Q: I'm driving a 2008 4x4 Xterra, and was braking and I felt a weird pop/clunk. Kept driving and everything was fine. Then later on I was pulling into a parking lot and it happened again. Now the brake pedal feels a little lower than it was. I had the brakes done about a month ago. Think I should be worried?

A: Yes. At this point don't drive it anywhere, except very carefully to a repair shop. Or better yet, call for a flatbed. It's very possible whoever did the brakes failed to tighten one of the brake caliper bolts. As time went on, the loose bolt backed itself out, and the caliper is now pivoting back and forth on the one remaining bolt. The pads no longer being positioned correctly can cause the caliper piston(s) to travel further than they should, therefore producing the low brake pedal effect. If this is the case, you should be able to see it for yourself with a quick look at each caliper from under the truck. Understand that a clunk while braking is not always produced by faulty brakes. Often times a worn/loose suspension part will produce noise while braking simply due to the force being applied when coming to a stop. But the noise combined with a low brake pedal, and a recent brake job, points us in one direction. I've seen untightened caliper bolts quite a few times over the years. It's something that needs to be top priority for the installer, but the drive to produce and working too fast sometimes negates that. Technicians have been fired for less.


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If you have a technical question regarding your pickup, SUV, or van, feel free to contact Alex, a master technician with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Send a letter to him in care of Truck Trend Garage, 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail us at trucktrend@sourceinterlink.com. Please include the VIN with your question. Due to the volume of questions received every month, we cannot guarantee that everyone's question will be personally answered or will appear in the magazine.

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