How to drive a 350z

My 20 year old nephew drives his 350z in 6th gear at low speeds, as he says, ‘to save on gas’. For example, when he should be driving in 3rd or 4th gear he’ll go to 6th gear instead. Is he causing any damage to his clutch or his engine? It seems like a car like this should be driven according to how it’s designed, and trying to save pennies on gasoline is going to be at the expense of expensive car parts.

For example, when he should be driving in 3rd or 4th gear he’ll go to 6th gear instead.

 Well the real question is should he be in 3rd, 4th or fifth rather than 6th.  There is no simple answer to that question.  It would depend on his actual speed, any grade (up or down hill) traffic conditions, traffic control devices ahead etc. 

 Clearly you have an opinion of the choices he is making.  Without knowing the specific situations we can not say who is right.  

 My guess is he may be lugging the engine a little in 6th, but since I don't know how he is driving road conditions nor the specifics for for that car and engine.

 My advice is to respect his right to choose how he drives his car.  You might suggest that he might be lugging the engine ONCE only, but don't expect him to change and don't take his lack of change as an insult to you any more than he should take your comment as an insult to him.

Usually a 20 year old would be reving the p— out of a car like a 350Z. Or perhaps that’s just me at 20, 30, 40, 50, and now 60+. Fun car!

If he wants 6th gear he can have 6th gear. If the car is damaged it is on him. Can’t hurt the clutch because there is so little torque at the low rpm’s. If the tach is at 1,500 or above and he isn’t going up a hill it probably won’t harm the engine either.

To get some power he’ll just have to know how to downshift from 6th to 3rd and that might not be too good for the tranny if he doesn’t do it well.

The only condition that I can fill in that I know for sure is that he is driving around town in 6th gear at 35-50mph. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to drive anywhere with him when I was in town because his car was in the shop for a broken ball and stud at the transmission and a warped flywheel. It’s the 2003 model with the weak flywheel, and they’ve since made an upgrade to a better replacement flywheel (which he couldn’t afford, so it’s been replaced with the old style flywheel). He bought the car last year so perhaps the flywheel was already on it’s way out. The broken ball and stud was caused by driving over parking stones (those rectangular cement pieced that they place in parking spaces) at a shopping area (and, as well, I can only guess how that might have happened). Thanks for your suggestions, though, on limited information.

As mentioned, his conservative driving style is exactly opposite of the typical 20 year old.

I’m with you, your last sentence sums it up perfectly. He isn’t likely to harm the clutch unless he lugs the motor excessively or tries to accelerate too quickly under load.

What is happening is that the engine is not breathing as it was designed to do. Over time, I believe it will get carboned up and suffer in the long term. If the engine ends up being lugged on a consistent basis, you may start to see other problems with the engine that end up being costly in the long run as well. My double lincolns…

As long as he’s not lugging the engine, he’s not doing any harm to it. I routinely drive my car in 5th gear at around 35 MPH on the way to work.

If the engine isn’t lugging he isn’t doing any harm. He probably, however, is hurting his gas mileage rather than helping it. The engine is probably not operating in a healthy spot on its power curve, and if so it won’t be fuel efficient.

The owner’s manual should have information on this. Sometime when you’re riding with him, casually pull it out of the glovebox and start reading it. When you find the information on this issue, act surprized, and say “hey, look at this…”.

The normal shift points for a 350Z according to the manual in altitudes less than 4000ft are:
0-7 mph: Gear 1
8-15 mph: Gear 2
16-24 mph: Gear 3
25-27 mph: Gear 4
28-32 mph: Gear 5
33+ mph: Gear 6

Sounds like you nephew is correct. The exception would be if your nephew is flooring the car at the lower shift speeds or climbing hills. By driving the car easy your nephew will also decrease wear on the vehicle.

So I am going to be shifting 4 times to get to 33 mph (in order to be called normal)Zero to 33, what thats about 3 seconds, something is not right. No one shifts out of first at 7 mph.

Charts and guides are fine but look at what you are suggesting.

Who says he shifted 4 times?? Maybe he just shifted one time…

Then he would not be “normal” I kinda think the OP would have mentioned it if the technique was 1st to 6th with no other gears in between. Sixth gear luggers ,left foot brakers, same bunch.

I dunno, AJ. How do you drive your Ferrari?

Just my opinion, but this sounds like engine lugging to me which is rough on the engine, drivetrain, and fuel economy.

A look at a performance chart shows that at 2000 RPM the engine is producing about 100 HP and is on the bottom end of the torque curve. Odds are at 35 MPH in 6th gear he’s not even turning anywhere near 2000.
I’m not saying that he should be floating the valves between every gear but I do think he should save the 5/6 gears for more open roads and use the lower 4 for city driving.