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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-02-2008, 05:19 PM
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What fluids (only) should be used in a typical E39 brake job?

I'm doing a brake job which seems to be easy except that every tutorial I find either skips the "fluids" or lobs them about without explaining.

Can I summarize which fluids would be used in a typical BMW brake job (front and rear rotors, pads, and sensors)?

Is this correct (or would you modify)?
1. Locktite red on all bolts removed and replaced except caliper guides

2. CRC or Permatex Brake Disc Quiet for the back of the pads

3. Synthetic high-temp grease for the guide bolts (despite the fact the Bentleys say not to put anything on the caliper guide bolts)

4. BMW Never seez compound, P/N 83-23-9-407-830 for the rotor bolt, wheel lug threads, & rotor-to-hub face

5. CRC Brakecleen to clean parts

6. DOT4 low-viscocity only (according to the Bentleys, we aren't supposed to use "normal" DOT4 for the brake fluid.

I'm confused because no one tutorial has all 6 of these fluids described and everyone batters them about loosly as if they already know the answer.

Can you tell me what should be modified so I (and everyone else) will benefit for our brake jobs?
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2008, 05:45 PM
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Sounds about right.

I didn't use any loctite on the bolts. Just torqued them to spec.

Also, I'm not too wild about your suggestion to put anything on the caliper guide bolts. All the sources I have (Bentley manual, Haynes E46 Manual), all the E46 DIYs all say to leave them dry.

I'm also not sure I'd put anti-sieze paste on the wheel bolt threads. Rotor hub, yes, but the threads...? YMMV I guess.

Yes, the CRC is good stuff on the back of the pads, provided you don't overdo it.

You didn't list high-temperature grease where I would use it, i.e. on the actuating areas on the pads themselves.
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  #3  
Old 03-02-2008, 06:37 PM
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Where do you use the high-temperature grease?

Quote:
You didn't list high-temperature grease where I would use it, i.e. on the actuating areas on the pads themselves.
I am very confused where to put the high-temperature grease so thank you for clarifying. I was also very confused about the locktite.

As for the high-temperature disc-brake grease I bought already ... by "actuating" areas, do you mean the tabs (wings?) on the side of the pads where the steel backing slides against the mated caliper landings?
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Last edited by bluebee; 03-02-2008 at 07:10 PM.
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  #4  
Old 03-02-2008, 06:39 PM
Ben Carufel Ben Carufel is offline
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I would not use Loctite.

For brake fluid, the brand you are looking for is ATE. Specifically ask for Super Blue fluid.
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2008, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
I would not use locktite
OK. That's two who said not to use locktite so I'll go with it.

Based on some more reads, and discounting some suggestions in order to come up with a general consensus, here's the current bimmerfest list of five fluids needed for a typical E39 saloon brake job.

Please modify as the value is in the results; not the intermediate steps.

0. No locktite on any bolt. Nothing on the 7mm caliper-guide bolts.

1. CRC or Permatex Brake Disc Quiet on the back of the pads

2. Synthetic high-temp grease for the pad actuating areas.

3. BMW Never seez (P/N 83-23-9-407-830) for the one 8mm rotor bolt, five 17mm wheel lug threads, & the rotor-to-hub face

4. CRC Brakecleen to clean parts (isopropyl alcohol is sometimes suggested)

5. ATE (Super Blue) DOT4 low-viscosity brake fluid (apparently you can't use "normal" DOT4)

Last edited by bluebee; 03-02-2008 at 06:53 PM. Reason: Modified to take ATE Super Blue DOT4 low-viscosity fluid into account
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  #6  
Old 03-02-2008, 07:08 PM
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You don't need brake fluid unless one of the following:

1) You are going to do a brake flush at the same time. While it's a very good idea to flush your brake fluid, do keep in mind that it's completely separate from a brake job. A brake job is actually a *dry* job.

2) You are EXTREMELY low on brake fluid. But since when you put in new pads you will have to push out the piston on the caliper. In doing so you are actually raising the level of fluid in the resevoir, so in reality it's quite unlikely.

