2004 Nissan 350Z problems are only getting worse

2004 350Z problems

Even though the list of 2004 Nissan 350Z problems is getting longer and longer by the day, I still regret selling mine way back in 2010. It was the best car I’ve ever owned, and I miss it dearly.

The biggest problem with the 2004 350Z is a faulty timing chain (which can break and destroy the entire entire). It is also prone to crankshaft failure, power surging, leaky exhaust, wheel alignment issues, and excessive engine oil consumption.

Thankfully, parts for the 350Z are plentiful and cheap, so it’s a good sports car for budget conscious buyers.

What are the most common problems with the 2004 Nissan 350z?

All things considered, the number of problems with the 2004 350Z are relatively few. For comparisons sake, 2013 Ford Focus problems are more severe. Kia Forte problems are a bit shocking (considering how good of a brand Kia is). Even the 2013 Toyota Camry has problems – some of which are infuriating considering it’s a Toyota.

The 350Z, in comparison, isn’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things. These are it’s biggest issues:

Crankshaft failure

A failed crankshaft is a common issue with the Nissan 350Z, and it impacts five specific model years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. The problem occurs when the crankshaft position sensor fails, which usually comes without warning. Nissan recalled this sensor, so make sure that the car you are looking to purchase has had this done.

pearl white 2004 350Z
Thankfully, my 2004 350Z never experienced a crankshaft failure in the years that I owned it (2004-2010).

Power surging after cleaning

Owners have reported their 2004 Nissan 350Z to surge when idling after cleaning the throttle linkage. This problem is often caused by accidentally knocking certain components (such as the flap inside the throttle body) out of alignment during cleaning.

This leads to to airflow instability – and can be incredibly detrimental to your engine if ignored. It’s one of the reasons why I always recommend that you take your car to a professional who cleans engines for a living.

For what it’s worth, I used to power wash the engine of my 350Z several times a year at the local self-serve car wash without any issues.

2004 350z engine
I probably wouldn’t have power-washed the engine of my 350Z so much if I knew about the throttle issues. Oh well.

Leaky exhaust

Many 2004 Nissan 350Z owners report exhaust leaks. The exhaust on the 350Z splits before the catalytic converter, which is a common place for cracks to appear. These leaks are easy to detect, and can often be heard when the engine is idling.

I never had any exhaust leak issues on my Z in the six years that I owned it. Then again, I live in Southern California (very little rain, no snow, etc), so that probably had a lot to do with it.

Poor clutch life

Some 350z owners find that the clutch wears out quicker than usual. Some owners have even reported a fully worn clutch after just a few thousand miles. This has been an incredibly rare occurrence though, so it’s not likely that you’ll face a clutch issue that extreme.

I put about 50,000 miles on my 2004 350Z, and it was only in the last 5,000 miles of ownership that I noticed the clutch starting to slip on occasion when pulling away from a stop (even at low RPM). Still, 50,0000 miles on a clutch in a sports car is considered decent IMHO.

For what it’s worth, I spoke highly of the clutch and transmission in my 2004 Nissan 350Z review.

Front wheel alignment issues

Many owners find that the front tires will fall out of alignment easily. This results in uneven wear requiring tire replacement within a short time frame. This is something that I personally experienced with my 350Z. All 4 tires had to be replaced at 30,000 miles. The front tires were especially worn out.

2004 350Z tire and wheel
This is what the tires of my 350Z looked like at 30,000 miles. Yes, I am thoroughly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t notice how bad they were until about 29,990 miles. Oops.

Timing chain failure

One of the primary concerns for 2004 Nissan 350Z owners is issues with the VQ35DE engine. There are specific problems related to the engine’s timing chain guide and tensioners. These parts help keep the tension in the chains and guide the chain when running the engine. If the timing chain fails, it will likely destroy the engine.

Issues with the timing chain usually occur at about 100,000 miles. It’s vitally important that you have the timing chain checked by a reputable mechanic before buying any 2004 350Z!

Excessive oil consumption

Another consideration when considering a 2004 Nissan 350Z is the the oil consumption of the VQ35DE engine can be excessive. As the vehicle ages, the engine has a tendency to consume oil at a far faster rate when compared with other vehicles in its class.

While this isn’t associated with any particular performance issues, an engine running low on oil will experience part failure over time. You might need to spend more on oil and oil changes on a higher-mileage 350Z in order to prevent catastrophic engine failure.

Is the Nissan 350Z a reliable car?

Nissan has proven to be one of the most reliable automobile manufacturers in the world. Not only that, repair issues associated with the 2004 350Z are relatively affordable to fix.

I daily drove my 3350Z for 6 years. It was my only car, and I used it for nearly anything I could. Including trips to IKEA for new furniture. No, I wasn’t able to fit a lot of furniture in that car, but it was a trooper for putting up with my shenanigans.

I put 50,000 miles on it, most of it being stop-and-go traffic here in Southern California. I never had to take it into the shop for any kind of repair, but it did need new brakes and tires at 30,000 miles, and a new battery at 40,000 miles.

350Z road trip
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on a a 2-day road trip from San Diego. The Z performed like a champ!

Are 350Z’s cheap to maintain?

Generally, the 2004 350Z can be maintained relatively affordably (which is why I included it in my list of best project cars). As with any vehicle, however, there are costly items that wear out over time (such as the timing chain), and you need to stay on top of them. In terms of general maintenance:

  • One of the most common issues owners face is wheel alignment – which can be a simple and inexpensive fix if you don’t feel like spending a lot of money on fancy tires. You certainly don’t have to, as there are a lot of great tires for the 350Z that cost less than $100 each.
  • Nissan 350Z brake pads tend to last 30,000 miles before they require replacement.
  • The brake rotors may need to be replaced at about the same time (depending on your driving style).

How long will it last?

When maintained according to Nissan’s guidelines (and ensuring you keep up with minor repairs as the vehicle ages and increases in mileage), the 2004 Nissan 350Z should last several hundred thousand miles.

The average life expectancy of the 350z’s VQ35DE engine is 200,000 miles. However, many drivers have reported getting 300,000 miles (and beyond) out of theirs with proper maintenance. 

My 350Z was a great car, and it still felt brand new after 50,000 miles of daily abuse. I really wish I that I never sold that car, because I know I could have got several hundred thousand miles out of it without a problem.

DriveAndReview 350Z
That’s me holding back the tears as I trade my 350Z on a new car (a freaking Honda Fit of all things). I wish I could go back in time and slap myself silly.

2004 350Z recalls

There have been three part-related recalls for the 2004 Nissan 350Z. These include:

1. R505 & R508 fuel filler hose cracking

Nissan recalled the 2004 350Z as part of the fuel filler hose recall that affected more than 190,000 vehicles in 2005. On certain vehicles, the hose can crack, resulting in leakage during refueling. As a precaution, ensure you’re abundantly careful when pumping gas into your 2004 Nissan 350Z and speak with a reputable mechanic immediately if you note small fuel leaks during the refueling process.

2. Service clutch assemblies causing vehicle movement

An oversized clutch disc in the 2004 350Z can cause the vehicle to move unintentionally on startup when drivers don’t follow the proper parking brake protocols. If the hand brake is not engaged, the car might jolt forward a short distance and cause significant injury.

3. Amber side reflectors fail to conform to industry standards

Some of the replacement lamps sold for use within the 350Z’s headlights and side-marker lights did not come with amber side reflectors. This lack of amber side reflectors meant the vehicle did not conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This recall was announced in 2006 and impacted more than 27,000 cars.

To learn more about potential recalls impacting your particular 350Z (or the one you are looking to purchase), check the Nissan recall system with the VIN.

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