When the Nissan 370Z launched in 2008 it improved in nearly every single area when compared to the older 350Z. Its design was brought up to date with a more modern body and interior, and it was faster in every single way.
In this buyer’s guide you will learn everything you need to know about purchasing a Nissan 370Z. Additionally, we will be covering the history and specifications of the 370Z along with more general car purchasing advice. At the end of this article, we will look at how to import a Nissan 370Z from Japan.
How To Use This Nissan 370Z Buyer’s Guide
This buying guide covers a lot of information and it is long, so we recommend you use the table of contents below to skip to the section you want to read (or just read it all).
To begin with we will cover the history and specifications of the Nissan 370 to get some background knowledge on the car and the versions produced. Following on from that we will look at the buyer’s guide section of the article and then we will finish off with the importing guide.
History of the Nissan 370Z
Nissan announced that a successor to the 350Z was coming in October 2006, however, it would not be until an event just before the LA Auto Show in 2008 that potential buyers would get their first look at the new car. The 370Z would then be revealed in full at the Los Angeles event with the codename of Z34.
The Design of the 370Z
During the development of the 370Z, Nissan’s team of designers and engineers reworked and redesigned nearly every single component of the older 350Z.
Despite looking bigger, the 370Z was actually a bit smaller than the outgoing model. Its wheelbase was reduced by 100 mm (4 inches) and the overall length was shortened by 69 mm (2.7 inches), and the height was reduced by 7.6 mm (0.3 inches). The only dimension that was increased was the overall width of the car, which now stood at 1,850 mm (72.8 inches), a 33mm (1.3 inch) increase.
To save weight, Nissan decided to use aluminium for the front subframe, the door panels, the hood/bonnet and the hatch. The engine cradle was also manufactured from an aluminium-alloy as well.
Compared to the older car, the 370Z’s front body torsional rigidity was increased by 10 percent, thanks in large part due to an extensively redesigned body structure. This revised structure included a new front suspension cradle that helped reduce front body lateral bending, new rear structural reinforcements, and a “V-bar” under the body to reduce rear lateral bending.
Torsional rigidity at the rear was improved by 22 percent, an even greater increase than the front, and rear body vertical rigidity saw a massive increase of 30 percent.
Other improvements to the 370Z’s structure included the use of carbon fibre for the radiator housing and strengthening around the rear fender and hatch. Despite this strengthening, the new body structure was slightly lower in weight when compared to the one on the 350Z. This weight saving was in large part thanks to the use of lighter weight materials and the overall smaller dimensions of the 370Z.
When it came to the suspension and steering componentry, Nissan gave the car a front double wishbone setup at the front, with forged aluminium control arms and steering knuckle. Multi-link suspension with forged aluminium upper control arms, lower arms, radius rods, and wheel carrier assemblies was used at the back.
To propel the 370Z forward, a 3.7-litre VQ37VHR V6 engine was fitted that was the first production engine from Nissan to use VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift). In its initial trim, this slightly larger engine produced 331 bhp (247 kW) at 7,000 rpm and 366 Nm (270 lb ft) of torque at 5,200 rpm. This boosted the 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time to around 4.8 – 5.0 seconds for the Coupe model, while the Roadster was around half a second slower. Top speed was limited to 250 km/h (155 mph).
Nissan mated the powerful new 3.7-litre engine with the option of either a six-speed manual or 7-speed Jatco automatic transmission.
Initial Models & First Sales
Sales of the Japanese spec Fairlady Z Coupe started from 1 December 2008, while North American & European 370Z Coupes would make their way to dealers in the early part of 2009.
Standard & optional trim for the North American 370Z included 19-inch RAYS wheels, Sirius/XM satellite radio, heated electric seats, Bluetooth, a viscous-type limited slip differential, Bose sound system with dual subwoofers and a 6-CD changer, and automatic climate control.
Those who wanted the Roadster version would have to wait until later in the year, with the car being advertised as a 2010 model. Much of the same standard and optional extras as the Coupe 370Z were available on the Roadster.
Nismo 370Z (2009)
While the standard 370Z was no slouch when it launched, Nissan decided to create a more performance orientated version under its performance brand, Nismo. The Nismo 370Z was introduced in the middle of 2009 and it featured a number of improvements over the standard car.
Engine power was increased to 350 bhp (261 kW) at 7,400 rpm and torque had a slight bump to 374 Nm (276 lb ft) at 5,200 rpm. This power increase was the result of slightly revised ECU settings and an updated exhaust setup.
Cornering performance was improved via the addition of stiffened springs and stabiliser bars, along with Yokohama ADVAN Sport Y-rated tyres that covered 19-inch RAYs forged aluminium-alloy wheels. The brakes also received some attention with 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented rotors, along with Nismo Sport Brakes with 4-piston front and 2-piston rear aluminium calipers.
Fairlady Z 40th Anniversary (2009)
Nissan launched a limited-edition version of the Fairlady Z in Japan in 2009 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original Fairlady Z. It included a number of extras and special features such as the following:
- RAYS special edition 40th Anniversary forged alloy wheels in dark chrome
- Special Sport Brake Calipers in red
- Commemorative engraving on the back of the seats
- Real leather/Suede-like 40th Anniversary fabric for the seats and other trim
- Special Metal Gray colour (although other colours were available as well
- 40th Anniversary emblems
- Red stitching
370Z Yellow (2009)
British buyers were treated to a special edition version of the 370Z known as the “Yellow” in 2009. It was based on the GT Pack Coupe and was finished in a unique “Ultimate Yellow” paint colour. Other extras included 19-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels, black leather and suede interior trim, a Bose audio system, illuminated kick plates, an integrated satellite navigation system, and a 6-CD autochanger.
North American customers also received a similar edition of the 370Z, but the car was finished in “Chicane Yellow”. This model was only available for the 2009 model year, however, the Chicane Yellow colour was available the following model year for an extra cost of $500.
370Z Nürburgring Edition (2009)
German customers also got their own special edition model in 2009 in the form of the 370Z Nürburgring Edition. This limited edition car had a total production run of around 80 units and was finished in a Premium Ultimate Yellow body colour, with special decals, and a numbered plaque that indicated the production number. Other additions included a Cobra exhaust system, 19-inch OZ alloy wheels, and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT Tyres. Buyers were even treated with a €150 gift card that they could use at the famous Nürburgring.
370Z 40th Anniversary Edition (2010)
Like with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Fairlady Z in Japan, Nissan also released a limited-edition model of the 370Z in 2010 that celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Datsun 240Z.
This 40th Anniversary Edition 370Z was limited to a total of 1,000 units and was based on the Coupe Touring version of the car. Nissan gave the special edition model a manual transmission and their Sport Package, which included SynchroRev Match, a front chin spoiler, a rear spoiler, Nissan Sport Brakes, 19-inch RAYS forged aluminium-alloy wheels and a viscous limited-slip differential.
