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Q: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift ( No Answer,   9 Comments )
Subject: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
Category: Sports and Recreation > Automotive
Asked by: kanpachi-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 25 Oct 2006 01:54 PDT
Expires: 24 Nov 2006 00:54 PST
Question ID: 776684

I purchased a new 2006 Nissan 350Z (6-speed manual transmission) a
couple of days ago, and I had a few questions regarding the car
specifically and how to drive stick shifts in general.

1. The owner?s manual claims that a 1200 mile break-in period is
required. Is this really necessary? Many people tell me that newer
cars don?t require a break-in period. Please do not provide any
obvious answers like ?well if the owner?s manual says so, then do it?.
Would appreciate some evidence/sources to back-up this answer. If this
is required, how strictly does one need to follow the guidelines?

2. What is the optimal way to get from stop to moving in 1st gear? Is
it better to rev the engine to 1500-2000 RPMs while the clutch is
fully down and then slowly let off the clutch until the catch point is
hit, or is it better to slowly release the clutch until it is close to
the catch point and then apply gas as necessary to get the plates to
synchronize and have the car start moving?

3. Will stalling the car and driving the car rough initially hurt my
car (i.e. shifting from gear to gear is still jerky and rough,
stalling on hills)? I am new to driving manual, so I can?t say that I
am the best at driving it right now, but am afraid that I may be doing
severe damage to the car.

4. Is it normal to hear the gears being shifted when your windows are
down? I can actually hear the sound of metal plates being moved around
when the gears are shifted (fairly audible especially at nighttime
when there is no traffic).

I would greatly appreciate some well-thought out answers to the
questions above. Please provide concrete/definitive answers rather
than answers like ?it should not hurt the car? or ?it should be okay?.
Also, please refrain from any silly comments like ?rev the engine to
7000 RPM and dump the clutch?. Thanks.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: markvmd-ga on 25 Oct 2006 07:44 PDT
The guys on Car Talk ( last week discussed break-in
periods and concluded it was best to drive new cars gently and at
varying speeds during the first couple of thousand miles. Is it
necessary? Who really knows? The potential damage probably won't show
up for years so if you aren't keeping your car forever...

As for learning stick, do what I did-- go out now and buy a $200 (in
1984 it was $50 so I'm adjusting for inflation) used car with a manual
transmission, get temp plates for it, burn out that clutch learning,
and junk the car in two weeks!
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: veconofix-ga on 25 Oct 2006 10:53 PDT
I have operated a mechanic shop for 30+ years and have rebuilt
numerous Nissan engines as well as engines on other vehicles. I have
extensive information about manual transmissions and clutches on my
site: and

In answer to your question: Yes, proper break-in is VERY critical to
making your engine last as long as it should. When an engine is brand
new (or freshly rebuilt) the cylnder walls and piston rings have not
yet "worn in" to fit each other.

Before you assemble an engine you hone the cylinders to create a
"crosshatch" pattern.  These fine "scratches" in the cylinder wall
hold oil while and providing a slightly abrasive surface against the
piston rings. The piston rings when new have a dull (slightly rough)
finish to them.

As the motor "breaks in" the slightly rough piston rings and the
slightly rough cylinder walls polish each other to provide a tight
seal on the combustion chamber.  If this polishing is not accomplished
properly, you will have excessive blowby gasses from your motor (see
my article: for a description of blowby

There are other things that have to "break in" on a new motor, most
notably the valves have to "seat in", but these are not nearly as
critical as the piston ring break-in.

When I build a motor, I follow this strategy:

First, I get it running.  I will run it at aboiut 2000 to 2500 RPM for
about 10 to 15 minutes.  After that I shut it off and check the oil
and coolant levels one more time.

This step has already been done at the factory on a new car.

The next step is a road test.  The worst thing you can do to a new
motor is let it just sit still and idle.  The cylinder walls (piston
rings) rely on oil slinging off the crankshaft to lubricate them, so
you want a lot of oil slinging around in there.  At idle very ilittle
oil is being sprayed around inside the crankcase.

The second worst thing you could do is to "lug" or "dog" the motor: in
other words put it under so much of a load that it jumps and jerks or
goes below 700 RPM or so.

The third worst thing would be to "hot rod" the motor: going very fast
and doing hard acceleration with it.
The best way to break in a motor is to drive it gently, but under
various conditions.  I try to get out on a highway, and go 45 MPH for
awhile, then 55, back to 45, then up to 65, gently accelerating
between those speeds. Speed isn't as important as RPM: Keep the RPM
under 3000-3500 AT ALL TIMES!!!

Don't just get on the road and do one speed: mix it up a little!

I try to put at least 50 miles or so on the engine before I give it
back to the customer! The first miles are the most important!!!

You might consider letting a friend who is good at driving a clutch
drive it for the first 50 miles or so: Go on a road trip!

