Community Member Credit: Frank / motorvate.ca
When I would tell my friends that I had replaced my brake pads and brake shoes they were shocked. They would ask me “Why would you do that?”, “Do you know what you are doing?”. Some would tell me “I would never do that, what if you did something wrong? You should not touch with your brakes. Leave them for a mechanic” However, as you will soon see, changing your front brake pads are really quite simple. I will show a step by step pictorial, from when I changed my front brake pads and rotors on my 95 Maxima.
Raise the front wheels, support with jack stands, and remove the front wheel. Always work safe, and use proper jack stands that are in excellent working order. You life may depend on it.
Here is a close up of the caliper and rotor.
If you look in the “inspection window” of the caliper you can see how thick your pads are. Here you can only see the inner (shown on left side of photo), as the outer pad is hidden in the shadow.
This is a close up of the upper part of the caliper. Here you can clearly see the inner (left) pad, rotor, and the outer (right) pad. Notice the outer pad is quite thin, compared to the inner pad? More on this later.
Remove the 14mm bolt from the top of the caliper.
Remove the 14mm bolt from the bottom of the caliper.
Remove the caliper. It should slide off, with little force. Using a some wire, hang up the caliper from the spring perch, checking that the caliper is not hanging by the rubber brake hose. Right:
Here is the view of the caliper piston and piston seal.
The brake pads, shims, and upper and lower are shown here.
Remove the brake pads by sliding them out, with the shims. Then remove the thin metal clips that are on the top and bottom of the caliper. They are there to enable the brake pads to easily slide on them, and they also have clips that holds the pad, so they don’t rattle over bumps. The shims, and the clips are part of a “brake hardware kit” Nissan recommends that they are replaced when the pads are replaced, but I replace mine only when the the shims show moderate corrosion. (We use A LOT of salt in Canada during the winter)
With the brake pads, and upper/lower clips removed. NOTE: You can see the caliper resting on the rotor. This is an example of what not to do. If the caliper slips and falls, the brake hose will stop it from falling, but the hose will be strained, and it may leak. To prevent this, hang it up with some small wire from the front spring. Right:
Remove the two 17mm bolts that hold the “torque member” (hey, that is what Nissan calls it) Remove the torque member.
The rotor should slide right off the hub. If not use a 2×4 to tap it, until it is unstuck from the hub. Right:
With the rotor removed, you can see the hub. NOTE: the silver stuff on the hub is anti-seize compound. This should prevent the rotor from rusting to the hub.
At this point the brake pads, torque member, and rotor have been removed. It is now time to clean up the brake hardware, remove the old grease and re-grease the caliper locating pins. Click Front Brake Reconditioning, to continue.
So far, we have removed the front brake pads, shims, caliper, torque member, and rotor. It is now time to clean up the brake components, clips, shims, and re-grease the caliper sliding pins.
Scrape any loose rust of the area shown above. You want to make sure that clips fit all the way to the bottom. If not, your brake pads may get “hung up” on the clips, and this could lead to your brake pads dragging just a little bit, causing them to wear unevenly.
This is the brush that I like to use. It has stainless steel bristles and it removes any rust very fast. I purchased it at Princess Auto, for about $6.
To remove the pin that the caliper slides on as the brake pads wear, you can gently pull them out. If these stick in any way, the caliper will not be able to slide to (brakes on) are away (brakes off) from the from the rotor. This can lead to the brake pad dragging, and this causes the pad to wear very rapidly. In one case I saw a car with the rotor glowing red!
On the top of the picture is the upper pin (as located on the torque member), the other pin is the lower pin. You can see that the grease here is in fair condition.
Use the small wire brush to clean around the torque member where the brake pad clips, and rubber caliper pin boots are. Clean out all the old grease from where the caliper pin slides in the torque member. Right:
I turn the caliper pin boots inside out to remove all of the old grease. The grease shown here is not in very good shape.