The car also received a special “40th Anniversary Graphite” paint job, red leather upholstery, red brake calipers and a whole bunch of 40th Anniversary badges and logos.
370Z Black Edition (2010)
European buyers also got their own 40th Anniversary commemorative edition 370Z known as the Black Edition. It featured much of the same changes and features as the US model and went on sale from April 2010.
BRE 370Z (2010)
Another 40th Anniversary Edition was launched in 2010, but this time it was created to commemorate the Z’s First National Championship event. The BRE 370Z came in coupe form and was built by STILLEN. It was given a special red, white and blue BRE paint scheme that was designed by Pete Brock.
2011 Changes & Updates
An updated version of the 370Z was introduced in 2011 with a new tyre monitoring system, an integrated rear-view camera sat-nav setup, improved road noise isolation (Coupe models only), a ‘Snow’ setting for slippery conditions, and an updated GT package option.
370Z GT Edition (2011)
Another commemorative edition was launched in 2011 in the form of the 370Z GT Edition. This car was only produced for the United Kingdom market and was created to celebrate Nissan’s global success in GT racing and 40 years of the Z in the UK.
Buyers had the choice of three different colours, Pearl White, Kuro Black, and Black Rose, with all three options featuring grey ‘GT’ stripes along the flanks of the vehicle. Other additions included 19-inch RAYS forged alloy wheels in dark anthracite, retuned dampers that gave a better balance between ride comfort and cornering ability, a premium sat-nav system with a rear view camera, and the option of a seven speed automatic transmission.
2012 (2013 Model Year) Updates & Changes
A raft of new features and updates were introduced in 2012 for the 2013 model year. All cars (expect the Nismo 370Z) were given a new front fascia with vertical LED daytime running lights. New 18-inch wheels for the Coupe were also introduced, along with two new colours, Magma Red and Midnight Blue.
The Sport Package was also updated with a new 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers and Euro-tuned shock absorbers.
Nissan also gave the Nismo 370Z some love with new 5-spoke 19-inch RAYS forged aluminium wheels, a revised braking system, an optional Bose premium audio package and the option of the Magma Red body colour.
Nismo 370Z and Fairlady Z Updates (2013/2014)
The last major update to the 370Z range was introduced in 2013 for Nismo versions of the Fairlady Z and 370Z (2014 model year). Some of these changes included new exterior and interior trim, along with a “Solid Red” paint colour.
Nissan 370Z Coupe Heritage Edition (2018)
At 2017 New York International Auto Show Nissan introduced a special edition 370Z Coupe known as the Heritage Edition. It was designed to honor the iconic Nissan sports car as it approached its 50th anniversary at the end of the decade.
The Heritage Edition was available as a base 370Z Coupe and was offered in two exterior colours. The Chicane Yellow Heritage Edition paintjob features black outside mirrors, gloss black graphics and yellow interior trim. The Magnetic Black Heritage Edition includes gloss silver graphics and yellow interior trim.
Nissan 370Z Coupe Heritage Edition (2019)
The 2019 Nissan 370Z Coupe Heritage Edition packed a unique appearance and was available in three exterior colours. The previous Magnetic Black Heritage Edition paintjob (gloss silver graphics and yellow interior trim) was joined by the new Deep Blue Pearl Heritage Edition (black outside mirrors, gloss silver decals, yellow interior trim) and Pearl White Heritage Edition (black outside mirrors, gloss black decals, yellow interior trim). A standard auto-dimming rearview mirror with RearView Monitor was included, and the previous Touring and Sport Tech trim levels were combined into a new Sport Touring grade.
Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition (2020)
For the 2020 model year, the 370Z was available in four trim levels: the base model, Sport, Sport Touring and the 370Z NISMO. The 370Z Sport model is the foundation for the 50th Anniversary model, as it represents the true enthusiast spirit of the original model.
The exterior of the Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition mimics the livery of the original BRE race car and was available in two different paint schemes: white with red accents, or silver with black accents. Key style cues include the two signature stripes on the side of the car and the painted trunk, hood, side mirrors and A-pillars in the accent color (red for the white car and black for the silver car). Along the side of the car, a thin line runs from the headlight to the rear glass, culminating in a small triangle inspired by the C-pillar of the Datsun 240Z. The package also includes 50th Anniversary identification on the front fender, anniversary rear badging and special 19-inch alloy wheels with red accents.
Nissan Introduces the Seventh-Gen Z Car
Nissan’s Senior Vice President for Global Design gave the world the first indication that a new Z car was being worked on in 2018. More rumours would come in 2019 and in September 2020, the Japanese car manufacturer revealed a prototype version of the seventh-generation Z car known as the “Nissan Z Proto”. Production of the Roadster version of the 370Z halted in 2019, however, the Coupe model is still be built.
Nissan 370Z Specifications
|Year of production||2008 – 2020 (Coupe)|
2009 – 2019 (Roadster)
|Layout||Front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Engine/Engines||3.7L VQ37VHR V6|
|Power||331 bhp (247 kW) at 7,000 rpm (standard)|
350 bhp (261 kW) at 7,400 rpm (Nismo)
|Torque||366 Nm (270 lb ft) at 5,200 rpm) (standard)|
374 Nm (276 lb ft) at 5,200 rpm (Nismo)
|Gearbox||7-speed Jatco automatic|
6-speed FS6R31A manual
|Suspension Front||Double wishbone|
|Brakes Front||Vented 320 – 355 mm (12.6 – 14 inches)|
|Brakes Rear||Vented (on some models) 308 – 350 mm (12.1 – 13.8 inches)|
|Weight||Around 1,466 kg (3,232 lb)|
|Top speed||250 km/h (155 mph) limited|
|0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)||4.8 – 5.5 seconds|
Nissan 370Z Buyer’s Guide
Now we have taken a look at the history and specifications of the Nissan 370Z we are going to move onto what you need to know about buying one of these fantastic cars.
Overall, the 370Z is a fairly reliable machine, however, just like with any car a poorly maintained one can cause some serious headaches. It is important to thoroughly inspect any 370Z you are interested in thoroughly and don’t purchase one that hasn’t been looked after properly.
Setting Up an Inspection of a Nissan 370Z
Arranging an inspection is an important part of the used car buying process, so here are some tips to help you out:
- If you can, try to view the 370Z at the seller’s house or place of business (dealership for example) – This will allow you to get a rough idea of where and how the 370Z you are interested in gets stored. It will also give you an idea of what sort of roads the car is regularly driven on (bumpy roads with lots of potholes could mean that the suspension components have taken a battering.
