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Pelican Technical Article:

Brake Pad Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$80 to $200

Talent:

***

Tools:

7mm Allen bit, flathead screwdriver, brake piston compressor, set of sockets, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, lug wrench, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

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

Hot Tip:

Stay clear of brake dust

Performance Gain:

Proper brake function

Complementary Modification:

Flush brake fluid. Replace brake rotors

BMW E60 service brakes consist of hydraulic brake calipers and rotors, one at each wheel. When the brake pedal is pressed, brake fluid is forced out of the brake master cylinder and through the brake lines to each brake caliper. Pistons in the calipers push out and clamp brake pads against the brake rotors (or discs), thus slowing down the vehicle. A vacuum assisted brake booster multiplies the braking force exerted by the driver at the brake pedal. The parking or emergency brake uses an entirely separate braking system. A pair of mechanically operated cables attached to the parking brake handle actuates parking brake shoes inside the rear wheel drums (which are integral with the rear brake rotors). I cover procedures for parking brake cable adjustment and brake shoe replacement in separate tech articles.

You should check your brake pads every time you service your BMW. Replace your brake pads if the thickness is 24 mm (0.09 in.) or below. There are brake pad wear sensors that trigger a warning light when pads reach the minimum; however the sensor is only located on one brake pad per axle. This leaves three brake pads on each axle that aren't monitored by the warning system. This is why periodic inspections are required. When replacing your brake pads, you can replace pads on one axle at a time. Have a new brake pad wear sensor handy. Even though the sensor may be reused, they become brittle and do not always fit tightly into new pads when reused. On late model BMW models, including the E60, the brake pad wear sensor has been updated. It is now more dedicated and prone to breaking when removed. The sensor is no longer a simple wire circuit that is broken when pad wear hits the minimum. It is now a two-stage wear sensor. This provides the vehicle with more accurate brake pad monitoring. So if the sensor shows the slightest bit of wear, replace it.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

In this article, I will show you how to replace brake pads on the front axle of your vehicle. Replacing the rear brake pads is similar.

With the vehicle on the ground, loosen about 1/2 turn the wheel studs on the axle you are replacing the brakes on. This will help with removing them once the vehicle is jacked up.

Lift and support the axle you are replacing the brake pads on. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove the wheels on the axle you are replacing the brake pads on.

Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the brake caliper anti-rattle spring (green arrow) by prying it out while securing it with your hand.
Figure 1

Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the brake caliper anti-rattle spring (green arrow) by prying it out while securing it with your hand. The spring can pop off and go flying. Be sure to hold it steady.

Open the brake caliper bleeder cover (green arrow) and remove the pad wear sensor (yellow arrow) wire from the mount.
Figure 2

Open the brake caliper bleeder cover (green arrow) and remove the pad wear sensor (yellow arrow) wire from the mount.

Pull the brake pad wear sensor out of the left side brake pad.
Figure 3

Pull the brake pad wear sensor out of the left side brake pad. Be very careful, as the sensor tends to break when removed. I like to use a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the sensor out.

Using a flathead screwdriver, slowly press the brake caliper piston in.
Figure 4

Using a flathead screwdriver, slowly press the brake caliper piston in. This allows the brake caliper to be pulled off the brake rotor easily. I like to pry between the outer brake pad and brake rotor. This way there is less chance of damaging the caliper piston.

Remove the rubber plugs from the brake caliper mounting fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 5

Remove the rubber plugs from the brake caliper mounting fasteners (green arrows).

Next, using a 7mm Allen bit, remove the brake caliper mounting fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 6

Next, using a 7mm Allen bit, remove the brake caliper mounting fasteners (green arrows).

Once you have the caliper slide bolts removed, clean them thoroughly.
Figure 7

Once you have the caliper slide bolts removed, clean them thoroughly. Then lubricate the bolts with a silicone brake grease.

Working behind the front strut (yellow arrow), open the plastic door for the brake pad wear sensor electrical connector.
Figure 8

Working behind the front strut (yellow arrow), open the plastic door for the brake pad wear sensor electrical connector. Unclip the tabs (green arrows) to open the door.

Disconnect the brake pad wear sensor electrical connector by pressing the release tab and pulling it apart.
Figure 9

Disconnect the brake pad wear sensor electrical connector by pressing the release tab and pulling it apart.

Remove the brake caliper from the mounting bracket.
Figure 10

Remove the brake caliper from the mounting bracket. Do not allow the brake caliper to hang from the brake hose. Secure it to the vehicle using a piece of a metal coat hanger or a strong bungee cord.

Remove the brake pads from the brake caliper.
Figure 11

Remove the brake pads from the brake caliper. Pull the outer pad straight off to remove it from the bracket. If stuck, use a flathead screwdriver and gently lever it out. Then pull the other pad straight out of the caliper (yellow arrow).

Then press the piston back into the caliper using a brake caliper piston tool.
Figure 12

Then press the piston back into the caliper using a brake caliper piston tool. Install the new brake pads into the caliper and caliper-mounting bracket. Install the caliper to the mounting bracket and tighten the fasteners. Then install the rubber plugs. Connect the pad wear sensor electrical connector and route the wiring harness as before. Install the brake pad wear sensor into the brake pad. Install the brake pad anti-rattle clip by pressing it into the caliper and pushing it down to confirm it is properly seated. Once the calipers are installed and the fasteners are tight, press the brake pedal to pump the brakes up. Once the brake pedal is hard to push, install the wheels and check the brake operation.

If you are having trouble with a brake pad warning light and the sensors and pads look OK, you will want to test the circuit.
Figure 13

If you are having trouble with a brake pad warning light and the sensors and pads look OK, you will want to test the circuit. Follow the steps previously mentioned in the tech article to unplug the sensor in question. Then jump terminals 1 and 2 (green arrows) together using a fused jumper wire, (photo shows harness side of connector). Switch ignition ON and OFF, then back ON. If the light goes out the sensor is faulty. If the light doesn't go out, leave the jumper wire in place and perform the same steps on the next sensor. If you jump out both connectors and the light doesn't go out, the problem is likely in the harness. I find most issues are with the harness from the front brake pad sensor up along the body. You will have to test the wires to determine which part of the harness is faulty. You could run new wires to test, which is the quickest to diagnose this issue. Or you can test the wiring using a DVOM measuring the ohms. Once the problem is found, replace the faulty wires or connection.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Wagonwanter Comments: Some of the brake fluid from the brake resevoir should be drained before the piston is pressed back into the caliper otherwise it could overfill & seep out & strip the paint from under the brake master. You could drain the old fluid out the bleeder while pressing the piston back in.
October 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the fluid was topped up, this is true. Most times fluid is not topped up so this is not a problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Guam135i Comments: When you say tab is that the average cost for labor only?
June 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Parts cost only. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gdoke Comments: In the second paragraph please check the pad thickness measurements, 2.4 mm does not equal .9 inches.
March 2, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for catching that typo. Should read 24mm. I will have the article updated. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Pete Comments: Torque specs?
August 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have them handy. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
pako Comments: Best one!!!Thank you!!!
July 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Deanna R. Jones Comments: This is great information! I agree with your tip to have the brake pads in my car checked every time I take my car to a repair shop. Brake pads seem like a vital part to have a car that's safe to drive. I liked your tip to replace brake pads when the two-stage wear sensor lights up. It's good to know that they're made to be more accurate when monitoring my brake pads.
June 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jdant202 Comments: I had no idea that there was so much behind brake pads. I've noticed some squeaking from my brake pads. I've been looking to learn a little more about that. Thanks for sharing a little more on that.
June 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:41:01 AM