Nissan Maxima Brake Noise and Tire Vibration

Reader Question I have a 1996 Nissan Maxima. Recently had front brakes replaced, tires rotated and balanced (1 tire was badly worn on inside – replaced with used). About 1 week later while driving approx 60mph I heard what sounded like my muffler falling and dragging on the ground.

It wasn’t. The sound was coming from left front wheel area. Quickly turned into a “metal tumbling in drum” sound. Had it towed back to mechanic. He heard nothing, found nothing. I drove it about 30 miles – no noise – but when going down a hill, slowing down to make a left hand turn, I heard like a “pinging” noise from the same area. I was 5 blocks from home. I parked it and drove it again later in day.

No noise until I was driving down a hill that curved to left, applying brakes for stop sign. I was 3 blocks from home. Parked it. Drove it later. No noise.

Friend with some knowledge removed wheel and brakes – found nothing. The car and steering wheel shook at about 50 – 60 mph prior to brake/tire replacement and continues to do so now.
Appreciate any help!

Hello Polly,

Hummmmmm… So the noise started after the brake and tire installation, but the steering wheel vibration was there before the repairs and is still there afterwards…correct? I think I would start by removing BOTH front wheels (probably be a good idea to remove and inspect all 4 wheels) and recheck the brake hardware for both front brakes.

There is something called a “backing plate” that is located behind the wheels that act as a shield for the brake parts. This plate is made of thin metal and can sometimes get bent inward during routine brake replacement. Once bent inward this plate will rub against the brake rotor causing a high pitched scratching noise.

Since the noise seems to appear more when you are turning, this plate could be bent just enough that it is coming in contact with the brake rotor. I would have the mechanic or your mechanically inclined friend recheck the backing plates on both front wheels to make sure they are not coming in contact with any moving parts.

Also have them check the RIGHT side brakes for anything that is loose or rubbing. Sometimes noises that sounds like they are coming from the left side are really coming from the right side…so don’t assume anything here.

As far as the vibration you feel in the steering wheel, that is most likely due to an out of balance tire. Rotating and balancing the tires should take care of that issue unless one of the tires is bad and will not “balance”. If your mechanic removes the wheels again to inspect this noise…have him rotate and balance the tires.

The new used tire you installed SHOULD have been balanced when he installed it, so you might only need to balance the remaining 3 tires and if you are on a super tight budget you can probably just balance the right side front tire only. Since the vibration is felt in the steering wheel, the out of balance tire is most likely in the front of the vehicle.

Austin Davis

Posted in: Front End Problems

2 Comments on "Nissan Maxima Brake Noise and Tire Vibration"

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  1. mike says:

    My friend is having the same issue on a 1998 maxima, but the passenger front wheel is the one that is wearing out in funny ways, I lifted the car and check the play on the passenger wheel and it looked like the inner tie rod was gone, told her to pick the part up, she brought it back with the car, I lifted it again n checked the movement In the wheel at the tie rod but this time bo play, so I sent her home and didn’t install the part, she claims thr vibration is worse now? My dad suggested the steering rack can do this sort of off and on vibration issue, anyone agree with this theory?

    • Austin says:

      Yes the rack and pinion could be the culprit, but once you install it you will need to have a front end alignment done….so I would recomend you try to get it aligned now and see what if anything is wrong, might just need an alignment.

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