute video titled "How to Remove Ignition Key Lock Tumbler/Cylinder & Electrical Switch from Steering Column" which details the removal of this type of ignition cylinder.
After removing the entire Ignition Cylinder, I found that the key now turned freely in the lock cylinder and the spring activated "steering wheel lock" "button" (or hunk of metal) as Steve W. Called it (See the image Steve posted above) worked fine.
I oiled the spring "button" lightly with machine oil and added white lithium grease. I added powdered graphite to the key cylinder.
The new electrical switch seemed more solid than the old one. The key worked better than with the old electrical switch. Failing electrical switches are a known caused of many problems including slow/hard/no start issues. I consider replacing the electrical switch a "no brainer" if you remove your entire ignition assembly - just unplug the old switch and plug in the new one.
We went to the hardware store and sized the bolts to replace the "knock off head" bolts that are normally used to install the ignition lock cylinder. We selected replacement bolts with "allan" heads so we could crank the bolts tight.
After removing the ignition assembly and replacing it, I'm convinced that the steering wheelkey lock problem that started this repair thread was caused by a common combination of circumstances. My wife parked the vehicle with one wheel slightly up on a rounded curb, and then we tried forcing the steering wheel while turning the key. This resulted in the "steering wheel lock button" getting jammed up in the steering wheel slot.
The only way to release this "jam" was remove the ignition lock cylinder.
NOTE: We did notice that when we started to removed the ignition lock cylinder, that there was a small amount of "play" and the cylinder wasn't locked on as tight as it could be.
This might possible have caused the original problem by allowing the steering wheel lock button to seize up inside the steering column.
Another fix/option I considered but did not opt for was locking the steering wheel lock "button" in the down position where it could not possible lock the wheel. If this extreme hard steering wheel lock situation occurs a second time, I would try this before spending the several hundreds of dollars for a new ignition switch, new keys and dealer reprogramming.
About STEVE W. And 2CarPros: I can't stress enough how crucial Steve's expert analysis of the problem, explanation of the complicated security systems, and repair suggestions helped solve this problem. He truly deserves the title "EXPERT"!
I would still be trying to figure out how the NATS security system or the Infinity Immobilizer system was causing the problem. When the actual problem had nothing to do with these two security systems!
Thank you! If anyone wants any further information, please let me know.
Saturday, January 19th, 2019 AT 9:59 AM