DIY: Brake Change on a Nissan Pathfinder

by Josh Baum

Brake pads will wear out eventually, and if they're not replaced when they become well-worn, they can damage rotors and diminish braking capability, causing potentially dangerous conditions. Fortunately, changing brake pads even on the heavy Nissan Pathfinder is a relatively simple task provided you have the right equipment. Doing this job yourself may save you well over $100 in labor costs.


Make sure you have all the tools and equipment necessary for the entire job before you begin. Safely replacing the Pathfinder's brake pads requires a floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, a tire iron, a hex wrench set, twine, a flat-head screwdriver, a C-clamp and four pairs of replacement brake pads designed to fit your model year of the Pathfinder.

Accessing the Brakes

Park the car on a flat surface, where you have plenty of room to work, then turn the engine off. Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels, then slide a floor jack under a solid part of the front end suspension or under the front axle. Gently crank the jack handle and raise the front end of the car until it's high enough for you to slide two jack stands under the front axle, one on each side of the car. With the vehicle supported on the jack stands, release the pressure on the jack and pull it away. Next, use a tire iron to remove all of the lug nuts holding on the front wheels, then remove the wheels themselves.

Changing the Front Brakes

Replace the pads one wheel at a time. Start by removing the two bolts on the outside of the brake caliper, which is the bulky component bolted to the side of the rotor. With these bolts removed, you'll be able to lift the caliper off of the caliper mount, but be careful to not let the caliper dangle by the fragile brake line. Instead, tie it to the undercarriage with twine so there is no stress on the line. Then you can pull both of the old brake pads out of the caliper mount; the pads are seated in slots on the mount, and if they don't come out easily, use a flat-head screwdriver to pry them away from the rotor so that they can be lifted out by hand. Once the old pads are out, slide two new pads in their place. Untie the caliper and, while supporting it, tighten a C-clamp around the large piston in the center in such a way that you can depress the piston with the clamp. Keep tightening the clamp until the piston is fully depressed, then loosen and remove the clamp. Finally, reinstall the caliper on top of the caliper mount using the original retention bolts, then replace the wheels and tighten down their lug nuts. Repeat this process on the other front brakes immediately after.

Changing the Rear Brakes

Slide the jack back under a solid part of the front suspension and jack it up so that the Pathfinder is no longer supported by the jack stands. Remove the jack stands and lower the Pathfinder gently to the floor. Move the wheel chocks from the rear wheels to the front wheels and complete the entire brake-changing process on the two rear sets of brakes.

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