How to Change the Rear Brakes on a Nissan Altima

by Rex MolderUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Two jack stands

  • Brake cleaner

  • Rags

  • Drip pan or newspapers

  • Piece of wire or string

  • Large C-clamp

  • Torque wrench

  • Brake fluid

Your Nissan Altima automobile comes standard with disc brakes on the front and rear wheels. Disc brakes use friction, produced by two pads being forced against a flat rotor, to cause the vehicle to stop. The friction causes the pads to slowly wear, and, eventually, you will need to replace them. If you drive aggressively in stop-and-go traffic, you will need to change the pads more frequently. Plan to spend approximately an hour replacing the rear brake pads.

Open the hood, and remove the cap from the brake master cylinder, located on the driver's side, near the firewall. Cover the open cylinder with a clean rag. Stuff old rags around and under the cylinder, to catch any brake fluid that overflows.

Loosen the lug nuts on all the rear wheel lugs. Raise the rear of the car, and support it with a jack stand on each side. Remove the lug nuts and both rear wheels.

Place a drip pan or newspapers below the brake assembly. Spray the entire front brake assembly with a liberal amount of brake cleaner, and allow the parts to dry.

Use a socket to remove the upper sliding pin bolt from the caliper. Rotate the caliper downward and out of the torque member. Use a piece of wire to support the caliber, so the brake line is not stretched.

Remove the inner and out pads, pad retainers and shims from the torque member.

Apply a coat of Molokyte grease to the back to the new pads, and attach the shims to the backs of the pads. Place another coat of grease on the back of the shims and on the inside of the retainers. A small tube of Molykyte grease should come with your new pads.

Insert the two inner and two outer pad retainers into the torque member, ensuring they are seated all the way against the back.

Insert the inner and outer pads and shims.

Press the caliper piston back into its cylinder, by attaching a large C-clamp and tightening it. This is necessary because the new pads will be considerably thicker than the old pads.

Rotate the caliper back upward, into the torque member. Replace the upper sliding pin bolt, and use a torque wrench to tighten it to 32 ft-lbs. of torque.

Repeat Step 3 through Step 10 on the opposite side.

Replace the wheels and the lug nuts. Lower the vehicle, and tighten the lug nuts. Check the master cylinder, to ensure it is still full. If fluid leaked when you depressed the piston, add new brake fluid to reach the "Full" mark. Clean any spillage, and replace the cap. Be sure to remove all rags from the engine compartment.

Take the vehicle for a drive on a straight road with minimum traffic. Accelerate to about 30 mph, and rapidly slow the car to the point just before stopping. Repeat this at least two more times. The purpose is to make sure the pads are fully seated and to smooth out any rough spots on the new pads.


Make sure the grease from the pads does not contact the surface of the pads or the rotors. If this happens, thoroughly clean the parts with brake cleaner.


Brake fluid rapidly absorbs water once the container is open. Use fresh fluid to fill the master cylinder. Brake fluid will damage paint. Clean any fluid off the paint, immediately, with water and rags.

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