Modified Nissan 350z: Tuning Tips

"The "Z" is presumably for Zoom."

A stunning piece of machinery from the Nissan Stable the 350z represents the cutting edge of the everyday sports coupe.

The 350z is certainly well endowed from the factory with power and excellent handling characteristics.

The facelift model left much untouched but tweaks were made to the engine giving a much wider power band.

This answered a criticism of the original. True to the Z heritage the 350z has become a cult car in it's own time.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Looking at what NISMO have done to their 350z you can see the awesome tuning potential of these cars.

Popular with drifters, track day enthusiasts alike the car has much to offer the enthusiastic tuner.

Our members will certainly not shy away from perfecting this awesome car so lets have a peek at some of the 350z tuning options out there.

Practically a classic cult car in its own time, the 350z provides rewarding power gains yet remains a practical everyday car. No wonder then that the 350z gets used by drifters and track day enthusiasts alike.

Nissan 350Z Tuning modifications.

The VQ35DE engine was fitted in the 350 and it is a fantastic engine for tuning projects. Later models (2007-2009) had a VQ35HR engine block.

The 2007 VQ35HR had a higher redline and produced more peak power and had a better Torque band.

This VQ35HR engine was based loosely on the VQ35DE block but featured a higher power engine offering 313hp, with higher redline, more torque throughout the RPM range and most internal components were made stronger making this a good upgrade path.

The electronic variable valve exhaust timing, helped control emissions and maintain power, it also had a dual path intake plenum and higher compression ratio.

Due to the VQ35HR engines height a bonnet bulge had to be added.

We've expanded this page by writing a comprehensive VQ35DE tuning guide.

The 350Z VQ35DE engine had a different ECU, internals were adjusted slightly and benefited from CVVTCS on the exhaust cam in addition to the intake.

Typically these uprated parts are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you get going.

Getting the best uprated mods for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 competition upgrades just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Modified Nissan 350Z tuning stages

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Suspension upgrade (drop 28mm - 37 mm.), Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

The intake Plenum was also revised for the 350Z on the VQ35HR engine in 2007 helping to raise power from the original 2003 engine from 287hp to 306hp. (Most of the 2005-1006 engines produced 300hp)

The stock engines can handle around 400hp, but if you get stronger con rods and crank you should be good for another 300hp on top of this.

Head gaskets are different and the third generation water flow are spread across the head, whereas first and second generation were located on the left cylinder.

Problem areas to look out for on the VQ35DE block.

  • Heat build up in the engine can be an issue, so fit an uprated radiator & oil cooling when tuning the engine to avoid this.
  • The later VQ35DE has oil consumption issues. Dealers have been replacing oil rings in bad cases so check these before tuning the engine.
  • The timing chain tensioner is a possible weakspot, an early symptom of problems is a loud rattle on startup. Get this checked and replaced and you should be safe.

The whole point of our tips is to give a limited introduction of modding upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best tuning parts and all aspects of modding cars.

One of the best mechanical tuning modifications you can do on your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road cam .

It maximises the intake and exhaust durations and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a reflashed ECU. We'd also caution you not to go with a motor sport cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

Adding forced induction is another significant power upgrade and there are many kits and options around for the 350Z.

This is a major job but the reward is in the ballpark of 50-100% more power.

Kits using the Garrett GTX3582R mated to a wastegate, BOV and custom exhaust with a fast road map should provide around 400bhp of power on stock internals.

The fuelling will need to be improved and for this conversion you'll need 600cc injectors which the OEM fuel pump will struggle to feed.

When pushing up the power you will need to ramp up to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

Using higher octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from pinking or premature ignition on your Nissan project after fitting other modifications. Upgraded injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

If you've uprated your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it. Adding in a 265litre per hour fuel pump will provide enough fuel to these injectors to cope with demand at power levels around 400bhp.

Nissan 350z Intake and Exhaust.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. Please note that WE DO NOT RECOMMEND INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car with over 30 percent more power and are finding that the standard air intake has become a restriction.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for 350Z engines you should just fit a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Do not go with the largest exhaust you can find this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Head work including a head port and polished and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. When you heavily modify your 350Z you will reach a point that the standard clutch starts to fail so get an uprated clutch. The best mods in our opinion for your 350Z are Remapping or piggy back ecu, fast road cam and air intake and exhaust.

Remaps offer massive power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also seen some tuners toying with twincharged conversions and making some seriously high power hikes.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. It is usually simpler to bolt on a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it more challenging to map.

Superchargers however will give a boost which is correlating to engine speed so is simpler. Alternatively you could fit water injection to reduce the risk of knock.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are often a priority for the 350Z.

Good suspension tweaks that greatly benefit handling for the 350Z include a few degrees negative camber, and around 1-1.5 degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels. Toe in for stability, or Toe out to improve cornering  but for better cornering, or move towards a positive toe in for better straight line stability.

350Z performance brake upgrades

It would also pay to improve the brakes, by adding larger discs and or higher friction pads.

Thankfully there are a large number of brake upgrade kits around. Bear in mind that high performance pads will usually only effectively work when they are hot, when on the roads they will rarely be in the optimum temperature range so you'll actually end up with worse braking than on standard OEM pads.

The Brembo brake kits fitted as standard are very well designed but there are plenty of upgraded pad and disc options around.

I feel that fully upgrading calipers and fitting larger discs will just be an expense with very little return for your outlay on the 350Z.

Torqen also do some very nice 350z brake kits. Replacing brake lines can reduce flex if you go with braided hoses and synthetic brake fluid.

We would recommend Ferodo Ds2500 pads and the EBC turbo grooved brake discs if you were happy with the standard calipers.

If you are wanted a full on track performance upgrade for your 350z then larger discs like the Wilwood, Centric Stoptech or Brembo Monoblock 6 piston, 355mm or if you have larger alloys the 380mm discs and calipers are a logical next step.

Bear in mind your tyre selection will have a big bearing on the effectiveness of any braking that goes on.

Nissan 350z Wheel modifications.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. Large 350z alloy wheels can decrease performance.

If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio. Although some people have gone larger we would stick to a 17 or 18 inch rim size as the maximum on the 350's. Try to keep the overall rotational diameter the same as the standard wheels.

Please join us in our forum to discuss the 350z options in more detail with our 350z owners. It would also be worth reading our 350z tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification.

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One Response to “Tuning the Nissan 350z for more bhp power”

  1. Bryan Sanders says:

    I liked everything about the site but can’t afford every mod that i want to do all at once. Does it have to be tuned every time you do an upgrade? What is the rear gear ratio? I live in Cincinnati and i dont know where to take it to get tuned. Even though im a SAE certified technician ive never had a reason to use a computer to tune a car. Im used to tuning cars with carbs by eye and sound now that I’m into imports i gotta teach myself how to tune with a computer but that will be awhile. What is the difference between a plenum spacer and a motordyne upper intake. The reason i ask is financial i can only do so much at a time. Over time i plan on doing alot of bolt ons.

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