- Go look at the vehicle as early in the morning as possible (when it is light of course) – This is largely going to depend on you and the seller’s schedule, but it is a good idea to try and inspect a car in the morning. The main reason for this is that it is less likely that the seller has pre-warmed the vehicle and it gives them less time to clean up any problems such as an oil leak.
- Take a helper with you – We always recommend that you bring a helper with you and if they are knowledgeable about cars it is even better. A helper may be able to spot something you missed and they will be able to give you their thoughts on the 370Z.
- Avoid going to look at a Nissan 370Z in the rain – Water can hide numerous issues with the bodywork and/or paint, so be cautious of wet cars. If you do inspect a 370Z when it is raining, try to go back for a second viewing when it is dry before making a purchase.
- Be cautious of a Nissan 370 that has been freshly washed, especially if it still has water on the bodywork or in the engine bay – this is largely for the same reason as above, but some owners will also wash the underside/engine bay to hide a nasty looking leak.
How Much is a Nissan 370Z Worth?
This is one of those really difficult questions to answer as it depends on a multitude of factors from what year and version you are looking at, to how it has been maintained and where it is being sold. For example, a late model Nismo 370Z in exceptional condition is going to be worth a lot more than an early 2009 standard edition model.
With that in mind we recommend that you check out your local auction/classifieds websites or dealer websites to get a rough idea of what you need to spend. You can then use the prices you find to work out how much you need to spend for a specific model, condition level in your area.
Is a Nissan 370Z Expensive to Maintain & Run?
These cars aren’t generally too expensive to run, but if you are coming from a non-performance or non-luxury vehicle you may be a bit surprised by the running costs. The 370Z seems to go through tyre and brake parts quite quickly, and there are a few things that if they fail they will be expensive to repair or replace. If the car you are looking at has not been maintained well it could prove to be every expensive to keep going (one of the reasons why the seller may be getting rid of it).
Will the Nissan 370Z Be a Future Classic?
While the 370Z is not a classic at the moment, we could definitely see it being one in the future. Many of the other cars in the Fairlady Z lineage have become classics and the 370Z will almost certainly be the last naturally aspirated Z car. The 370Z is also widely regarded as a better car than the 350Z, so if you are deciding between the two we would go with a 370Z, especially if you can get your hands on something like a Nismo.
Manual vs Automatic 370Z
There really isn’t too much in it when it comes to the speed of the shifts when comparing the manual vs automatic transmissions fitted to the 370Z. If you plan to use the car as a daily commuter and are stuck in heavy traffic for long periods of time, you may want to go with an auto 370Z, however, plenty of owners are fine doing this sort of driving with a manual gearbox. The manual transmission is better if you want an overall better, more engaging driving experience, and manual 370Zs will probably be worth more in the future.
Inspecting the VIN
The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a series of characters and numbers that manufacturers such as Nissan assign to a vehicle at production. You can discover quite a bit of information about a car from the VIN, such as the model year, place of manufacturer and the vehicle’s engine size.
In addition to the above, the VIN can also be entered into a VIN checkup/decoder website that may contain information such as whether or not the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting has any money owing on it or if it has been written off at any point. Most of these VIN checkup websites/services are region limited, so keep that in mind.
Where Can I Find the VIN on a Nissan 370Z?
The VIN plate can be found at the back of the engine bay on the firewall. Another place you can find the VIN is at the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side. If the VIN is scratched off or missing it may indicate that the Nissan 370Z you are looking at has been stolen or has had some other sort of issue.
When you first open the bonnet/hood of the 370Z you are inspecting make sure that it stays up and the struts are in good condition. Following on from this check for the following:
Cleanliness Does the engine bay look dirty or is it completely spotless. A dirty engine bay points to an owner who does not care for their vehicle. If the engine bay is completely spotless it is probably a sign of a well maintained vehicle, however, it may also be a sign of a seller who is trying to cover something up like an oil leak. If you notice that the engine bay is wet it may indicate that the engine has been washed to hide a problem.
Damaged, broken or missing components – If you notice that any of the parts around the engine bay look damaged or if you think there is something missing it is a major warning sign. Sometimes there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation, but if the owner tries to brush it off or doesn’t know anything about it you should be cautious.
Modifications – Many owners of these cars like to modify them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a modified Nissan 370Z as long as the mods are done properly and they are suitable for the vehicle. Cars with excessive amounts of power may have more problems as component wear may be increased.
Checking the Fluid Levels
Once you have given the engine bay a quick once over, move onto inspecting the level of the different fluids. Incorrect fluid levels (both too low and too high) are a sign of poor maintenance and increased wear or possibly even engine failure may occur if this is the case. It is a good idea to check the fluid levels both before and after a test drive to make sure they are still roughly the same height (you may notice a slight change).
370Z Service Intervals for the Oil & Oil Filter
Remember to check with the owner and in the service history to see what the maintenance schedule for the 370Z you are looking at is like. If you find that the oil and oil filter have not been replaced regularly it is a major warning sign. The reason for this is that old oil can become contaminated and breakdown overtime, leading to heightened component wear and possibly even total engine failure.
Depending on what oil you use the service interval will be slightly different. Nissan recommends replacing the oil every 6,000 km (3,750 miles) if you use their Ester oil (it is non-synthetic). If you are using a good quality synthetic the oil should be replaced every 14,500 km (9,000 miles) or so, but many owners will replace it much earlier at something like 12,000 km (7,500 miles). If the 370Z is not driven much the oil should be replaced every 6 to 12 months.
Best Oil for Nissan 370Z
Nissan Ester Oil is often recommended to those who want to quiet down the drivetrain noise from the VQ37HR engine in the 370Z (a common complaint from owners. It is not a true ester oil and is in-fact a regular non-synthetic (dino) oil with ester and moly added to it. As we mentioned above, Nissan Ester Oil needs to be replaced more frequently and it is quite expensive for a non-synthetic oil. An alternative to Nissan Ester Oil that many 370Z owners like to run is Red Line 5W-30 Synthetic Ester Oil.
If you are looking for a good quality third-party synthetic oil something like Liqui Moly 5W-30 synthetic oil or Amsoil Signature 5W-30 is a good option. Nissan’s recommended oil weight is 5W-30, but some owners do use slightly heavier oils for hotter climates or for track days.
The oil filter should be replaced with every oil change. There are a range of different oil filters that will work perfectly fine in a 370Z from the original OEM ones to this one from Purolator, to ones from other brands such as Amsoil and Mobil 1. Arguably the best oil filter for a Nissan 370Z is the Nismo 15208-RN011.
Checking the Oil Condition
When you take a look at the engine oil level, it is a good idea to inspect the condition of the oil itself. If you notice any metallic particles or grit in the oil it could be a sign of trouble, especially if they are relatively large pieces.
