How To Install Paddle Shifters On Your Nissan/ Infiniti:
This mod should be possible on all g35 coupes & sedans, as well as all 03+ 350z’s & the Infiniti FX. It may also be possible on other models too, but these are the ones I have looked at & researched.
The paddle shifters that Nissan has added to their 07+ lineup are the coolest thing, being able to shift manually is a performance enhancement for several reasons, & downshifting is a good technique to avoid brake fade during high load driving. Doing this with the shifter is more hassle than it’s worth, & most will rarely bother to “play” with it after trying it a few times, but, when this is transferred to finger tip shifting, it takes on a whole new usefulness, & well, it actually makes shifting a pleasure, it can actually make driving more fun. I almost never used my shifter in the past, but now, with paddles, I use manual mode around 50% of the time & it makes my FX feel much more performance oriented. It also sounds more aggressive.
You’ll find your own reason to love paddle shifters I’m sure, all you need now is to figure out how to install them. The install is divided into 3 main parts,
3)and the installation.
This is a relatively easy project, but it is altering your baby, & if you don’t feel comfortable with performing any of the following steps then please don’t, if installed correctly the paddle shifters are perfectly safe for your baby, & is within factory design in every way, but if butchered can cause all kinds of headaches, only you can judge your abilities & skill level & ensure providing the proper supplies & tools to do this job. If you’re not going to take the time to do this right then please don’t bother trying to do it at all.
OK, that said, the tools needed for this job can vary depending on the mounting method you use for the paddles themselves. basic tools to build this includes a dremel or something to cut & trim the necissary plastic, a soldering iron to solder up the relays & switches, a glue gun, wire strippers , a file, mainly basic hand tools. a plastic welder or a soldering gun or high wattage soldering iron can be used for this too.
I will show detailed instructions with photos & stuff for an install on an Infiniti FX. The FX is the tightest of all installs from what I see. I have not done any paddle retrofits in any other vehicle but the FX, but the majority of the FX install will apply to the other cars. I have installed these paddles in an 07 G35 sedan, & the 07 up G's at least, are all prewired & set up to accept these easy as 123 bolt in.
Your biggest challenge with this paddle install is going to be the actual mounting the shifters. In the FX you’ll need to cut off the extra plastic on the shifters that is normally used for the mounting of the paddles, there is barely enough room in the stock housing cover for these paddle switches, & only when trimmed of all excess plastic. I have been told by a g35driver.com member that the paddles can fit in the g35 without cutting away all of the mounting tabs on the shifters, in fact I have been told that there is actually enough room in the housing to use a bracket to mount the shifters to the column. I have looked at a 350Z column & it looks to have even more room than the G’s even.
The FX does not provide anywhere near this kind of room, so I would think that the G’s & the Z’s will have enough room for you to devise a mounting scheme, if & when I do one I will then be able to add what I winded up doing in this guide, but for now you will have to use my info as a general guide & figure out what the best mounting solution is for yourself. Weather you drill & use metal brackets, or weld plastic or epoxy them, in the end as long as you get them rigid & strongly mounted, & in the right position they will work.
I highly recommend removing the switch housing/ carrier assembly from the car for this fabrication. It may be possible to do this “in the car”, but I don’t recommend it, you want to be able to make your mounts fine & positioned correctly, & you don’t want to get any plastic shrapnel in the column bearings, so cutting any plastic while installed in the car is just not a good idea.
You need to remove the column cover & the air bag & the steering wheel to remove the switch holder assembly. After the steering wheel is off, remove the screws holding the carrier down & unplug it & it just slides off. With the switch holder on a bench, you can reinsert the turn signal stalk & the wiper stalk, these along with the column cover will be your guide into where to position the paddles. On the FX you need to shave off the plastic shown on the switch carrier assembly. You will need to tuck the paddle switches in tight into these recesses or the cover will not fit back on. Everything I’ve seen so far leads me to believe this isn’t so much the case with the other cars, use the cover as your guide to how wide the paddle switches can be mounted & still fit.
Prepairing the paddles for the FX:
ok, these shots show how much trimming of the paddles is necissary on the fx, basicly you need to cut off all excess plastic & mounts...
as far as the connectors, I just cut the housing around the terminals & solder directly to the terminals, then cover with epoxy... if you wish to try & source these connectors then more power to you, but there not easy at all to get, & this does the job perfectly... once wires are extended off of the shifters a quick disconnect plug can be used further down the connection for servicability...
once you have your paddles trimmed of all excess plastic you then need to cut some out of the carrier assembly for the paddles to fit into.. you need these to tuck in real tight to be able to fit under the stock cover, start by trimming & fitting, in the end you will cut into the hole for the phillips screw that mounts the carier, but don't worry, there is still going to be enough room to fit a screwdriver in the hole to mount it up later
this is the bottom of the carrier stock:
and this is where you need to start cutting:
this is how the paddles need to fit into the carrier, this is a very tight fit, keep trimming until you can get them to tuck in tight, there is no glueing or mounting just yet, this is just prepairing it to accept the paddles...
