The Ultimate Nissan 350Z Turbo Upgrade Guide: Boosting Your Performance

Nissan 350Z Turbo Guide

The Nissan 350z is a fantastic driver that many car aficionados like even now. Until 2006, it was powered by the 3.5L VQDE35 engine, which was replaced by the VQ35HR in later generations. The 350z already has a lot of power from the factory, with 287 horsepower.

Those wishing to take their 350Z to the next level, on the other hand, should consider a turbo kit. We go over everything that goes into boosting the Nissan 350z in this article, as well as propose a few of the top turbo kits on the market.

How Much Power Can the VQ35DE Handle?

Of course, before choosing for a turbo system, it’s vital to consider the 350Z’s VQ35DE engine’s safe limits. It’s never easy to talk about an engine’s safe operating limits. If only it were as simple as saying, “the 350z will last for a long time at 400whp, but at 425whp, it will blow up right away.” There is no such thing as a flawless response.

The VQ35DE, on the other hand, is a powerful engine. It’s decent for around 400-425whp without entirely destroying longevity. A bit more power is feasible with proper tuning, supporting mods, and feeding. Regardless, the higher the risk, the more power you throw at the 350z with a turbo kit.

*The subsequent VQ35HR engines in the 350Z are a little more powerful, but the restrictions are essentially the same. It usually adds 25-50whp to your car.

Ensuring a Safe Turbo 350Z

Ensuring a Safe Turbo 350Z

There are a few ways to assure a safe and reliable setup if you plan on pushing the limits of the 350z with a turbo kit. The following are a few examples:

  1. Turbo Setup
  2. Tuning
  3. Supporting Mods
  4. Fueling
  5. Internal Upgrades

We’ll divide this down into sections below because there are many sub-topics inside each of these things to explore. Regardless of your precise objectives, all of this is critical. Your 350z VQ35DE should be safe at 400-450whp with a good setup.

The VQ35HR is expected to produce around 450-500whp. Those who want to take things a step further should think about investing in some internal upgrades.

Anyway, let’s get started on the above-mentioned themes. We’ll next look at some of the greatest 350z turbo kits at the end of the post.

1. Nissan 350Z Turbo Setup

This is, once again, in connection to the VQ35DE and VQ35HR engines. Later, we’ll talk about various turbo configurations. Differing turbo kits for the 350z will result in different engine safe limits. We’ll try not to get too technical here, but this is a nice place to start when looking for a turbo kit.

What are your ambitions in terms of power? It won’t take much turbo to reach 400whp if you’re simply looking for that. Smaller twin turbo systems with little lag and ample of low-end torque are the most common. Isn’t that fantastic? Smaller turbos, on the other hand, have some drawbacks.

The BMW N54 engine is well-known, and it is a brilliant example. 550whp on a small stock frame twin turbo is beginning to test the engine’s safe limitations. Big single or twin turbos, on the other hand, are normally good for around 650-700whp on the standard motor. There are several reasons for this, and we’ll go through a few of them briefly.

350Z Back-Pressure

Back-pressure will be higher if the turbo(s) are smaller. This happens when the turbo isn’t big enough to move enormous amounts of air. Back-pressure is bad for any engine, and the VQ35DE and VQ35HR are no exception. Exhaust scavenging is harmed by excessive back-pressure because it raises engine temperatures.

PSI/boost isn’t everything, therefore this may be a different heading. CFM (cubic feet per minute) is another essential metric. Due to a higher CFM, larger 350z turbos can provide more power at lower PSI.

Nissan 350z Power Curve

This is a significant issue. So far, we’ve only mentioned the Nissan 350z engine’s horsepower limits. However, because torque is the actual measure of force, it is the better figure to use. Horsepower is just the number of times a force can be created in a given amount of time (RPM). This is demonstrated by the equation below.

HP = Torque x RPM / 5252

Larger turbo kits will pump more air, allowing the engine to keep torque on the curve for longer. As a result, because torque is peaking further right on the curve, you’re creating more horsepower at a given peak torque.

Choosing the Right Size 350z Turbo(s)

The trade-off is right there. More lag is introduced with larger turbo kits, but they are generally safer and easier on the VQ35 engines. If your aims are well within the engine’s safe limitations, smaller turbos are probably the way to go. You’ll benefit from a faster spool time and a lower boost threshold.

If you want to make 450-500whp with a factory 350Z engine, you need look into turbos with higher power. These will be your larger turbo kits, with more lag, but they will aid in engine safety while pushing the boundaries.

Anyone with larger ambitions should simply select the proper 350z turbo kit and go with a constructed motor.

