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BMW E39 Brake Pads Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Brake Pads Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

***

Tools:

T45 Torx bit, flathead screwdriver, brake piston compressor

Applicable Models:

BMW E39 5-Series (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Front or rear brake pads, brake pad wear sensors, brake fluid, brake cleaner

Hot Tip:

Wear gloves, brake dust and brake cleaner can harm you

Performance Gain:

Proper brake function

Complementary Modification:

Flush brake fluid. Replace brake rotors

Your brakes are the most important safety feature of your car. You should check your brake pad thickness every

six months. The E39 does have a warning system that indicates when the brake pad is worn. These systems typically have one sensor in one brake pad on each axle. This means three pads are not being monitored on each axle. You should replace your brake pads if the friction material thickness is below 3mm. Even if your brake pad warning light has not come on it is always a good idea to replace the sensor when replacing pads because the old one may get damaged while removing it from the old brake pad.

In this tech article we are going to review all of the steps required to perform a professional brake job on both your front and rear axles.

You will need to jack up the axle that you are doing the brake job on, See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Front Brake Pads:

Remove the front wheels if you are doing the front brakes. For rear brakes skip down to step 19.

Here is the left front brake assembly with the wheel removed.
Figure 1

Here is the left front brake assembly with the wheel removed. You can turn the steering wheel to rotate the caliper so it is easier to work on.

On the outside of the caliper remove the anti-rattle spring (green arrow).
Figure 2

On the outside of the caliper remove the anti-rattle spring (green arrow). You can use a flathead screwdriver and lever off the spring. The spring is under some tension so be careful it does not go flying as you pry it off.

You can use a flathead screwdriver to lever on the caliper.
Figure 3

You can use a flathead screwdriver to lever on the caliper. Install the screwdriver in the access hole towards the outside (like pictured) and pull the screwdriver towards you in the direction of the blue arrow. This is one way to push in the caliper piston back into the caliper. While you are pushing the piston back into the caliper brake fluid will be moving back into the reservoir. Make sure to check the level of the brake fluid reservoir and remove extra fluid as needed.

On the inside portion of the caliper remove the plastic caps (green arrows) that protect the mounting pins the caliper floats on.
Figure 4

On the inside portion of the caliper remove the plastic caps (green arrows) that protect the mounting pins the caliper floats on. Here we can see the upper cap has already been removed.

Under the plastic caps remove the caliper mounting pins (green arrows) with a 7mm Allen bit.
Figure 5

Under the plastic caps remove the caliper mounting pins (green arrows) with a 7mm Allen bit.

Behind the strut mounted to the body of the car lever off the two locking tabs (green arrows) for the ABS wheel speed sensor and brake pad sensor.
Figure 6

Behind the strut mounted to the body of the car lever off the two locking tabs (green arrows) for the ABS wheel speed sensor and brake pad sensor.

Pull out the brake pad wear sensor connector (green arrow).
Figure 7

Pull out the brake pad wear sensor connector (green arrow).

At the bottom end of the brake pad sensor connector press the locking tab and pull the connectors apart.
Figure 8

At the bottom end of the brake pad sensor connector press the locking tab and pull the connectors apart.

Pull the brake pad sensor harness out of the strut bracket.
Figure 9

Pull the brake pad sensor harness out of the strut bracket. This is a rubber grommet that fits into a groove in the strut bracket. You will have to use some force to get it off.

Remove the caliper bleed screw cap and then remove the brake pad sensor stay on the bleeder screw.
Figure 10

Remove the caliper bleed screw cap and then remove the brake pad sensor stay on the bleeder screw.

Remove the caliper from the mounting bracket.
Figure 11

Remove the caliper from the mounting bracket. You can rest the caliper on the suspension pieces or the rotor but do not let the caliper hang by the brake hose. This may damage the hose and you may not see the damage right away. A reshaped wire coat hanger makes a great hook to hang the caliper off of.

The inner brake pad (green arrow) is held in to the caliper by a spring.
Figure 12

The inner brake pad (green arrow) is held in to the caliper by a spring. The outer pad (yellow arrow) may stay attached to the caliper or stay in the caliper bracket. In this case the outer brake pad stayed with the caliper bracket.

Remove the outer brake pad if it stayed with the caliper bracket.
Figure 13

Remove the outer brake pad if it stayed with the caliper bracket. If you have a brake pad spreader install the outer brake pad in the caliper and use your tool to push the piston back in. Remember to check the brake fluid reservoir and remove excess fluid.

If you could not push the piston all the way in by levering the caliper in step 3 you can use other tools to push the piston back in, Here we are using a C Clamp to push the piston back into the caliper.
Figure 14

If you could not push the piston all the way in by levering the caliper in step 3 you can use other tools to push the piston back in, Here we are using a C Clamp to push the piston back into the caliper. What is important is that you use a tool that will push the piston in evenly. If the piston gets cocked sideways it will jam and you will have to replace the caliper.

Remove the inner brake pad by pulling it away from the caliper in the direction of the blue arrow until the spring releases.
Figure 15

Remove the inner brake pad by pulling it away from the caliper in the direction of the blue arrow until the spring releases.

Push the caliper mounting pins all the way in (green arrows).
Figure 16

Push the caliper mounting pins all the way in (green arrows). This makes the caliper easier to install. Make sure the pins move in the caliper.

If they are too difficult to move pull them all the way out and clean them.
Figure 17

If they are too difficult to move pull them all the way out and clean them. Apply caliper grease (high temperature synthetic works best) and install the pins.