Another thing to watch out for is any foam or froth on the dipstick. This problem may indicate that the 370Z you are looking at has overheated (a more common issue than you think on 370Zs) or blown a head gasket.
Does the Nissan 370Z Burn/Consume a Lot of Oil?
These cars are known to chew through a bit of oil. Early 2009 and 2010 models seem to burn a bit more oil than later models, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Nissan states that oil consumption up to around 0.95 litres (1 quart) per 1,600 km (1,000 miles) is perfectly fine.
While it will be difficult to get an idea of how much oil the specific 370Z you are looking at consumes, we do recommend that you ask the owner about this. If you get an indication that it is an excessive amount of oil, there may be a problem or there may be a leak somewhere.
Are Oil Leaks Common on 370Z’s
As these cars age more and more of them will experience some sort of leaking issue. Small leaks that are very slow will probably be perfectly fine, however, fixing them can often be quite a time-consuming process (and expensive). This is because it may be hard to determine where the leak is coming from and leaks often have a habit of developing in hard-to-reach places.
Some places where leaks may originate on a 370Z include around the oil filter (if it is not fitted correctly or is the wrong filter), the rear main seal, the oil pan gasket, around the valve cover, etc. If you notice that the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting is leaking oil try to assess the severity of the problem. Avoid any cars that are leaking significant amounts of oil (check for any puddles of the ground, fast drips).
You should try to also work out where the oil leak is coming from, but during a short inspection this will probably be quite difficult or impossible.
Does the Nissan 370Z Have a Timing Chain or Belt?
The 370Z’s 3.7-litre V6 engine uses a timing chain instead of a belt, so you don’t have to worry about changing it at a certain mileage. While the timing chain should last the lifetime of the engine, in some cases it may need to be replaced. The more likely scenario is that the timing chain tensioner and guides will have to be replaced.
Timing components are dependent on a fresh supply of clean oil. This means that if the engine oil hasn’t been replaced regularly problems can start to occur with the timing chain/components.
Below we have listed some reasons why the owner may have changed the timing chain or say that they have:
- The engine has been rebuilt due to wear or performance reasons at some point
- The owner is cautious and likes preventative maintenance
- The timing chain stretched or there is a problem with the timing chain tensioner and/or guides (probably the most likely cause)
- The owner not telling the truth and they are simply trying to make their 370Z seem better
- The owner has no idea about the engine in the 370Z or what they are talking about
If there is a problem with the chain tensioner, guides or chain itself you may here a bit of a rattle from the engine. While you can keep driving the car if it has this problem, the issue should be investigated as soon as possible. If the engine is making a severe noise and it is throwing out codes the vehicle should not be driven until the cause of the problem is discovered.
Checking the Spark Plugs
While it probably won’t be possible to do this during a short inspection, we do recommend that you take a look at the spark plugs if you get the chance. The condition of the spark plugs in a Nissan 370Z’s engine car tell you quite a lot of information about its health and how it is running. For more, we recommend that you check out this guide for more information on spark plug analysis.
When Should the Spark Plugs be Replace in a 370Z?
According to Nissan the Spark Plugs should be replaced every 96,000 km (60,000 miles), however, for some areas they do recommend a longer service interval of 170,000 km (105,000 miles) for non-Nismo 370Zs. Check with the owner of the 370Z you are looking at to make sure that this work has been carried out at the recommended intervals as it indicates good maintenance.
What are the Correct Spark Plugs for a 370Z?
The OEM spark plugs are DENSO FXE24HR11 and if you are looking for a good NGK option, NGK Laser Iridium DILKAR7B11 plugs should do the trick.
What are the Signs of Bad Spark Plugs?
- Reduced fuel efficiency
- Reduced acceleration
- Engine misfires
- Rough idling
- Harsh starts
Note: the problems above can also be caused by a several other issues as well, so keep this in mind when if you notice any of the above problems on the 370Z you are inspecting.
Exhaust Issues on a Nissan 370Z
The standard exhaust is a known failure point on these cars, so don’t be surprised to find aftermarket ones on many of the 370Zs you go to look at. In fact, we would be more inclined to purchase a Nissan 370Z with a good quality aftermarket exhaust (all other things being equal) than one with a standard system.
- Corrosion – This is usually the biggest problem on standard 370Z exhausts. Rust can quickly chew its way through the exhaust system, especially if the car is located in a country with salted roads and is stored outside year-round. Corrosion can also occur from the inside out due to moisture in the system, so while the exhaust may look fine from the outside it may actually be rotting on the inside.
- Black sooty stains – This is a sign of a leak and depending on the severity of the problem a simple reweld may fix the issue or if the issue is bigger a replacement may be necessary.
- Cracks or accident damage – Dents, cracks and other damage to the exhaust system may be a result of careless driving. Damage may lead to leaks, corrosion or other issues that need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
- Bad repairs – Watch out for any bodge jobs that have been done on the cheap for a quick sale. Repairs done by a skilled mechanic or exhaust shop are perfectly fine.
Along with looking for the above, don’t forget to listen out for any hissing, chugging or rattling noises that may indicate there is a problem with the exhaust system.
- Hissing – usually indicates that there is a crack or leak
- Chugging – could be a sign that there is a blockage in the exhaust
- Rattling – exhaust system may be misaligned or may have some other sort of problem
During standard driving the cooling system in the Nissan 370Z should be more than adequate. However, for those who plan to track or drive their 370Z regularly it is important to install an oil cooler to avoid any potential engine overheating issues. Oil filters were fitted as standard from 2012-onwards.
It is important to take your time inspecting the cooling system as a failure here could lead to total engine failure and a very expensive repair bill. Below we have listed the main components of the Nissan 370Z’s cooling system:
- Radiator – removes heat from the water/coolant
- Thermostat – sends water/coolant that is hotter than the target temperature to the radiator to be cooled
- Water Pump – belt that is driven from a pulley. Pushes water/coolant through the engine (should be replaced with the timing belt).
- Overflow or Expansion bottle – removes air from the system and provides a filling point
- Coolant Lines – hoses that allow water/coolant to remain contained as it moves through the engine/cooling system
We suggest that you check the cooling system both before and after a test drive to make sure it is functioning as intended and there are no leaks. It is also important to watch out for any drastic changes in coolant height as this indicates there is an issue with the system (a slight change is normal). Remember to also check the coolant itself. If it is brown or muddy in colour it should be replaced as soon as possible.
The coolant itself should be replaced every 87,000 km (54,000 miles) or every six years. You can read more about what coolant to use in a Nissan 370Z here.
What are the Signs of Overheating or a Head Gasket Failure?
