How to Replace the Brake Pads on Nissan Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Nissan car offered two brake configuration options on its Nissan car. While all Nissan car were equipped with front disc brakes, buyers could also choose rear disc brakes. The standard brake system on the vehicle is drum-type rear brakes. Disc brakes have brake pads that provide friction and wear down, requiring the replacement of worn pads. If you hear a squealing sound when you depress the brake pedal, it is time to change the brake pads. The procedure differs slightly between the front and rear brakes, and will take about an hour per axle.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Brake Pads on a 2000 Nissan Altima

Front brakes

Park the Altima on a level surface and turn off the ignition. Open and secure the hood. Remove the master cylinder reservoir cap, located on the driver's side, near the firewall. It has a clear body and a round, screw-off cap.

Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels with the lug wrench. Raise the front of the car with the automotive jack and support both sides with a jack stand. Finish removing the lug nuts and remove both front wheels.

Clean the entire brake assembly with brake cleaner. The dust created by deteriorating pads is dangerous. The brake cleaner will stabilize the dust and minimize its risk. Place a drip pan under the brake assembly to catch the draining brake cleaner.

Use a socket wrench to remove the lower pin bolt from the brake caliper assembly. The bolt head is on the inner side of the caliper.

Rotate the caliper up and off the rotor, and secure it in place with a piece of wire or string.

Remove the metal clips that hold the brake pads in place. The clips are pieces of spring steel that press the pads to the caliper. Remove the pads and the shims.

Inspect the rotor for damage. If the pads are worn completely down to the metal, you will likely see grooves etched in the rotor. If this damage is present, you need to have the rotor repaired by a machine shop or replace the rotor.

Insert the new shims and pads, and replace the pad retainers. If you have forgotten how they are arranged, compare the assembly with the assembly on the opposite side.

Rotate the caliper back down into place. Insert the lower pin bolt and use a torque wrench to tighten it to between 16 feet per pound and 23 feet per pound of torque.

Repeat the procedure on the opposite brake assembly.

Replace both wheels and lug nuts. Lower the vehicle, and tighten the lug nuts. Check the master cylinder to ensure the brake fluid reaches the "Full" mark. If not, add brake fluid as specified by your owner's manual. Close the master cylinder cap.

Rear Brakes (if equipped)

Open the master cylinder cap.

Loosen the lug nuts on both rear wheels with the lug wrench. Raise the rear of the car and support both sides with a jack stand. Finish removing the lug nuts and remove both rear wheels.

Clean the entire brake assembly with brake cleaner. The dust created by deteriorating pads is dangerous and the brake cleaner will stabilize the dust, and minimize its risk. Place a drip pan under the brake assembly to catch the draining brake cleaner.

Remove the brake cable lock spring with a small flat-head screwdriver or a pair of needle nose pliers. This is the wire retainer that holds the parking brake cable in its bracket. Lift the cable up, out of its bracket to remove it.

Remove the lower pin bolt with a socket wrench.

Rotate the caliper up, off the rotor and secure it in place with a piece of wire or string.

Remove the metal clips that hold the brake pads in place. The clips are pieces of spring steel that press the pads to the caliper. Remove the pads and the shims.

Inspect the rotor for damage. If the pads were worn completely down to the metal, you will likely see grooves etched in the rotor. If this damage is present, you need to have the rotor repaired by a machine shop or replace the rotor.

Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to turn the piston clockwise to screw it back into the caliper. Grasp the piston by the notches on its face. When you finish, the four piston notches should align with the caliper body so that two notches are in line with the top and bottom of the caliper, and two notches are in line with the left and right of the caliper. This step provides room to install the new pads, which are thicker than the ones you removed.

Insert the new shims and pads, and replace the pad retainers. If you have forgotten how they are arranged, compare the assembly with the assembly on the opposite side.

Rotate the caliper back down into place. Insert the lower pin bolt, and use a torque wrench to tighten it to between 13 feet per pound and 17 feet per pound of torque. Insert the brake cable back into its bracket, and snap the spring back into place.

Repeat the procedure on the opposite side.

Replace both wheels and lug nuts. Lower the vehicle, and tighten the lug nuts. Check the master cylinder to ensure the brake fluid reaches the "Full" mark. If not, add brake fluid as specified by your owner's manual. Close the master cylinder cap.

Items you will need

  • Automotive jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Brake cleaner

  • Drip pan

  • Socket set

  • Piece of wire or string

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Needle-nose pliers

 How to Replace the Brake Pads on a 2005 Nissan Altima

Front

Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels with a lug nut wrench. Raise the front of the vehicle with a jack and support the front wheels with jack stands. Completely remove the lug nuts then the front wheels.

Spray the entire brake assembly and surrounding parts with liberal amounts of brake cleaner. Place a pan below the area to catch the cleaner.

Open the cap on the master cylinder. This is the container in the engine compartment where you add brake fluid. Opening the cap allows pressure to be released when you depress the caliper cylinders.

