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Nissan Altima / rear brake problems

1 United States Review updated:

This was an email I sent to the representative of the Nissan Scarborough dealership, Nick Sgro. His response was that Nissan Canada deemed it acceptable for rear break pads on a Nissan Altima to disintegrate after 2 years and less than 40000 kms...

I leased a Nissan Altima from Scarborough Nissan 2 years ago. Up until this point, the car has treated us well. The problems started Wednesday November 15, 2006 when my wife Pamela noted a problem with the car. There was a grinding noise coming from the rear driver's side wheel. After driving it myself I quickly came to the conclusion that there was a problem with the rear brakes. I took the car to a Canadian Tire that was close to my house. It is the same Canadian Tire that I regularly have my car serviced at (Honda) and have had years of good service from their crew. After taking a look at the car, the service technician quickly pointed out that there was something obviously wrong and that I should take the car back to the dealership I got it from. The reasons that he listed were as follows:

1. The car had less than 39000 kms on it - break pads should last longer than that and the ones on my Civic certainly have.

2. It was the rear breaks that were affected - even though 2/3 of a car's breaking occurs on the front. The front breaks should wear out faster.

3. The grooves cut into the discs would indicate that there is no break pad left.

4. Canadian Tire didn't even carry the parts necessary to repair the car as the car is deemed to be too new for those parts to be ordered.

I immediately took the car to Scarborough Nissan. It was later in the afternoon on Saturday November 18, 2006. I explained the situation to the service manager and was told that breaks are no longer under warranty. I explained the extenuating circumstances surrounding the failure of the rear breaks to no avail. The service manager ensured me that a mechanic would look at the car to try and determine if there was any mechanical failure outside of expected wear and tear on the breaks but that in all likelihood, I would be covering the cost of the repair. At this time I had the pleasure of listening to another story about other cars whose breaks had failed at 18000 kms. My answer to that was "it certainly doesn't make it right".

I then went to the sales manager, Rick Holton, and repeated my story. Rick's answer to my dilemma was that a problem like this could be due to how the car was driven. This car is driven to our cottage by me with a family of four (including a four month old) and by my wife, somewhat sparingly, as she is on maternity leave. We are certainly not driving it aggressively or taking part in late night road races. Rick shrugged off that notion and then proceeded to tell me about a G35 he recently saw come in with worse break problems under 20000 kms. Again, this certainly does not make it right. At this point I had the distinct impression that nobody at the dealership really cared about the curious nature of this obvious mechanical failure and that I was getting nowhere fast. I told Rick that if this "likely" outcome was to be reached, that it would be the last time that they see this car until I give it back to you at the end of my lease, and that I would certainly not be purchasing another Nissan (though we will be in the market for a minivan within the year - the Toyota Sienna seems the clear leader over the Quest I was considering). That statement was met with a somewhat callous shrug.

I had the pleasure of picking up my car on Monday, November 20, 2006. I wanted an oil change done on the car at this same time and there was to be recall service performed as well. I learned that as a result of the recall service, the back wheels were re-aligned but that the car now veers as I did not want to pay for front wheel alignment as well. Fabulous - recall service caused me to have to pay for front wheel alignment (pouring more salt on my wounds). After agreeing to pay to have the front wheels aligned, I received the call stating the car was ready. I asked to be picked up only to find out that I was out of the pick up area (Yonge and Lawrence - - find out how many kms that is) - get that salt shaker back out!

Not to my surprise, the front breaks were found to be at a 35 - 40 % wear - within normal specifications. While I felt this lent further credence to my argument, Scarborough Nissan certainly did not. Apparently I had found a magical way of stopping mainly on my rear breaks only by keeping the front wheels off the road while breaking (pure sarcasm). I had earlier requested that the defective parts be kept - they were. I have them now.

