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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing BMW Brake Pads

Talent:

*

Applicable Models:

BMW 318i Convertible (1992-99)
BMW 318i Sedan (1992-99)
BMW 318is Coupe (1992-99)
BMW 318ti Hatchback (1992-99)
BMW 323i Convertible (1998-99)
BMW 323is Coupe (1998-99)
BMW 325i Convertible (1992-95)
BMW 325i Sedan (1992-95)
BMW 325is Coupe (1992-95)
BMW 328i Convertible (1996-99)
BMW 328i Sedan (1996-99)
BMW 328is Coupe (1996-99)
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Check out some other projects from the book:

Replacing your brake pads is one of the easiest jobs to perform on your BMW. In general, you should inspect your brake pads about every 10,000 miles, and replace them if the material lining of the pad is worn down enough to trigger the pad replacement sensor. In reality, most people don't inspect their pads very often, and usually wait until they see the little brake warning lamp appear on the dashboard. It's a wise idea to replace the pads, and inspect your discs as soon as you see that warning lamp.

If you ignore the warning lamp, you may indeed get to the point of metal on metal contact, where the metal backing of the pads may be contacting the brake discs. Using the brakes during this condition will not only give you inadequate braking, but will also begin to wear grooves in your brake discs. Once the discs are grooved, they are damaged, and there is almost no way to repair them. Resurfacing will sometimes work, but often the groove cut will be deeper than is allowed by the BMW specifications. The smart thing to do is to replace your pads right away.

Brake pads should only be replaced in pairs - replace both front pads or both rear pads at a time. The same rule applies to the brake discs that should be checked each time you replace your brake pads.

The procedure for replacing pads on all the wheels is basically the same. There are slight configuration differences between front and rear brakes, but in general the procedure for replacement is similar. The first step is to jack up the car and remove the road wheel. This will expose the brake caliper that presses the pads against the disc (Figure 1). Make sure that the parking brake is off when you start to work on the pads.

If you look inside the caliper, you will see the brake pads - usually they will look very thin, as is shown in Figure 2. Begin by removing the small plastic cap that covers the caliper guide bolts (Figure 3). The BMW caliper used on the 3-Series (and many other BMWs) is a single piston caliper design. One piston presses against the side of the brake disc, and the whole caliper slides on the guide bolt to achieve equal pressure on the disc from both pads.

To replace the brake pads, you need to remove the caliper. Remove both guide bolts from the caliper (Figure 4) with a 7mm allen wrench (thanks to Barney McComas for the tip). Then remove the brake pad retaining clip (keeps the pads from rattling), shown in Figure 5. Make sure you wear safety glasses during this step, as the clip can come flying off if you're not careful. Then, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the brake pad sensor (Figure 6).

After the guide bolts have been removed, you should be able to simply lift the caliper off of its mount (Figure 7). Suspend the caliper using some zip-ties or rope - don't let the caliper hang from its rubber hose (very bad). See Figure 8 for details. As this point, you can pluck the outer brake pad out of the caliper, and use a screwdriver to pry the inner pad out of the caliper piston. The caliper should resemble Figure 9 when you're done.

Once you have the pads removed, inspect the inside of the caliper. You should clean this area with some compressed air and isopropyl alcohol. Make sure that the dust boots and the clamping rings inside the caliper are not ripped or damaged. If they are, then the caliper may need to be rebuilt.

At this point, you should inspect the brake discs carefully. Using a micrometer, take a measurement of the disc thickness. If the disc is worn beyond its specifications, then it's time to replace it along with the one on the other side. See our Pelican Technical Article on Replacing BMW Brake Discs for more information.

The installation of the new brake pads is quite easy. You will need to take a small piece of wood or plastic and push the caliper piston back into the caliper (Figure 10). This is because the new pads are going to be quite a bit thicker than the old ones, and the piston is set in the old pad's position. Pry back the piston using the wood, being careful not to use too much force. Using a screwdriver here can accidentally damage the dust boot and seals inside the caliper, and is not recommended.

Be aware that as you push back the pistons in the calipers, you will cause the level of the brake reservoir to rise. Make sure that you don't have too much fluid in your reservoir. If the level is high, you may have to siphon out a bit from the reservoir to prevent it from overflowing. Also make sure that you have the cap securely fastened to the top of reservoir. Failure to do this may result in brake fluid accidentally getting on your paint.

When the piston is pushed all the way back, you should then be able to insert the new pads (Figure 11) into the caliper. If you encounter resistance, double check to make sure that the inside of the caliper is clean. Simply snap the inner brake pad into place using your hand (Figure 12). When firmly mounted, the new pad should resemble Figure 13.

