Nissan Steering Wheel Radio Controls Not Working: Troubleshooting Guide

Radio Switch

Having the convenient radio controls on your Nissan’s steering wheel stop working can be incredibly disruptive. When the buttons on the wheel become unresponsive for volume, tuning, or track changes, it forces you to take your eyes off the road.

Determining the cause of the steering wheel radio control failure and restoring their operation is crucial. In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll cover various issues that can render the radio buttons on your Nissan steering wheel.

We’ll outline solutions for non-responsive buttons or buttons that allow volume control but no seeking or mode changes. From bad clockspring connections to programming errors to switch membrane failures, we’ll explore the range of problems and fixes.

Reasons Why The Steering Wheel Radio Controls May Stop Working In A Nissan Vehicle

Faulty Clockspring

  • The internal clockspring makes the electrical connection between the wheel buttons and the steering column. A damaged clockspring will cut off communication.

Button Membrane Failure

  • The button membrane facilitates electrical connectivity, tactile feedback, protection, and the interface between the driver and the steering wheel radio controls. 
  • The button contacts underneath the wheel’s button pads can wear out or get dirty, which prevents electrical connections.

Wrong Radio Mode

  • To allow wheel controls, the radio must be in the correct mode, like FM, Bluetooth, or CD. An incompatible mode will block them.

Radio Not Coded

  • Upon installation, the radio must be electronically coded to the vehicle to interface with wheel controls. If there is no coding, it will turn off controls.

Bad Fuse

  • There is often a dedicated fuse just for the steering wheel control functions. If there is a blown fuse onboard, it will cause inoperability.

How to Test the Fuses on Your Car

Loose or Cut Wiring

  • Damage to the wiring harness running through the steering column to the radio can occur over time, which causes control failures.

Radio Software Glitch

  • In rare cases, a bug introduced during a radio software update can inadvertently cause steering wheel control issues.

Button Remapping

  • If the radio buttons were assigned to non-factory functions, the original controls might be useless until reset has been done to default settings.

Troubleshooting Steps For Diagnosing Nissan Steering Wheel Radio Control Issues

  • Switch the radio to FM/AM, XM, or Bluetooth to test controls.
  • Determine if buttons fail to control multiple sources like the radio tuner and Bluetooth streaming to isolate the issue.
  • Use an OBD-II scanner tool to pull any stored error codes related to the steering wheel controls or clockspring.
  • When pressed, check button contacts for continuity and resistance to confirm electrical signals are being sent correctly.
  • Inspect the static clockspring connections and the rotating coil inside the steering column for any signs of damage or severed wires.
  • Locate the steering wheel control fuse in the fuse box and test for continuity to confirm it is not blown.
  • Check wiring harnesses between the steering wheel, column, and radio for signs of chafing or broken leads.
  • Temporarily disconnect the radio to reset its settings with steering wheel 
  • controls according to the factory service manual.

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FAQs About Nissan Steering Wheel Radio Controls Not Working

Q: Do I need to replace the steering wheel if the buttons fail?

A: No, in most cases, only the button membrane or clockspring needs replacement if appropriately diagnosed. Complete steering wheel replacement is rarely required.

Q: Can I still control the volume with side radio buttons if the wheel controls fail?

A: The leading radio unit controls should still adjust volume as a workaround if the steering wheel buttons become unresponsive.

Q: Do radio control problems only affect one side of the steering wheel?

A: Typically, the contacts are separate for the left and right side buttons. Which simply means that one side may work while the other side fails.

Q: Can I still safely drive if my radio steering wheel controls are not working?

A: Yes, absolutely; this poses no immediate safety issue. It is just an inconvenience until repaired.

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