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720 big brake upgrade


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I just finished a "big" brake upgrade on my 86 720. I used the front brake setup from a 97 Pathfinder. The rotor is 11.2 inches in diameter as opposed to the stock 720 10.75 inches. It's also about 50% thicker. The pads are larger and the caliper is dual piston and quite a bit bigger.


These two comparo pics aren't very impressive, they don't really show how significant the difference really is. But here they are anyway.


Stock 720






These comparo pics show the differences better.




Pathfinder on the left




Pathfinder on the left


This swap is also larger than the d21 v6 upgrade I have heard of people doing, but never seen.


Parts needed:

From a 96-99 pathfinder

Brake caliper

Brake caliper bracket

Brake rotor (00-02 might be an even better option)

* Brake backing plate (or you can cut/bend your 720 backing plate


Everything else you can reuse from your 720. The hub, rotor to hub bolts, caliper mounting bolts, bracket mounting bolts, brake hose, and brake hose banjo bolt - all stock 720.


Additional parts

Heavy duty washers, a 2-3 mm thick (x4), 12mm or 1/2 inch hole, I suggest grade 8 or 10.9, suspension grade stuff.


The only modifications that need to be made are to the pathfinder caliper, and this can be done before ever starting the install.




This is the back of the pathfinder caliper. The brake hose area needs to be widened to accommodate the 720s brake hose head, which is large and oddly shaped. I ground away some metal from the top and bottom on the inside of the caliper bolt area. I also ground the notch a little wider so that the brake hose would fit in it.


Doing this will allow the brake hose to be mounted in the best position possible on the back of the caliper.


The caliper brackets bolt right to the knuckle, but the offset is different from the pathfinder, so the caliper doesn't sit quite right.


First off, when mounting the bracket you need to space it out so it won't bind on the rotor. That's where the heavy duty washers come in. Place a washer between the knuckle and the caliper on each bolt as you put it together.




You can see the washers between the caliper bracket and knuckle here. This was during test fitting when I was figuring out what would work. I removed these and replaced them with washers about 1.5 inches in diameter and higher grade.


The other problem caused by the knuckle differences is that the pads overhang the rotor by about 1/4 off an inch.




I'm not overly concerned by this, but actually I think it's great news. In 2000, when pathfinders switched to VQ motors, they also increased the brake rotor size again, from 11.2 up to 11.8 inches. This bigger than 1/2 inch difference in diameter translates to a little over 1/4 of an inch per side of the rotor. I haven't tested this theory, but this would result in a perfect fit using 97 caliper/bracket and the largest rotor of this design that Nissan produced. Somebody try this and report back!


Here's a pic showing the diameter difference. The rotors are lined up at the top, so the difference is visible completely at the bottom. 00+ R50 pathfinder would be a full inch larger than stock. When I need new rotors I'm doing that.




The best news about this? The calipers clear a 15 inch rim, so even the largest rotor fits under my rims with no issues. I'm pretty sure 15 is the smallest rim it will clear though.


I haven't driven on this setup yet. I'm in the middle of redoing all the bushings in my front suspension, so it will be a couple days before I test it out.

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Just as a heads up, some 15s do not clear. My factory steelies have major interference with the caliper. My random aftermarket 15s have over a 1/4 inch of clearance, so check your distance.


I've driven on them around my neighborhood and they are better. Not sure how much better yet because I needed to do a full brake bleed before I can really tell and that will happen later tonight once I can get a buddies help.

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  • 9 months later...

Your stopping ability is limited by tire traction and that's remains the same. What you might find is that the pedal is easier to work (less fatigue in stop and go) and easier to regulate lock up and release in panic stops. Not so noticeable is the resistance to heat soak and fade (brake fluid boil) but for that you would have to be towing a boat and trailer down hill with a camper on the back. Pads and rotors are newer and might be cheaper and universally more available without ordering them than the 30 year old 720 ones.


They look fabulous!

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They did make a difference in stopping, but that likely had as much to do with new parts as it did with upgrade. But before the swap I could not lock up my 31 inch tires. After the swap, I definately could.


And Mike is totally correct about parts availability. The parts are cheaper and on the shelf or available same day, as opposed to special order.

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  • 4 years later...

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