What do I plan to do about this? First let me say that as far as I am concerned, Nissan has extracted $1000 from my family to cover a defective product that was leased to us. Considering the manner of folks that I have already had the pleasure of dealing with at Scarborough Nissan, I do not anticipate ever being able to recover that money. What I plan on doing is everything within my power to affect your bottom line. I plan on starting with this letter to you, Nick Sgro. My next steps are to post my experience to every blog/website I can possibly find along with detailed pictures of the faulty parts. Being a software developer, I guess the hardest part will be taking the pictures; the rest of it is child's play. From there, my imagination is the limit and the world is my audience. Of course this says nothing to the extent that good old word of mouth offers. My experience has already been shared with my parents and their friends in the Leaside area. Pam's parents in Bolton seemed equally interested in the story. It certainly has been passed around my office up in Markham and I know that Pam is anxious to pass it along to her colleagues at her downtown office tomorrow. My neighbors in Lawrence Park will also be subject to my witty banter on the subject.

The car was last serviced at a Nissan dealership in Markham and passed with flying colors before being brought in for its second service at Scarborough Nissan. I bought winter tires from that dealership and am happy that none of that money went to Scarborough Nissan. I now will extend this fight to Nissan Motor Company Limited at large. I plan on sharing this exact letter with the dealership in Markham as well. Don't think of it as one of the 16,624 Altimas sold in North America in 2005 or the 14,761 of them sold in 2006, but how many I can prevent you from selling in 2007.

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  • Ro
      18th of Dec, 2006
    0 Votes

    I think there are a variety of issues you must take into consideration with your complaint:

    1. Did you get the brakes serviced at 24,000 km as per the Nissan service schedule? This increases brake life by an additional 30%.

    2. Are you aware that the reason why the rear brakes did not last as long as the fronts is the rear brake pads on the Altima are smaller than the fronts.

    3. It is difficult to compare your Civic to your Altima as the Altima has a different braking system and is a considerably heavier vehicle.

    Although I am sympathetic to your situation, I believe your complaint should be with Nissan and not the dealership. The franchise must abide by the warranty guidelines laid out by the manufacturer, which state that brakes can only be covered within 20,000 kms. It appears like the dealership was limited in their ability to compensate you given the time and mileage restraints. Additionally with all do respect I feel that your threats to the dealership are unwarranted and make me less compassionate for your complaint.

  • Mi
      10th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes

    Rob - I tried responding to your post - "possible hack"?

    1. The car was serviced prior to 24000 kms and had a full set of winter tires put on by another Nissan dealership. Nothing was reported then.

    2. You a technician/engineer/sales? Sounds like tech or someone from Nissan for that matter, maybe you work for a dealership, who knows... This is what I would say from a design perspective - poor design. When an engineer designs the breaking system for a car, they should do so in such a way to maximize performance, durability. It would make sense that the rear breaks be smaller due to less strain by design. To have them torn to nothing within 40 000kms while the front breaks show completely normal wear (by this time you should be realizing that this point of yours actually lends further credence to my story) is either poor design or manufacturing defects in the pads themselves.

    3. It is not difficult to compare a civic and an Altima - go check out consumers reports - they compare the two cars often - they were direct competitors for some time... Considerably heavier? By who's standard? This year there is a 387 lbs difference between the 2 - that's only 2 adults in a country not in North America!

    Final Thoughts - my complaint should not be with the dealership? My complaint is with Nissan AT LARGE. I don't pull it apart into pieces that I think a culpable and excuse the rest. My outlet? How about THE PLACE I BOUGHT MY CAR?

  • Ro
      19th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes

    Boo hoo. Maybe if you knew how to spell brake properly, somebody might take you seriously.

  • Da
      2nd of Apr, 2008
    0 Votes



  • Ge
      30th of Oct, 2008
    0 Votes

    2006, 2.5 Altima, all hwy miles .. 55, 000 kms and rear brakes grinding again!!.were replaced at 23000, last Nissan car i will ever purchase. I am Pissed ... would never have thought of Nissan having such a poor product, with much importance " Safety" and zero solutions to the customer.

  • Ba
      11th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    I have the same priblem in my Nissan Altema 2006. I have changed the break bads with new origenal ones. then the sound start comming out. The car was serviced by the dealer and he told me that reinforcement was done to my beark discs without even telling me about it and wy it was done ... I think nessan is hiding something about it's Altemas ...

