RexSeven
RexSeven SuperDork
2/22/12 6:51 p.m.

Another "learn me" thread like my Pontiac GTO topic. Looking for an RWD replacement for my Mazdaspeed3. New Mustang V-6, Genesis coupe 2.0T, and Scionbaru are on the short list as well as the 2004-06 GTO and 2006 LanEvo IX (I know, not RWD. I've always wanted to try one on for size, though).

Z-cars are popular up here in New England. I am finding plenty of 350Zs within my price and mileage range. Whatever I get this spring will mostly be a highway, three-season DD with the occasional track day or autocross as well. So, impressions as a daily driver? How's the reliability, what's the mileage like, how hard is maintenance, how bad is insurance, etc.?

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac SuperDork
2/22/12 7:36 p.m.

All i really know is that i can't see out of the damn things.

Cole_Trickle
Cole_Trickle Reader
2/22/12 8:43 p.m.

I owned an 03 350z with the "Track Package"

It was a pretty cool car that had near 300 hp and got over 30mpg on the hwy. It was balanced and predictable in the turns. The interior was crap though. I think nissan used the thinnest plastic available. I felt like at any moment, I could break something. The ride was a little rough, but not back breaking. There is no interior space. Plan on putting groceries in the front unless you only get two bags.

It was a good car, and I would own one again, but I would make it faster. With a few more ponies, it might would have been my favorite.

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
2/22/12 9:39 p.m.

all I know.. they make an awesome sound when revved.. but if you want something that is more usable.. buy the infinity version

Taiden
Taiden SuperDork
2/22/12 9:43 p.m.

Aggressive curves
Beautiful orange paint
Crappy transmission in 03
Delicious interior
Exquisite sound
Formidable brakes
Grandeur and spirit
Humongous butt
I have a short attention span

peter
peter Reader
2/22/12 10:42 p.m.

I seem to recall back in the day there was an issue with tire cupping. Not sure how/if/when that was resolved, if it was even anything more than board whining.

pete240z
pete240z SuperDork
2/22/12 11:05 p.m.
Taiden wrote: Aggressive curves Beautiful orange paint Crappy transmission in 03 Delicious interior Exquisite sound Formidable brakes Grandeur and spirit Humongous butt I have a short attention span

Wow, it took me a while to figure this out.

evildky
evildky Dork
2/22/12 11:30 p.m.

the tire cupping was an alignment issue, they were fixed under recall

they also had some weak transmissions in the early cars most were replaced under warranty

power window motors are a common issue

vq35 has proven itself to be a good long lasting motor in many nissan's and infiniti's

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
2/23/12 8:50 a.m.

I've got one that I bought new and used for exactely your described useage. The non-Brembo brakes are not OK for track use. You must replace them with a big brake kit (I went with Stoptech). They also understeer as delivered but sway bars fix that (I have 350 evo but they aren't made any more). I'd also recommend a set of Koni sports. They made a huge difference on my car. It is extremely quick on the track with huge grip. 275/40-17 tires fit without a problem. With the big tires, it's quicker than any of the Elises/Exiges that I've run into at Lotus club track days. The only failure on mine was a window motor and a sway bar end link. I have replaced the front hubs as a wear item and it goes through lots of brake pads with me driving at the track. It's been excellent as far as I'm concerned. I am going to be selling mine this spring (it's in storage for the winter). For some reason, it makes my wife car sick so she won't/can't ride in it so I hardly drive it any more. I'm planning to replace it with some sort of super sedan. Shoot me a PM if you're interested. It's red with 50k miles and it's track ready.

SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy SuperDork
2/23/12 9:09 a.m.

The interiors are awful. I know that much. Would love to have one otherwise.

carczar_84
carczar_84 New Reader
2/23/12 9:15 a.m.