and the final fit. I try to make these wind up being tight enough to fit with just a little bit of resistance, if you make them too loose it is a bit harder to get the perfect position when the time comes for permanent mounting, a tighter fit helps hold it all togeather & hold it in place for you a bit...
once you have the paddles & carrier prepped, you then need to start trimming the cover, you can't permanently mount anything until you fit everything togeather, this is also where it helps for the paddles to be a tighter fit to the carrier, to help hold it all in place for test fitting... start with a single slit down to the opening area, start out with your hole undersized & work it open little by little, till you have enough clearance all around, you can then dress this hole & cut with a file & sandpaper to make it look good
you will also need to do some trimming of the cover behind the paddles too for the cover to fit as shown..
note that here I have found something to use as a spacer that gives me the perfect distance for these paddles to the turn & wiper stalks, you want enough room that you can run your fingers behind the paddles while you drive without interfearance with the stalks to your fingers, this roll of teflon thread tape winded up being the perfect size & helps to ensure both sides are exactly the same:
once you think you have everything set up right & it all fits togeather, either weld or glue a little to hold them in place, & recheck your fit. after these are tacked in place & checked for alignment & everything is good, I then locked these down solid with epoxy, to use epoxy on plastic you want to rough it up real good & press the epoxy into the plastic well so it has good adheision, if this is done right these paddles will not move or break loose no matter how much you abuse them... my first set was done with plastic welding only, & it's strong enough, but I can still get in there & alter the position if I melt all the welds again, but since I now have the perfect position this isn't necissary
rough it up good:
this is the epoxy I used. it's actually not even specified as a plastic epoxy really, but I find it does a better job than even most specific plastic epoxies:
and locked down, these are permanent now...
final clearance enough to pass your fingers behind the paddles:
You’ll want your final paddle position to be enough clearance for the light & wiper stalks that you can pull them all the way forward for high beam or washer spray, & not touch the paddles. You don’t want them much further forward than necessary though, as clearance to the wheel is another concern. With everything out & on the bench, you can lay the steering wheel over the switch carrier & check clearances.
Take your time & make both paddles straight & even, & make sure all your clearances are good. On the FX I actually “weld” the paddle switch onto the switch carrier. Plastic welding is basically melting the 2 plastics together, there are some nice fancy plastic welders available, but in a pinch a good hot soldering iron can do the job too. For more info on plastic welding go to urethanesupplycorp.com You can also epoxy the paddles in place if you feel more comfortable with that, I suppose even hot glue gun could be used, although I don’t think that would be the best way to really make it as strong as it could be. A glue gun could be useful to tack the paddle switches in place enough to hold them for then applying epoxy too, I think the best method though is plastic welding for plastic/ plastic bonding.
You will need to cut your column cover with slots so you can slide it over the whole thing while determining the final switch position too, you should be able to eyeball where the paddles line up to the cover, cut less than you need & check fit, keep trimming until it fits, but keep checking so you don’t wind up cutting too much of a gapping opening too, in the end if you do screw up your cover, at least your chopped up cover can now be a guide for you to know exactly how you’ll need to cut a new cover, they average around $50 or so new from Nissan/ Infiniti for the ones I checked. If your careful & take your time you should be able to get your cuts decent enough that your original cover will do the job & you won’t need to buy a new cover at all.
When your rough cut is pretty close you can finish off you edges with a file & then sandpaper, you should be able to get good looking cuts if you take your time, you can actually move up to a rally fine sandpaper & then actually polish the edge of the cut for a real “came that way” look. once you have your cuts slide the cover over the housing on the bench & screw it together to check fit, then note the open area above the paddles that needs to be filled in these slots, you can cut a piece of rubber & glue it on one side to make a flap, then, when you slide the cover on it’ll look perfectly factory.
Once you have your paddles mounted you should solder wires on to the terminals of the paddle switches, then seal these terminals to insulate them too, epoxy or hot glue is fine for this, even silicone could work if you don’t mind the waiting time for curing. You can then mount your switch carrier to the column again & reinstall the steering wheel & airbag, woh, the hardest part is over, you’re almost there, sit there for a few minutes clicking the paddles up & down while making vroom vroom sounds, you’ll be finger shifting in no time, now comes the wiring
If your car has the joystick on the side of the column for tilt telescopic, you would have had to remove it from its hole in the column cover just to fit the paddles in there, now you’ll need to remount the joystick elsewhere… the easiest thing to do is just move it down to the lower cover, again, check your harness reach & clearance behind the cover, note the best place to make a new hole to put this switch in. A little hot glue behind it will insure a tight fit if you cut your hole nice.
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