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zelda

Diaries of a 350z

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I’ve been on the forum since I bought my zed. This isn’t exactly supposed to be a build thread, but more of a diary for me to keep track of my car’s ‘progress’, maintenance and maybe some stuff around where I want to go with it.

 

I bought the car in 2016 with the mileage sitting at 67k. The first thing I wanted to get done was a major service. Engine, gearbox and differential fluids were replaced along with brake, clutch and coolant.

 

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I stuck with a panel filter but chose to go with HKS since apparently, it’s washable and at the same time I dropped in 6 new spark plugs and new Gates auxiliary belts.

 

When the old differential fluid was dropped it revealed some small fragments of metal. Not enough to be massively concerned about, but it might have explained a ‘thudding’ noise I occasionally heard when shifting gears fast at high rpm. I figured I’d just keep an eye on things and see how it went.

 

A month or two later I swapped the OEM aerial for a stubby, added some solid rubber tap washers to my boot poppers and installed some Nismo spec gas struts to rectify the lazy opening boot. The gas struts work great, but now the poppers are failing again and I still need two hands to open the tailgate. I think I’ll have to look at replacing for OEM (or aftermarket) soon.

 

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In terms of braking, I bought the car with a set of braided HEL lines installed. To get through an MOT I replaced the worn out pads with new Brembo items and opted for some nice Black Diamond grooved discs all round.

 

Like most 350z the W brace wasn’t in the best of condition, and in a sale TS had running in 2017 I plumped for a Ultra-racing replacement. It came in white which looks nice when first fitted, but every time since I’ve been underneath the car I curse at how filthy it looks..

 

Later that summer I wanted to change how the car sat purely from a visual perspective. I didn’t want to spend massive amounts on coilover suspension because track days will be rare for me. Also, mostly my goal with this car is to keep her looking relatively stock. I’d used Tein springs and coilovers before on other cars so decided Tein would be the way to go again so on went on some lowering springs that gave a subtle 17mm drop on the front and 15mm on the rear.

 

To further this I purchased some Torqen wheel spacers which I think were 20mm front and 25mm rear just to make the wheels look less like they’re trying to hide inside the arches.

 

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A few months later and one day I’m outside of the car (engine running) and I’m thinking the exhaust is sounding pretty great. Hmm.. maybe too great. Poked my head underneath and yep, the flexi joints on the stock Y-pipe were shagged. A joint just before the backbox at the rear was also leaking exhaust gases.

 

With an impending MOT looming I picked up a new Cobra Y-pipe as a kind of halfway house between an eBay special and a considerably more expensive brand and then had the rear joint welded shut.

 

I’m not a massive car audio junkie, but because I had to do some long commutes for a couple of months I wanted to be able to use Spotify via Bluetooth on my phone through the car. To do this I had to upgrade the factory headunit and do ‘Busters mod’. Some new speakers eventually went in as well. The quality is ok.. but I haven’t really tuned them properly and I think they’d really benefit from a new amplifier and sub-woofer. Possibly when time permits I'd consider installing some dynamat but having never worked with it before I'm not confident how much of an improvement that would make.

 

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Some more time went by and I thought I would turn my attention back to the rear differential. I wanted my zed to be a forever car and whilst the thudding noise never got worse, I didn’t want to feel like I was driving a ticking timebomb.

 

I explored options for a replacement diff but I didn’t want to pay OEM prices or take a gamble on a used item. There were some good aftermarket options to choose from but ultimately the Quaife ATB Differential won my cash because of its near silent operation the fact that it doesn’t sacrifice general driveability.

 

During the install I Whiteline polybushes went on and I also replaced the diff seals and bearings with OEM parts.

 

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As the car was on the original clutch and flywheel, I thought it would be a good idea to change them for an RTS clutch and TS lightened flywheel at the same time as the Quaife diff and perhaps save some money on labour at the same time. This actually turned out to be a bad idea..

 

After the install the drivability of the car was horrible. Pulling away slowly or smoothly was just an impossibility - juddering and kangarooing were commonplace. I’ve owned a couple of highly tuned cars with lightweight flywheels and racing clutches and never had a problem driving on them but this felt different, and I knew something wasn’t right.

 

The conundrum was, which component to blame? What it the installation? Would I take issue with the new diff, the clutch or the single mass fly. I’d changed so much all at once which made it easy for the suppliers to point fingers at each other and for the mechanic who installed all the parts I supplied to blame them.

 

Before having this work done I’d done my homework and bought arguably unnecessary extras such as a new slave cylinder, HEL clutch line, pilot bearing, pivot ball and RBF 660 fluid etc. I was sure that everything that could be refreshed would be.