While head gasket failure isn’t as common on the 370Z as some other sports cars out there, it can still happen, so it is important to know the warning signs. We have listed some of the warning signs below, along with some other signs of overheating:
- Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
- Oil that is white and milky
- Fouled spark plugs (if you can get to see them)
- Low cooling system integrity
- Engine oil that smells of coolant
- Sweet exhaust smell
- Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold
- White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
- High temperatures and heat radiating off the engine
If the head gasket has failed on the 370Z you are inspecting you should probably move onto another car. Alternatively, if the head gasket has been replaced in the past it is important to make sure the replacement was done by a skilled mechanic (check reviews, etc.).
Another thing to check is the temperature gauge. If it sits on the higher end or behaves erratically it may signal there is a problem with the cooling system and the car is overheating. Alternatively, if it sits on the low side it may be a sign that there is an issue with the thermostat.
The Dreaded Galley Gasket Failure (Pre 2012)
Galley gasket failure on 370Zs is like death, its not a matter of if, but when. Failure of the galley gasket will usually cause a 370Z to go into limp mode and the car should throw out one or more of the following three codes:
The gasket is located in the rear timing cover and it is covered by a piece of metal that is screwed on (not bolted). It is notorious for blowing out and Nissan will charge you an arm and a leg to get it sorted. This is largely down to the fact that the replacement is a time-consuming process as large parts of the engine need to be disassembled and reassembled.
The replacement gasket is made from the same shoddy material, so the failure will almost certainly occur again in the future. Failures tend to occur around the 160,000 to 240,000 km (100,000 to 150,000 mile) mark but can happen at any time.
While Nissan never admitted that there was a problem with the engine, most 370Zs produced from 2012 onwards have a revised engine that doesn’t seem to suffer this expensive issue. If you want to be on the safe side look for a 2013 or later model as some 2012 owners have reported the gasket failing on their cars.
Turning on a Nissan 370Z For the First Time
It is a good idea to get the owner or seller of the 370Z you are looking at to start the car for you (make sure you do it yourself at a later point). We recommend this for the following couple of reasons:
- So, you can see what comes out the back (smoke, vapour, etc.)
- To see if the owner revs the car hard when it is still cold (if they do that move onto another 370Z)
A 370Z that won’t start or struggles to start may be suffering from one or more different problems, such as a bad battery, worn out spark plugs or something worse.
What Should a Nissan 370Z Idle At?
The idle speed should be roughly 650 rpm with the A/C compressor off and anywhere from 800 to 1,000 rpm with it on. Expect the idle speed to be slightly higher when the car is turned on, but it should drop once the vehicle warms up.
If the idle speed is poor or incorrect it could be caused by several different issues from a dirty throttle body to a dirty air filter and intake system, a bad PCV valve, worn spark plugs and more.
It will probably be difficult to determine the exact cause of the problem during a short inspection, so keep that in mind. Additionally, if the fix was a simple one the owner probably would have got it done prior to putting the 370Z on the market.
Watch Out for Smoke
If the Nissan 370Z you are looking at is producing a lot of smoke of vapour from the exhaust (or anywhere for that matter) you should probably move onto another car.
A small amount of vapour from the exhaust during startup is to be expected, especially if the weather is cold. This sort of vapour is usually just caused by condensation in the exhaust and it should disappear relatively quickly. If the vapour doesn’t go away or it seems like an excessive amount alarm bells should be going off in your head. In the section below we have listed what the different colours of smoke may indicate:
White smoke – This is usually caused by water in the cylinders and could indicate a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is probably coolant.
Blue/Grey smoke – Can be caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. Oil leaking into the cylinders will burn, leading to a blueish smoke (can occur on startup). To check for blue smoke, ask a friend to follow you while drive the vehicle and take it through the rev range. Alternatively, get the owner to drive the car for a bit and watch out the back.
Blue or grey smoke on start-up and overrun could be a sign that the vehicle has been thrashed. Alternatively, if you see a bit of smoke on engine start-up it may be a sign of an oil burning issue, so we suggest you ask the seller about the car’s oil consumption.
Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.
Hesitation During Acceleration
If you notice that the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting hesitates during acceleration it may be caused by a whole range of different issues:
- Bad petrol/gas
- Bad coil packs
- ECU/electronic problems – Try disconnecting and reconnecting the battery
- Carbon build up on the inside of the throttle body – Needs to be cleaned or replaced
- Dirty MAF
There is nothing wrong with buying a Nissan 370Z with a rebuilt engine, as long as the work was carried out by a skilled mechanic or specialist. Watch out for rebuilds that have been done on the cheap for a quick sale as they will almost certainly be a money bit.
When inspecting a 370Z with a rebuilt engine make sure you check for any receipts for parts and/or labour. Look up reviews of the place that carried out the rebuild and if they have poor reviews move onto another 370Z. Watch out for home mechanic rebuilds as many of them have more ambition than skill (however, there are some very skilled home mechanics out there).
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should try to avoid 370Zs with freshly rebuilt engines as they are a bit of an unknown. A 370Z with a rebuilt engine that has travelled 5,000 – 10,000 km is a much safer bet than something with only 500 km on it.
By far the most common form of engine swap you are going to come across is with the stock engine. This is because it is often cheaper to swap in a new engine from another car than it is to get a rebuild. However, spending the money on a good rebuild is generally better as you know the history of the engine.
When it comes to swaps with non-stock engines you should be a lot more cautious. Oftentimes you will be purchasing somebody else’s unfinished project and all the expense and headaches that go along with it.
Like with cars with rebuilt engines you should probably avoid anything that has only a few miles on a swap. Buying a 370Z with a freshly swapped engine (especially if it is non-stock) is a very big risk.
Getting a Compression Test Done
While a compression test is not completely necessary when purchasing a used Nissan 370Z, it is a good way to work out the health of the engine inside the car you are looking at. However, it is important to keep in mind that a compression test won’t necessarily tell you what problem an engine is suffering from and only that a problem exists.
Compression readings should be in the range of 180 – 200 psi for a really healthy engine. The most important thing with a compression test is that all the readings from the six cylinders do not vary more than 10%. If one or more cylinders give a reading that is completely different than the other cylinders than there is an issue that needs to be investigated.
Transmission & Differential
The Nissan 370Z was fitted with two different transmission options, a 6-speed FS6R31A manual and a 7-speed Jatco automatic.
Take your time making sure the manual transmission shifts properly and there are no problems as an issue here could be very expensive to fix.
When you are test driving a Nissan 370Z make sure you go through all of the gears at both low and high engines speeds. Additionally, see how the transmission feels when the car is stationary and don’t forget to check reverse.
Shifts will probably be a bit stiff when the transmission is cold, but they should loosen up once the car warms up. If you find it a real struggle to change gears it could be a sign of big trouble.