With a wire brush clean the grooves (green arrows) that the brake pads ride in to remove all of the old brake dust.
Figure 18

With a wire brush clean the grooves (green arrows) that the brake pads ride in to remove all of the old brake dust. If you want you can apply a small amount of copper paste or anti-seize compound in these grooves. This will allow the pads to move more freely and not bind causing uneven brake pad wear. Install the brake pads in the caliper and fit the caliper to the caliper bracket. . If your pads do not come with anti-squeal pads on the back of them apply brake anti-squeal to the back of the pad before installing. After bolting down the caliper mount the new or old brake pad sensor wiring and fit the harness stays so they do not rub against anything while you are turning the wheel, Fit the sensor connector in the connector housing box and close the housing to protect from water intrusion. DonÂ't forget to install the anti-rattle spring. IMPORTANT! After you finish the brake job go into the car and immediately step on the brake pedal several times until the brake pedal no longer sinks to the floor. Since you pushed the pistons all the way back to get everything installed the pads are no longer contacting the rotors. You have to step on the brakes to get the piston to move outward and have the brake pads contact the rotor. The pedal will Â"come upÂ" and get harder to press. 

Rear Brake Pads:

Jack up the rear of the vehicle and remove the rear wheels.
Here is the rear brake assembly with the wheel removed.
Figure 19

Here is the rear brake assembly with the wheel removed.

With a flathead screwdriver lever off the anti-rattle spring.
Figure 20

With a flathead screwdriver lever off the anti-rattle spring. This spring is under some tension so make sure it does not go flying when you lever it off.

On the inner side of the rear caliper remove the two caliper mounting pin caps (green arrows) to expose the mounting pins.
Figure 21

On the inner side of the rear caliper remove the two caliper mounting pin caps (green arrows) to expose the mounting pins. These are partially pulled out already.

Remove the two caliper mounting pins (green arrows) with a 7mm Allen bit.
Figure 22

Remove the two caliper mounting pins (green arrows) with a 7mm Allen bit.

Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the caliper outward which forces the caliper piston in.
Figure 23

Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the caliper outward which forces the caliper piston in. Insert the screwdriver in the access hole towards the outside of the hole. Pull the screwdriver towards you in the direction of the blue arrow. You should see and feel the caliper gradually moving away from the center of the car. While you are pushing the piston back into the caliper brake fluid will be moving back into the reservoir. Make sure to check the level of the brake fluid reservoir and remove extra fluid as needed.

The brake caliper floats on the mounting pins.
Figure 24

The brake caliper floats on the mounting pins. Make sure the pins can be moved in the caliper. If they stick they will cause uneven brake pad wear.

Remove the pins and clean them.
Figure 25

Remove the pins and clean them. You can apply a brake lubricant (high temperature synthetic brake grease works well) to the pins after cleaning them.

Remove the caliper by pulling it off the caliper bracket.
Figure 26

Remove the caliper by pulling it off the caliper bracket.

Sometimes the outer pad will stay attached to the caliper mounting bracket.
Figure 27

Sometimes the outer pad will stay attached to the caliper mounting bracket. In this case both pads (green arrows) stayed attached to the caliper.

Remove the outer brake pad from the caliper.
Figure 28

Remove the outer brake pad from the caliper.

Push the piston back into the caliper.
Figure 29

Push the piston back into the caliper. Here we are using a C clamp. You need a tool that will push the piston back in evenly. If the piston is cocked sideways in the caliper you will not be able to push the piston in. Remember, while you are pushing the piston back into the caliper brake fluid will be moving back into the reservoir. Make sure to check the level of the brake fluid reservoir and remove extra fluid as needed.

Remove the inner brake pad by pulling it away from the caliper piston until the inner spring releases.
Figure 30

Remove the inner brake pad by pulling it away from the caliper piston until the inner spring releases.

Push the caliper mounting pins back to the end.
Figure 31

Push the caliper mounting pins back to the end. This will make installing the calipers easier.

With a wire brush clean the grooves the brake pads slide it to remove brake dust that can cause uneven brake wear.
Figure 32

With a wire brush clean the grooves the brake pads slide it to remove brake dust that can cause uneven brake wear. You can lubricate these grooves with copper paste or anti-seize and this will allow the pads to slide easier in their grooves. Installation is the reverse of the removal process. Install the pads in the calipers. If your pads do not come with anti-squeal pads on the back of them apply brake anti-squeal before installing. After bolting down the caliper mount the new or old brake pad sensor wiring and fit the harness stays so they do not rub against anything while you are turning the wheel, Fit the sensor connector in the connector housing box and close the housing to protect from water intrusion. DonÂ't forget to install the anti-rattle spring. IMPORTANT!!! After you finish the brake job go into the car and immediately step on the brake pedal several times until the brake pedal no longer sinks to the floor. Since you pushed the pistons all the way back to get everything installed the pads are no longer contacting the rotors. You have to step on the brakes to get the piston to move outward and have the brake pads contact the rotor. The pedal will Â"come upÂ" and get harder to press.

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Comments and Suggestions:
SteveDC Comments: If the rotors are okay and I am just replacing the pads, do you recommend any treatment of the rotor face to aid in seating the new pads? I have not done this in the past and it's worked okay and is not mentioned in this article, but I heard a recommendation to burnish the face with some steel wool.
July 30, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If replacing just the pads, I leave the rotor braking surface alone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
raven Comments: I just replaced the front about a month ago
May 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The pad sensor may be disconnected or faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RAVEN Comments: A LIGHT CAME ON SAYING CHECK BRAKE LINING WHAT DO I NEED TO DO ITS A 540I BMW 99 AND THE BRAKE LIGHT CAME ON
May 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Inspect your brake pads for wear and replace what is work out.

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/tech_main_E39.htm #brakes

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:05:27 AM