2003-2009 Nissan 350Z
Upgrading the stereo system in your 350Z
2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your 350Z's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car.
Overview of the Nissan 350Z
There aren't many cars that can be referred to by a nickname alone. There's the 'Vette, of course, and there's also the Five-O Ford. Digging deeper into history, there's the Bug, the Deuce, and, of course, "Tri-Five" Chevys. Mention any one of those to anyone who knows anything about cars, and they'll know exactly what you're talking about.
Same goes for the "Z-car." Whether you're a relatively young enthusiast or old enough to remember Datsuns, when you hear that nickname, the image of a specific car will immediately pop into your head. Only a few iconic automobiles achieve that status, and once it's achieved, it's something to hold onto.
Nissan certainly had that in mind when they designed the fifth-generation Z-car, known as the 350Z. Low, sleek, powerful, and fun to drive, it's a worthy successor to the legendary Z-cars that came before. They're also very affordable these days, so if you're thinking about adding a sports car to the family fleet, a Z might suit you to a T.
The 350Z's dash changed a bit mid-stream, so the radio removal process depends on your car's model year (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Factory stereo system
The stock stereos came in two varieties: base and Bose®. One is obviously better than the other, but both were decent for their time. That time was a while ago, though, so if you're still enjoying your Z-car, you'll want to add to the enjoyment with upgraded audio gear.
Prior to the 2006 model year, the 350Z got an interior update, so the radio removal instructions vary a bit between the early and late versions. Each one has its own Crutchfield MasterSheet, which will be included free with your stereo or speaker purchase. And when you order your new receiver at Crutchfield, you'll get a healthy discount on the dash kit and wiring harness adapter you'll need to install it in your 350Z.
When you replace the factory radio, the factory navigation system (if present) will still work, but you'll lose the voice guidance system. Depending on how your car is equipped, you may lose some other factory functionality, but in most cases, you'll be able to get it back when you choose the right aftermarket stereo. You'll probably improve on them, actually, plus you'll get vastly superior connectivity for your various devices.
You can choose from a nice selection of single-DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) stereos. You'll need the factory stereo brackets to install the new piece, but if you don't have them for some reason, you can obtain them from your dealership or perhaps from an online source. The wiring harness included (at a discount) with your new receiver does not have a ground connection, so you'll need to connect your new car stereo to a grounding point in the car.
The Bose® system includes a 10" subwoofer mounted behind the driver's seat on the back wall. You should only replace this sub if you also intend to replace the factory amplifier.
You'll remove the entire dash panel when you replace the stock receiver (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory radio
We'll cover both of the radio removal scenarios below.
The earlier receivers are a little easier to remove than the later units (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Before you do anything else, set the parking brake and disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short.
Once that's straight, grab a panel tool and, starting at the rear edge, pry up the gear shift trim panel. Pull it away from the dash, disconnect the ribbon harness, and set the panel aside. Remove two Phillips screws from the bottom edge of receiver trim panel, then remove four more Phillips screws from the metal bracket under the white ribbon cable box.
Next, open the pocket door above the radio and pry out the rubber mat. That'll expose two Phillips screws in the pocket trim, so remove those and the trim itself. Remove the two Phillips screws securing the top of the factory radio that’s exposed now that you've removed the pocket trim. Pry the receiver trim panel away from the windshield just enough to disconnect the wiring harnesses. From there, all you need to do is remove the factory radio/trim panel assembly and set it aside.
Complete installation instructions for the new receiver can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet, along with the instructions that come with the dash kit and the wiring harness adapter.
The nav receiver is a little more challenging than the earlier receivers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The later models are a bit more complicated, but it's still a job that's well within the capabilities of most car audio DIY-ers. And, of course, your Crutchfield purchase comes with free tech support for the life of your gear, so if you need help, give us a call. We're right here in Virginia and happy to answer your questions.
Once the battery and the parking brake are taken care of, your next step depends on whether your car has a manual or automatic transmission. If you have an automatic, pry off the gear shift trim ring and remove it. With the manual, unscrew and remove the gear shift knob.
Next, pry off the lower gear shift trim to remove it. If you have the manual, you're done here. If you have the automatic, you'll need to pry out the shift lock cover and press the shift lock release with a small flat blade screwdriver to release it. Now, you can move the gear shift lever to the lowest position and proceed with the radio removal.
Pry up the climate control panel, disconnect the wiring harness, and remove the panel. After that, remove two Phillips screws from the lower receiver trim panel.
Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions
If your car has the nav receiver, carefully pry off the navigation screen trim. And we mean carefully – you don't want to scratch the finish of the receiver. Remove the two Phillips screws exposed by the removal of the screen trim, then pull out the navigation controls. Disconnect the wiring harness and remove the control module.
For non-nav cars, open the storage compartment and remove the rubber mat inside. Pry out the two screw covers inside the compartment and remove the Phillips screw found under them.
From here on out, the process is the same for both varieties. Remove two Phillips screws from the climate control cavity, then remove two Phillips screws from the bracket under the factory radio/trim panel assembly, then pry it out, disconnect everything, and remove the whole assembly.
Keep those screws handy, because you'll need them when you install the new receiver. Installing the new receiver is pretty simple, and the details can be found in your free Crutchfield MasterSheet, plus the instructions included with the dash kit and wiring harness adapter that are available at a steep discount when you buy your new stereo at Crutchfield.
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your 350Z. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
Once you get to the door speakers, they're pretty easy to work with (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your factory speakers
The 350Z has speakers in the front door and the back panel. They're really not that hard to replace, but the doors involve a lot of panel and screw removal, so stay organized.
