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2005 350Z Convertible
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I'm new on this particular forum (and didn't find this exact issue in a quick search) so please bear with me if this has already been covered before (and if so, a link to the prior topic would be greatly appreciated).

My wife has an 05 350Z Roadster Convertible with ~103k miles (she only drives it about 6k miles/year). About 3 years ago we put new tires on it and everything seemed ok. Recently, when our mechanic installed new front brakes for us, he noticed that one of the lower control arm had a bushing that was failing. He also noted that the inside edges of both tires were excessively worn, to the point that the tires needed to be replaced soon. He explained that there was no way to adjust the camber to get the tire to lay flat on the pavement (she doesn't race it so the factory designed, negative camber isn't needed). He also suggested that if we wanted to keep the car we might consider replacing the upper control arm with one that is adjustable so we could eliminate the inside tire wear. We opted to do so and ordered up a Cusco Front Negative Upper Control Arm (SET) Adjustable Z33 350Z CPV35 251 474 K (111380064712) from hptautosport.com. Our mechanic installed them, and "ball parked" the alignment with a level and a tape measure until we could get new front tires installed and a 4 wheel alignment done. We got the new tires installed, but when the tire dealer went to do the alignment, their alignment guy told us that he couldn't get the camber within range and he asked if the car had ever been in an accident (it hadn't). He then suggested that replacing the front struts would likely solve the problem as that usually got the front-end back within an adjustable range. He also said that that Nissan recommends replacing the struts at 75k miles (I wonder if that is true as the $$ hungry Nissan dealer never mentioned this to us). The tire dealer would have to order the struts, so their alignment guy said he had adjusted the front end as close as he could to minimize the wear and tear on the tires until we could bring it back, install the struts, and finish the alignment. We paid for the alignment, and brought the car home. Our mechanic lives only a couple of doors down the street so I relayed what we had been told. He looked a bit puzzled, and then said that a worn strut on her car can't affect the alignment due to it having upper and lower control arms, and that what we were told would only be true if the car had McPherson struts (which he said it doesn't). He suggested that they were trying to sell us a set of struts, and that we should consider taking it somewhere else to have the front end aligned. I'm familiar with tire dealer he suggested we take it to for the alignment, they have a good reputation for tires too (don't know about alignments other than my mechanics recommendation though).

BTW - My mechanic is stellar, he builds custom off-road race cars in his off hours, and manages a maintenance team overseeing a motor pool of vehicles, and aircraft ground support equipment (tugs, start carts, etc) as a government contractor. He's highly experienced, extremely sharp, and as honest as it gets, so I tend to follow his lead on most things car related.

My intend with this posting is not to question my mechanics experience, but rather to learn more about the cars suspension, and benefit from the collective experience and knowledge of the people who have been on this forum long enough to know the ins-and-outs of the 350Z and what the pitfalls of it are (in this case, the front end relating to suspension and steering alignments). I plan on going to the "other" tire dealer to talk about the alignment issue before I take the car in, and I'd like to have at least a modicum of understanding about the issue before I do so.

My specific questions are:
  1. Do we likely need to replace the struts anyway?
  2. Can the front struts cause a problem with the alignment like the tire dealers alignment guy said (and disputed by my mechanic)?
  3. What would be the best camber setting to request the front wheels be set to for "everyday" driving (a reasonable balance between long tire life and handling)?
  4. Is there any reason that the Cusco Upper Control Arms we installed may not have enough adjustment range to be able to zero out the negative camber in the front tires?
  5. Any other salient advice worth offering?
I've attached a copy of the Vehicle Alignment Report my tire dealer provided when we picked up the car (note - according to the tire dealer it's a "partial" alignment until we bring it back to replace the front struts and continue the alignment).

Thanks in advance for any help/advice offered!

Jerry
05 350Z Roadster Convertible

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