The 5th generation 350z was manufactured by Nissan from 2002 through 2009. It is among the top-rated models, with the sporty two-seater built for speed and style. Although Nissan designed it to be a performance car, many people often wonder about its capability in the snow.
You may know someone who seems to drive a Nissan 350z year-round. Conversely, you may hear plenty of feedback discouraging operating this model in winter.
Read on to learn if you can drive the 350z in snow and some tips for a safer winter ride.
Can You Drive A Nissan 350z In The Snow?
Although it is possible to drive a Nissan 350z in the snow, features such as low ground clearance and rear-wheel-drive result in the 350z not being the ideal car to drive in the snow. As the depth of snow increases, you will find that safely operating your 350z in such conditions becomes increasingly difficult.
Risks Of Driving The 350z In The Snow
Low Ground Clearance
While the 350z’s low ground clearance improves stability and handling during spirited driving, it makes the car less suitable for winter driving.
As snow accumulates on the roadway it decreases the distance between the underbody of the car and the ground. As the distance between the snow and the underbody of the car decreases, you increase the probability of the undercarriage of your car striking an obstacle in the roadway that is covered by the snow (such as clumps of ice).
Secondly, the low ground clearance of the 350z makes it difficult to drive in deep snow since the front bumper will begin to “plow” the snow as you drive.
By “plowing” through the deep snow with the front bumper of the Z, you increase your chance of the car experiencing wheel spin and of losing control. Plowing through the snow with the front end of your Z can also result in damage to the front fascia which can be expensive to fix or repair.
Rear Wheel Drive
Another downside of driving a 350z in the snow is that the car is rear-wheel-drive. Rear Wheel Drive vehicles are often more difficult to control in inclement weather because the rear drive wheels do not have the weight of the engine on top of them to increase traction.
As a result of the drive wheels having limited traction, you may encounter excessive wheel spin from the rear tires as they fight for grip to propel the vehicle. This wheel spin can lead to the car fish-tailing or even spinning which can be extremely dangerous on the road with other drivers.
The Z’s powerful engine (at the time, regular family sedans of current times have more horsepower) in combination with the rear-wheel drive design also makes the car difficult to drive in snow and ice.
The combination of these two factors can increase wheel spin in slippery conditions, increasing the likelihood that the driver may lose control of the vehicle.
The powerful engine and rear-wheel drive combination can also make accelerating from a stop in the snow and ice extremely difficult, especially on a hill as you fight the forces of gravity.
Tips To Help With Driving The 350z In The Snow
Preparing correctly to drive the Nissan 350z in the snow is critical.
Winter driving is an entirely different experience from riding in summer! You require a vehicle offering stability and control to drive safely on the slick winter roads.
Below are three tips to help you ride the 350z in the snow with lower hydroplaning risks:
Use Snow Tires
Snow tires can provide increased traction when driving a 350z in the snow and ice. Snow tires are made of compounds that are not compromised in the cold weather that is often associated with snow and ice.
Snow tires also typically have a more aggressive tread pattern with larger sipes that help to channel larger amounts of snow and water. The increased channeling of the snow/water can help to provide better traction that will make driving the 350z in wintery conditions a bit more tolerable.
Carry A Shovel And Floor Mats Or Sand
Sometimes you may encounter unexpected or unavoidable roads with deep snow that severely limit traction.
One trick that people in this situation have used to gain a bit of traction and momentum is to clear the snow in front of their tires using the shovel. Sometimes just clearing the snow can help you to get the bit of extra traction that you need in order to drive away.
In other instances, you may need to add something to the ground in front of your tires such as sand or even old floor mats that can provide more grip to help you to obtain the necessary traction.
350z Features That Aid In Winter Driving
The Nissan 350z has some features with its design that provides an advantage when driving in the snow. They are as follows:
The 350z also has an anti-lock brake system (ABS). ABS is a safety feature that prevents the brakes of the vehicle from locking and causing the car to skid during harsh or emergency braking.
By preventing the car from skidding, the ABS system increases the traction of the vehicle and helps a driver to stay in control of the vehicle increasing traction.
The traction control system in the 350z helps to provide increased traction in slippery conditions.
Traction control monitors the rate that each tire is spinning and where the system detects increased spinning from any tire, it interprets this excessive wheel spin as the loss of traction.
When the system detects this condition, it reduces the amount of power that is being sent to the slipping wheel, while increasing the amount of power that is sent to the non-slipping wheel.
Vehicle Dynamics Control
The 350z also provides what Nissan refers to as Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). This system provides increased stability when cornering by reducing the power that is being sent to the drive wheels while simultaneously applying the brakes of the slipping wheel.
By reducing power and applying the brakes of the wheel that is losing traction while cornering, the system helps to prevent the car from fish-tailing.
Even though it is physically possible to drive a 350z in the snow, it isn’t ideal. The vehicle’s low ground clearance and rear-wheel drive design will present challenges to drivers, especially in deeper snow or more severely icy conditions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to drive a 350z in the snow, the use of snow tires in combination with some of the driver’s assistance features of the car can help you to get you to your destination safely.