Before (right) and after (left) pictures of the clips during cleaning.
A close up of the freshly cleaned pad clip.
Place a small amount of grease (high temperature synthetic) on the pin, and in the hole. Push in the pin all the way to expel excess grease. When you pull the pin out, if it is a little stuck, then you have too much grease. Pull out the pin, and wipe off some grease and try again. If you have too much grease, air can not get in behind the pin as you try to pull it out and it is a little “hydro locked” You want these pins to slide very easy.
Place a little grease (again, high temperature synthetic) in the boot, place the boot over the pin, and put the pin in the torque member. Push the pin in all the way, and lift the boot so that any trapped air, or excessive grease can escape. Check again to make sure the pins slide easy.
Brake pad shim, with a little corrosion.
Close up of the corrosion. The next time I will purchase the brake hardware kit, and replace the shims. I don’t want anything that can compress slightly under hard braking between my caliper, and my brake pads. (like corrosion)
At this point the brake pads, torque member, and rotor have been removed. The caliper sliding pins have been re-greased, the torque member clip attachment area has been scraped and cleaned, as well as the brake hardware (shims & clips) have been cleaned. The caliper pins, rubber boots, and the torque member items have all been assembled. Click on Front Brake Assembly to continue.
Front Brakes – Assembly Update So far, we have removed the front brake pads, shims, caliper, torque member, and rotor. We have also cleaned up the brake components, clips, shims, and re-grease the caliper sliding pins.
Now it is time to assemble.
You MUST remove the protective coating that are on the new rotors. It is like a thin coating of thick grease. I like to use isopropanol alcohol as it cuts the grease quickly, and dries without any residue. Keep turning the rag until it wipes clean. Do not use gasoline as a cleaner, it is just too flammable.
Place the cleaned rotor on the hub. I put a little dab anti-seize on the outside edge of the hub. This is to ensure that I won’t have any problems getting the rotor off down the road. Notice the caliper is resting on the rotor’s dust shield. It really should be hanging up to ensure the brake hose does not get tugged, and develop a leak. Do as I say, not as I do 😉
I like to use a little anti-seize compound to make disassembly easier down the road. These are the 17mm bolts that hold the torque member.
Bolt on the torque member, attach the pad clips. Note: The single wheel lug is to hold the rotor flat against the hub.
Slide in the brake pads. Make sure your hands are free of grease and oil.
Put on the pad shims
Open the cap to your master cylinder to let the air out, as we push back the caliper piston. You should not remove it, just untwist it. Brake fluid likes to absorb moisture, and this can cause corrosion and a lower boiling point of the brake fluid. Right:
Carefully and very slowly push the piston back. Notice that the C-clamp is strait. If the clamp is crooked, you may cock the piston in the caliper. It does not take a lot of pressure to push it back. If you need a lot of force to push it back, your piston may be cocked sideways, or partly seized.
The piston is fully pushed in.
You can see how much the brake fluid level rises for just one side. Never let anyone at a “Rapid Lube” type place “top up” your brake fluid. It will just overflow the master cylinder when the next brake job is done.
Slide on the caliper, and tighten the bolts
Make sure the caliper pins are positioned as shown. The pins have a flat spot, and the casting of the caliper has a “bump”. Make the pin is sitting flat, and not on the raised part of the caliper.
Remove the wheel lug, and bolt on the tires. Time for a test drive.
Here is why I had to do my brakes. The outboard pad on the driver’s side was worn down to the “noise maker” I think this was due to too much grease (and not enough air) in the caliper pins, which would hold the pad against the rotor just a little. Over time it wore the pad down. All other pads wore the same. My fault, but you get to learn from my mistakes.
Here is what happens to your rotor when you use them a lot. You are looking at thermal stress cracks on my old rotors. This is caused by the rapid increase in temperature under hard braking. Over time the disk can fracture. I was not going to wait for that, so I spent $65 per rotor at Canadian Tire. (Nissan rotors are $90)