 

I persevered with the advice of the suppliers and drove the car for a while to bed everything in but after ~4k miles I decided enough was enough. I booked my zed in with a mechanic I’d used long ago and importantly have a lot of trust in. There was a about a 3 week wait, and in the meantime I’d read about the latest revision of the RJM clutch pedal which provides all sorts of pedal adjustment – I figured I’d try it out with the fractional hope that it could iron out some of the issues I was having but if not I’d still have a new part I could adjust to my liking once everything was ok.

 

Installing the clutch pedal was a huge PITA. I gave myself plenty of time, read the instructions 5 times over but I somehow forgot about the 6 month yoga course I’d need to take to be able to comfortably fold myself in half, hold my neck at 90 degrees and lie upside down in the footwell for a few hours whilst blindly scratching my wrists to shreds. It was certainly one of those jobs you wish you never started but the point of no return drifted away long long ago.

 

Once the job was done, balancing and engaging the clutch was surprisingly better. Not perfect though, so she went off as planned to have the powertrain investigated. During tear down there was nothing notably wrong with the install, which wasn’t an ideal situation. I was hoping that we would be able to say confidently “this part is the wrong way around, or broken” etc.

 

Having experienced the symptoms during a test drive my mechanic’s gut feel was that the Quaife diff was fine, and we should just swap out the clutch and flywheel. I’d brought along a brand new OEM kit and so he went about putting everything back together including the (another) new clutch and dual mass fly.

 

Huzzah – this fixed the issue. I literally rolled the car forward in 1st gear for about a metre and instantly knew it felt perfect. A rivet on the old RTS clutch disc was slightly proud but aside from that we couldn’t find any reason for why the car responded so badly to it. Just for curiosity I’m posting the kit to RTS for them to inspect… for science let’s say!

 

After the clutch drama I was back in love with driving but unfortunately the quick fix welding on my exhaust to pass the last MOT had reached the end of its life. The decision to upgrade to a full stainless system including Y-pipe was quite easy, and in pursuit of subtleness I chose to fit a Milltek item. It fits perfectly and is super quiet whilst still offering some performance benefits. On occasion I do wish I had something a little louder but I’m sure I’d regret it so I’m happy with my choice. I think could be why some people pair this exhaust with high flow cats – but I’ve never heard this setup in person before.

 

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I’ve never before had a laser wheel alignment carried out on any car I’ve owned, and it’s been something I’d put off for the zed because to get the most out of it I’ve wanted to ‘finish’ my suspension and tyre combination.

 

To get to my version of finished I fitted some Whiteline adjustable drop links to counter any adjustments required because of the lowering springs and then also Eibach front and rear anti roll bars. The roll bars are adjustable but I’ve got them on the most neutral settings at the moment. I’m not sure what’s best for me, and the internet was just arguing about it..

 

The final piece of the puzzle was new Michelin MPS4 tyres all round. The printout from the Hunter alignment session is below. I don’t in any way claim to be an expert here, so perhaps someone here knows if this could/should be improved on further.

 

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After a day of cleaning the engine bay up a bit I thought about adding some shininess in. I talked myself into buying some Titanium allen bolts for the plenum. They’re basically the same as stainless but lighter (another 10bhp at least, right?) and their resistance to corrosion is fantastic, even some months later.

 

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Whilst in the plenum area, I spotted some light oil misting from the valve covers so, some preventative maintenance was calling me. Replacing the valve covers is actually really easy, but was made quite time consuming because I had some back luck with the quality of the covers I received. It did mean that I had the time to install an 06+ airbox mod and thoroughly clean up my plenum whilst it was out of the engine and I think it’s looking really good now, especially with the titanium bolts.

 

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The covers are both fitted now, and there are zero oil leaks. During the replacement I found some oil in #6 spark plug tube so I luckily caught a potentially bigger issue early which is great.

For future plans I’m thinking about breathing mods. I already installed a plenum spacer, and have a 75mm throttle body on the shelf. I’m thinking about a larger custom intake tube and MAF housing but I’m undecided on size and conflicted about how ‘stock’ I can make it all look. The Nismo R-tune intake kit looks nice, and some place in the States I’ve seen do a 4” intake but I don’t know what to choose yet. Whatever happens, my plan is to get a remap at somewhere like Abbey with a before/after dyno printout.

 

Other than those plans I’ve been considering a paint refurb on my Brembo callipers with possible rebuild so that I know they’re perfect. One day I’d like to have the whole car resprayed in the same colour but who knows when..

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Nice little write up there mate, prevention is always better than cure B)

The best mind set to have with cars IMHO!

 

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As a fellow owner this is a great write up, as a mechanic this hits the spot personal favourite “6 year yoga course to fold in half and turn your neck at 90 degrees” really rang true :lol: 

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Great introduction post, you clearly know your stuff. One of the first things I had done too was correct wheel alignment, makes such a difference. 

 

If you can find a friendly MOT testers, a pair of Motordyne ART pipes are a great addition to any exhaust system - these sound amazing!!

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