Originally Posted by JasonGoalie34
Well that's a very helpful response Mic. Let me ask a few questions on that.
-"Suspension" is a very general term. Are we talking... coilovers? Just poked around and saw some pretty reasonable priced sets.
-Okay, so maybe scrap the CAI... but a catback exhaust may be worth it to me even if it's just a few horses. Bear in mind I would NOT be doing this for sound. I ain't no showoff... performance only. Silencers would be part of any exhaust related purchase
-Why wheels? What would be the advantages of an aftermarket set? Offset wheels to widen the stance of the car? lighter? ability to fit a wider tire or bigger diameter? Am I on the right track here? Bear in mind I don't think I want thinner tires. I live in New England, the land of potholes
. But if there's a good performance reason to get aftermarket wheels, I'm listening.
-Perhaps a chip would help me? Anything basic out there that may help me out in that department?
I'm trying to avoid FI for now. Expensive, risky, etc. Thanks in advance for helping me with these additional questions. As you can tell, I do know a little bit of general car stuff, but I'm definitely a newbie when it comes to tuning and performance.
[ Annnnnd, it's another long one folks.... consider yourself warned. ]
OK, the inside joke is that the FIRST THING I usually say is "DRIVING SCHOOL". I don't know you nor anything about your abilities but even for seasoned drivers, driving school will teach you things you didn't know or don't do like you should. Personally, I have been to three separate sessions from defensive driving to race and EACH ONE taught me things. Go there with an open mind and an ego check at the door, you WILL learn something.
But most importantly, it teaches you what your and almost as important, your car's limitations are and where the car can be improved to suit you, the driver.
[ Off soap box ]
I spent a year with my car before doing a dang thing to it. To learn it's nuances, tendencies, good points and bad. THEN...
- Why? EVERYTHING your car (ANY car) does in the way of handling is based on the tires. They are the 4 small points connecting you to the road.
Buy the set most closely fit to your driving habits, style, and ENVIRONMENT. Where I am (and given the number of cars I have at my disposal), I can run Max or Extreme Performance tires year 'round - and I do on my Zs.
However, when it rains (and it has been... a lot) I drive my Benz or my wife's Highlander simply for the all-season tires. Point is, I wouldn't recommend a single one of my Z tires for someone living in, say, Colorado or even Lake Tahoe, here in CA. Snow and max perf tires do NOT mix well.
Once done with tires THEN, suspension.
I found that the shocks and springs on my '03 were HORRID. And Nissan acknowledged this by revising spring/compression/rebound settings a year and a half later.
So if you have a pre-04.5 model, just replace everything. Laff....
But seriously, if you're on OEM shocks and have more than 40k on them, toss 'em in favor of a GOOD set of shocks at your budget level. Maybe a set of Tokico at the $400 level, Bilstein or Koni at the $900 level.
A word on coil overs:
I personally don't like them nor need them for MY purposes. I don't track my car (although will be running a few events this year) so have little need for height adjustment and/or 2,000 points of rebound/jounce adjustments. Laff.
They certainly have their place though if that's what you want/need.
More of my (and others') opinions here: http://my350z.com/forum/brakes-and-s...coil-over.html
And that includes our buddy Rob over the UK who went from static to coilovers with great success.
If your shocks don't need changing, I say adjustable sway bars should be the number one suspension change. They do nothing to affect the ride quality but when you turn that wheel for the first time in a fast turn, you'll know they're there. Adjustability also gives you the opportunity to set them as you need them to suit your driving skills. Under/over/neutral steer adjusted through altering the roll stiffness fore/aft through settings on the bars. That's a BIG plus!
All said though, the most critical component in all of the suspension tweaks is proper alignment. This determines overall how the car will react to input, how it behaves through a turn, and how quickly you can exit. Having a couple thousand dollars worth of coilovers, springs, shocks, whatever is worthless when the alignment is off.
Bad thing is that with stock suspension components, the only thing truly adjustable is toe. And then, if you lower the car and don't add adjusters, all aspects of alignment get hosed... caster, camber, toe and you need to compensate for this by adding toe/camber adjusters (front upper control arms, rear toe links and/or toe control if you eliminate the spring buckets going with full coilovers.
.... you're right on all counts. Wider, stronger, lighter, and yes, aesthetics.
But a key factor often overlooked is how rigid or stiff they are (related to and a function of all of the above). A stiffer, stronger wheel doesn't flex and therefore all steering input is more directly communicated to the tires. And that also applies to tires. A good stiff sidewall helps in this regard too. That is the key benefit to moving to a taller wheel (to a degree)/lower sidewall.... it's stiffer and with somewhat less flex than a standard passenger car tire, more of your input gets put into the contact patch. Steering response is MY number one "must have", even more than ultimate grip. I want whatever I do to immediately translate into chassis directional change. I hate waiting.
Best wheels ever made for the Z33 (OEM), the Track V.1. They're light (at ~18.5# per), strong (forged by Rays) and nearly indestructible. But they're a little "narrow" to mount up truly serious rubber. Not bad at 8/8.5" but if you're going to run 275s+, you need more wheel width.
But note that I put wheels last because most any of the Nissan OEM wheels are decent.
Hope that helps. The Z's forte - again, in my opinion only - is handling. Power is adequate until your own abilities top 80-90% of the car's abilities.
Besides all that, driver abilities, a good suspension system (and brakes) should always be the pre-cursor (or "supporting modifications") to more power. If we were talking about this on a forum for underpowered cars, it might be a different ballgame. But not with nearly 300hp to play with.
Others will disagree I'm sure but I stand by this.