I bought a totaled Infiniti G35 coupe from a coworker nearly a month ago. The Laser Red 3-series-fighter was wounded badly, but at first glance appeared easily fixable. Naturally, as I started tearing into the car with a friend, we discovered the front left frame rail had been pushed over in the crash. Nothing would line up.
After some phone calls, I dropped the car off at a friend’s friend’s body shop and waited to hear just how badly it was bent.
“Never bring me a car this bent up again” was the text that Jeremiah received from his body shop buddy. It was, apparently, a more involved job than everyone had thought. Regardless, the team was able to pull the car back to square in record time.
Replacing the Infiniti G35’s Suspension Knee
Once I picked the G35 back up from the body shop, I got to work on the front left suspension. The front left wheel had been shoved back in the wheel well and would roll, but not well. Turning was nearly impossible.
Figuring I wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until I removed the whole suspension, I ordered a replacement everything from eBay Motors. There are countless individuals and companies using eBay Motors to part out vehicles. My friend Jeremiah, an Infiniti Master Tech, had told me Infiniti refers to each corner of the suspension as a “knee.” I was able to use that search term and purchase an entire front left suspension knee for about $200. The knee included upper and lower control arms, the radius arm, and the strut assembly.
The suspension knee came from another 2006 G35 with similar mileage – about 120,000 – that had been wrecked in the rear. It arrived to my apartment secured to a small wood pallet, which undoubtedly got some strange looks from neighbors passing in the hallway until I moved it inside my unit.
Removing the knee was pretty simple, as many of the parts can stay assembled and allow the knee to be removed as a unit. I removed the underbody brace (about seven bolts) and the bolts holding the control arms, strut and radius arm to the car (about eight bolts). I also disconnected the front sway bar and removed the brake assembly from the hub. The whole knee was able to be removed with little fuss after that.
Evaluating the Damage and Reassembling
Looking at the old and new suspension knees side-by-side, it was immediately apparent why the front left wheel was positioned improperly in the wheel well. The lower control arm and radius arm had both bent in the impact.
These suspension arms are traditionally designed to give way before other parts, regardless of the vehicle make or model, as it’s cheaper to replace a few arms than it is a subframe or unibody mounting points.
Reassembly with the new knee was, as they say, the reverse of removal. After tightening every bolt and checking them twice, I reinstalled the wheel. It was centered again!
With the new suspension installed, my friend Zach and I tackled the remaining body work. We did our best to align the new fender, bumper and hood. I was waiting on a new hood latch to arrive, so I held the hood down temporarily with a ratchet strap.
My First Drive of the Totaled Infiniti G35
Prior to this point, I’d driven the totaled Infiniti G35 coupe about 500 feet between driveways and my trailer. With the whole car buttoned up – ratchet strap and poor wheel alignment be damned – I drove the G35 about eight miles home from Zach’s place. I stuck to side roads and never exceeded 35 mph, but it was a victory nonetheless.
The new hood latch arrived a day or two later and I installed it with ease. Jeremiah helped me get the hood, latch, fender and bumper all aligned properly, then took the car to his dealership’s service center for an alignment. I’ve now put about 50 miles on the G35 and everything seems normal enough.
Off to the Paint Booth
One of the final steps in this 2006 Infiniti G35’s rebuild is to get the junkyard body panels painted. They came from a black car and my “Crashfiniti” is Laser Red. This presents difficulty in that red can be a hard color to match, doubly so when the original paint has had 14 years to fade differently on every panel.
I’m heading west on Saturday with the G35, with the Maaco of Winchester, VA in the car’s old, DVD-based navigation system. Maaco of Winchester repainted my E36 M3 racecar last summer, changing it from Cosmos Black to Plum Crazy. They’ll be correcting some minor dents and dings around the rest of the G35 and repainting the entire car with a fresh coat of Infiniti’s Laser Red.
As we look toward the 2020 NASA racing season, I’m eager to wrap up this G35 project and get back behind the wheel of the very car Infiniti targeted with their G35, the BMW 3-series. Stay tuned for one more update on the Crashfiniti after it comes back from paint!