It's still a good idea to have brake fluid handy. ATE type 200 is a great fluid. It's a DOT 4 and has excellent dry and wet boiling points.

Also, since you've never done brake fluid on a 5er, you won't easily find the brake fluid resevoir because it hides under the driver side AC filter.
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  #7  
Old 03-02-2008, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
OK. That's two who said not to use locktite so I'll go with it.


5. ATE (Super Blue) DOT4 low-viscosity brake fluid (apparently you can't use "normal" DOT4)
I just went through this with Dave Z the other day. Super Blue is *technically* not a DOT 4 because one of the conditions of being a DOT 4 is that it has to be gold in color. But it will perform just like the Type 200.
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  #8  
Old 03-03-2008, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
not sure I'd put anti-sieze paste on the wheel bolt threads
You're right; I was wrong. One of the tutorials said to put anti-sieze on the lug bolts, so, that's where I got the idea from.

That was wrong! I'll revise the steps in my how-to article.

Apparently putting ANYTHING on the wheel bolt threads is a very bad thing according to the article here:
http://www.aa1car.com/library/ceramic.htm

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  #9  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:28 AM
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This ATE 200 and 400 fluid looks like great stuff compared to regular DOT4 fluids

Quote:
Super Blue is *technically* not a DOT 4 because one of the conditions of being a DOT 4 is that it has to be gold in color. But it will perform just like the [amber colored] ATE Type 200.
Does anyone know if this recommended ATE 200 brake fluid is "regular" DOT4 or "low viscosity" DOT4 as called for in the Bentley manuals (page 340-9, Volume 1 of 2).

I had to look up this ATE stuff. I like what I read but the comparisons say nothing about "low viscosity" which is what the Bentley shop manuals that come with the car say to use!


ATE Super Blue Specifications:
DOT Rating - 4
Dry Boiling Point - 536°F
Wet Boiling Point - 396°F
Compatible With Other Fluids - Yes
Ate® Super Blue is identical in specification to the Ate® TYP 200 brake fluid. ATE Super Blue lies 20 °C over the DOT 5.1 standard. Most cars can go without a brake fluid change for up to 3 years while DOT 3 products should be replaced annually.



ATE Type 200 (Amber) Specifications:
DOT Rating - 4
Dry Boiling Point - 536°F
Wet Boiling Point - 396°F
Compatible With Other Fluids - Yes
Ate® Fluids are compatible and will mix with most DOT3, DOT4, or DOT 5.1 Fluids.

Does anyone know if this ATE 200 fluid is "regular" DOT4 or "low viscosity" DOT4 as called for in the Bentley manuals (page 340-9, Volume 1 of 2).
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  #10  
Old 03-04-2008, 08:27 AM
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Just got off the phone with Mark at Zeckhausen.

Other than ATE 200 (DOT4, amber), they recommend the brakes go on dry.
No fluids other than what BMW recommends.

According to the Bentleys, that means only a dab of anti-seize compound on the rotor hubs. Plus a bit of anti-squeal compound on the "caliper contact face" and a smear on the two pad carrier "brake pad rests". Nothing else.

That's it for fluids:
- DOT4 (ATE 200, color=Amber) for the master cylinder (if bleeding)
- Anti-seize (aka "Never seez") for the rotor hubs (if replacing rotors)
- Anti-squeal (aka Orange) for the caliper contact face and carrier rests

Of course, cleaning materials would be:
- Gunk degreasor (if warranted) for potential greasy areas
- Brakeclean spray (or isopropyl alcohol) which drys w/o residue

There's (apparently) no need for:
- Locktite
- High-temperature brake disc grease

I'm amazed at how much conflicting information is written out there as to the fluids to use for a typical BMW brake job. Hopefully this summary puts it all to rest!
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  #11  
Old 03-07-2008, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Just got off the phone with Mark at Zeckhausen.

Other than ATE 200 (DOT4, amber), they recommend the brakes go on dry.
No fluids other than what BMW recommends.