The process for assembly is the reverse of the disassembly. Mount the caliper back onto its mounting bracket, surrounding the brake disc. If the caliper won't fit, then you need to push in the piston a bit more until the space in-between both pads is wide enough for the brake disc to fit. Tighten down the guide bolt using a torque wrench to 22 ft-lb (30 Nm).

If your brake sensors activated the lamp on your dashboard, they should be replaced with new ones. Disconnect the sensor (Figure 14), and plug in the new one. Then snap the new sensor into the small gap in the brake pad (Figure 15).

You also may want to spray the back of the brake pads with some anti-squeal glue. This glue basically keeps the pads and the pistons glued together, and prevents noisy vibration. Anti-squeal pads can also be purchased as sheets that are peeled off and placed on the rear of the pads.

When finished with both sides, press on the brake pedal repeatedly to make sure that the pads and the pistons seat properly. Also make sure that you top off the master cylinder brake fluid reservoir if necessary. Brake pads typically take between 100 and 200 miles to completely break in. It's typical for braking performance to suffer slightly as the pads begin their wear-in period. Make sure that you avoid any heavy braking during this period.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

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Comments and Suggestions:
ron_of_orange Comments: Referring to figure 14. This Receptacle connector needs to be replaced if damaged on my 1999 528i. This is the half which is considered part of the body wiring system. Simply replacing the disc brake pads and the sensor only on the Right Rear wheel is fine until the receptacle haft of this connector becomes OLD or Damaged due to miss-handling. It is plastic and vulnerable to deteriation. Could someone fine a good part number and a good source for replacing this half of the connector. I ruined mine trying to disconnect the wiring as might could be anticipated had I know it was such a Piece of crap.
July 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I always warn people of how these connectors crumble. Time isn't friendly. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
suso35 Comments: hello Pelican,

my ABS wont turn off and can this be done just by cleaning the sensor?

also, when i did steer the sterring to the left-sideif im not mistaken/maybe both sides sometimes, the brake paddle will get a bit hard its like the paddle kicked back. whats the problem here?

also, there are grinding sounds appearance when im applying the brake?


July 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start by checking for fault codes. You won't be able to turn the light off without repairing the fault causing it to turn on. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Santosh Comments: BMW, 325IS, Rear brake/rotor replacement Cannot get the rotor off - I am trying to get the rear right rotor off. I have rear passenger side jacked up, wheel off, e-brake off, neutral and the rotor does NOT rotatetrying to soak the hub/rotor contact area with WD40 . Can you please let me know why the rotor not spinning I expected the rotor to spin? What am I missing?
July 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the parking brake on? If so, the rotor will not release. You may have to back the parking brae shoes off to get the rotor off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mit Comments: Hi, I have a couple of questions. I have an E92 320d. Brake pads and discs have just been replaced all round about 50-100 miles on them. I noticed it seems like the outer edge of the pad on each wheel is touching the discs ever so slightly when brakes are not being applied. Is this normal?
Secondly, the front brake service indicator shows 80,000 miles, whereas rears show 16,000. Both replaced at the same time. Seems unusually high to me. This is the same value that it was showing before the pad replacement, and I haven't seen it decreasing. Any idea what could be causing this? Thanks!
June 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the rotors were not replace and there is a ridge on the outside of the rotor from wear, the pad may hit the ridge before the remainder of the rotor.

The service data for the brake pads needs to be reset using a BMW scan tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Lobstah Lovah Comments: BMW 328i needs new break pads but I have only 34k miles on the car and I am original owner. My research indicated I DO NOT have to replace rotors and pads at the same time but the dealer will insist, even if not required. BMW Annapolis quoted the following: Front brakes $842 and the rear brakes $832. They did not give me options and told me the balancing was $20 additional PER TIRE.