2. Nissan 350z Tuning

Okay, we’ll move through this tuning phase a little faster this time. The exact tuning for your 350Z will be determined by your turbo system, supporting mods, fuelling, and other factors. As a result, in this section, we’ll concentrate on some broad themes.

Tuning is, without a doubt, the most crucial aspect of having a secure setup. When you’re ready to move on to the tuning phase, keep the following in mind:

  • Work with a known, quality tuner
  • Stick on the conservative side
  • Data-log often

We could go on and on, but these are some of the fundamentals. Tuning is best left to the professionals unless you’re really knowledgeable. Find a custom tuner who is familiar with the VQ35DE engine. It’s also crucial to understand your own objectives. Your tuner should be able to tell you if it’s a good goal or if it’s a little too aggressive.

It’s still vital to grasp basic data-logging parameters once the tune is dialed in. Data-logging should be done as frequently as feasible, or at least once every couple of weeks. You want to know whether your 350z is leaning out, knocking, or anything else.

3. 350z Supporting Mods For Turbos

350z Supporting Mods For Turbos

Another lengthy issue to tackle is supporting mods for 350z turbo improvements. A few modifications, such as fuelling upgrades, are required. Then there are a slew of support mods that aren’t strictly necessary.

However, for safe, dependable, and consistent performance, you’ll want to explore some more 350z mods. Here’s a quick rundown of several useful mods:

  • Basic bolt-ons
  • Fueling upgrades (pump, injectors, etc)
  • Cooling mods
  • Brakes, suspension, wheels/tires, clutch

Again, the list of 350z turbo upgrade-supporting alterations may be much longer. These are things to think about if you’re looking for 350-500whp. If your goals are 500 whp or higher, the list will continue to increase.

Basic Bolt-On Mods

Most turbo kits will include some of these basic turbo engine bolt-on modifications. Most, if not all, 350z turbo kits should include an intercooler and downpipes.

Aside from that, you’ll probably require an intake upgrade, which some turbo packages include. Another straightforward bolt-on mod to consider is a full exhaust system from the downpipe back.

Nissan 350z Fueling Upgrades

Fueling modifications are included in certain complete Nissan VQ35DE and VQ35HR turbo kits. If not, you’ll at the very least require injectors and a fuel pump upgrade. Fuel lines and other tiny parts are optional but not needed changes.

It’s worth noting that we’ll have comprehensive instructions for all of these changes in the near future. We’ll stick to the basics in this essay because there’s a lot to cover. Do some research on injectors and fuel pumps to be sure they’ll be up to the task.

It’s also worth considering whether or not you’ll be using E85. This is something we’ll talk about in the next part.

350Z Cooling Mods

The 350z engine and transmission will become hotter as a result of the increased boost and output. You can probably get away with simple cooling tweaks upfront if your ambitions are modest. If you choose this route, keep an eye on the temperatures to see if anything has to be done.

Cooling adjustments will be required for those with more aggressive power objectives. An excellent place to start is with the radiator, engine oil coolers, and transmission coolers. You should also look for a 350z turbo package that includes a high-capacity intercooler. It’s an excellent upgrade if your IATs are high.

Other Mods For Turbo 350z’s

Other good mods for a turbo Z include brakes, suspension, wheels and tires, and clutch enhancements. Again, how far you go with this is likely to be determined by your power ambitions. You might not need any of these tweaks if you have a simple setup and driver.

However, most individuals are likely to install a 350z turbo kit in order to enjoy the increased power. Suspension and tires will aid in the transmission of power to the ground. Upgraded brakes will, of course, ensure that you have a secure stopping system. Clutch upgrades are crucial, and the clutch that’s best for you will likely be determined by your preferences and power/torque goals.

4. VQ35DE / HR Fueling

VQ35DE-HR Fueling

Please accept my apologies for some of the lengthy topics. When it comes to VQ35 turbo upgrades, there’s simply too much to cover. Anyway, we’ll get right to the point, but it’s critical to fuel choice.

Ethanol, often known as E85, is the ideal fuel for any forced induction engine. It uses 30% more fuel than pump or racing gas and places a 30% higher demand on the fuel system. E85, on the other hand, aids with the safety of an original 350z engine. E85 has a number of advantages, including:

  • Knock resistance
  • Cooler temps
  • High octane

E85 has a stoich of around 9.75. That means 1 part fuel to 9.75 parts air is required. In comparison, gasoline costs $14.7. It’s less fuel efficient in the end, but the extra fuel helps absorb heat and lower temperatures.

