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5spding soon...
1,377 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is my write up on how to perform a drum to disc conversion on the rear brakes. This will work for all 1st and 2nd gen models both with and without ABS.

If your Altima has ABS make sure you buy parts from another Altima with ABS. If you don't have ABS you can get yours from both those with and without ABS. All brake parts are interchangeable between the 1st and 2nd gens. I got all of my parts off of a 94 with ABS from the junkyard. My 99 does not have ABS. I had to pressure wash the crap out of everything but it all turned out great.

Purchasing my complete rear brake assemblies and lines from a local junkyard and ordering the best pads and rotors through Henrik, the total cost of my conversion was about $320. If you don't want to pay that much you can always purchase OEM blank rotors for around $110 from , buy cheaper pads, and negotiate a better deal on parts from the junkyard. I wanted to do this right the first time so I went all out.

This job is really not that hard at all. Its basically a swap, you unbolt the drums off, bolt the disc assemblies in and connect the lines. The hardest part about this job is probably not stripping your brake line nozzles. Be very careful with that 10mm wrench. In all this conversion took me a little over 5 hours. And that was because I did strip both nozzles and had to cut the lines and fabricate another one on each side which added nearly 2 hours of tinkering. If you don't strip those and follow these instructions you'll probably finish after about 3 hours.

Exactly what you'll need:

L + R Rear Brake Assemblies including Hubs, Calipers, Knuckles, Spindles, and all bolts, brackets + lines. $140
L + R Disc Ebrakelines w/brackets attached $10
L + R Rear Rotors $120
Dot 3+4 Brake fluid $8
Brake Bleeder kit $3
Rear pads $40
Disc Quiet Brake Grease $1
Brake Cleaner Spray $1
High Temp Paint for calipers $6 (w/primer)
Breaker Bar possibly
14mm head
10mm head + wrench
17mm head + wrench
19mm head + wrench
Two catch pans/buckets
Haynes/Chiltons Manual
6 x 25mm long M10 threaded bolts= $1
2 x 40mm long M8 threaded bolts possibly= $0.50
Philips Head screwdriver
2 blocks of wood to block front tires
Hydraulic Jack w/stands
3 or so hours based on experience

For more references and descriptions as well as photos of what I'm talking about, buy a haynes or chiltons manual. You won't regret it.

1st: Block the front wheels. Loosen the lugs on your rear wheels. Lift the rear of the vehicle and place jackstands on both sides' jack points. Make sure its stable. Take your wheels off and put them underneath the car for some extra safety measures. Release the ebrake all the way.

2nd: Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap. Using a 10mm wrench, **carefully** turn the brake fluid line injector nozzle counter clockwise. I say very carefully because they are really easy to strip and then you are s.o.l. Some brake fluid will come out so use a catch pan or something to keep it clean. Be careful with the stuff too, its really potent. Finish on both sides and be careful...If you're fluid reservoir runs empty know that you are going to have to bleed all 4 wheels instead of just the rears.

**Only read this if you happen to strip either nozzle**
This is what you have to do: When removing the drums there will be an extra metal brake line with two of these such nozzles. Cut the line as close to each of them as possible using either a hacksaw, beak pliers, or a saw fitted with a metal cutting disc. Remove the nozzles of the line without damaging them. On the car brake line with the stripped nozzle, follow the same procedure and cut the line as close to the nozzle as possible using a hacksaw so that you get a clean cut without bending the line. The lines will bend and break really easily so be careful. File and sand the end for a smooth finish. Put the old drum nozzle onto the sanded line. After hammering or etc to get that nozzle completely onto the line so that it fits completely through to the other side, you need to flare the end of it so that the line won't leak at all from the compression. To do this I used a very small screw and screwed it into the end of the line to flare it out. I couldnt think of an easier way to do it, if you can go for it. Sand down the end again for a nice finish. Give yourself a high 5 for not having to replace that line all the way back to the master cylinder at the front of the car.

3rd: To remove the drums take out these 3 large bolts on the surrounding suspension arms. I believe each is 19mm and you might need a breaker bar.
The last two bolts to remove are the two 17mm camber bolts mounting the strut to the top of the brake assembly. Remove the 14mm nut holding the drum brake line mount on the strut. After removing those 5 bolts you're drums will fall out. Finish on both sides.

If you really want them out of the way take the 2 x 10mm bolts holding the ebrake line in the drum and use 2 x M8 threaded bolts and remove the drum plate off so you can disconnect it from the drum shoes. Check fluid level.

3rd: Mount the new Disc Assemblies by reinstalling the 5 bolts you just removed starting with the camber bolts and then the 3 suspension bolts. This is where I painted the calipers since I hadn't installed them yet. Connect your ABS sensors as needed. Check fluid level.

4th: Compress the caliper pistons using some needle nose pliers and turning the piston clockwise. Connect the Caliper lines to the metal brake lines carefully without stripping the injectors nor overtorqueing them. You may need to compress the pistons way in there if you got new pads and rotors like I did. Check fluid level.