Anybody have a BMW tire expert in the Quantico VA area??
May 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the rotors are under spec, you will have to replace them. The rotors do wear quickly, so I wouldn't doubt your vehicle needs them. If you don't trust the diagnosis seeking a second opinion is a good idea. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to suggest a shop.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
john Comments: Sorry, forgot to mention it is a 2001 330xi front passenger side
May 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, got it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
john Comments: Hi!
It seems the caliper housing is rubbing against the inside of the wheel 17 inch stock alloy recently. A friend suggested I change the rubber caliper bolt guides/bushings because they are kind of "mushy". Does this sound reasonable? You can see where the caliper housing is rubbing against the inside of the wheel barely. I am surprised there is no metal housing to guide the bolts.
May 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the bushings are worn, the caliper could be moving around, it may contact the wheel. I have not seen that happen myself, but it is a lose fit to begin with. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JesseG Comments: I just changed the brake pads on my 2007 525i bmw. I did it just how it explains on this article and videos ive seen on youtube but when I got done and took it for a test drive I noticed they were squeeking very bad. At first I thought it was just because they needed to be broken in but its been about a month and its still doing it. I had bought aftermarket metallic brake pads from autozone could this be the reason theyre doing that or is there something else that I am doing wrong?
April 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely low quality pads. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mig Comments: Hi
I just changed my rear brake pads on my e90 325i and the 3500 miles remaining message won't reset. I've tried the reset procedure on the dash , but the message seems to stuck on 3500 miles left?? Anyone encounter this before??
March 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. First check if the all the brake pad sensors are in good shape and properly connected. If so, you may have to use a BMW scan tool to reset the data. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
73mark Comments: I have a bmw 3 series 320td compact NSF brake pads are rubbing.What do I need to do to stop this. Thanks
March 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: rubbing on what? What exactly is the issue? Are they grinding? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Adam540i Comments: I just replaced the brakes on my 2000 540i Touring with OEM brakes Jurid. On the front driver's side, the caliper housing is rubbing against the rotor. The metal-on-metal contact is making gouges in the caliper housing. None of the other 3 brakes resulted in that, and I've taken it apart three times trying to find the problem. Any ideas?
October 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Which part of the rotor? The radius of the disc (vent side)? There may be a manufacturing issue with this specific caliper. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mike Comments: How difficult is it to change the oil on 2001 BMW Z3 2.5L?
September 12, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not hard at all, check out the articles on our tech page.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Adamhrdr Comments: Hi I have a 2008 335xi. I need the vehicle check done rear brakes and brake fluid. I wanna know all the parts I need for all of that. Thanks
September 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you put together a parts list. This tech article will help you when replacing them: http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E90/BRAKES-Brake_Pads_Replacement/BRAKES-Brake_Pads_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lippo Comments: On my 2003 3 series the traction control light stays on an the handbrake goes from red to amber when realising the handbrake
Any ideas
Thanx
September 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a fault code stored for the ABS system. I would performa full vehicle scan using a BMW Scan tool. Once you know what fault code is stored you can dignose and repair the vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JGM31 Comments: Wayne,
I've been working with you guys for over a decade to keep my 964 C4 on the road. My Wife's 2008 E70 is now out of warranty and seems to need a lot of attention. Most recently I've been getting a AWD DSC Malfunction warning and the DSC system is turned off do to the failure. I have put on new front brake pads and sensors, and reset the sensors and miles remaining on Pads. First I'm curious if the error codes thrown are more detailed i.e. which component tied into the DSC system is giving the out of tolerance reading? I checked brake fluid, brake pads, brake sensors, replaced 5 yr old battery. I noticed the tire wear and contacted BMW dealer who explained alignment problems could cause DSC problems. Sounded reasonable, so had them do 4 wheel alignment. On the drive home from BMW the car threw the AWD/DSC Malfunction. So are the error codes at such a high level they don't point you at which one of the dozens sensors and components that make up the AWD DSC system has failed? I was also a bit curious if thin brake pads on the rear could cause problems due to the large amount of fluid that has accumulated in the wheel cylinder. The large amount of fluid my cause too much delay/damping for the brake systems rapid pressure pulsing. Just a thought. I have dug up a E70 DSC schematic and it all makes sense to me how it all works but not sure how to pinpoint yaw sensor vs wheel speed vs etc. BTW, I have a MSEE and worked for many years on satellite communications systems testing. Failure codes in that field are fairly high level, but you have experienced engineers doing all the troubleshooting. I would hope BMW made life somewhat easier for the multitude service techs around the globe. Thanks for your time and help.
September 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The DSC system on the E70 X5 involves several systems, the brakes, the transfer case, the engine, and if you have dynamic drive, the shocks and the steering. It uses communication lines between the various control units to get the job done. If there are faults related to any of those systems the DSC system will turn off and turn the light on. A factory scan tool is your best bet to find and solve the fault.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
tallguy Comments: I just changed my front brakes and wear sensor on my 04 bmw 745li. I reset the mileage for the brakes to be serviced again but the "Brake linings worn to minimum depth" message is still on and my brake light indicator is on as well. How do I reset it?
September 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have already reset the brake lining light with the BC Switch and the cluster and the light is still on you are going to have to use a factory scan tool to reset it. Sometimes it was a programing issue and the light would not reset correctly.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jules Comments: Hi I have a 2007 335xi. My brake light came on. How can I confirm which set of pads its for, Front or Rear? My rear brake pads look beefy but the front brake pads are harder to see. Anyway to tell? Also, do i have to replace the sensor for EACH brake pad 4?
August 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When the warning comes on, it shows the front or the rear of the vehicle, with the pad wear symbol. If the front of the vehicle is shown, it requires front brakes. I would inspect the brakes before ordering parts to be sure you get what you need.