  • Ta
      26th of Jan, 2009
    0 Votes

    At 65, 000 my rear brakes also went after I heard a grinding sound on my 2005 Altima. It seemed too odd for such low mileage and I would think the front brakes would always go first then the rear! Curious, how did they charge you guys for replacing/fixing the rear brakes?

  • Pe
      4th of Apr, 2009
    0 Votes

    I was so suprised when I heard the noise in my 06 altima. I was certain the noise was from the front wheels until i took the car to the dealership, Woodbridge, NJ. At 47, 000, they said my rear breaks were worn out and needed replacement.

    My response to them was how that happened. Why not the front brakes first!!. They made a comment about my driving. Reading this blog has made me realize that the problem is not just with my car. i am pissed.

    Peter N.

  • Fa
      30th of Oct, 2009
    0 Votes

    I got my nissan Altima 2006 from Richmond Hill, I had the same problems with rear breaks at 30, 000 kms. And yes i did get my car service at nissan unitl they told me breaks are not covered. I start hearing grinding noise. There sales and service managers know this problem does exist on all 2006 models but nissan over look at this as customer issue. I end up paying for pads and roters; that was my last time getting service at nissan delership richmond hill.

    There bumper to bumper warrenty is another joke and scam. every person you speak with in regards to what warrenty covers they all have different answers. I hate buying american cars but at least parts and service and warrenty is very reasonable and know what it covers. I cant wait for my lease to be finish and never again going to get nissan again...


  • Pj
      4th of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    So, I had the same problem last year with my 2006 Altima. Had the rear brakes/rotors replaced (around 30000 miles). Now, not even a full year later (and less than 40000 miles) I am being told by the mechanic I once again need the rear brakes/rotors replaced!!! WTF??

  • Ti
      7th of May, 2010
    0 Votes

    My wife has a 2005 altima with the same rear brake problems. I have replaced them twice now after 60000 miles!!! And I replaced the rotors the second time too. One of the rear pads was worn down to the metal??? Just one??? Has anyone had that problem??? We have both had nothing but problems with the service at Nissan also.
    I totally agree that the warranty is a complete joke.

  • Ca
      8th of Nov, 2010
    0 Votes

    today, exactly today took my altima 06 because of noises...guess what????????????...front and rear breaks gone, specially the rear ones. Now according to them, I need new pads and rts. THIS WILL BE MY LAST NISSAN!...AND I WILL SPREAD THE WORD AS WELL!!!

  • Ar
      12th of Jan, 2011
    0 Votes

    I have a 2008 Nissan Altima. At 10, 000 miles I had to have the front brakes replaced, at Nissan's expense, due to some kind of defect. Now, my Altima has 36, 000 miles on it and my front brakes are starting to grind, again. I have an appointment with the dealership this weekend in Puyallup, WA, and I am curious as to what the service department at the dealership is going to say. Does not seem normal that my 2008 Altima's front brakes are needing attention again for the second time at 36, 000 miles.

  • Cd
      9th of Apr, 2011
    +1 Votes

    05' Altima with 34000 miles-.. replaces pads and rotors one year ago (apprx 6, 00 miles) and now the grinding right rear noise again! Found one side on the rear right worn to the rivets and left rear OK.. Font pads still like new.../Nissan what are you hiding ? All the brakes checked out fine, no loss of pressure on four wheels. I'll try the new performance rotors with drilled and slotted holes in both rear wheels, get them dirt cheap on Ebay, same brand as the auto stores... wish me luck.

  • Ad
      3rd of May, 2012
    +1 Votes

    I too have a Altima with 50, 000 miles and the back brakes have worn out with rust on the rotors where the brake pads are not even grabbing. I changed the brakes, bled the system and had the rotors turned and the same problem is accurring. Altima Nissans are terribly unsafe! How do they get away with this problem!?

  • Ke
      11th of Aug, 2015
    0 Votes

    I too will never buy a Nissan product. I have the same brake problems as everyone else. My wife drives the car and she is constantly telling me that the brakes are grinding. I myself bought a FORD and have never had any brake issues even with a 4 wheel drive.

