Replacing Your Nissan Brake Pads: Types of Brake Pads and Signs of Wear
Anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time on the road will probably have at least a few stories about how they’ve been in a close call to hitting another car, stopping right at the brink of collision. The braking system on your Nissan is one of the most important things you need to maintain for your safety, and the safety of everyone you share the road with. The brake pads, especially, need to be check out frequently, and replaced if necessary, as they’re the braking part system that’s most prone to wear. Good brake pads will ensure you get the best performance of your Nissan’s braking system. If your Nissan brake pads are wearing down, and you notice a decrease in stopping power, you’re due to replacing them.
Replacing your Nissan brake pads takes a lot of careful consideration, so you can’t just buy the first ones or most affordable ones you come across. You need pads that fit your Nissan’s specific model, make and year, are of great quality and last a long time. Installing brake pads shouldn’t be rocket science either – almost everyone should be able to do it, granted that they have the right hardware and clear instructions. Some brake pad kits come with everything you need to install them – shims, lubricant, etc.
Brake pads are made of organic, ceramic or semi-metallic materials. Depending on how you use your Nissan, your choice will vary. Ceramic brakes are great for driving through the city under normal driving conditions, whereas semi-metallic brake pads are better for versatile use and heavy braking. But before brake pads were manufactured from these materials, they were made from asbestos – a mineral with great durability and heat tolerance. However, asbestos poses a health and environment hazard, which is why manufacturing switched to ceramic and semi-metallic pads. Both semi-metallic and ceramic brake pads are safe, reliable and durable. But of course, they both have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Semi-metallic pads are made of a combination of metals and non-metals (30-60% metal), with copper, steel and iron being the most commonly used metals, plus some mineral or organic filters that bind it all together. These pads are ideal for sporting situations, high mileage, truck driving and heavy braking. Further, they perform well in all types of weather conditions, and feature a great heat threshold. On the downside, they are tough on the rotors, are noisy and create more brake dust.
Ceramic pads, on the other hand, are made of thick, dense ceramic. Just like in pottery, the ceramic material is fired in a kiln here as well, but instead of clay pots, brake pads are created. Up until recently, most manufacturers added copper fibers for improved friction, and while such brake pads are still available, environmental concerns have warranted a ban on copper in brake pads by 2025. These brake pads are great for freeway and city driving under normal conditions, they don’t wear the rotors as much, are quiet running, produce less brake dust and are quite durable. On the downside, they aren’t great for heavy-duty and sports driving, aren’t ideal for use in cold climates and can’t manage head dissipation as well as their semi-metallic counterparts.
So when should you replace your brake pads? You should check your Nissan’s brake pads regularly or have them looked at by a professional at the first sign of a problem. Some signs that you need to replace the brake pads are:
Hearing squealing or scraping noises, which are the result of the shim wearing down. Sometimes, damp and wet conditions can cause a layer of dust to form, which causes the scraping sound. If the sound stops after a few times you use the brakes, then you probably won’t have to replace them, but if it goes on, they need to be inspected, at least.
Your brake pads may become thin due to all the use they’ve gone through, so if they’re thinner by a centimetre than they were when you initially bought them, you’ll need to replace them. Further, you should always be able to push the pedal easily and the braking should be smooth. If you experience difficulties pushing the pedals, or you notice the braking becoming jittery, your brake pads need to be inspected. And lastly, most modern cars feature computer systems that alert you when something’s wrong with the vehicle. Some computers will let you know when it’s time to replace the brake pads.
Besides the brake pads, you may also need to replace your rotors. However, replacing the pads is more frequent than replacing the rotors. The rotors will only need to be replaced if they’re warped. Naturally, the newer your Nissan is, the better the discs. But the same can’t be said about brake pads, so you need to inspect them frequently and replace them at the first sign of wear.