Graunching, grinding, or whining sounds are a sign that a costly repair could be on its way. A crunching sound/feel when changing gears may be a sign that the synchros have gone. This seems to be more common on gears five and six as they are known to have weaker synchros, however, it can still happen on all other gears. Many owners have had to get the transmission replaced because of synchro wear, so buyer beware! (read this thread here)
While Nissan doesn’t state a specific mileage to change the transmission fluid, many enthusiastic owners recommend doing it every 50,000 to 65,000 km (30,000 to 40,000 miles). Nissan’s own transmission fluid is okay, but it is often recommended that you use something like Red Line MT-85 to get the best results.
Check with the owner to see if they have changed the transmission fluid. If they have done regularly changes it shows that they probably maintain their car well and care about their 370Z.
SynchroRev Match (SRM)
SynchroRev Match is a feature exclusive to the manual car and it automatically adjusts the engine speed during gear changes to match the revs perfectly. In a downshift, the system will essentially blip the throttle like a heel-and-toe manoeuvre to make changes smoother.
The SRM system is made up of sensors on the clutch pedal and shift lever, along with some finely tuned programming of the engine control unit (ECU). There is also a transmission-speed sensor to make sure the driveshaft matches up with the speed of the engine.
Drivers can activate the feature by pressing the “S” button. The SRM system will then automatically work its magic when the clutch pedal is pressed. Once the system detects movement in the shift lever, the ECU will calculate the target engine speed and adjust the throttle accordingly.
Make sure that you test the SRM feature works as intended (listen out for the blips and see if the shifts are smoother). If it doesn’t work it may simply need an ECU reset, however, the problem could also be anything from a loose wires to a failed sensor.
This is going to be one of your biggest areas of concern, especially when it comes to the concentric slave cylinder (CSC) and the master cylinder (CMC). In fact, the problem with the CSC is so bad that lawsuits have been filed against Nissan for the issue.
It is believed that the slave cylinder assembly is defective which causes hydraulic fluid to leak from stress fractures, taking fluid away from the slave cylinder. This then damages the clutch slave cylinder, clutch disc and pressure plate.
In addition to the above, it is believed that the slave cylinder is too thin and prone to corrosion by the constant exposure to hydraulic fluid. Failure of the clutch slave cylinder assembly will cause the clutch pedal to fall to the floor, leaving the driver unable to shift gears. If the CSC fails it is usually sudden and you may notice fluid under the transmission bell housing.
If the clutch master cylinder has failed it will usually present itself slightly differently in the form of a soft pedal feel and lack of pedal return. Sometimes the lack of pressure from a CMC failure can be restored by pumping, but this is not always the case.
As failure of the CMC and the CSC is so common it is often recommended that you purchase aftermarket parts for a 370Z. Check with the owner and the service history to see if these parts have been replaced, and if so, have they been replaced with aftermarket options. If they haven’t, expect to experience failure of one or both of these parts at some point in the future.
Checking the Clutch
Below we have listed some methods that will help you determine the condition of the clutch in the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting:
Clutch Engagement – The first step is to make sure the engagement is good. To do this put the Forester into gear on a level surface and let the clutch out slowly. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. Engagement that is too early or too late indicates a problem. Remember, if the clutch stays on the floor or feels soft it may have one of the problems with discussed above.
Clutch Slippage – The way to check for this is to shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Once you have done this, plant your foot on the throttle and watch the revs. If the engine speed goes up but the car doesn’t accelerate the clutch is slipping. Here are some things that can cause slippage.
- Worn clutch
- Clutch covered in oil
- Clutch cable is too tight and is not releasing properly
Clutch Drag – Get the 370Z on a flat surface and press the clutch pedal to the floor (do this while you are stationary). Rev the car hard (once it is warm) and see If it moves. If the car does move, the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.
If the clutch needs replacing and you still want to purchase the 370Z, make sure you get a heavy discount on the vehicle as getting a replacement is very expensive.
There is not too much to worry about when it comes to the 7-speed automatic transmission fitted to these cars apart from the usual gearbox woes. Make sure that the shifts are smooth and there are no strange grinding, whirring or whining noises. Big thuds or shunts when changing gears or positions is a sign of big trouble.
If you plan to track your 370Z regularly you are better off going for a manual as the automatic quickly becomes hot and starts to slip badly.
While Nissan claims the automatic transmission is “maintenance free”, many owners have found that their 370Zs shift better after a fluid change. Really enthusiastic owners will change the fluid at regular intervals, so keep this in mind.
Rear Differential Bushings
The rear differential bushings are known to fail on these cars, with a sign of the problem usually being fluid residue on the differential casing and on the exhaust pipe. If the front ones fail it can be a nightmare as they are difficult to get to.
Many owners recommend replacing the original bushings with aftermarket Z1 poly bushes or SPL ones.
Suspension & Steering
The biggest thing to watch out for when it comes to the steering and suspension systems on a 370Z is failure of the steering lock. If the steering lock fails it will normally prevent the car from starting and the vehicle may say that there is no key, when in fact, there is.
Some owners have managed to fix the problem by banging on the steering column a few times, getting the car into acc mode, opening the bonnet and then reactivating the steering look. The problem is caused by the fuse for the steering lock, so it needs to be removed. Many 370Z owners remove the steering lock fuse as a preventative measure as if the problem needs to be fixed by Nissan it will be extremely expensive to do so. You can read about the process of removing the fuse here.
370Zs produced from 2013 onwards do not have this problem as Nissan removed the failing component completely. A recall was also carried out for 2009 and 2010 models for the problem, so make sure this has been actioned upon by Nissan. If you are looking at a 2011 or 2012 370Z make sure the fuse has been removed, or, if you purchase the car remove the fuse as soon as possible.
Other Suspension & Steering Componentry
Suspension and steering components will eventually wear out, so if you are looking at a higher mileage model see if they have been replaced at any point. Additionally, if the 370Z is driven on rough roads regularly, the suspension components will wear quicker.
Below we have put together a list of some things that indicate that the suspension and/or steering componentry is worn:
- Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
- Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
- Tipping during cornering
- High speed instability
- Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)
- Delayed or longer stopping distances
- Uneven tyre wear
- Excessive bounce after hitting a bump or when pushing down on the suspension
- Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
- Sagging or uneven suspension– common issue when the air suspension goes on these cars
- Knocking, clunking or creaking sounds during a test drive (this may be caused by something else, but bad suspension and steering componentry is a common issue) – if the noise is coming from the front it may be the front droplinks.
It is important to visually inspect as many of the suspension and steering components as possible. Use a torch/flashlight and a mirror to get a good view of hard to see areas. Keep an eye out for any corrosion or damaged parts that may indicate that the vehicle has been in an accident.
The brake components on a 370Z won’t last forever and will need to be replaced at some point. Try to check the condition of the pads and if they need to be replaced try to get a discount on the vehicle. There are loads of different aftermarket options for brake pads and every owner has their own opinion on them.
