2003-2005 Nissan 350Z
2003 • 2004 • 2005
Traci has written about cars for almost 10 years. She's worked on cars for even longer doing paint and body, accessory installations, custom interior work, engine building, tuning and more. She enjoys drag racing, old square body Chevy trucks, playing golf and riding horses. She drives a number of vehicles including a 1982 Chevrolet C10 truck, a 2002 Yukon, a 1999 Honda Civic Si and any number of other cars in the garage.
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Overview of the Nissan 350Z
The Nissan Z has been around for a number of years – it’s always been a sporty car that combines power and performance. The 350Z offers plenty of speed and handling, and it does so with a refined cockpit and plenty of extras.
Since it was one of Nissan’s higher-end offerings, the 350Z was available with several different audio options, including a Bose audio system. However, unless you have a model with the upgraded audio system, chances are good that yours is a little out of date.
The good news is that you can upgrade your audio enjoyment. Getting at the stereo system can be a challenge, particularly given the 350Z’s tight confines, but it can be done.
This article is an overview of your vehicle's audio system and its upgrade options. If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to install a car stereo or speakers in your 350Z, there's nothing better than our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™. This detailed, well-illustrated document is free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for $9.99.
Factory stereo system
The Nissan 350Z was available with several different factory audio systems. The 160-watt (peak power) base system was an AM/FM cassette and/or CD player featuring six speakers spread around the cabin. The 240-watt Bose system featured a cassette player with an in-dash six CD changer and a 7-speaker system that included a 10" subwoofer behind the driver’s seat. There were also options for XM satellite radio, and a navigation system.
The 350Z with the Bose stereo system (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
Whether you have the base system or the Bose upgrade, replacing the stereo is the same. If your vehicle has a navigation system, the navigation will still work when you replace the stereo, but you will lose the voice prompts.
There’s lots of room in the dash and you can choose either a single-DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receiver, so just about any aftermarket stereo will fit. If you have the Bose system, your new stereo must have at least two sets of preamp outputs (front and rear) or you’ll lose the ability to fade the music from front to rear. Keep that in mind while you’re shopping for a new receiver.
There are four screws to be removed from under the pocket (or nav screen) (Crutchfield Research Photo)
To remove the factory stereo, you’ll start at the bottom of the console and work your way up to the radio. First, use a panel tool to pry up the trim around the gearshift. Start at the back edge and pull toward you (away from the dash). Disconnect the HVAC wire harness and remove the four Phillips head screws that are now exposed. Open the dash door above the receiver and take out the rubber mat in the bottom. Beneath this mat, you’ll find two Phillips screws that must be removed and set aside.
Now, remove the trim piece that was secured by the screws, exposing the top of the receiver housing bracket. Remove the two Phillips screws revealed there. Next, return to the bottom of the console and remove the four Phillips screws across the bottom (far right and far left, beneath the receiver and behind where the HVAC controls were).
Now you’re ready to remove the entire center console panel and radio structure. Lift up the panel and pull it back, away from the windshield, to pop it free of the top of the dash. Do not pull too far – the panel is connected by wires, and you will need to disconnect those before removing the panel completely.
Reach behind the panel and remove this harness, then pull the panel forward enough to expose the wiring harness for the receiver and the antenna connection. Disconnect both of these and remove the panel and the receiver completely. Remove the four Phillips screws (two on the right side and two on the left) holding the receiver to the trim panel, and set the panel aside.
To install your new receiver, simply repeat these steps in reverse. A mounting kit and wiring harness are available at a deep discount when you purchase your new stereo at Crutchfield. You'll need to modify the kit just a bit to use it with a double-DIN receiver.
If you are installing a double-DIN receiver, you’ll need to remove the brackets from the sides of the factory stereo and attach them to the sides of the new stereo. If you’re new stereo is single-DIN size, you won’t need the brackets.
The navigation system found in the 350Z (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing the stereo in vehicles with the factory navigation system is the same as the non-nav system. Just be careful when prying up the small filler panel at the base of the navigation screen. Once you remove that and access the screws beneath, everything works the same as described above. Also as mentioned above, your navigation will still work after you change stereos, but you'll lose voice guidance.
