Frontier E-brakes Getting Shafted?



Another longtime listener, firsttime caller … I have a two-parter.

First: My 2007 Nissan Frontier will soon be due for a rear brake job. I’ve never worked on rear disks. Should I replace the emergency-brake shoes as well as the service brake pads, or will a simple inspection of them do for now? Also, I’ve had varying advice here: should I have the rotors turned, replaced or simply let them be if no pitting or warping is detected?

Second: Last year, my father and I replaced the U-joints on the prop shaft and since that day there’s a vibration around 55-60 mph. Whether I’m in 4th, 5th or 6th gear is irrelevant and the vibration goes away above and below that range. I do remember when trying to remove the old U-joints, my father took a small chunk, maybe a half-inch square area, out of the shaft right at one of the ends, and I’m pretty sure this is causing it, but is there anything I can do about it?

Sajeev answers:

Those rear discs with integral parking brake shoes are much fun to work on! And by fun I mean a PITA. To wit:

So anyway, onto your questions:

1. When in doubt, turn the rotors. And I will always doubt the surface of a used rotor when mating to a new brake pad, even if they look perfect. A simple turn of the rotor surface ensures there’s no leftover pad material baked (?) onto the surface, which could cause a squeak. Why risk ruining perfectly good, brand-new pads? Skimming does thin the rotor and requires earlier replacement, but new ones are cheap (less than $40) online.

2. I assume your emergency brake shoes are reusable as most people don’t use them enough to wear them wear out. Maybe 10+ years from now, the friction material may break off the shoe, so just eyeball them to verify everything is still in place.

3. Sounds like your driveshaft either needs repair or replacement. There are plenty of driveshaft places in major cities; there’s probably one close to wherever you live(fingers crossed on that). I’d do the cheaper of the two. Question is, what’s the going rate for a driveshaft in the junkyard? Perhaps the piece of mind of getting yours repaired and re-balanced is worth the cost, no matter what. Your choice here.


  1. Felix Nash

    Sometimes those high hat rear discs are a pain and the parking brake assembly seizes the rotors on. The only thing you can do is try to back off the parking brake adjustment from the rear, and keep hitting it with a bigger hammer. I’ve seen them come apart cracked in two whole pieces from hitting them so hard. On the other hand, sometimes they slide right off with no issues, like my 98 grand Cherokee I recently serviced. I would replace the rotors with the pads, you will thank yourself later. As for the emergency brakes, as long as they work, there is pad material still on the shoes, and there is no missing hardware and it is adjusted properly you can leave that whole assembly alone.

  2. Fred Sandoval

    You can try and alleviate the drive shaft vibration by re-indexing it if it wasn’t marked when removed. Unbolt it from the axle yolk, rotate it 180 degrees and bolt it back up. If your vibration is still there, it needs repair/balance or replacement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *