2012 Nissan Maxima Brake Pads and Rotor Replacement

Even though our 2012 Nissan Maxima only has around 36K miles on it, the brakes have been horrid. Vibrating, squeaking and making all kinds of noises. Rather than do the back and forth with the dealer I decided to just replace all the rotors and pads myself. I found a reasonably priced kit on Rock Auto that contained all 4 rotors, all pads and hardware. I had it shipped to my house and it took a few days.

Starting on the fronts. I jacked up the car from the front on a cross member. I put some jackstands on the jacking points on the frame rails. Please *Never* work under your car without properly setting jack stands. Jacks fail all the time. Breaking loose the lugnuts before jacking may be a good idea here if you don’t have an impact gun.

Front wheel off. I removed the caliper slide pin bolts (19mm for front). These came out relatively easy and will release the caliper from the wheel. Do *not* let the caliper hang from the brake lines. That’s a good way to get yourself into a real mess. I used a wire coat hanger wrapper around the front spring, and through the slide mounting holes. Maybe some day I’ll learn to take clear pictures.

With the caliper removed, I removed the pads from the caliper bracket. I can now work on removing that caliper bracket. This is secured with 22mm bolts on the front. These needed some time to soak in the glory that is PB blaster. After a while the impact gun got them loose. You can not replace the rotor without getting this bracket off.

With a few smacks of a small sledge, the rotor should just pop off now.

Now to be able to fit the caliper back over new brakes, the piston needs to be compressed back into the caliper. Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap in the engine bay to make this easier. Using one of the old pads and a C clamp, screw the piston back into the caliper. At this point I would normall say spray everything in the caliper down with brake parts cleaner, but I didn’t check to make sure I had any before starting… whoops.

Time to prep the new pads. If the new pads came with a wear spacer, put that on the new pads (Usually on the lower end of the inside pad). Use the included grease to coat the backing plate of the pads (Some new pads say not to do this). Also lube up the tabs that hold the pad into the caliper bracket allowing it to slide.

Replace the old metal clips on the caliper bracket with the new ones provided. Reassemble everything and then you get to do everything all over again on the other side! The new rotor will feel lose if you don’t have the screw that holds the rotor to the hub. This car’s old rotors didn’t have any. Once the wheel is on, this will tighten the rotor up.

I decided to bed in the front pads first before working on the rears. Follow the instructions that should have come with your pads, but it usually involves a few quick stops from 60-15, 45-15 and 30-15, making sure to never come to a complete stop. You should be able to smell the brakes. Then drive around for ~5 minutes to let them cool off, again avoiding coming to a complete stop. After the bedding process you should see your new rotors change color from the heat dissipation.

On to the rears…

I’ve read that are some gotchas with the rear brakes online. Apparently one of the caliper slide bolts is really hard to get out. But if you take off the bracket to replace the rotor, you don’t really need to remove the lower slide bolt. So I figured I’d give it a shot and see how it goes.

Rear wheel off. The parking brake assembly is inside the rotors here, so I don’t have the parking brake on. I couldn’t really find any information on if the parking brake would fly out everywhere when I took off the rotor, but no one really mentioned anything about so I figured I was safe.

Trying to get a picture of the “impossible” bolt. There is not a lot of clearance behind this bolt to get an impact gun on, and big sockets can’t even fit.

Now I get to move into the garage. Check the forecast before you start some auto maintenance outside. You don’t want to have to put brakes back together and the wheel back on in the middle of a Florida downpour!

Back to work…

I used my tiny 1/4″ ratchet with a 14mm socket that barely fit onto the bolts and was able to crack it free with a sledge hammer. I’m actually suprised the ratchet didn’t break apart. Well I loosened the bolt, but definitely couldn’t get it out. You can see a tiny clean spot here where the bolt hits the suspension arm. This caliper is staying on the bracket. At this point you could just change the brake pads.

Now I got to work on the 19mm caliper bracket bolts. And kept working on them… I tried a ratchet and hammer. I tried letting my impact gun sit on the bolt for minutes at a time. Multiple applications of PB blaster.

You know what? The rear rotors are still looking pretty good here. I think I’m going to just go with replacing the rear pads…. Anyone want to buy some new 7th gen Maxima rear rotors?

Following the same steps from the front, I pushed the caliper piston back in using the C clamp and one of the old pads. Replaced the hardware on the bracket, and lubed up the new pads making sure not to get any lube on the braking surfaces.

Loaded up the brake pads into the bracket and reattached the caliper. Rear brakes done! I followed the same break in procedure as the front. The rotors didn’t need it this time, but the new pads did.

Braking is now much smoother and feels better all around. Good day to save some money!


List of purchases for this project:

Rock Auto

Qty Product Price Notes
1 POWER STOP KOE6075 Autospecialty By Power Stop 1-Click Daily Driver Brake Kits Front And Rear $175.79 Info

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