Tools needed: panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat head screwdriver
Replacing your factory speakers
The 350Z’s basic speaker setup is a 6-speaker system. The upgraded system has a seventh speaker – a subwoofer installed behind the driver seat.
The driver's side door speaker location (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The factory speakers are 6-1/2" speakers. Replacing them requires the use of mounting brackets and drilling new screw holes. You can replace them with 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers, but you’ll have to drill new screw holes for either speaker size.
Installing new speakers also requires mounting brackets (which are available at a discount when you purchase your speakers from Crutchfield). Wiring harnesses are not available for the 350Z, so you’ll need to splice into the factory wiring. Posi-Product wire taps can be very helpful here.
This speaker location is rather shallow, so not many 6-1/2" speakers will fit. But there are enough speakers to choose from that you’ll be able to select from a range of inexpensive replacements or better-quality component speaker systems that take advantage of the door’s tweeter location, which we’ll talk about below.
The speaker-removal process is the same for both doors, save for an extra step on the passenger door. Pry off the plastic front panel on the door pull handle, and remove two 10mm bolts bolts underneath it. Then proceed with the following steps for both doors.
Remove the screw cover from the door cup and set it aside. Remove the Phillips screw here and set it aside. Using your trim tool, pry up on the window switch assembly – pull up from the rear edge in order to disconnect the clips holding it in place. This will expose two Phillips screws. Remove them and set them aside.
Front door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
You’ll now need to pry out the door handle trim and remove it, as well as the Phillips head screw holding it in place. Once that is removed, start at the bottom of the door panel, prying outward. Work your way up both sides. When all the clips have been released, lift up on the door panel. You’ll need to detach the door release cable before you can completely remove the door panel.
Once the door panel has been removed, you’ll see the woofer mounted in the door. Disconnect the wiring harness to the speaker and remove the three Phillips head screws securing the speaker in place. Attach the mounting bracket to your new speaker, hold in place on the door, and use a marker to mark the screw hole locations. Set the speaker assembly aside and drill the new holes. Secure the speaker assembly to the door and splice the speaker wires. Again, using Posi-Product wire taps will let you do the job without cutting off the Nissan connectors.
If you’re installing new tweeters, take care of them before you reinstall the door panel.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 10mm socket and ratchet
The tweeter location in the door (Crutchfield Research Photo)
To remove the tweeter from the door, gently pull the sail panel away from the door and disconnect the wiring harness. Remove the two Phillips screws holding the tweeter bracket in place and then remove the Phillips screw holding the tweeter to the bracket.
- If your new tweeter has a screw hole on the back, and is less than 1-3/8" in diameter, you might be able to use the factory bracket to secure it in place, just like the original tweeter.
- If your tweeter doesn’t have a screw hole or is larger than the original, you’ll need to fashion a bracket to hold it in place. We carry a universal bracket that can often help with this. You can bend it or cut it to fit the job.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool
Removing the rear deck speakers is a bit challenging (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing the rear speakers is not as simple as replacing those in the doors. In fact, it’s a bit complicated. You have to dismantle the rear panels and storage compartments piece by piece in order to get to the speakers. The job isn’t that hard, especially with a Crutchfield MasterSheet guiding you, but it could take a while. Go slow and be careful, doubly so if you have a Roadster – the panels are a tight fit and could break if you force them.
The factory speakers are 6-3/4" in size. There’s plenty of room to fit a new speaker that size here. But if you want to use a 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speaker, your choices will be severely limited because once you add the mounting bracket to make those smaller-diameter speakers fit, there isn’t much clearance in front of the speaker. Your best bet will be to stay with factory-sized 6-3/4" speakers.
Some good news is that there are speaker wiring adapters available for this location, so you won’t need to splice the wires back here. And these wiring harnesses are deeply discounted with your Crutchfield order.