I have also heard of issues with the front hub/wheel bearing assemblies being a weak spot. From what I was told bigger, stickier tires seem to accelerate the wear at a pretty good level. Just something to keep on the inspection list I guess.

rotard
rotard HalfDork
2/23/12 9:18 a.m.

My understanding is that you should definitely get the 05+, as the 03-4 models had various issues. As I seem to say a lot lately, I looked at 350 and 370z's a lot before getting the Z06 instead.

There isn't much visibility out of them. The MPG isn't much better than an RX-8. Not as much fun to drive as an RX-8. Find a clean Z32TT instead.

scardeal
scardeal Dork
2/23/12 9:19 a.m.
RexSeven wrote: Z-cars are popular up here in New England. I am finding plenty of 350Zs within my price and mileage range. Whatever I get this spring will mostly be a highway, three-season DD with the occasional track day or autocross as well. So, impressions as a daily driver? How's the reliability, what's the mileage like, how hard is maintenance, how bad is insurance, etc.?

I have an 07 Auto Enthusiast. The 07-08 years had the updated HR engine.

As a DD, it's a bit stiff, a little stiffer than a RX-8. I find the ride acceptable, even on Detroit's famously pockmarked roads. I like the seats (I've got cloth) quite a bit. Good bolstering, but still comfy. I did a 1000 mile road trip with my (then future) wife when I moved up here. I had about the equivalent of a guy's dorm room's worth of stuff in it. Got about 26 mpg overall. RX-8 gets 19-20 highway for me.

Insurance is pretty high. It's more than an RX-8 or BMW 3 series. Affordable sports cars tend to be like that. Dang kids.

The aftermarket can be pretty expensive, but there is lots of availability.

Oil changes are not a huge deal, you just have to pull off the front under tray, and do the regular stuff. Everything's easy to get to once you pull off the under tray. It'd been nice if they had a trapdoor for the oil filter. I did change the swaybars, and it was not terribly difficult, just time consuming for a first timer.

Stock they understeer a bit. Going to a square wheel/tire setup or changing the rear bar helps a bit with that.

They are offered with an open diff (base model only) or a viscous LSD. If you plan on swapping to a quaife, start with an open diff. I think the OS Giken is priced the same either way. The LSD is a weak point. The viscous wears out around 50-100k miles, and acts like an open diff after that.

Front is adjustable for toe only. There are aftermarket upper control arms that let you adjust camber and caster. Rear is adjustable for camber and toe. There are aftermarket solutions for additional adjustability.

They can be a little heavy. Mine weighs in the neighborhood of 3300 lbs. The 03 base is a 100-200 lbs lighter.

There are lots of options for power. OEM gets you 287, 300 or 305 HP. The HR engine (305 hp) is rated differently than the DE engines, so it really is about 320-325 on the original scale. In SP trim, it can probably gain a good 50 whp. There are turbo kits, swap kits, etc. Turboing a DE is much cheaper, but the HR engine seems to work with boost much better. I hear LSx engines fit VERY nicely.

They can fit 305 Hoosiers in front in SP trim and still fit under the fenders (I've heard). I have 275s Star Specs, and they fit quite fine in front and rear.

racerdave600
racerdave600 Dork
2/23/12 10:50 a.m.

I had a G35 not the 350, but obviously some similarities. First, the tire cupping issue appeared to be weak compression rod bushings. After 2005 they were much better, but the early ones fail rapidly. My G had this problem and was solved by a simple replacement. My G also had the other prevelent problem with both of these cars, oil usage. It was at 2 quarts a week (115k miles with perfect maintenance and easy non-competitive driving) and you never saw it burn or leak any. It is a huge issue with these motors and class action lawsuit is in the works. Worse yet, the replacement motors handed out by Nissan appear to start back with the oil burning anywhere from 6k to 20k miles.

A friend that owns a shop has a customer with a 370Z also starting to exibit the same problems. Not sure how widespread it really is, but of the people I have known with a 350 or G, they all had it to some extent. It's a shame, because I liked the car, and the motor otherwise is awesome.