Remove the lower pin bolt. You will access this from the interior side of the brake caliper; turn it counterclockwise to remove it. This is what holds the caliper in place on the rotor.

Rotate the caliper up and off the rotor, then secure it in place with a piece of wire or string.

Remove the inner and outer pads, shims and shim covers. Pay attention to their placement for reinstallation later.

Apply anti-squeak grease to the back of the new pads, the shim and the shim cover, then attach the shim and the shim cover. The grease should come with the new pads. If not, ask for it at the auto parts store.

Place the pads into the caliper, ensuring they are fully secured with the spring clips. Make sure you insert the top pad retainers into the wire loop on the wear indicator.

Rotate the caliper back down onto the rotor and replace the lower pin bolt. Tighten it to 16 foot-pounds of torque. Repeat the procedure on the opposite side.

Check the fluid level in the master cylinder. If any was lost during the procedure, replace it with new fluid. Remount the wheel with its lug nuts then lower the car. Tighten the lug nuts completely with the lug nut wrench. Drive the car both forward and in reverse, frequently applying the brakes. This will adjust the brakes to the proper distance from the rotors.

Rear

Loosen the lug nuts on both rear wheels with the lug nut wrench. Raise the rear of the vehicle and support the rear wheels with jack stands. Completely remove the lug nuts and rear wheels.

Spray the entire brake assembly and surrounding parts with liberal amounts of brake cleaner. Place a pan below the assembly to catch the cleaner.

Open the cap on the master cylinder. This allows pressure to be released when you depress the caliper cylinders.

Remove the bottom sliding pin bolt. Access the bolt from the interior side of the caliper and use a socket to turn it counterclockwise.

Rotate the caliper up and off the rotor. Secure it in place with a piece of wire or string.

Remove the inner and outer brake pads, retainers and shims. Apply anti-squeak grease to the back of the new pads, the shim and the shim cover, then attach the shim and the shim cover. Place the new pads into the caliper, ensuring that the clips are fully seated and the pads are flush against the caliper.

Rotate the caliper back into place and replace the bottom sliding pin bolt. Tighten it to 25 foot-pounds of torque. Repeat the procedure on the opposite side.

Remount the wheels with the lug nuts. Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts with the lug nut wrench. Check the fluid level in the master cylinder and add fluid if it is low. Drive the car forward and in reverse, frequently pressing the brakes to ensure they are properly adjusted.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Jack stand

  • Brake cleaner

  • Drain pan

  • Socket set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Brake Pads on a 2006 Nissan Altima

Park the Altima on level ground and open the hood. Remove the master cylinder cap located near the firewall on the right side of the engine compartment. Check the level of fluid in the reservoir. If it is near the top of the container, remove half of the brake fluid with a siphon kit or baster. Place a shop rag over the master cylinder opening.

Break loose the lug nuts on the wheels corresponding to the brake pads you will be replacing. Use a lug wrench or 17 mm socket and breaker bar to loosen the lugs.

Lift the Nissan with the jack and place a jack stand beneath the axle of the wheel you are working on. Lower the Altima onto the jack stand and remove the lug nuts. Take the wheel/tire off of the wheel bolts.

Remove the caliper bolts at the top and bottom of the back side of the caliper using a 13 mm wrench. For the front brakes, turn the rotor toward the opposite side of the vehicle to allow easier access to the caliper bolts.

Lift the caliper from the caliper mount that straddles the brake rotor. Rest the front brake caliper on top of the steering arm. Use a bungee cord wrapped around the upper brake assembly to suspend the rear brake calipers while you remove the brake pads. Do not allow the calipers to hang by the brake line.

Depress the clips on the edges of the brake pads to remove them from the caliper mount. Inspect the rotor's surface. Replace the rotor if the surface is badly scored or warped.

Apply a thin layer of anti-seize or anti-squeal brake grease to the backs of the new brake pads. Place the new brake pads into the slots on the caliper mount and press them into place, engaging the built-in retaining clips.

Depress the caliper piston(s) into the side of the caliper with a C-clamp.

Place a worn brake pad against the two caliper pistons on the front brake calipers. Place the C-clamp around the worn pad and the back of the caliper. Screw the clamp to squeeze the pistons into the side of the caliper. Remove the clamp once the pistons are inside the caliper.

Place the brake caliper piston tool into the slots on the rear caliper piston, and screw the rear piston into the side of the caliper.

Return the caliper over the caliper mount with new brake pads installed. Apply brake grease to the caliper bolts, and screw them in using the 13 mm wrench.

Turn the front rotors to the neutral position, and replace the wheels onto the wheel bolts. Screw on the lug nuts by hand.

Lift the vehicle and remove the jack stands. Lower the Nissan's tires to the ground, and tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench or socket and breaker bar. Return to the master cylinder.

Repeat the process for each set of brake pads you need to replace, keeping in mind the adjustments provided for replacing rear brake pads and front pads.

Place a funnel into the opening of the master cylinder reservoir. Fill the container with brake fluid. Replace the master cylinder cap and close the Altima's hood.