A closeup of the 350Z's rear deck speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
To get to the rear speakers, start at the scuff plates at the bottom of the door frame. Pry up and remove both scuff plates, working from the back toward the front of the vehicle. Stop when you've pried up half of each scuff plate. Lift the rubber seal from the side panel. Begin prying out on the bottom edge of the side panel to disengage the clips. When all clips are loose, remove the side panels.
Locate and open the storage doors behind the passenger side seat. Pry the top edge of the trim away from the speaker panel bottom, then open both pocket doors in the back wall. Pry outward (not on the doors) to remove the trim, then pry upward on the speaker grille. This will release the metal clips securing the panel. Once loose, roll the panel toward the back of the car and remove the four Phillips head screws securing the speaker. Disconnect the wiring harness and remove the speaker. Install your speaker and follow the steps above in reverse order.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool
Bass in your 350Z
The 350Z's Bose subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)
If your car has the Bose stereo system, there’s a 10" subwoofer located behind the driver’s seat, below the rear speaker.
You can mount an aftermarket subwoofer in this location pretty easily, but you’ll need to also install a new amplifier. The Bose subwoofer is configured for 1/2-Ohm, so the factory amplifier simply isn’t powerful enough to adequately power an aftermarket sub. If you don’t want to install an aftermarket amp, we recommend that you keep the factory subwoofer.
To remove the subwoofer, start at the top of the speaker grille, and pry the panel away from the wall. You’ll need to remove the Phillips screws and 10mm bolts holding the subwoofer in place. Pull the subwoofer clear and disconnect the wiring harness. The factory amp is mounted behind the subwoofer and held in place by two 10mm bolts. Remove these, disconnect the amp and remove it. Install your new subwoofer and connect it to your new amp.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 10mm socket and ratchet
The JL Audio Stealthbox installed in the 350Z (Photo courtesy of JL Audio)
If you want to add more bump in your 350Z without losing too much space, JL Audio offers a Stealthbox enclosure that contains two 10" JL Audio subs. The enclosure mounts in the rear hatch area in front of the rear strut brace, out of the way. This option, which will really rock your Z, will only work in hatchback models.
Other bass options will require some creative installation. Obviously, you don’t have a lot of storage space in this tiny car, so consider a powered subwoofer. Many of them will fit in your car’s cargo space. And if your car is a hatchback rather than a roadster, take advantage of the factory subwoofer location to mount a nice sub.
Other options for your 350Z
Here are some other ways to improve your 350Z:
If you want to keep your factory stereo, but would like to add iPod control, there is an iPod adapter available for the Nissan 350Z. You’ll have to remove and reinstall the factory radio because the adapter plugs into the back of it. You cannot have a factory satellite radio tuner or the iPod adapter won’t work. The radio must also have a "SAT" or "XM" button to function with the iPod adapter.
Installing a security system in your 350Z isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's definitely a good idea. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.
Nissan 350Z Roadster (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Good, better, best
Upgrading the audio system in your 350Z requires some careful planning, namely due to the limited space available in the doors and cargo area. Seriously, if you’re going to drive a sleek, sporty car like the 350Z, a solid sound system is a must-have. Presented here is one path to attaining that goal, but you can approach the project in just about any order. If you want to start by adding more bass, then install a new subwoofer first.
Good: Start by replacing the stereo so that you can add modern functions like Bluetooth® connectivity and iPod/iPhone® control, and for a little more money, navigation if you don’t already have it. If you do have factory-installed navigation, then you can still get the benefit of awesome touchscreen-control over the stereo with a double-sized DVD receiver.
Better: Even if you have the Bose upgrade, replacing the speakers will yield better sound. Take advantage of that easy-to-get-to tweeter location by installing a component speaker system in the doors. That’ll give you crystal-clear mids and highs, along with improved mid-bass. The rear speakers take a little work to get to, but dropping in some aftermarket 6-3/4" speakers will dramatically increase the bass and mid-bass quality in your music.
Best: After the above improvements, add a subwoofer of some sort, either a powered model or put an aftermarket sub in that factory location (and then you only need to give up space for the amp). Finally, finish off the system by adding an amplifier for the speakers. A 5-channel amplifier would power your speakers and the sub without taking up as much as space as two separate amplifiers.
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