Pre-detonation, which is a major cause of blown motors, is considerably reduced with E85. Finally, the octane rating of E85 is 108. In conclusion, E85 provides significant power gains while also improving engine health and safety.

Race Gas or Methanol Injection

If you don’t have access to E85, race gas and methanol injection are both viable choices for the 350z. Both of these fuels provide similar benefits to E85, albeit to a lesser extent. Regardless, they’re all excellent fuel choices when compared to conventional 91 or 93 octane.

5. Nissan 350Z Internal Upgrades

For those who truly want to take the 350z to the next level, internal improvements are required. You can even consider additional modifications in the 400whp range if you want a safe, dependable system. However, it is expensive, which is why most people don’t do it unless they’re going above their safe boundaries. Internal upgrades for the 350z include:

  • Pistons
  • Rods/rod bearings
  • Cams
  • Ported head

Your particular build will be determined by your goals and intended use for the Nissan 350Z. We’ll leave it at that for now, but anyone considering this path should do their homework thoroughly.

Best 350Z VQ35 Turbo Kits

Best 350Z VQ35 Turbo Kits



Alright. Finally, we’ve arrived to the most thrilling portion. It’s time to choose a turbo kit once you’ve chosen your budget and objectives. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the finest is a personal preference.

There are a lot of outstanding turbo kits for the Nissan 350Z, and we just don’t have the time to look at them all. As a result, we’ve selected a few kits that we believe offer a good mix of pricing, quality, and performance.

1) AAM Competition 350Z Twin Turbo Kit (700+whp)

Application: VQ35DE and VQ35HR

This dual turbo kit is available from AAM Competition for both the VQ35DE and VQ35HR engines. Some people may be put off by the price right away. This is, nevertheless, a fantastic-looking complete kit from top to bottom. Upgrades to the fuel pump and injectors, as well as engine control, are all included.

For quick spool and reaction, they use BorgWarner ball bearing turbos. With a completed motor and all the necessary upgrades, this kit is capable of producing 700+ horsepower. Even for those merely aiming to create small power, it’s a good arrangement. However, for those merely seeking for 350-450whp, this AAM 350z turbo kit may be excessive.

2) Nissan 350Z JWT TT Kit (350-450+whp)

Application: VQ35DE only

Jim Wolf Technologies’ (JWT) twin turbo kit is a tried-and-true solution. The kit was created in collaboration with Garrett and includes twin turbos from the GT25, GT28, or GT30 series. Unlike the AAM kit, the JWT package does not feature any fueling or engine management modifications.

For small setups, JWT twin turbos are a fantastic option. Because it was developed for the stock 350z engine, the sweet spot for this turbo kit is 350-450whp. With the right upgrades, you can probably get even more performance out of these turbos. This 350z turbo kit has been around for a while, and we think it’s one of the best.

3) 350z Turbonetics Single Turbo Upgrade

Application: VQ35DE only

These kits are a little more difficult to come by and aren’t known for their high quality. We’ve read of problems with turbos, turbo seals, burst pipes, clamping troubles, and other similar issues. If you can live with a handful of headaches, though, this package might be worth the money.

It’s a bit of a gamble because most turbo kits cost $6,000 to $10,000 or more. We have no personal experience with Turbonetics or this particular kit, so we can’t comment on quality. Even if it isn’t very reliable, the Turbonetics 350z single turbo kit’s low price may persuade some to take a chance.

350Z Turbo Upgrade Summary

The Nissan 350z is a fantastic automobile with excellent performance for its day. However, in today’s world, its stock output isn’t really spectacular. Fortunately, the VQ35DE and VQ35HR engines have some more power, which can be easily unleashed with a turbo kit. Engines in the 350z range from 400 to 450 horsepower, depending on the HR model.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that even with moderate increases in power, there’s still a risk. A solid 350z turbo setup can help reduce the risk, but it won’t completely remove it. Make sure you get a good tune with the right mods and fueling. Those who are serious about pushing the limits may consider purchasing a constructed motor up front.

It’s time to select the turbo setup that’s suitable for you once you’ve determined your goals and budget. There are numerous options available, however as the 350z ages, some turbo kits are becoming increasingly scarce.

For all 350z years, including the VQ35DE and VQ35HR engines, AAM offers an excellent full turbo kit. For the VQ35DE, JWT has a well-proven and capable kit. Those seeking for a low-cost option may want to explore the Turbonetics single turbo kit.

What’s your take on the turbo 350z? Do you plan on turbocharging your Z?

Please let us know by leaving a comment!

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