Items you will need

  • Baster or siphon

  • Lug wrench or 17 mm socket and ratchet

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 13 mm wrench

  • Bungee cord

  • Brake pads

  • Brake grease

  • C-clamp

  • Brake caliper tool

  • Funnel

  • Brake fluid

 How to Replace the Brake Pads on a Nissan 240SX

Park the Nissan in an area that will allow you to work on both sides of the vehicle. Apply the emergency (or parking) brake and place tire blocks behind the tires opposite the end of the vehicle you will be working on first.

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheels with a 21 mm socket. Use a breaker bar or pneumatic wrench to loosen the lugs.

Lift the vehicle with a jack and place one or more jack stands beneath the frame of the Nissan, near the wheel.

Remove the lug nuts and take the tires off the wheel bolts.

Remove the two caliper bolts on the wheel-well side of the brake caliper. Use a 15 mm wrench or socket and ratchet.

Pull the caliper straight up and away from the rotor. Place the caliper on top of the rotor.

Slide the two brake pads from the caliper bridge. The slots on the bridge allow the pads to slide toward and away from the rotor.

Place the vise-grip pliers over the caliper piston and the back side of the caliper. Squeeze the piston into the side of the caliper.

Slide the new brake pads into the the slots of the caliper bridge, on either side of the rotor.

Place the caliper over the brake pads and the caliper bridge. Replace the two caliper bolts and tighten them with the 15 mm socket and ratchet.

Place the tire back onto the wheel bolts of the Nissan and screw on the lug nuts by hand. Repeat the process for the other brakes.

Lift the 240SX and remove the jack stand(s). Lower the vehicle to the ground and use the 21 mm socket and breaker bar to tighten the lug nuts.

Items you will need

  • 21 mm socket and breaker bar

  • 15 mm socket and ratchet

  • Brake pads

  • Vise-grip pliers

 How to Change the Brake Pads on a 1999 Nissan Altima

Park the Altima on a flat surface--in the driveway or on the street away from the curb to allow you room on both sides of the vehicle to work. Turn off the engine and pull the hood release lever. Move to the front of the vehicle.

Lift the hood and remove the master cylinder cap. The master cylinder contains the brake fluid. The cap is located in the back of the engine compartment, on the right side of the Nissan's engine.

Siphon roughly one-third of the brake fluid from the reservoir with a poultry baster or syringe.

Place the master cylinder cap loosely over the container to keep debris from contaminating the fluid while still relieving the pressure in the container (which will aid in depressing the caliper pistons later).

Loosen the lug nuts on all four wheels with the lug wrench. If you are only changing one set of brake pads, loosen the lug nuts on the wheel corresponding to the worn pads and the wheel on the opposite side of the Altima.

Lift the vehicle with the lifting jack and place jack stands beneath the axles for support.

Remove the lug nuts and take the wheels off.

Remove the two caliper slide pins with a 12 mm socket wrench.

Lift the caliper from the caliper bridge and rest it on top of the rotor or suspend it from the upper steering arm with a bungee cord.

Squeeze the spring clips at the top of each brake pad and pull them from the caliper bridge. Pull each brake pad straight away from the rotor once the spring clips have been depressed.

Inspect the brake rotor and caliper bridge. Replace the rotor if it is damaged or has been severely scored by the brake pad wear indicators.

Place the C-clamp onto the caliper piston and the back side of the caliper, if you are working on the front brakes. (For rear brakes, skip to Step 13). Squeeze the piston into the side of the caliper to allow for the thicker brake pads you will be installing. Remove the clamp once the piston is fully depressed within the caliper. Continue to Step 14.

Place the caliper piston reset tool onto the caliper, if you are working on the rear brakes. Twist the handle of the tool to force the caliper piston inside the rear brake caliper. Remove the tool by twisting the handle counterclockwise three full turns once the rear piston is recessed within the caliper's side.

Apply brake grease to the back sides of the new brake pads.

Slide the new pads into the slots of the caliper bridge. Push each pad into the slot until the spring clips are engaged, securing the brake pad.

Return the caliper over the brake pads and caliper bridge. Screw in the caliper slide pins and tighten them with the 12 mm socket wrench.

Return the wheels onto the Altima's wheel bolts and screw on the lug nuts.

Lift the vehicle and remove the jack stands. Lower the Nissan's tires to the ground and tighten the lugs with the lug wrench.

Start the engine and press the brake pedal repeatedly, stopping once the pedal response normalizes, signaling that the caliper pistons have been reset. Move to the engine compartment.

Remove the master cylinder cap and place a funnel into the Altima's master cylinder reservoir. Pour brake fluid into the container until it is full.

Remove the funnel and secure the cap. Close the Altima's hood.

Items you will need

  • Syringe or poultry baster

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 12 mm wrench

  • C-clamp

  • Piston reset tool

  • Brake pads

  • Brake grease

  • Funnel

  • Brake fluid