5th: Mount the rotors. Next mount the knuckle using 2 x galvanized hardened 25mm M10 threaded bolts and install the pad retainers and pads. Apply some brake grease on the outside of the pads. Check fluid level.

6th: Mount the compressed caliper onto the greased pads and grease the bolts that hold it onto the knuckle. Bolt em down.

7th: **Place all of your bolts as you remove them**
Now for the ebrake lines. There are three brackets holding each ebrake line to the undercarriage. All of the bolts are 10mm. To get to them you need to drop your exhaust piping and remove all of the heatshields. I believe there are a total of 12 bolts or so in all holding the heatshields inplace above the piping. The first bracket is located just in front of the rear wheel well, the second is just a foot or so into the exhaust piping cut out, and the third is located nearly in the middle of the car following the exhaust piping on both left and right ebrake lines. Remove those and remove the heatshields. Now remove the bolts holding the ebrake lines' brackets and work your way from the brake assemblies to the parking brake. Remove the lines from the parking brake hanger thing. Done. (If your disc brake lines did not come with brackets you need to remove them off of your drum lines somehow and reattach them to the disc lines.)

8th: Install the new disc ebrake lines by mounting them onto the parking brake hanger line thing. Remember that B line is on the right and A line goes on the left and that they cross after a foot or so. Work your way back to the assemblies rebolting the ebrake line mounting brackets. B line should have an extra bracket for the heatshields.

9th: Reinstall the heatshields and all of their bolts. Make sure you didn't miss any, and reconnect your exhaust piping.

10th: Attach the ebrake line to each caliper by hooking the end of it onto the spring mount on the inside backing of each caliper. Use another 25mm M10 bolt to mount the ebrake bracket onto the caliper. Almost done.

Difference in ebrake lines. Top is the Drum cable and the bottom is the Disc Cable.

11th: Checkover every bolt on the assemblies and the lines. Make sure everything is torqued down that needs to be and those that need grease are greased.

12th: Refill your brake fluid reservoir to the MAX. Pump the brakes a little bit. Starting with the right rear bleed each wheel by loosening the bleeder nozzle on the top of each caliper just enough to let a little fluid out, not so much that it flies out. Attach your bleeder kit and have a partner pump the brakes until no air bubbles flow out. Watch the fluid level carefully so that it doesnt empty completely. Repeat on each wheel from right rear to left rear to right front to left front. Dispose of your fluid properly.

13th: Remount your wheels, lower the car safely and clean your dirtyass up. Take the car for a spin after making a complete inspection that their are no leaks or anything. Get on an open straightaway and bed the rear brakes using the handbrake by driving at 40-60mph and pulling the ebrake up a couple times. Be safe, enjoy.




3,790 Posts
it helps me out bunches. i have all the parts but i'm also going through a 5spd swap and i gotta set some timeline priorities or i'll never have my car on the road.

thanks for the writeup. FAQ worthy.

5spding soon...
1,377 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Those are cross drilled and slotted rotors from Henrik's groupbuy. I used those and ceramic pads for both the front and rear discs. You wouldn't believe the difference. Before my car used to nosedive under hard braking, now its completely balanced. You don't even realize how fast you are stopping. I've never really relied too heavily on my brakes but knowing that my car will stop so quickly and effortlessly is awesome. I love it.

5spding soon...
1,377 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
KennethP said:
Do you have a link to this groupbuy?
Group Buy #1

Brembo Rotors Complete Front or Rear Set=$125/shipped ($240/shipped F/R Set)
Choice of any Pattern:

* Add $5/rotor for Zinc Platting (Rust Preventative)

PBR / AXXISS Brake Pads=$75+$10 Shipping

Group Buy #2
Zinc plated Brembo blanks=$45 Each or $180 for F/R

Cross drilled, slotted,dimpled, cross drilled/slotted or dimple/slotted=$95 front pair or rear pair or $190 for the set.

Axxis metal master pads/PBR=$40.00 or $80 for the set

Axxis Ultimate/PBR ultimate pads=$45 per pair or $90 for F/R

Full set ss lines=$80.00

1 Shipping for Full Brake Package is $43
2 Shipping for Front Rotors or Rear rotors only is $35
3 Shipping for Front rotors or rear rotors with Brake pads is $37
4 Shipping for Brake pads F/R is $10
5 Shipping for Just Front or Rear pads is $8
6 Shipping for SS lines is $8

Please add $2 to shipping method 2-6 if you want to add SS lines

3,790 Posts
I second the notion and also propose somewhere else for the images to be stored that way you can't accidentally delete one from your registry.

In fact, i think that ALL faqs should have permanent image storage on this site.

209 Posts
Just curious, but how much did you end up paying at the junkyard for all the parts? Now that I know that all the first and second gen SE's will fit, that helps A LOT. This should probably be FAQ'd.

5spding soon...
1,377 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I used that for reference, its a link in my signature. I'll combine the two for everyone's use. Thanks Biohamhock for picture use and information.
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