Does your BMW brake pedal feel soft, a brake pad warning light come off, or there’s a noise when pressing braking? Learn how to fix it by following the procedures below.
What you notice
- Brake Pad Warning Message on iDrive – A warning message reminds you that your BMW front brakes are worn below the minimum depth.
- Noise when braking -Screeching, grinding, squealing, rubbing, and other noises are common symptoms that wear out your brake pads. When the pads wear thin, it causes a metal-on-metal scenario as the brake pad wear indicator rubs against the rotor.
- Brake Pedal – Press the brake pedal harder or farther to complete braking.
- Brake Light On– Another symptom of worn brake pads is the brake light coming on.
What you will need
- BMW Front Brake Pads – Some popular brands that make BMW brake pads and discs are BOSCH, STARK, SACHS, SKF, VAN WEZEL, VALEO, LuK, MAPCO, A.B.S., and ATE. Ceramic brake pads are recommended for best performance, longer life, and low dust.
- BMW Front Rotors – Replace the rotors, especially if they have created a lip on the outer edge or your BMW steering wheel shakes when braking.
- BMW jack adaptor – Prevent your BMW jack points from bending when using a jack to lift your car for most late-model BMW or Mini vehicles.
- BMW Brake Wear Sensor – You must replace the brake wear sensor to reset the brake warning light.
- Allen key set – Needed to remove caliper guide pins.
- Jack and Jack Stand – You will need these to raise and secure the vehicle. Wheel chocks can also be used to prevent the car from rolling back. Your vehicle should have a jack in the trunk. You will need to buy jack stands.
- Lug wrench – A wheel lug wrench is needed to loosen the lug nuts. Your car should already have a lug wrench in the trunk.
- Gloves – You need to protect your hands.
- C – Clamp – Use a C clamp to press the piston into the caliper. You cannot fit the new brake pads without pushing the piston.
- Glasses – protect your eyes from flying metal pieces.
- Brake & Caliper Grease – Use it to prevent noise from brake pad vibrations. It can be used on shimmed disc brake pads, drums, and ABS systems. Use only on metal-to-metal contact points. Do not use the contact surface between the brake pad and the rotor.
- Tool Box – A toolbox with 6mm to 19mm metric sockets and a 3/8 ratchet.
- Breaker Bar – In case you need to break loose a rusted bolt.
- Penetrating Oil – Break free rusted and corroded parts.
- Torque wrench – Make sure you use the correct procedures and torque values.
Before you start
- We recommend that you review these Auto Repair Safety Rules before replacing the front brakes on your car.
- Always make sure you use the correct procedures and torque values.
- Never rely on the jack to support a vehicle. Always use jack stands in addition to the jack.
Get the lug nuts loose, but do not remove them yet.
Next, raise the vehicle and secure it with jack stands. Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels to prevent your BMW from rolling back. Ensure the parking brake is engaged.
With the car jacked up and secured by jack stands you are now ready to replace the front brake pads on your BMW.
Remove the brake wear sensor.
Use a flathead screwdriver to pry out the wear sensor from the brake pad. If you don’t notice a brake wear sensor, don’t worry. It will be installed on the other side. BMW typically uses only one brake pad wear sensor per axle.
Remove the anti-rattle retainer. Use a pry bar or a screwdriver to try out the anti-rattle retainer. This clip puts pressure on the brake caliper and prevents the brake pads from making a squeaking noise. Insert the screwdriver and pry it out.
Loose two bolts on the rear of the caliper. First, remove the two dust caps on the back of the brake caliper. The caps do not screw. You pry them out.
Next, loosen the brake caliper bolts (guide pins). Use a 7mm Allen wrench to remove the brake caliper bolts.
Remove the brake caliper from the wheel hub. If the caliper does not come off quickly, use a flat screwdriver to pry one brake pad away from the rotor.
Press the caliper piston in. With the caliper removed and the inner pad connected to the brake caliper, use a C-clamp or any compression tool to push the piston back into the caliper. This is necessary; otherwise, the brake caliper will not fit on the rotor when installing the new BMW brake pads.
Remove the old brake pads. Install the new brake pads on the caliper. Tie the brake caliper to the strut. Do not allow your BMW brake caliper to hang by the brake hose. Also, make sure to inspect the brake hose for cracks.
Remove the brake caliper bracket. Now that you have removed the front brake caliper on your BMW, you will need to remove the brake caliper bracket or what is known as the caliper carrier. You need to remove two 16 mm (sometimes 17mm or 18mm) bolts on the back. You may need to use a breaker bar to break these bolts loose.
Remove rotor. You can remove the rotor with the brake caliper bracket from the steering knuckle. First, you need to remove the set screw. This will allow you to take off the rotor. Removing your BMW rotor from the wheel hub will be difficult if the rotor is rusted.
If the rotor refuses to come off, spray penetrating oil and wait 10 min.
Next, grab a rubber hammer and hit the rotor on the back several times until the rotor gets loose.
Clean wheel hub. With the rotor removed, the wheel hub is exposed. Clean the wheel hub surface where the rotor sits with a clean rag, or scrub it with a wire brush if rust is present. Apply a very thin coat of anti-seize to the wheel hub’s face to make it easier to remove the rotor next time.
Install the rotor on the wheel hub and thread in the set screw. You don’t need to over-tighten the set screw. It keeps the rotor in place when the wheel is removed.
Use a wire brush to clean any dust or debris from areas where the bracket contacts the brake caliper or brake pads.
Install brake caliper carrier bracket. Install the two bolts that hold the carrier bracket in place.
Torque the two bolts to 80 ft-lbs or as BMW recommends for your particular model.
Install the brake pads on the brake caliper. Place the brake caliper and pads on the rotor and thread the guide pins. Rember to install the anti-rattle bracket.
Install the wheel and torque the lug nuts to 90 ft-lbs.
Open the hood and check the brake fluid level. Add BMW brake fluid if the level is below the minimum mark.
Reset the BMW brake service light. You will need to reset the brake light once you replace both front brake pads on a BMW. You can perform the BMW brake pad reset via the ODO reset button on the dashboard.
Before driving off, start the engine and press the brake pedal a few times. At first, the brake pedal will feel soft and go all the way to the floor. After two to three pedal pumps, the brakes will feel normal again.
The pictures in this guide are from a BMW 5 series. Because BMW uses a similar front brake setup, these instructions should help owners of other models, including 1-Series, 3-Series, 6-Series, 7-Series, X1, X3, X5, Z3, and Z4, except the M series.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many miles can I drive a BMW after getting the brake pad warning?
The range can vary, but typically you can get another 300-500 miles. If brake pads wear to the point that the pad metal contacts your brake rotor, you will damage the rotors. In such cases, the rotors must be replaced as well.
How much will it cost to replace a brake pad and rotor?
It costs around $300 – $800, depending on the model of your vehicle.
How often should rotors be replaced?
Around 50,000 – 70,000 miles.
We hope you find the BMW Front Brake Pad & Rotor Replacement guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your BMW.
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