Reasoning has been all over the board, from poor break-in procedures, to the bores ovaling. Who knows, but it was a problem I did not want to deal with further.

z31maniac
z31maniac SuperDork
2/23/12 11:16 a.m.

I find this thread hysterical since I replaced my '06 350Z with a 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 in June '10.

The 350Z just has so little room, other than that. I had a Touring model with evertyhing except Nav, BOSE stereo was meh. Fun car to drive, killed highway miles like no one's business while getting good MPGs.

But as my DD, I just needed something with more room.

RexSeven
RexSeven SuperDork
2/23/12 4:56 p.m.

Sounds like I should give the G35/G37 a look instead. I plan on buying a pickup for winter driving and stuff-hauling, but that's further out than replacing the Mazda and I still need to cart three or four people around on occasion. The oil consumption thing sounds worrying - is there any way to tell beforehand if a car will have that problem? It would suck to buy a VQ35 car and have it start guzzling oil the week after I bought it. I have the Lemon Law in Mass. to protect me but I'd rather not have to use it in the first place.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar SuperDork
2/23/12 5:17 p.m.

i think it's like a lot of late model cars and the rings just get stuck. my '03 maxima burned oil when i bought it, smoked a little too. i've been running 0w-30 M1 with about 3500-4000 mile oil change intervals for the last few years. it barely goes through a whole quart between services now.

RexSeven
RexSeven SuperDork
2/23/12 5:39 p.m.

Anyone know if the G37 suffers the same oil consumption and tire wear issues? Nissan changed the engine to a 3.7L with variable valve timing- I'd hope they addressed the oil issues as well.

The G is popular around here like the Z and I'm finding lots of first-year (2008) G37 coupes with low miles for sale. Gotta love how quickly modern luxury cars depreciate, eh?

z31maniac
z31maniac SuperDork
2/23/12 5:57 p.m.

It's mainly the low HP model Zs that suffer from the oil burning problems if I remember correctly. The "HR" motors are OK I believe.

kreb
kreb SuperDork
2/23/12 6:20 p.m.

Slight hijack - but related: does anyone have experience transplanting the VQ? If so, how hard is the wiring to work out?

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo HalfDork
2/23/12 6:46 p.m.

Dont forget S for Slow!

My friend had one, he let me borrow it and I raced my other friend's mid 13 second 5.0 Mustang.

The Mustang ghetto stomped the Z.

Dashpot
Dashpot Reader
2/23/12 8:29 p.m.
RexSeven wrote: Anyone know if the G37 suffers the same oil consumption and tire wear issues? Nissan changed the engine to a 3.7L with variable valve timing- I'd hope they addressed the oil issues as well. The G is popular around here like the Z and I'm finding lots of first-year (2008) G37 coupes with low miles for sale. Gotta love how quickly modern luxury cars depreciate, eh?

I ran an '04 G35 from new to 100K. Did 25-30 track days (most on 275 R compound tires), and boiled every fluid in the thing at times. And it used barely a quart of oil in 4K miles when I sold it. All the crap brake comments above are accurate, and the early uprights flexed enough to knock the pads back and scare you at times. A set of cheap Hotchkis sway bars and square tire fitment balances the car better too.

Nissan built a gazillion of these motors and put them in G/Z/Altima, Maxima, etc. for years. Whatever percentage of them ended up with oiling issues must be tiny, but that doesn't help the poor guy who got stuck with one. Good Luck!

scardeal
scardeal Dork
2/24/12 9:40 a.m.
93gsxturbo wrote: Dont forget S for Slow! My friend had one, he let me borrow it and I raced my other friend's mid 13 second 5.0 Mustang. The Mustang ghetto stomped the Z.

The HR Zs are upper-mid 13 (13.6-13.8) second cars stock (including stock tires). Of course, if going in a straight line is what you want to do, then there are much better options than a Z. Like a Mustang.

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