2010 Nissan Xterra brake or ABS issue

A month ago, after a stop sign on a cold icy day, my car seemed not able to brake properly. I needed to stretch my leg all the way and it felt like it would not stop. I took it to dealer and changed brake pads, which were close to need to be replaced. The brake seemed as sensitive as it was in the old days. However, this week, after another stop sign on a cold day, this happened again, just not as bad. But I need to stretch my leg quite some distance to feel the brake effect. Just wondering what could be the issue? Thanks!

If you mean your pedal is going far down when you brake, that would indicate a problem with the hydraulic system.
If you haven’t had the system flushed with fresh brake fluid in three years it is over due,.
You may need new flexible brake lines.
They may not have serviced the calipers correctly.
We’re the rotor thickness measured?
If the above has not been done, it is time. Your vehicle is out of warranty, you can use a good independent, non-chain store, mechanic.

If you mean the pedal requires more pressure, there is likely a problem with the power assist.

Either way, take it in.


Thanks, Purebred!
I meant that my pedal needs to go far down when I brake, and the pedal felt very light to push down. I have no clue if the system has been flushed or not in the regular dealer maintenance package. No clue about the rotor thickness. BTW, the driver side window sometime cannot move up/down and power door often does not respond particularly in a cold day. Are these also signs for an issue with Power Assist? Will find a mechanic and start from there.

I’d suggest the ABS was cycling because the pavement was cold and ice had formed and maybe your your tires were very old or very worn. There should have been a yellow “ABS” light on the dash when this was happening.

Test it yourself before spending money with a mechanic who will tell you they can find nothing wrong. Find a big empty wet parking lot. Accelerate to 25-30 mph in a straight line and stomp on the brake pedal and hold it as hard as you can. You should feel exactly the same thing you felt before with the pedal. Try and look for a yellow ABS light (hence the “empty” part of the parking lot).

I’ll bet that is what you are feeling and it is perfectly normal ABS operation. If your tires are more than 6 years old, they need to be replaced even if they have enough tread. They are old and hardened and won’t provide proper traction.



Thanks for the suggestion. I did not notice a yellow ABS light although I am yet to do the test you suggested. The problem persists all the time after that stop-sign stop, even at low speed. I changed new tires maybe 3-4 years ago. One thing I noticed right after that was that my car skipped noticeably more. I thought that maybe the dealer did not put on good new tires.

All tires are not created “equal”. My 2002 Outback came from the factory with Bridgestone RE-92 tires that were downright hazardous on slippery surfaces, and it is possible that the tires sold to you by that dealership are equally bad.

If you go to the Tirerack website, you can view all of the makes and models of tires that are available for your Xterra. I think you might find it… instructive… to see how your tires are rated on that website.




It is YOKOHAMA GEOLANDAR H/T G056. Just checked, its rating does not seem too bad on the website. But the dealer did charged me more. My original tire was bf goodrich owl long trial.

Seven months ago, I reported issue with the brake of my old Nissan Xterra. Since then, I have been to dealer and a reputable repair shop in town. They have replaced all brake pads and the brake master cylinder, and changed brake fluid. Nothing helps. I still loose brake now and then. The problem is that this issue comes and goes. Both places told me to come to them when the issue showed up. One time I rushed to them when it happened, but it tested fine with them and in fact, after they drove it, the brake was good again. I really need some suggestion here. Here are the situations when I lost brake (not completely, but the paddle feels really not much pressure/brake):

  1. After a stop sign on cod icy days – this happened twice in December/January, when I first posted this issue in the car talk. It persisted several days until dealer changed rear brake pads.
  2. After a left turn in a mild rainy day – I parked car and went to work, 3 hours later, the sun was out and every thing was dry, and my brake was good again. This occurred after I changed front brake pads, replaced new master break cylinder (the problem identified by the repair shop, who did not think ABS was the issue because the computer system tested fine), and changed brake fluid.
  3. After a right turn which bumped the curb a little in a sunny day. I rushed to the repair shop, to my surprise, it tested fine for them; in fact, after they drove it, the brake was good again.
  4. In a rainy day, I was testing pressing hard on the brake, and I heard the sound (supposed to be ABS?), then I lost the brake. Again, I parked the car and went to work. Several hours later, the rain had long stopped and the brake was fine again.
    I rarely step on brake very hard. It seems that the hardness of brake goes away gradually, until someone like the repair shop pressing hard on the brake and then it feels more resistance when pressed.
    Any suggestion what may be wrong? Thanks a lot!

Hi, Purebred:

Any thought with the additional observations of the problem? Thanks.

So did you do this? Did you see the ABS light?

What you may have felt was a brake master cylinder leaking internally.

When this occurs, the brake fluid in the master cylinder by-passes the seals on the first piston so no hydraulic pressure is produced,

Then when the first piston starts pushing on the second piston, hydraulic pressure is produced and the vehicle can be stopped.


A master cylinder that leaks internally can be intermittent.

So, there’s no way of knowing when the problem will reoccur.



Could this be a brake booster problem?

Brake Booster or Break Booster ? Which one could be faulty ?

Thanks, Mustangman! So the yellow ABS light should be on or off? I guess I did not understand the first time but will try it soon this time.

Thanks, Tester! But the repair shop changed the master cylinder. Can it still be faulty outside master cylinder but within hydraulic system?

Thanks, VOLVO-V70 and tchichnorth! I will look up what a brake booster is.

The ABS light should be off now, if it is on, you have an ABS failure. When you hit the brakes hard enough to trigger ABS operation, the light will come ON but should go off when you release the brakes.

1 Like

The ABS light should not come on at any time unless there’s a problem with the ABS system.

I’ve applied my brakes enough to activate ABS and not once has the ABS light turned on.


The traction control light comes on when it’s activated. Maybe that’s where the confusion lies.

It’s possible a replacement master cylinder is bad, but seems unlikely. If the brakes have the proper type of fluid, all the air has been removed, and brake booster tests ok, my guess is a faulty ABS unit or faulty ABS electronics. .