I have used Valvoline Synpower Synthetic Brake Fluid on my fluid change-(yes it is DOT4) keep in mind if your fluid has not been changed in two years now is the time to change/flush it since the wheels are off. BMW recommends brake fluid changes every two years as brake fluid absorbs moisture and this moisture can cause the metalic parts of the system to rust and seize. You might want to get yourself a Motive Power bleeder www.motiveproducts.com to help with the brake fluid flush.

According to the Bentleys, that means only a dab of anti-seize compound on the rotor hubs. Plus a bit of anti-squeal compound on the "caliper contact face" and a smear on the two pad carrier "brake pad rests". Nothing else.

That's it for fluids:
- DOT4 (ATE 200, color=Amber) for the master cylinder (if bleeding)
- Anti-seize (aka "Never seez") for the rotor hubs (if replacing rotors)
- Anti-squeal (aka Orange) for the caliper contact face and carrier rests

Of course, cleaning materials would be:
- Gunk degreasor (if warranted) for potential greasy areas
- Brakeclean spray (or isopropyl alcohol) which drys w/o residue

There's (apparently) no need for:
- Locktite
- High-temperature brake disc grease
In many cases anti-squeal compound is the same as high temp brake disc grease. I have used CRC high temp brake brake caliper grease on the back of the pads to minimize squealing
I'm amazed at how much conflicting information is written out there as to the fluids to use for a typical BMW brake job. Hopefully this summary puts it all to rest!

I am not so sure it is conflicting information but more opinions from people of varying levels of expertise based on their experiences. Unfortunately, in a forum, it's hard to determine why something was recommended or why someone decided to use one over another without going into their background and experience.
I'm amazed at how much conflicting information is written out there as to the fluids to use for a typical BMW brake job. Hopefully this summary puts it all to rest!

I am not so sure it is conflicting information but more opinions from people of varying levels of expertise based on their experiences. Unfortunately, in a forum, it's hard to determine why something was recommended or why someone decided to use one over another without going into their background and experience. Even among experts, I am sure you'll get different opinions on 6 out of 10 topics. And even amongst experts, you may find they change their opinion 6 months down the road based on more experience
a

Last edited by dvsgene; 03-07-2008 at 10:12 AM.
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  #12  
Old 03-07-2008, 12:11 PM
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Might have something to do with the year too. (for instance: pending on year you have different trannies, different ATF, different headlights, etc yet it's the same e39)
In my case the brake fluid is the blue one 100% (OEM) you posted above.
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  #13  
Old 03-07-2008, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Might have something to do with the year too. (for instance: pending on year you have different trannies, different ATF, different headlights, etc yet it's the same e39)
In my case the brake fluid is the blue one 100% (OEM) you posted above.
That's probably true too.

On a related note: with Brake fluid, sometimes people like to use a different color fluid when they change the fluid so they know when the new fluid has cycled through the system. So if you got amber, you MAY want to consider Blue color and if you got Blue, you might want to consider Amber color, alternating between changes. Just make sure the fluid is compatible. Color is just related to the dye used not the quality or compatibility of the fluid with other colors.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
people like to use a different color fluid when they change the fluid so they know when the new fluid has cycled through the system.
This is a GREAT hint! I've been away on vacation, however, when I finish my very first brake job, I will add your alternating-colors suggestion to the how-to that I'm writing up so that another newbie would have the advantages of all your hints BEFORE they tackle the job!

I'm going to bleed the brakes only after I'm done replacing them though.
PS: Would you replace these caliper guide bolts? They're a little cruddy.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
This is a GREAT hint! I've been away on vacation, however, when I finish my very first brake job, I will add your alternating-colors suggestion to the how-to that I'm writing up so that another newbie would have the advantages of all your hints BEFORE they tackle the job!

I'm going to bleed the brakes only after I'm done replacing them though.
PS: Would you replace these caliper guide bolts? They're a little cruddy.
Cruddy guide bolts can be cleaned with a little brake parts cleaner and a little elbow grease. Unless calipers bolts are cracked, threads damaged or the hex head stripped, there's no need and can be reused.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:03 PM
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I ordered the ATE (apparently pronounced ah tay) super blue even though technically, due to opacity, it's not DOT4 and I wanted to stay OE or OEM.

I hope one liter is enough ...

