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Nissan Recalls 700,000-Plus Rogues For Issue With Jackknife-Style Ignition Key

For years carmakers from Ford to Nissan and others have used a "jackknife-style" ignition key where the ignition key folds into the body of the key fob when you press a button. This style of ignition key has presented a problem for Nissan, where wear has made it possible for the key to turn off the ignition when you are driving, creating a potential hazard. Nissan has recalled over 700,000 Nissan Rogues and Rogue Sports that used this style key to fix the problem.

About 30 years ago, give or take a couple; the auto industry came out with a type of ignition key that I called the “switch key.” It was a play on the famed blade that appeared in classic films like “West Side Story” and a very good but very ancient movie called “Battle Cry” that starred a raft of celebs from that era, the switchblade.

”Jackknife-Style Key Used For Decades”

The ignition key in question, used for the last three decades, relies on the jackknife principle; you push a button on the key fob, and the ignition key blade pops out, allowing you to use the key in the ignition to start the vehicle. (Technically, it’s more like the switchblade of film fame I mentioned a moment ago.)

The “switch key” was used by many brands. For example, Nissan has used the jackknife key in its Rogue series right up until now. Ford also used the same style of ignition key for its 2015 Fusion and others, while Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz also used the same style of ignition 20 years ago.

For the last few years, the industry has been using or rolling out a different type of key fob based on RF (radio frequency) technology. To get your vehicle started today, you simply have to have a key fob in your pocket or somewhere near the steering wheel, and you press the start button, and the engine kicks over. (Interestingly, pushing a start button takes the industry back to the 1960s when that was the way one started some cars like the Rambler – a model no longer made or big Chryslers. Indeed, the famed PRNDL gearshift was still in the future for many models as the auto industry still relied on pushbuttons to get your car in gear. Today’s key difference is the RF technology used, but that is a story for another day.)

Nissan Recalls Many Rogues

Today, we are dealing with a major recall from Nissan. The Japanese automaker has recalled over 700,000 Rogue and Rogue Sports for an issue with the “switch key” style ignition key. Nissan informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the recall in its filing with the agency.

The problem is with the design of the key. Normally, you fold the key into the key fob, and it clicks, then put it in your pocket and walk away. Used in the Rogue and Rogue Sport, the “switch key” can collapse while it is in use which is the problem. Because it can collapse while the vehicle is traveling, it’s possible that the engine will shut off, leaving you stranded or possibly causing an accident. When the power is off, the vehicle will have no brakes and other systems will likely have problems. Nissan says there have been no reports of accidents or injuries.

According to Car and Driver (C&D), Nissan has recalled 712,458 Rogues and Rogue Sports. The problem is “exclusive to the base S level of the Rogue and Rogue Sport SUVs,” says the publication. A total of 517,472 Rogues and 194,986 Rogue Sport SUVs are involved. They are the models that still rely upon the “switch key.”

“Other trim levels and Rogues produced more recently have an Intelligent Key. The jackknife-style key is no longer being used … No other Nissan or Infiniti models are affected,” says C&D. The recall covers some Rogues built from 2014 to 2020 and Rogue Sport models from 2017 through 2022.

Nissan Lists Notification Date

Nissan plans to notify owners on March 17 about when they can bring their Rogues in for free key fob repairs. Nissan is telling Rogue owners not to fold their ignition key into the fob and not to have anything attached to the key fob. It is possible that the “switch keys” won’t stay in the proper position and will shut off the vehicle. As an interim fix, dealers are instructed to insert a fastener into the key slot to keep the key from folding. A permanent fix may involve, says C&D, the insertion of a “spacer into the key slot of owners’ key fobs so that they can no longer collapse.”

For more information, owners can contact the NHTSA through its website,

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent many misspent hours hanging out at gas stations (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my earnings while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.