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350z Tire Troubles

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08:30 Dec. 08, 2003)

Wearing Thin: Tire rumbling has Nissan 350Z owners grumbling

By MAC MORRISON Atuoweek.com

FACED WITH OWNER COMPLAINTS and a raging online debate about unusual tire wear on its popular 350Z sports car, Nissan has dispatched a team of engineers to investigate the problem.

Here’s what we know: A yet-to-be-determined number of the 39,000 2003 model year Z cars sold in America left Nissan’s Oppama (Japan) factory with incorrect front suspension toe settings. The result—after driving only a few thousand miles—is an uneven, “cupped†wear pattern on the inside edge of each front tire that causes irritatingly loud road noise, particularly at speeds below 30 mph. We experienced the phenomenon firsthand with our long-term 350Z test car (AW, Dec. 1), and a click on Z enthusiast website my350z.com reveals over 1000 posts on the matter to the site’s online discussion board.

What if your Z suffers from obnoxious tire roar? Nissan issued its dealers a technical service bulletin (NTB03-006A) that instructs them to adjust the front-end toe, as well as swapping the “cupped†front tires side-to-side (different tire sizes front-to-rear mean Z rubber can’t be rotated in the traditional sense). Dealers should carry out the work under warranty. Failing that, call (800) 647-7261 and lodge a complaint with the manufacturer.

Nissan is cautiously optimistic the problem is under control and will not plague newer 350Zs, although the company acknowledges it does not consider the matter closed and its engineers continue to monitor the situation. Nissan says the problem doesn’t affect handling and it does not consider “cupped†tires a safety issue, meaning a recall is unlikely.

Previously announced changes to 2004 350Z suspension tuning (AW, Nov. 24) were adopted for improved ride and handling, and should have no effect on the tire wear issue.

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