If the brakes on the Nissan 370Z you are looking at are in a particularly bay way (caliper, disc, pad issues, etc.) you are probably better off moving onto another car. Replacing all of the brake components will be expensive, so unless you get a great discount, and the rest of the car is in excellent condition it is not worth it.
A range of different brake upgrade kits and mods are available. However, the stock brake setup should be more than adequate for road use. The most common recommendations to improve braking performance is to install cooling ducts, change the brake fluid to something like RBF600, and upgrade the pads and rotors. Caliper upgrades are also available, but not really necessary unless you plan to track the car.
Brake fluid changes are required every two years or 39,000 km (24,000 miles). Make sure this work has been done otherwise it suggests poor maintenance.
During a Test Drive
As we mentioned just above, the brakes fitted to a Nissan 370Z should be more than adequate for road use, so if they feel weak or spongy there is a problem.
Remember to test the brakes under both light and hard braking conditions to make sure they work well in all scenarios. Erratic braking such as pulling to one side is usually caused by a sticking/seized caliper. This usually happens if the car has been left unused for a long period of time. Another sign of this problem is a loud thud when you pull away for the first time.
Watch out for shaking or juddering through the steering wheel of the Nissan 370Z you are test driving as this suggests that the discs are warped (when the brakes are in use). This issue usually becomes first apparent under high-speed braking.
Squealing sounds could be a sign that the pads need replacing or the rotors have something on them. Other than that, keep an ear out for any loud bangs, knocks, grinding or other strange sounds when the brakes are applied.
Wheels & Tyres
While you are taking a look at the brake and suspension componentry, remember to thoroughly inspect the wheels and tyres. Keep an eye out for any damage, especially if the car is fitted with larger rims. If you notice lots of curb damage it probably means that the owner is a bit of a careless driver.
Many find the 19-inch wheels fitted to some 370Zs far too harsh, so make sure you try before you buy. If you drive in an area with rough roads it is probably better to stick to smaller diameter wheels.
If the 370Z you are looking at has aftermarket rims, ask the owner or seller if they have the originals, even if you like the ones fitted to the car. Having the original rims will only add value to the car if you decide to sell it in the future. If they don’t have the original 370Z rims you can use that to try and get a discount.
While you are inspecting the rims take a good look at the tyres and check for the following:
- Amount of tread
- Uneven wear (Can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues)
- Brand (they should be from a good or well-reviewed brand)
- Same tyre in terms of tyre make, type and tread pattern on each axle (preferably on all four wheels) – mismatched tyres can lead to poor handling performance and may even be dangerous
Making Sure the Wheel Alignment is Good
Find yourself a nice flat, straight section of road to check the wheel alignment. If you find that the Nissan 370Z you are test driving doesn’t run straight with minimal or no driver inputs then the wheel alignment is probably out. You should also check the tyres for uneven wear as that is indicative of bad wheel alignment or some sort of other suspension/steering issue.
Body & Exterior
Issues with the bodywork of a 370Z can be expensive to repair, so make sure you take your time going over the exterior of any potential purchase. In some cases, bodywork problems are irreparable or so expensive to fix it is not worth it.
Accident damage to the bodywork and structure is always one of your biggest worries when purchasing any used car. A lot of the time crash damage is much more serious than it first appears and many sellers will lie about the severity of an incident. Some sellers will even claim a vehicle hasn’t been in a crash when it clearly has. Assume the worst when it comes to accident damage and hope for the best.
Below we have listed some signs that indicate that the Nissan 370Z you are looking at may have been in an accident:
- Bent or broken parts underneath the car – Check to see if everything is straight underneath the 370Z and watch out for any replaced parts. Take a good look at all the suspension, steering and exhaust components for damage.
- Rust in strange locations – May be a sign that the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting has been in a crash or has some other sort of problem. The most common cause of rust on the bodywork is usually from stone chips.
- Paint runs or overspray – While this could be a factory issue, Nissan’s quality control is pretty good so it is more likely to be due to a respray.
- Missing badges or trim – Could be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.).
- Misaligned panels or large panel gaps – Check that the bonnet lines up correctly and fits as it should. Additionally, check the bonnet catches as if they look new the car has probably been in an accident. You should also check the doors and the lights for any damage or signs of past damage. There is a slim chance that uneven panels are a factory issue, but as we mentioned just above, Nissan’s quality control is pretty good, so the issue is probably caused by accident damage.
- Doors that drop or don’t close properly – If the doors drop or don’t open/close properly the 370Z you are inspecting may have been in an accident.
- Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels – Indicates a respray which may have been conducted as a result of accident damage or rust.
- If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – This may indicate that the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting at has been crashed into something (even a light knock can cause this problem).
Don’t completely rule out a 370Z that has had accident repairs as if the damage wasn’t too bad and the repair was done by a skilled panel beater/body shop it is perfectly fine. Major accident damage or poor repairs are a big problem that could be impossible to put right, so you are better off avoiding these sorts of cars.
If the owner/seller tries to cover up or lie about the accident it suggests that the problem is worse than first appears. Alternatively, if the owner can’t tell you much about the accident/damage it may have happened when a previous person owner the vehicle.
As we mentioned in the engine section of this article the most likely place to find corrosion/rust is the exhaust. However, rust can appear in other places as well, so we suggest that you check the car thoroughly. Pay particular attention to the front end where stone chips are common and look in and around the wheel arches. Also check around the trunk, the sills, and the windows.
If you do happen to come across rust during your inspection try to get a gauge on how bad the issue is. While corroded body panels & parts can be fixed, the problem is usually much more serious than it first appears on the surface. If the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting is suffering from significant amounts of rust you should move onto another car.
Things That Can Make Rust More Likely to Occur
- Vehicle has spent time in countries or areas with salted roads (United Kingdom for example)
- The vehicle has been driven in wet conditions a lot
- Car has spent time in countries or areas with very harsh winters
- Vehicle is often parked/stored by the sea for significant periods of time
- If the Nissan 370Z you are looking at has always been kept outside (never garaged)
- Accident damage (stone chips or more significant damage)
Looking for Rust Repairs
It is not only important to look for present rust, but you should also keep an eye out for signs of past rust repair. Watch out for any areas that may have been resprayed or cut out and replaced. You should also check the service history and with the owner (however, don’t trust what the owner says completely as they may be trying to hide something from you).
Use a magnet on steel sections of the car or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have been repaired.
Paint Chips and Resprays
The paintwork on the bonnet/hood and the front bumper is prone to stone chips and damage, so check what sort of condition the front end is in. It is common to respray this area or touch up the chips, so check to make sure the colours match.
The motors & mechanism that operates the Roadster’s roof can fail so check to make sure it works as intended. Remember to also check the condition of the roof material and make sure there are no rips, tears or stains in the material. The main area to check is right above the window. There is a fold in the material, which can wear quite easily.