You'll have to remove a lot of panels to get to the door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The door speaker removal and replacement process is, thankfully, the same throughout the fifth-generation Z-car's run, and that includes both the coupe and the convertible.
The job isn't hard, but there are quite a few steps involved, so it's important to stay organized and work carefully. You'll be removing quite a few panels and screws, so be sure to keep them straight as you go along. That'll make the reassembly process a lot less stressful.
Both the base and Bose systems feature component speakers in the doors. The woofers can be replaced by 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" models, while the tweeters should be 3" or smaller. There's no speaker wiring adapter for the tweeters, so you'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect them to the factory wiring. You'll also need our universal backstraps (or hot glue or silicone) to secure them, because there aren't any aftermarket mounting brackets, either.
When your new speakers arrive, check the box to see if they include mounting screws. Most do, but if yours don't, you'll need to hit the hardware store to acquire some screws before you get started. And when you're finished with your installation, be sure to test the speakers to make sure they're working properly before you put the door back together. Check the windows and locks, too.
All the step-by-step details of the disassembly process can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 10mm socket, ratchet and extension
The rear panel houses two speakers and, with the Bose system, a subwoofer (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The rear panel speakers are also the same for all coupe models, and they're not that hard to reach or replace. The factory speakers can be replaced by a variety of 6-3/4", 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" aftermarket models, and mounting brackets (if needed) will be included with your speaker purchase.
Starting at the back, use your panel tool to pry up both door scuff plates half-way. Then, pry the door gasket away from the rear side panel. Start at the bottom edge and pry out the rear side panel to release the retaining clips and remove both side panels.
Open the doors of both storage pockets and pry out the pockets. Do NOT pry on the doors, because that will not end well.
Pry the lower rear wall panel away from the speaker panel to access the edges of the panel. Next, pry up the speaker panel to release the metal clips at the top. Roll the panel toward the rear of the car to access the speakers, then remove the four Phillips screws securing each speaker. Once it's loose, remove the speakers and disconnect the wiring.
From here, all you need to do is connect the new speakers, secure them (using mounting brackets if needed) and test them out. If they sound good, start buttoning everything up again.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillps screwdriver
Nissan 350Z Roadster (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Rear speakers in the Roadster
The 350Z Roadster (2004-2009) is a bit different when it comes to rear speaker removal. For one thing, you won't have to worry about banging your head on the roof (definitely a bonus), but there's a bit more to it.
The ragtops are rare, so we don't actually cover them in the Coupe-only MasterSheet. If you're swapping speakers on a 350Z convertible, talk to Crutchfield Tech Support, and we'll make sure you get the disassembly information you need. It's not that hard, really, but it does require some careful, patient work. We'll help you get the job done.
The stock speakers can be replaced by 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" aftermarket models. If your car has a Bose® subwoofer, you can (and probably should) replace that too, as long as you're in there.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, plus a 10mm socket, ratchet and extension for the sub (if present)
The Bose® sub is pretty easy to remove, but you'll need to install a new amp when you replace it (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The Bose®-equipped 350Z coupe has a 10" subwoofer mounted in the back wall. It's not hard to deal with, but because it's a decidedly non-standard 0.5-ohm speaker, you'll have to add a new amplifier, too. The stock subwoofer amp is mounted in the cavity with the subwoofer and it's not hard to remove.
To remove the sub, gently pry off the grille panel, starting from the top. Once that's out of the way, remove the four Phillips (or 10mm) screws securing the sub, pull it out, and disconnect it.
In most cases, you'll need to drill new mounting screw holes for the new sub. This isn't hard, but you are drilling into your own car, so know what you’re drilling into, work carefully, and wear eye protection. There's no wiring harness for this speaker, so you'll need to use Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect the new sub and amp to the factory wiring.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver or 10mm socket, ratchet and extension
More bass for your 350Z
If the factory sub isn't enough, or if you're upgrading a base-model 350Z and need to add thump anywhere you can put it, there are some options.
There's not much room for anything other than people in a small two-seater like the 350Z, so adding a massive subwoofer enclosure isn't really in the cards. The available space in both the coupe and the ragtop is 37" W x 9" H x 21"/17" D.
On the upside, there is a JL Audio Stealthbox that's designed specifically for the 350Z coupe. This enclosure houses two 10" JL Audio subs and mounts in the rear hatch area, just forward of the rear strut brace. It's a very neat solution that brings big bass to a small space.
And, of course, if you want to hang on to as much cargo room as you can (those weekend duffle bags need to go somewhere), you can choose from a nice selection of powered subwoofers.
GoPro action cameras let you capture ever bit of your track day adventure
Other options for your 350Z
Here are some other ideas for your Z-Car.
The 350Z is not the easiest vehicle to see out of when you're backing up in a crowded parking lot. We offer a wide variety of rear view cameras that will make that a lot easier. You can go for a camera that mounts to your license plate and works with your new aftermarket nav receiver, or choose one that mounts onto your rear view mirror.
If you enjoy taking your Z-car to the racetrack, a dash cam is a great way to record your hottest laps and analyze your performance. And on the way home, they're very handy for recording the behavior of less-talented motorists.
Add an amplifier
If you replace the sub, you'll need to add a new mono amp. But to further improve the sound quality, consider installing a 4-channel amplifier for your speakers. Check out our entire selection of amplifiers, or talk to one of our advisors to get some ideas for how to build your car's new system.
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.
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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