You will need one sensor for each axle, 2 total.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right brake parts - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Malcolm Comments: Just replaced front brake pads, sensor and rotors on my 2004, 325Ci. Found your site incredibly helpful. Had absolutely NO problems.
June 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad we could help, thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
raymanhattan Comments: Hello there i got a 1999 BMW 328i that has been good to me but now she has been make my life very hard. The drive axle on the passenger rear side needs to be replaced. I pulled off tire, axle bolt, two bolts for brake caliper, and now i can't get the rotor of so i can change out the busted axle. I did also take out the set screw and still i am un able to pull off the full rotor of so i can pull the old axle. If anyone can help me out i will love you man. I need to get this car going before i start my new job this monday coming up. Thanks
June 20, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the parking brake shoes are backed off. Use this tech article to help you remove the rear rotor: http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/BMW-3-Series-E46/40-BRAKES-Parking_Brake_Shoes_Replacement/40-BRAKES-Parking_Brake_Shoes_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kiaboyd Comments: I just got my front brakes and rotors replaced in May and the rear replaced in November of this year...when I press on the brakes the front brakes squeel...and the BMW dealership checked them and said that the front brakes where at 9.9mm and the back where at 10mm and I dont understand that lingo! Is the noise normal or should I take the car back?
November 29, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Some brake pad squeal can be considered normal. However excessive suqealing is caused by brake pad / rotor composition. If it is excessive, ask the shop to look into it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
max Comments: Hi Everyone
I just want to say a HUGH thank you for all the info on this site. I was really stuck on my own not knowing how to change the disk pads when in desperation I googled and found your great site. I discovered all I needed was a 7mm allen wrench!!!! So easy when you know how.I had stripped the whole thing as far as I thought but did not realise the shiney bolt things actually came out : I am not mechanical as you might have realised. My disk pads were gone - bare metal on the right hand side and maybe 1 mm on the left. I ventured down to lake eland in the middle of the bush and realised my breaks were gone! See pic.
Thank you all the way from south africa.
You guys saved my day.
November 12, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad the article was helpful. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chuck Comments: 2005 BMW 525I. Replace front and rear pads and sensor wires..Plugged and un-plugged rear sensor wire several times. Has message and won't reset.



November 11, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have to replace the brake message through the instrument cluster on iDrive.

Use the toggle to navigate to the warning message, then reset my pressing and holding the BC button on end of turn signal stalk.