Another thing to check is the cables that run power to the roof (they can be seen when it is open). If they are bent, broken or worn replacements may be needed.
The last thing to check this the strip above the inside edge of the front window. It is a black strip where the roof connects to the top of the window and it can wear/develop rub marks.
If you need to replace the roof or roof mechanism you could be looking at thousands of dollars to repair, so make sure it is in good condition!
The interior is often regarded as the least impressive bit of the 370Z, however, it is fairly hard wearing and durable.
Remember to check the condition of the seats and look out for any wear around the bolsters. Make sure the seats have not collapsed and that the side bolsters are firm. If the seats move under braking or acceleration it is a major safety problem and will be a WOF/MOT failure.
Excessive amounts of wear on the seats, steering wheel, carpets, shifter and pedals for the mileage may be an indication that the vehicle has had a hard life. Remember to check the rest of the interior for wear or any broken trim pieces. The boot struts are a common failure point, so make sure the hatch stays up when you open it.
Another thing to check for is dampness or any leaks. Feel around the carpets and lift up the floor mats. If you notice water residue on the bottom of the floor mats it may indicate that there has been a leak.
Another thing to check is the headlining above the driver’s seat as if it is a different colour to the rest of the headlining it indicates that the Nissan 370Z you are looking at was owned by a smoker at some point. A smell test will also help you determine whether this was the case as well.
The electronics are overall pretty reliable apart from the steering lock issue mentioned in the suspension & steering section. Apart from that just do a general check to make sure everything works. Test the windows, navigation system, lights, etc.
Make sure that the owner or seller has the master keys as if they do not they are expensive to replace.
If the air conditioning/climate control doesn’t work don’t let the owner convince you it just needs a re-gas. While a re-gas may simple be what is needed, it may also be a much more serious issue such as a compressor failure.
It is important to check for any warning lights on the dash both during start-up and while the car is running. If you don’t notice any warning lights during start-up they may have been disconnected to hide an issue. If you are really serious about getting a good 370Z it may be a good idea to take the car to a Nissan dealer or specialist to have the codes read (or you can get yourself an OBD2 scanner)
General Car Buying Advice the for a Nissan 370Z
How to Get the Best Deal on a Nissan 370Z
This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.
- Research heavily – Prior to starting your search for a 370Z, figure out what specs and condition you are happy with. Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far? Are modifications okay or do you want a stock model.
- Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. There are loads of different Nissan 370Zs out there in different levels of condition and spec, so don’t limit yourself to one seller, dealer, area or auction platform.
- Go look at and test drive multiple Nissan 370Zs – It is a good idea to test drive a many cars as possible, so you know what makes a good and what makes a bad 370Z.
- Adjust your attitude – Never rush into a purchase. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time when looking for one of these Nissans for sale and only go for promising looking cars.
- Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
- Don’t trust the owner – While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say but back it up with a thorough inspection.
- Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple cars, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
- Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.
Mileage vs Condition
Mileage vs condition is always a hot topic for debate, but we feel that it is always better to buy on condition and then on mileage. Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good.
Short distance trips do not allow the engine in a 370Z to warm up properly, which can lead to increased component wear and reduced engine life.
Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.
Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!
Service History and Other Documentation
It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. While the servicing doesn’t need to be done at a dealer, it should be carried out by a competent Nissan specialist or mechanic (especially for major repair work).
The service history will give you a good idea of how the Nissan 370Z you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications (if the car has any) can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.
If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any vehicle your purchase and will make it easier to sell the car in the future.
Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.
Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- How often do you drive the car?
- When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
- How much oil does it use?
- What oil do you use in the car?
- What parts have been replaced (exhaust, etc.)?
- When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
- What’s the compression like?
- What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
- Has the vehicle overheated at any point or has the head gasket failed?
- Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
- Is there any money owing on the car?
- Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
- Is the car tracked regularly?
- Is there any rust?
- Has rust been removed at any point?
- Has the steering lock fuse been removed?
- When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
- Where do you store/park the car usually?
There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.
Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Nissan 370Z
Here are some things that would make as walk away from one of these cars. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.
- Overheating problems or blown head gasket
- Significant Crash Damage
- Money owing on the car
- Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
- Excessive amounts of power
- Bad compression
- Bad resprays
- Significant rust problems
- Engine swaps with non-standard engines
- Significant track use
- Major engine or transmission issues
- Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)
Notes on the Owner
The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Nissan 370Z (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.
- How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
- Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
- Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
- What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
- How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
- Do they know anything about the Nissan 370Z and the model they are selling?
- What can they tell you about previous owners?
- Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
- What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
- What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
- How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
- How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?
If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another second-generation Forester.
Importing a Fairlady Z Z34 from Japan
As the 370Z is known as the Fairlady Z Z34 in japan we will be referring to it by that name in this section. Nissan sold quite a few of these cars in Japan, so it is not a bad place to look.
Exporting vehicles from Japan is a big business as it keeps the country’s motor industry moving and older vehicles become more expensive to run. Below we have outlined everything you need to know about importing a Nissan Fairlady Z Z34 from Japan.
How to Import a Z34 from Japan
While importing a Fairlady Z Z34 from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually quite easy. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search something like “import Nissan Z34” or “import 370Z”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for one of these cars based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.
Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.
Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get completely scammed, many of these websites will be economical with the truth about a vehicle. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:
JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.
Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars.
Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles.
Note: many of these sorts of websites do not provide a grade or auction check sheet. The grade, auction check sheet, and car map are vital to picking a good car. Buyer beware!
Use a Private Importer
While the websites above are a handy way to give you a general idea of what to expect when importing a Fairlady Z, we recommend that you go with a private importer. A trusted private importer will be able to find the perfect Z34 for you and import it, saving you the hassle. While it may cost you a bit more (sometimes it is cheaper) you are more likely to get a better vehicle.
You can get a full explanation of why we recommend using a private importer here.
How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work?
The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles
They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.
Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.
While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.
Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.
Use the grade to reduce the number of Z34s you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you if possible (hence the recommendation for a private importer).
The Auction Check Sheet
Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of a Nissan Fairlady Z Z34 and where any problems are located.
Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.
What Does the Number Grade Mean?
- Grade 7 to 9 or S– New car with delivery miles.
- Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
- Grade 5– Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
- Grade 4.5– Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
- Grade 4– Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
- Grade 3.5– Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
- Grade 3– Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
- Grade 2– Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
- Grade 1– Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
- Grade 0, A, R, RA– Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade
As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.
The Car Map
The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.
Our Guidelines for Importing a Nissan Z34 from Japan
- Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
- If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
- Try to go through a private importer
- Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
- Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
- Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
- Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
- Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
- Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
- Avoid cars with unknown mileages
- Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
- Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents
Know Your Country’s Importation Laws
Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.