(I think an Entwurfen 39 system bleed takes about750ml, am I right?)


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Old 03-18-2008, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I ordered the ATE (apparently pronounced ah tay) super blue even though technically, due to opacity, it's not DOT4 and I wanted to stay OE or OEM.

I hope one liter is enough ...

(I think an Entwurfen 39 system bleed takes about750ml, am I right?)


Are you doing it yourself or will you have a helper? If you are doing it yourself using a pressure bleeder, one can will not be enough.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:23 PM
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I alternate with Typ 200 and Super Blue so I can see when I have bled out all the old as the color changes. Done this for years on lots of european cars.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I ordered the ATE (apparently pronounced ah tay) super blue even though technically, due to opacity, it's not DOT4 and I wanted to stay OE or OEM.

I hope one liter is enough ...

(I think an Entwurfen 39 system bleed takes about750ml, am I right?)


One liter is enough as I have used the 1 qt sized Valvoline Synpower and still had about 4 ounces left over. I used a Motive Power Bleeder (pressure bleeder).
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
One liter is enough as I have used the 1 qt sized Valvoline Synpower and still had about 4 ounces left over. I used a Motive Power Bleeder (pressure bleeder).
One or Two people?

mw
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MatWiz View Post
One or Two people?

mw
One person using this:

Motive

I've got the 0100 model. Screws right on to the master cylinder fluid tank, once pressurized can have your brake bled in 15 mins. Well worth the $50 bucks.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
One person using this:

Motive

I've got the 0100 model. Screws right on to the master cylinder fluid tank, once pressurized can have your brake bled in 15 mins. Well worth the $50 bucks.
Thanks. I put it on my shopping list...

mw
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Are you doing it yourself or will you have a helper? If you are doing it yourself using a pressure bleeder, one can will not be enough.
Hi guys,
Oh oh ... I think I bought the wrong tool!

Does it matter if we vacuum out the brake fluid or if we pressure it out?

I'm doing this job myself, so, before my trip to Hong Kong, I picked up a VACUUM bleeder (see pic just now taken over my morning tea).

But, I noticed the tool you recommend is a PRESSURE bleeder!

The auto-parts guy talked me out of the pressure bleeder 'cuz he said you can never tell what shape the master cylinder cap is, and if it's the wrong shape, you can't use a pressure bleeder. He sold me on the vacuum bleeder saying that all brake fittings are alike so I should vacuum out the fluid instead of pressuring it out.

Did I buy the wrong tool?


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Old 03-19-2008, 08:01 AM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Morning BlueBee,

I wouldn't say you bought the wrong tool but I would say you bought a tool which is less convenient than the pressure bleeder that I have. Mainly because the Motive I linked above has a bottle in which you pour the new brake fluid into and then attach to the master brake cylinder and as you bleed fluid through each bleeder valve, new fluid will be pushed through the bottle to the master cylinder to prevent air from getting into the master cylinder. Whereas with the vacuum type, unless you have some way to constantly fill the master cylinder you have to constantly run back and forth from the wheel that you are bleeding to the master cylinder to see if the fluid is almost empty. Which happens often as the master cylinder tank is not too big on the E39.

Having the pressure type WITH the bottle allows you to fill the new fluid ONCE and then go to each wheel, bleed and not worry about air getting into the system. In the absence of a pressure or vacuum type, there is the 2 person method which just requires someone to sit in the car and depress the brake pedal as you bleed the valve.

Also, the Motive I have is a direct fit for ALL european cars and they also have a universal type that will fit most types American, Japanese, or European but uses a universal attachment. I believe that model is 0101 vs the European only one 0100 model. My suspicion is the store you bought yours at had a universal type which MAY not ensure a tight seal at the Master Cylinder cap or they simply did not have pressure type one for a BMW. Hope that explanation helps.

BTW, I am not affiliated with Motive. Just found that tool to be more convenient than others I have used.

Last edited by dvsgene; 03-19-2008 at 08:20 AM.
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  #25  
Old 03-19-2008, 08:28 AM
Ryan M Ryan M is offline
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Do it the old fashioned way. It's free and you'll get a better bleed.
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