As to clutch operation: it's better to rev the engine up and let the
clutch slip a bit rather than "lugging" or "jerking" the engine,
ESPECIALLY A NEW ENGINE!  Hold the RPM at about 1500 and SLOWLY let
the clutch out. Don't give it any more gas, just hold your foot steady
on the gas pedal Let the clutch slip a bit! Very soon you will learn
to co-ordinate the gas and the clutch pedal so you won't have to rev
the engine up as much and you won't be letting the clutch slip nearly
as much either.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: veconofix-ga on 25 Oct 2006 10:56 PDT
Oh, yeah, a "click" heard when you put it in gear is normal,
especially reverse. Grinding shouldn't happen if you shift it
properly.  improper would be things like trying to put it in reverse
while it is rolling forward, etc.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: kanpachi-ga on 25 Oct 2006 11:55 PDT
Thanks for the information, veconofix. You mentioned that the first 50
miles are the most important? That's horrible for me - I've stalled
the car like 20 times because I am not too familiar with stick shift
and I've been rough with it as any beginner would (unintentionally)
during this time frame. Is my car doomed to break down now? I didn't
know that cars were so delicate when new.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: myoarin-ga on 25 Oct 2006 15:42 PDT
You do have a license for stick shift, I hope, if necessary where you are.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: veconofix-ga on 25 Oct 2006 19:29 PDT
You'll probably be OK.  Just stalling out the engine from letting the
clutch out too quick probably hasn't hurt that much.  Just try to
break it in right from now on!  Like I say, hold the gas pedal steady
and let the clutch out really slowly. Pretty soon you'll get the hang
of it and not have to do it that way, and not have to "slip" the
clutch so much.   Pretty soon you'll be letting the clutch out at the
same time as you press the gas, and from then on it will be like
riding a bicycle: you'll never forget it.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: usrhlp-ga on 28 Oct 2006 08:52 PDT
Im from england and in general we only drive manual.

i will advise you.....WEAR THE ENGINE IN slowly, i had a friend who
didn't, reved it to red line from 1st to 5th and after 500 miles the
engine seized up due to the expanding of the pistons and cylinders. He
needed a new engine. totally wrecked the car. Dont be overly cautious
though otherwise your engine may seize up for a different reason of
lack of use :)

My boss had a new car and drove it round an airfield totally ragging
it to death and doing bad gear changes. Ruined the gears and the box
dropped to the floor.

Work them in and dont drive too hard, you will need to practise a lot
if you have not done manual before. Go slow for the first month. You
have a lovely and powerful car there, VERY nice, you have a lot of
power under that foot of yours. Don't expect to drive like a Brit
until at least after a month, take it steady and enjoy learning to
properly drive!

Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: myoarin-ga on 28 Oct 2006 09:02 PDT
Veconofix's last comment reminded me of something.

Your basic problem is getting accustomed to coordinating your feet and
learning to use your left one gently.  It is a matter of feel  - like
with new brakes or a different car for your right foot.  It just takes
a little experience.
I remember how it was once, when I was driving for months, and rested
my right foot by using my left one on the accelerator, discovering
that it just wasn't accustomed to the fine movements that came without
thought when I was using my right foot.
It just takes practice.
Subject: Re: 2006 Nissan 350Z / Driving Stick Shift
From: sparkysko-ga on 30 Oct 2006 16:31 PST
1. Not following the break in period probably won't blow up your
engine, but your piston rings won't seal as nice. Main thing you'll
notice is that it'll burn oil alot quicker. Might have to add oil in
between oil changes. A properly 'broke in' engine won't need to have
oil added between oil changes. Also the performance will be lower, as
far as power. Not having the parts tightly meshed won't damage the
engine really, it's just annoying.

2. I have a manual nissan, and after 3 years of driving it, I still
have to say that their stick shifts are the biggest pain in the butt
to use. I still lug my engine all the time or slip the clutch alot.
Even if I try to 'baby' it as much as I can. They have a very short
clutch throw, so I either lug, or burn out. I try to hover around
1500, but usually end up revving to about 2,000 rpm. I have smoother
shifts if I try to quickly do it, rather than baby it. (Like when I'm
trying to make a turn from a stop with traffic). I'm still not used to
mine, not sure if you ever will be with yours. It's a pain in the
butt, don't believe me, try driving a manual civic or hyundai,
everythings so smooth and sloppy, it feels like driving a go kart.
Nissan's have very unforgiving clutches.

3. Lugging and stalling the car is bad. You have an explosion in your
engine, and you're not letting the pressure release, so it ends up
banging the hell out of your piston and valves. It'll slowly eat them
up with it's burninating powers. Not good, but I've done it for the
past 40,000 miles on mine, and it still works.

4. Shift noise is probably fine. I'm sure you'd know if it was
horrible grinding. Just don't force the stick into a gear, there's a
point where it will easily slide into gear with one finger, try to aim
for that. You can force your car to shift quickly, and it will be much
harder to move the stick into position. This will eventually eat up
your synchronizers.

I'm sorry if these aren't 'definitive answers'. If you're really
concerned, go down to the dealership, pay them 50$ for a 'diagnosis'
and have them ride with you, and ask them 'is this bad for my car when
I do this?'.

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