  • So
      20th of May, 2016
    +1 Votes

    Hey guys,
    Now in 2016!
    I own a Nissan altima 2013 and i never had such problems with a car.
    In June 2015, i chabged the 4 brakes at Nissan Canada, and in august ( follow me, it's Just 2 months later) one of my rear brake caliper got stuck and grind my disc. We have to change the two rear brakes, plus the caliper.
    In February the other one had the same problems AND this time I got proof that it wasn't the caliper. Again we changed the 2 rear brakes.
    After in April, the same problem again! This time it was the side of the one ive changed in August. Again it wasn't the caliper.
    I went to Nissan where i'm doing my repairs and They tell me it was the way I drive. EXCUSE ME? I had to pay $200 for an inspection for finally tell me the altima i bought doesn't have ANY problems. REALLY?

    Well guys I completly understand you and I won't NEVER EVER buy a Nissan car.

  • Pe
      10th of Apr, 2017
    +1 Votes

    2015 Altima here... it's now 2017 and the car has under 40, 000 miles. Needs new rear brakes, front are still at 6mm. WTF??? Of course nothing is EVER covered under their warranty - even the extended one. Total BS. Nissan is manufacturing faulty products and refuses to stand behind them.

  • Ar
      29th of Apr, 2017
    +1 Votes

    2015 Altima here too! About 40, 000 Kms and during my last oil change (about a month ago), I was duly informed about my rear brakes to be down to 1 mm, which same as all of you here shocked the hell out of me. My crazy driving and braking days as a young inexperienced man are long over and these days I am a cautious driver who goes to the grocery store, dropping and picking up my daughter again in a range of 2 kms from home and the occasional week-end drive to the movies, restaurant or the Mall also around 5-10 kms from where I live. How is this possible? I am a reasonable person and had this been my fault caused by careless driving and abusing of my brakes, I would’ve accepted and gone on with it, but this is too much. If this is a manufacturer issue, then I suggest we (Altima owners) band together and bring our experiences to Nissan’s attention as a group and if no one wants to listen, then we should go to the media. I am sure they would listen and this is how you hit their bottom line.

  • Ho
      11th of Aug, 2017
    0 Votes

    This is an interesting thread. I have a 2012 Altima with 128, 500 miles on it (I started driving for Uber/Lyft almost a year ago and was at about 80-85k when I started). Before that, I had only replaced the breaks once (tho I did have to have the transmission replaced (?!?!?!) around 45-60K and thankfully that was covered under the extended warranty). Around Dec/Jan I started to hear loud sound coming from the back left side when in motion, and sometimes kind of grinding noise when I would break. My mechanics kept checking it for me but couldn't find anything. We finally replace the back breaks in Jan and front breaks in Feb. I kept hearing the noise when driving off and on (depending on if windows were down/music on or off)...but they said they couldn't find anything so thought I was fine. The breaking power didn't seem to be affected. 20, 000 miles later the noise while driving and the grinding noise while stopping is rather frightening and disheartening - and reminds me of a quick release bike tire not put back on properly. This time I had the mechanics who rotate the tire check it out just to get a 2nd opinion and they find (sure enough) just the back left caliber is sticking on one side and is metal to metal, with uneven wear of the break pads. WHAT?! I think, "gosh the other mechanics should have found this right when they checked my breaks back in Jan/Feb when I complained about the noise?" The wheel rotation mechanic said it isn't common to change the caliber often - but at my milage probably time, and that perhaps back in Jan it wasn't needing it and that is why my other mechanics didn't find it. the mechanics doing the original work told me to bring it back to them and they would take a look to ensure, and take care of me. They are now replacing the caliber and I think the pads (after just 20, 000 miles which seems like nothing compared to the first 2 sets lasting me 100k!) free of charge for me - probably because they think it is their fault for not finding it.

    Yet after reading all your posts - now I am wondering if this is a faulty manufacturing problem; and worse wondering if my car is even safe to be driving for myself and for Uber any more? Or is it I am just now going to be having to dish out about $500-1000 ever 20K miles to replace the breaks?

    Would love to hear any follow up stories from those that posted a few years back or if you have over 100K miles.

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