One of the most common problems with the Nissan Altima (or any vehicle) is when the brakes are grinding. The number one cause of grinding brakes is going to be brake pads that have worn all of their friction material off. But, there are other causes as well.
Your Nissan Altima is always going to have disk brakes on the front of the vehicle. Due to the nature of how brakes work (front brakes take more abuse), the grinding will usually be coming from one of the front brakes (but not always). Once the brake pads are worn all the way down, they begin to damage the rotors as you continue applying the brakes.
Make sure that you know the difference between squeaking and grinding brakes. Grinding brakes have a lower pitched sound than squeaking brakes. Slowing down and stopping usually feels different when your brakes are grinding. You’ll often be able to feel it too. Often, they’ll make your steering wheel shake when braking as well. Squeaky brakes are typically an indication that the brake pads need replaced.
Causes of Grinding Brakes: Nissan Altima
- Worn Brake Pads– Brake pads come with little pieces of metal attached to them called squealers. These squealers let you know that the pad is worn to a critically low point. Usually they are really easy to hear. The brakes will squeal any time that you press them down. Sometimes they’ll even squeal without pressing the brake pedal at all. If you ignore the squealing long enough, the brakes will run out of material and they’ll start grinding against the calipers.
- Foreign Object– It is entirely possible for a piece of debris to get lodged between the caliper and the rotor. In this case, the debris will cause a terrible grinding sound when you press your Altima’s brake pedal down.
Worn brake pads or a stuck foreign object are usually going to be the issue causing your Nissan Altima’s brakes to grind. Here are some other issues that can cause brakes to grind, but aren’t quite as common.
- Worn Rotor– If a rotor gets too thin, it can warp. This problem actually happens more on modern vehicles. As manufacturers have continued to find ways to improve fuel mileage, rotor materials are often thinned to improve unsprung weight. If your Altima’s rotors are warped they can make a grinding noise.
- Broken Shims– A shim that has worn out can make contact with the brake hardware and cause the grinding noise. Shims are one of the more overlooked items when doing a brake job.
- Lack of Lubrication– Brake caliper bolts help the caliper adjust as the brake pads wear down. If they need lubrication, the caliper can hang up and potentially grind.
- Bad Replacement Pads– Cheap or poorly made brake pads can cause damage, much in the same way that having worn the pad down too long would. The material used to make them can be to large or wear unevenly, digging into and damaging your Altima’s rotors.
Driving your Altima with grinding brakes is dangerous. Brakes that are grinding lose their ability to stop the vehicle reliably. Have them fixed right away. Good luck fixing your brakes. If there is anything else that you would like to add, please feel free to leave a comment below.