July 16

Pawlik Automotive Repair of the Week Nissan Pathfinder Brake Repair

Auto Repair, Nissan


Today’s featured service is brake repairs performed on a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder that was brought to us by a client from the Marpole neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Brake repairs are a frequent service at our shop. Working on Nissan Pathfinders are also a frequent serviced vehicle at our shop. What was unique about this service was the severity of the wear on the front brakes. Our client had brought the vehicle to us at the last possible moment before complete brake failure.

These brakes were so badly worn that the right inboard brake pad had been ground very thin and the pad had slipped out of it’s mounting. The brake caliper pistons were now rubbing against the rotor when the brakes were applied. The subsequent noise was hideous.

How long these brakes were grinding is hard to say but I would imagine it had been quite a long time.

Here is a view of the caliper pistons, severely damaged by rubbing against an already damaged brake rotor. The red arrows point towards the caliper pistons, note the metal filings. The yellow arrow points to the caliper dust boot. This is torn open and will allow water to get into the caliper and seize the piston.

Repairs to these brakes required new brake pads, rotors & calipers. These vehicles feature a captive rotor and that requires the front wheel hub to be removed to facilitate replacement of the rotor. When the hub is removed the wheel bearings are cleaned and repacked.

At Pawlik Automotive we have always taken extra time to thoroughly clean the wheel bearings and hubs before repacking them. This is something that is not done at many other shops. They opt to save time by squeezing out old grease and displacing it with new grease. That works OK but still leaves dirty old grease behind. It’s not the very best way to go. Doing a proper thorough clean ensures that the bearings will last as long as possible.

Here is a photo of 3 brake rotors: on the left lower we have a very rusty inner brake rotor, this was off the left front. This occurs from excessive road salt, sticky brake calipers or just sometimes old age. It is a very poor surface for the brake pad to push against and will drastically affect stopping distance.

The right lower rotor is the severely gouged rotor from the metal backing plate of the inner brake pad and then the caliper pistons.

The upper rotor is brand new. The smooth shinny surface says it all.

A few other items that we addressed with this brake job was a rear brake service and a brake fluid flush.

The rear brakes on this vehicle were in reasonably good condition: the shoes had plenty of material, the drums were good and the wheel cylinders were not leaking and their pistons moved freely. There was a lot of dust and backing plates were rusted. The brake service consists of removing the shoes, springs, hardware and adjusters. All dust is removed, components are lubricated as required and everything is reassembled; the final step it to adjust the brakes.

After repairs this vehicle stopped on a dime and best of all there were no objectionable noises.

While everything is repairable you definitely don’t want to wear your brakes to this extend because it’s downright dangerous.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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