Nissan 350Z – What Goes Wrong?

The Nissan 350Z, introduced in 2002 and produced until 2009, has been a popular sports car known for its spirited performance and sharp looks.

However, like all vehicles, it has had some reported reliability concerns. While the 350Z is generally well-regarded as being a dependable used performance buy, there are still some issues to look out for. 

In this instalment of our ‘What Goes Wrong’ series (which offers a quick run-down on known reliability issues for cars) you’ll learn about what goes wrong with the Nissan 350Z.

As with all other articles in this series, the information is presented broken down by area (e.g. engine) with the specific issues listed as bullet points and fixes/preventative maintenance as indented, sub-points. 

If you’d like a more comprehensive guide to Nissan 350Z reliability and what goes wrong, then make sure to read our detailed 350Z buyer’s guide. 


  • Oil Consumption: Some earlier models, particularly those with the VQ35DE engine, have reported excessive oil consumption. It’s important to check oil levels regularly.
    • Fix: Regularly check oil levels and use high-quality synthetic oil. If consumption is excessive, perform an engine compression test.
  • Timing Chain Noise: There were reports of a whining noise from the front of the engine, often due to issues with the timing chain or tensioner.
    • Replace the timing chain or tensioner if found faulty. Best handled by a professional familiar with the VQ series engines. Prevent this from happening in the first place by regularly servicing your 350Z with the correct grade oil. 
  • Fuel Damper: Some owners experienced a ticking noise which was linked to faulty fuel dampers.
    • Fix: Replace the faulty fuel damper. 


  • Synchro Wear: The manual transmission, especially in earlier models, sometimes had issues with the synchronizers wearing prematurely. This led to grinding or difficulty when shifting, particularly into the 3rd and 5th gears.
    • Fix: Replace worn synchronizers. To prevent, use high-quality transmission fluid and change at recommended intervals. Synchro wear when inspecting a 350Z may indicate an example that has been thrashed and abused. 
  • Clutch Issues: Several owners reported issues related to the clutch, including soft or fading clutch pedals and clutch failures, especially in vehicles driven hard.
    • Fix: Inspect and adjust the clutch regularly. If pedal feels soft or fades, inspect and possibly bleed the clutch fluid. Replace clutch if necessary. 


  • Tire Feathering: Some 350Zs experienced abnormal tire wear or “feathering,” especially on the front tires. This could be due to alignment or suspension issues.
    • Fix: Regularly check and correct wheel alignment. Address any suspension component issues. 
  • Paint Issues: There have been reports of paint chipping or peeling more easily than expected, particularly on the front bumper and hood.
    • Fix: Use paint protection film. Consider professional repainting if chipping or peeling is significant.
  • Convertible Roof Problems: Owners of the roadster version sometimes encountered issues with the convertible top mechanism.
    • Fix: Ensure mechanism is free from obstructions and lubricate moving parts. If problems persist, get a professional roof mechanism inspection and replace as required. 


  • Window Motors: Several owners reported problems with the window motors failing or becoming weak over time.
    • Fix: Replace weak or failing window motors. 
  • Fuel Gauge Misreading: There were instances where the fuel gauge would misread the actual amount of fuel left in the tank.
    • Fix: Replace the faulty fuel sending unit.


  • Seat Movement: Some drivers noticed that the driver’s seat might move slightly under heavy acceleration or braking, often referred to as “seat click.”
    • Fix: Tighten any loose seat mounting bolts. If the issue persists, replace the seat’s mounting mechanism.
  • Materials Wear: Over time, some of the interior materials, especially on high-touch areas like the door handles and steering wheel, could show signs of premature wear or peeling.
    • Fix: Use quality interior protectants on high-touch areas. Consider professional reupholstering or replacement for significant wear. 

Remember, while these issues have been reported by some owners, they don’t represent every Nissan 350Z’s experience. This also isn’t a complete list of everything that “could” go wrong with a 350Z, but more a focus on some of the most common issues. 

Regular maintenance, driving habits, and care can have a significant impact on a vehicle’s longevity and reliability. Always consider having any used vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchasing.

Don’t forget to check out our 350Z buyer’s guide for more comprehensive information. 


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

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