Look under info sources in the iDrive menu
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
moaner Comments: i have a 1999 e39 brake pad light came on then next day went off couple of days later came on and stayed on checked brake pads a good 10 mill waiting for new sensor to arrive is it safe to put new one on if light stays on will it ruinin new sensor
August 27, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that the sensor has not made contact witht he brake pad. if it has, the new sensor will wear just the same as the old one. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Alan Comments: The sensors on my 520D manual says I have to change the rear brake pads pads in 5000kMs. The car has 35,000kMs 21,000 miles on clock. I have never replaced brakes on any car under 80,000kMs. Is this normal? The garage tell me this is "normal" for the 520D.
May 7, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The brake pads are monitored by a two stage sensor (assuming you have an E60). If the message indicates you will need replacement brakes soon, you likely will. The message is calculated from brake sensor wear and mileage. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
THEMBA MKHABELA Comments: how to reset the replacing brake pads in order to remove the reporting message on the dashboard screen
April 8, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Once the sensors are repalced, turn the ignition ON for 30 seconds, then cycle key OFF and start the engine. The light should go out if aeverything is OK with the sensors. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Pete Comments: Your instructions are great, I had no problems,Stops great
Replaced Front pads and sensor on my 318ti at 109645 mls.
did not replace rotors that looked OK and did not want them machined by Happy Harry that cuts too much life out of them.
February 27, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Always measure your brake rotors and see if they are in spec. I find the rotors wear as fast as the pads, this is why the brake feel is so good. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ogaily Comments: Iam asking,that does,t need hand held tester to get the light off after replesing the 4 brake bads and 2 brake sens,is it comes off automaticaly--thank,s very mutch
February 23, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Once the sensors are replaced and you turn the ignition ON, the light should reset. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jonathan Comments: Do the rear brakes have some connection to the parking brake? Is replacing the rear brakes as straightforward as the front brakes?
February 13, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The rear brakes are similar to the front. The parking brake is built into the rear brake system and uses the inside of the rear brake rotor as the parking brake drum. You will have to adjust the parking brake when replacing the rear brake rotors. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rick Comments: I recently bought a 2006 330ci with 45k... little old lady driven. Brake light has not come on yet and pads have some life yet. I want to replace the pads early and just have the rotors turned or not at all. Is that ok with a BMW or must I also have the rotors replaced. Don't want to spend money I don't need to. Thanks
February 7, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If your brake rotors are in spec, you can replace just the pads. Measure them before ordering parts to be sure you get everything you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JoTika Comments: I have a 2000 z3 and need to replace my rotors and pads on my front brake, is it better to purchase dealer parts or oem parts for the replacement.
January 5, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call. They will help you find a good set of replacement brakes: 1-888-280-7799 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
benny Comments: I have bmw 528i and they need front and rear breaks . The BMW mechanic quoted 800$ to replace all . Is this a good price ?
November 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that they are using quality parts and you will be OK. Prices vary depending on parts used, labor rate and region. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JJ Comments: Like "Dumbdumb" i replaced the pads and sensor on my 2001 325. test drove the car to test the breaks and all was well. Reset the sensor as suggested by turning the key to position 2. that went well too. Tried to start the car and it won't start. there is power, however all i get is a pretty loud clicking sound. any thoughts?
November 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like your battery is discharged. Check your battery and charging system. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
linedancer111 Comments: Hi.
Have just replaced front pads/disc's/sensor, on my 2006 525i tried doing a reset to no avail, keeps telling me to change all that i have done.
Any help wold be appreciated
November 6, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The reset has to be done through the intrument cluster or the iDrive interface. Through the cluster, scroll to the warning using the toggle, then press the BC button to reset. IDrive, go to info sources, then find the message and reset. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dumb dumb Comments: After chaging the pads and wear sensor on my 2003 325ci front brakes i test drove it around the block and it worked fine i shut off the car and i went and put my tools up and now my car won't start it has power but won't start i am completely clueless how i did that
October 2, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the battery discharged? it takes quite a good charge to keep later model BMWs electrical system functioning./ - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bea Comments: E36. Changed the pads all right thanks to this article but broke the sensor connector on the car side while trying to connect the new sensor wire. Can I replace it? What is the name for it
September 23, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to replace the connector and possibly the terminals, depending on what is damnaged. Not a problem to do. Call our parts specialists: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find the right parts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: I recently changed all round pads and disc on a bmw and i had to adjust the parking brake as well. Now as the car is coming to a stop the are very squeaky, also after a long journey you can smell some burning......could this be down to the wrong adjustment down at the brake shoes i.e to tight ? Any help would n=be much appreciated.
August 31, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pull the parking brake handle up half way. Then adjust the rear adjuster on the parking brake shoes. Then you want to adjust the cable at the parking brake handle so the brakes hold at 3 clicks up. If the rear wheels have drag, loosen the adjuster a few clicks until wheels spin free.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
rob Comments: i just got back brake pads put on today and a new sensor and the light is still on will the light go out or is there a reset button for this
August 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the connection at the sensor is faulty. Also, check the sensor on both axles. You may have a break in the circuit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Leebmw Comments: I accidentally erase the front & rear brake miles during the reset service processing.
So now, my red brake lights on. The service reminder reads “miles ----. I tried reset service few times but did not work. How can I bring these miles back to the system?
Please help. Thanks

