DIY: E39/E36 Brake Pad Replacement
Please do this at your own risk. I am not responsible if you break anything. End legal mumbo jumbo.
Okay, to begin, this was performed on a 2000 528i, E39, automatic tranny, white on tan, build date 07/1999. This car's brakes are basically the same as the E36, at least it was on my E36, a 1993 318is, two doors, E36 with a Motorsport suspension from the factory, M42, automatic tranny, black on black, build date 01/1993. Your car may differ from the car featured. If it does, figure it out.
This brake job will mark the second BMW brake replacement within the year. I didn't post a DIY for my car as I didn't want anyone to die from instructions I had given. I've been driving my car with the new rotors and pads for almost a year now with absolutely no problems. I feel fairly comfortable showing others how to do this now.
Okay, to start, we need some parts. If you are only replacing brake pads, the only things on your list should be:
- Brake Pads (8 per car)
- BMW brake wear sensors (2 per car)
- Anti-squeal compund
- Brake cleaner
If you are replacing the whole brake system, you should have a bit longer list:
- Brake rotors (4 per car, obviously)
- Brake pads, (8)
- Brake cleaner
- New bolts for front brake carriers (4 per front axle)
- E39: part # 34111162783
- E36: part # 34111156982
- New bolts for rear brake carriers (4 per rear axle)
- E39: part # 34211162785
- E36: part # 34211164125
- A new hex bolt for the rotors (4 per car)
- E39 & E36: 34211161806
That should cover it.
Now, to begin with your E39, remove the wheel cover.
It will reveal your lug nuts:
Alright, now for the front, break the lug nuts loose before you jack up the car. If you don't, it will be almost impossible for you to break a bolt loose once the tires are in the air and the car is on jack stands. I know, I've done it too.
To make this job a lot easier, you are going to open up the master brake cylinder. DO NOT get any debris in your brake fluid!!!!! The master cylinder on a E39 in a pain to get to. It is under the micro filter on the driver's side of the car. Not under the filter, under the whole black plastic case. It sucks and I didn't snap any pictures, so good luck with that. HOWEVER, in the E36, it's really easy. It's on the driver's side, near the firewall and is a fairly small white-ish plastic container. Open it up to relieve the pressure on the system, making your life much easier.
As for jacking the car up, the E39 is a bit squirrelly. The jacking points that you need to use are located directly under the engine bay, in a very hard to reach location:
And the rear jacking point is basically the rear differential.
So, I drove the car up on some make-shift (yet stable) ramps and jacked the front up and went straight to work.
Take off the wheels once up on jack stands (located near each wheel, towards the center of the body) and this is what you see.
What you are going to take off first is the rattle clip. Take it off carefully, as it might fly anywhere if you don't. I like to keep a hand on the front of it so it doesn't get away from me and jettison towards my camera girl (which it did, even with my hand on it).
Once you get the rattle clip off, you are going to want to get to the caliper guide bolts. I couldn't snap a good picture of their location in the front, so RealOEM will have to do.
The guide bolts are #6. To get to them, there is a small cap (#7) that covers them.
Here's the guide bolt, it's a 7mm tubular bolt.
On the driver's side front and the passenger rear brakes there is a brake wear sensor. This is fairly easy to deal with. For removal, just snip the wire and remove the caliper and the wire still attached to the car.
Here's the "sensor box" in the front of the car:
Once both of those are out, you'll need to take the caliper out of its resting spot in the caliper carrier. To do this, you will have to manually move the pads away from the rotor as they will probably be tight on the rotor. Since you opened up the master cylinder, the brake fluid you are pushing backwards will go there. Just push slowly. After the pads are away from the rotor, just lift the caliper out of the carrier.
Now, you do not want to stretch or break your brake lines, so you'll need to hang the caliper from something while you work. Here's my solution:
<<<This is about the time where you would be moving on to install new brake rotors if you were taking on that project as well. Remove the carrier and remove the hex bolt holding the rotors on and take a BIG hammer and whack the old rotors off. Reassemble, torque carrier bolts to 68 ft-lbs and the hex bolt in front to 12 ft-lbs.>>>>
Next, you need to remove the old brake pads and install new ones. Here's the snag: the old pads will be thinner than your new ones. So, the piston will be extended to far for you to install your new ones outright. Solution: big clamp!
Next, lube up your new pads were the pads contact metal, and push them in. If you are on a wheel that requires a brake wear sensor, don't forget it.
Gently push the caliper and new pads back to where they came from. Torque the guide bolts to 22 ft-lbs. Have fun putting the rattle clip back on. (And yes, it is necessary, you're rotors will probably warp like my old ones without it.) Done (with the front)!
The rear is pretty much the same, jack from the rear diff, same process after that... here's a rear overview pic for the different placement of the wear sensor:
And one more:
After that, lower the car, tighten lug nuts, close master cylinder, and bed in your brake pads. That's it.
Well done as usual :clap
Excellent photos too :thumbup
Great article. This is 2nd time that I read your article. Prefect example with image.:) :) :)
good job man.. :)
Good job. :) This is the 3rd time that I visit your blog. Go ahead. I save your article with image. Prefect example.
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