August 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure of your vehicle model and year. I would start the reset procedure again and see if that does it. If not, the red brake light may be on due to another issue. On late BMW models, themileage can be reset using a BMW scan tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Glenn Comments: Getting ready to replace front pads and rotor on a 2001 e39. Looks like a special socket is required to remove rotor. You sell that tool?
June 23, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No special socket. Should be a 6 mm Allen bit. We do have that tool for you to purchase. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Koch Comments: I have a '95 525i. The brake lining light came on. I checked all four wheels, and none of the brake pads are worn enough to warrant replacing. Is there another issue that would cause the warning light to come on?
May 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The sensor may be open, even if the pads look OK. It may llook like a good amount of pad remaining when the sensor wears. I would inspect the sensors and see which one is faulty.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
joe Comments: i have a 328 2003 noise just began in rear when applying brakes no warning light on dash is it maybe safe to drive short distance if no light is on
May 26, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have a brake noise, I would not drive it. I would inspect it immediately. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
passy Comments: tengo problemas con el freno de 325i E36 se hunde el pedal del freno no lo encuentro solución agradeseria algunos consejos gracias saludos muy bueno el foro
April 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Compruebe el líquido de frenos, si es bajo. Puede tener fugas en el sistema hidráulico o un cilindro maestro defectuoso.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rick Comments: I have a 2008 528xi with 31,000 miles. The brake light sensor has not gone off yet but I am replacing all the pads anyway. Do I have to replace the sensors when I do the pads?
April 5, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the light has not gone off, then you probably don't need to replace the sensors. I would take a close look at them when you remove them from the pads - make sure that they have not started to wear at all, and are like new. If yes, then simply reinstall them into the new pads - don't even unplug them, as that can sometimes cause issues if the plugs don't seat properly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
twintwin Comments: brake light will not go out i have a 2007 bmw 328i i just change the pads and put a new sencor
March 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's very common for these sensors to not completely connect when you're replugging them into the car. I would unplug and then replug them in again and check the lamp. I do not think that you need to reset the lamp in the computer on this car, but I'm not 100% sure on the newer vehicles (they keep changing the way these things work). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
kev Comments: I just changed my brakes and I see the connection for the front brake light sensor but where in the world is the "little" box for the rear sensor?
March 9, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The rear sensor "box" and plug should be located near the rear wheel - but only on one side. You may be looking at the opposite side of the car. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Big D Comments: Does the sensor work with any brake pad that fits the 525i BMW? Is there any thing special about the pad itself to work with the sensor? The dash light has not go out and we replaced the entire sensor wire assembly. It really seems pretty straight forward, but I don't really understand what it is about the sensor that gets 'used up" once it comes on.
January 3, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The sensor is a one-time use item. When the pads wear down and get thinner, they also wear down the sensor. When the sensor gets worn down, there is an electrical connection that becomes broken. The two wires in the sensors that are normally connected electrically become separated. Once this happens, you need to replace the sensors with new ones. They are cheap, about $14 each, so this is typically not a problem. New sensors should be connected electrically when installed new, and this should be sufficient to make the lamp go out when you plug them in. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
George Comments: I have a BMW 3 Series and the front breaks make noise. Do I need to wait for the break light to go off or I need to have the breaks changed?
December 28, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Squealing pads are not necessarily a sign that the brakes need to be changed - they may just be vibrating within the caliper. I would take a look at the pads through the wheel itself to see if you can figure out what the condition of the pads are. If they are low, then replace them. If they have ample material on them, then you might want to install some anti-squeal pads on the back of the brake pads to try to minimize the noise levels. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
BB Comments: I have a E90 3series BMW. Do i need to replace sensors also along with brake pads?
December 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the sensor triggered a low pad alert on your dashboard, then yes, you need to replace the sensor. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
JLee Comments: Just finished installing my BMW 330i with new brakes. Had a buddy that works for a local auto part store and the brakes cost me not even $50. Finished installing the brakes in under 2 hours.
October 28, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ajreys Comments: Just finished replacing the front brake pads and brake pad sensor on my '00 323i. Piece of cake! Thanks Wayne for a great article and photos. It sure made the job a lot easier.
October 13, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No sweat! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jim Comments: The 7mm wrench info was a life saver! I can only imagin thinking the 6 was correct and stripping out thise heads!
Lows sells a MM set with the correct sizes for this and other sneeky allen heads.
October 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mappy Comments: i want to know what to get out low disc pad light out of the dashboard i have a 5260bmw
October 5, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the pads wear down, the sensors activate. Once the sensors are activated, they need to be replaced in order to reset the lamp (they are about $10 each). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
BG Comments: I'm replacing pads, discs on 03 525i. Do you need to use anti-squeal compound? Do you also need to scuff up the new discs for break insaw posted somewhere.

What is the recommended break-in for new discs and brake pads.

September 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I usually just install them without doing any of that. I haven't had any issues like that on my E39 5-Series. It takes about 100 miles or so to break in the pads with the new rotors. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
BN Comments: I need to replace pads and rotors on 03 525i. Is it worth upgrading to cross drilled rotors and ceramic structure high friction brake pads?
September 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With a 5-Series sedan, it's probably not terribly useful. The cross-drilling help to prevent brake fade under heavy usage and most people don't track their 5-Series. If you're coming down a big hill and riding the brakes, it will help, but then again, you should be engine braking the car at that point. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Charles Comments: I Just got new rear rotors for my 323i 00' and now the calipers seem to be to small to reach the mounting brackets but the parts dept says they are the right rotors. is there a trick to getting these back on?
August 3, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's probably not a motor issue, I would check the trunk switch and the other microswitches first - these are what commonly fail and prevent the roof from opening. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Big Ern Comments: I just replaced the rotors and brakes on a 745i. I also replaced the sensor. The Brake light is still on. What should I do?
July 27, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Depending upon the year of your car, the light should just go out. Unplug and then reseat the connector for the sensor - often they don't seat 100% properly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
dij Comments: is a brake sensor a mOt requirement and if my bulb is on would that cause a failure in a m ot? wb
April 15, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This depends on the area you live in. But I would assume an indication of worn brakes would be a problem during a vehicle inspection. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Philby Comments: Figure 5, to lever off the caliper - I found it effecient to lever against the hub rather than the pad housing. This way the spring is centred in the hole and is easily removed. Re assembly is same, making sure the lugs are locked into the caliper retaining holes.
March 13, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I agree. I like to lever on the rotor hub myself, while holding the spring clip from shooting off. Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Der Bart84 Comments: Wow, it's really easy! Thanks for this guide. Make sure to have a 7 mm Allen wrench at hand before you start, just like you said. And don't make my mistake of the day: taking off the wheel and brake calliper only to find out you have bought front brake pads, they're different!
March 9, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad we could help and thanks for the feedback. Bummer about the wrong parts. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
den Comments: After reinstalling the caliper guide bolts on the front assembly of my '03 325 xi the whole assembly feels loose, they can't be tightened any more, is that normal? Are the guide bolts also securing the caliper or are they just they guides? I didn't notice this when I did the rear pads. Also, should the guides be lubed at all, wd40, wht lith, silicone or other?
NOTE- for those having trouble finding a 7mm Allen wrench I found a Stanley Hex set with a 7mm head for my socket wrench it's tight space for the wrench so on the upper bolt on rear calipers you need to make the last few turns with your fingers to get the bolt out. Thanks.
February 13, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Lube the slides with silicone brake grease. The caliper may feel loose until you install the anti-rattle spring. be sure all your fasteners are properly tightened. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DonM Comments: Just wanted to say thnx for all the information your article provided.
I have '05 330ci and the brake censor was lit on the dash. Bought the pads and new censors. Followed the info sheet and the pads/censors were changed in about 2 hrs. 7mm wrench was a big tip.

Negs - if your going to change censors, just cut the old wire and leave the clip in the pad, its a bummer trying to get it out. The rear censor placement on the car side is nuts. it is under the side near the frame, not easy but I got it done.
All and all it was easy. I have changed disk pads on other carusa and this was just as easy.
I saved over $900.00 over the dealer price..

You have a great site.

January 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and tip on the sensors. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jpm68ss Comments: You forgot to reinstall the brake pad retaining clip. They are really tough to get back into place. Any hints on how easily snap them back without deforming them?
November 22, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Insert the spring into the holes in the caliper, with the ends resting on the support bracket. Then press it in until it snaps into place. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Francisco Comments: For ordering purposes, do I need one sensor for each pad 4 total for front and back or one for the front brakes and one for rear for a total of two sensors?
November 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need one sensor per axle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Phoenix Comments: Is there a trick to opening the box on the wheel well that the sensor connects in? I have applied a fair amount of force & don't want to damage it.
November 4, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are some small clips that you can pry back with your fingernails to get them open. I've broken a few in my time too, as they do get brittle over the years. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
tolly Comments: i have a 325 ti compact have changed rear pads and sensors but the dsc and handbrake lights stay on an orange colour any suggestions
October 8, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Make sure that the sensors are properly seated in their connectors - I had this problem on a 5-Series we replaced the pads on recently. We reseated the connectors, and the light went away. Also, check to make sure the front pads haven't activated the sensors either. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
mjke in leo, in Comments: thanks..your article saved me time and headaches...esp. the 7mm Allen wrench note - though the brake sensor is a real booger...am still not sure i got back in there right...will see...thanks
October 5, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can take the little arm on and off once the transmission is installed in the car, so I would take a good guess and then if you're off when adjusting the clutch, simply remove the arm and move it over one notch or so. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jaledrob Comments: My pads are new I just need to replace rotors... Do I even have to mess with the sensor and rattle clips???
September 30, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You need to remove the pads in order to get the caliper off, so you need to remove the sensors from the pads. They break very easily, but you can just plug them back into the pads when you're done. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Riley Comments: I'm getting ready to replace F/R pads & rotors on 2000 528i. I've done brakes on other cars and the rear calipers have required a special tool to push the piston back in for new pad clearance. Is this the same for BMW?
September 19, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, all you need is a block of wood. You can also use a pair of c-clamp type Vice-Grips if you need to as well. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Cesar Comments: I replaced my pads and rotors today on my 86 E30. This article as well as the article on replacing rotors helped enormously. Also, using a carpenters 4" C-clamp, like adgediy suggested below, to push the piston back worked brilliantly. All in all, todays work was a success. Thank you Pelican Parts.
September 13, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and additional information. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ron Comments: I have a 2005 325i 55K miles and the sensor light has just turned on. I plan to replace the pads on all four wheels, but how do I know if the rotors need replacing too?
August 25, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You have to measure them, to see if they are still within spec. I have an article on that here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/101-Projects-57-Brake-Disc/101-Projects-57-Brake-Disc.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Chrisp3 Comments: Here's a really stupid question.....I bought rotors and pads but not sensors.....can I add the sensors later wihout having to disassemble everything? Or do I need to have the sensors available at the time of completing the brake job?
August 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can replace the sensors later, but it's much easier with everything apart. You need to take off the wheels to install the sensors. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
None Comments: Use the carpenters C clamp like the gentleman suggested further up the post. It works like magic.
August 12, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad to hear it worked out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JG Comments: "ff: Make sure that both the front and rear sensors are connected properly and secure. Also, you typically have to use new sensors, as once they go on, they are permanently on. - Wayne at Pelican Parts"

when you say their "permanently on" how is the senxsor able to be put back on when new brake pads are put on, if using the existing sensor?

thanks!

August 8, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Once the sensor is activated, it is destroyed and you need to use a new sensor. So if your sensor never turned on, you can reuse them. If it went off and indicated the lamp on your dash, you cannot reuse them. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
fastcars Comments: thanks for the reseting tip i was now worried how to reset the brake light
July 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem, glad to help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve Comments: I have a 2004 325i. I have replaced rear brakes and sensor purchased from the dealer but the light won't turn off. Any suggestions? The front ones were replaced a year ago.
June 12, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: They should go off when the new sensor is installed. Sometimes the connection to the new sensor is not tight - I'd recheck your wiring. This happened on a 5-Series we did last month. Took about 15 minutes of wiggling to get the sensor seated correctly in the connector. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
DeeDee Comments: I am a divorced mom and so finances are limited although I received the 325xi BMW in the divorce. It needs brake pads and the dealer quoted me $1100.00, is this reasonable, or should I check elsewhere?
June 7, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We just replaced all of the brakes on my friends 2003 5-Series. Total parts cost was about $450 for the good quality stuff. It should take about 2 hrs or so, maybe three if you work slower. So, yes, $1100 is about 2X as much as I would think it would be. Then again, it might be a bit more involved because it's a 4WD vehicle, but I don't think so. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
adgediy Comments: I found that a carpenters C-clamp was good at getting the piston to retract in a gentle and controlled way. Put a thin piece of wood in front of the piston, and then slowly apply pressure with the clamp aligned over the piston.
May 26, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip. A lot of people found it useful looking at other comments. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mr. Bill Comments: I'm in the process of buying a 2006 323i at an independent dealer not a BMW dealership. I had the brakes checked at a BMW dealership and he said the brakes are at 3 to 4 mm thickness. Before I purchase the car I asked the dealer where I am buying the car to reduce the price to accomadate the $400.00 to replace the brakes. he said that they didn't need to be replaced. My question to you "what is an acceptable thickness for the brake pads??
May 22, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Brakes are easy to replace - shouldn't cost $400 unless you're doing all pads and all rotors. When the pads get thin enough, the brake light will come on, on the dash. If the rotors have 3-4mm of thickness on them, they should be good for quite some time. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
big_vern Comments: To reset the warning light, turn the ignition on but not the engine and leave for 5 minutes. Sensors will reset, and light will go out.
May 19, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additonal information. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Angelo Comments: I have a 2001 325i, I've replaced front & back brakes & rotors, but sensor will not turn off. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME?
May 11, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Make sure that both the front and rear sensors are connected properly and secure. Also, you typically have to use new sensors, as once they go on, they are permanently on. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
beachbouy Comments: who made it a 7mm allen key stupid bmw, what wrong with a good old fashion bolt
May 7, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Actually, it needs to be an Allen bolt because space is tight in there and you can't get a socket in there easily if you had a head on the bolt. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
tom Comments: on my 325e the pad seemed too thick and the piston was back all the way. The cast iron housing is two pieces and two pins slide to allow new pads. one pin was stuck in the guide. rubber expanding shields keep dirt out. these need cleaning and grease and then the new pads will fit.
April 30, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for tip. I like to clean all parts of the brake system when servicing. This helps extend their lifetime. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dingo Comments: I have a '93 325is. Everything worked fine until it came time to put in the second brake pad. It will not fit. I know it is fully compressed, yet the brake pads seem too thick. Should I grind? Please help.
April 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The piston should be able to be pushed back into the bore even further than the surface of the caliper. Use a block of wood and push more - I've had this problem before - pushing further has worked every time. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: Really looking for how to get the piston back into the caliper sleeve on rear disk brakes. Looks like you have to turn them. couldn't get it to work
April 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In general, I try to avoid taking the piston out, as it can be difficult sometimes to get it back in. However, if you do have the piston removed, then you should carefully clean out the inside of the piston bore, and then use some caliper rebuild grease to lubricate the inside. Then, you should be able to slide the piston back in. If this doesn't work, then you can take some very light abrasive material and help to clean away any rust or debris that might have built up on the piston bores. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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