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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 08-22-2009, 08:47 PM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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FRONT Brake Rotor Spec?

I am pulling my FRONT Brake Rotor tomorrow to check for warp etc.

Does anyone know the spec for FRONT Rotor Thickness?

New = ____ mm
Minimum thickness = ____ mm

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 08-22-2009, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am pulling my FRONT Brake Rotor tomorrow to check for warp etc.

Does anyone know the spec for FRONT Rotor Thickness?

New = ____ mm
Minimum thickness = ____ mm

Thanks.
It`s usually stamped right on the rotor....minimum is normally around 21 mm, new is around 25. Rotors *rarely* warp from street driving.
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2009, 06:07 AM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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Well, my 1998 Volvo V70 FRONT Rotors are warped after 3 years/30K miles of normal driving.

Symptoms:
- Occassional shimmy at 50-60 mph with no brake applied (ALL Front Componenets: Control Arms, Edlinks, Tierods, Struts, Guide etc. are new).
- Moderate Steering Wheel Vibration when braking from 50-60 mph.
Took the Rotor out went to local O'Reilly auto parts store yesterday and they resurfaced it for me for free (I buy alot of parts from them), so they did it for free....

Now all the above symptoms are free.

So my conclusions:
1. A warped rotor can even touch the pads on and off during cruising causing shimmy during cruising at 50-60mph even w/o applying brake.
2. Make friends with your local auto store by buying stuff from them (oil, fluids etc.), and they may resurface your rotors for free (normally $10/rotor).
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  #4  
Old 08-23-2009, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I am pulling my FRONT Brake Rotor tomorrow to check for warp etc.

Does anyone know the spec for FRONT Rotor Thickness?

New = ____ mm
Minimum thickness = ____ mm

Thanks.
Sure!

E39 525i/528i Front Rotors
New = 22mm
Minimum thickness = 20.4mm

E39 530i/540i Front Rotors
New = 30mm
Minimum thickness = 28.4mm

E39 (except M5) Rear Rotors
New = 20mm
Minimum thickness = 18.4mm

In virtually all cases, BMW specifies 1.6mm of rotor wear
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  #5  
Old 08-23-2009, 11:37 AM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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Thanks Dave,

As a comparison:
My 1998 Volvo V70 FRONT Rotor spec from Volvo:
New: 26 mm
Minimum: 23 mm
So Volvo allows total 3 mm wear on the FRONT rotor.

My 1998 BMW 528i:
I just purchased ATE FRONT Rotor and has the following stamped on the Rotor:
New: 22 mm
Minimum: 19.6 mm
So somehow the BMW total wear has changed from 1.6 mm (as you mentioned) to 2.4 mm.
The 1.6 mm philosophy may come from BMW knowing that many of their drivers drive the Ultimate machine hard and brake hard, and that may be why they specify total wear of 1.6mm.
But having owing many cars for the last 25 years, I am comfortable with total wear of 3 mm for most cars if one drives conservatively: going to work and going home, not racing.
Therefore if short of budget, people can "push" the BMW Rotor a bit to 19mm and it is still safe, IMHO.
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  #6  
Old 08-23-2009, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
My 1998 BMW 528i:
I just purchased ATE FRONT Rotor and has the following stamped on the Rotor:
New: 22 mm
Minimum: 19.6 mm
So somehow the BMW total wear has changed from 1.6 mm (as you mentioned) to 2.4 mm.
The 1.6 mm philosophy may come from BMW knowing that many of their drivers drive the Ultimate machine hard and brake hard, and that may be why they specify total wear of 1.6mm.
But having owing many cars for the last 25 years, I am comfortable with total wear of 3 mm for most cars if one drives conservatively: going to work and going home, not racing.
Therefore if short of budget, people can "push" the BMW Rotor a bit to 19mm and it is still safe, IMHO.
1.6mm of allowable wear comes from the design of the rotor, from the friction plate thickness, to the spacing of the internal vanes, to the metallurgy compromises. Some aftermarket rotor manufacturers make replacement rotors with different specifications from OEM. They may space the cooling vanes closer together for strength (paying a penalty in weight) and/or they may reduce the air gap width by beefing up friction plate thickness (also negatively impacting weight and convective cooling).

The ATE rotor's minimum thickness stamping should not be interpreted to suggest that OEM BMW rotors be allowed to wear significantly beyond their design specs. Nor is it responsible to suggest that BMW owners push their rotors to nearly 200% of allowable wear, based on experiences with different vehicle manufacturers' brakes.

The design philosophy for BMW rotors is to minimize weight in order to improve handling and acceleration. They do this by sacrificing longevity. It is no surprise that Volvo chooses to build heavier rotors that maximize service intervals at the expense of handling or convective cooling. Just as one should not draw conclusions about how long to wait between oil changes in your BMW based on your experiences with a Ford pickup, one should not do the same with rotor life. While there is certainly some engineering margin in the 1.6mm allowable wear spec, you don't want to depend on using up all that margin when deciding how to maintain your vehicle. And does anyone here really know what that margin is? 50%? 100%? 150%?

The stakes are pretty high if you guess wrong and push too far. I hope you're not behind me when it happens!
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  #7  
Old 08-23-2009, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZeckhausen View Post
The design philosophy for BMW rotors is to minimize weight in order to improve handling and acceleration. They do this by sacrificing longevity. It is no surprise that Volvo chooses to build heavier rotors that maximize service intervals at the expense of handling or convective cooling.
Hmmm with all due respect, I don't think so.
My 530 rotor weighs 23 lbs each and the Volvo S70 T5 rotor is around 15 lbs, so I am not sure sure on your theory.

The 530 may be an exception, but the 528 rotor weighs more than the S70 at 17 lbs.
I think the E39s are designed to a higher braking standard and require the mass to absorb the braking heat.

Last edited by Max_VQ; 08-23-2009 at 04:49 PM.
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  #8  
Old 08-23-2009, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
Hmmm with all due respect, my 530 rotor weighs 25 lbs each and the Volvo S70 T5 rotor is around 15 lbs, so I am not sure sure on your theory.
The 530i rotor is 324x30mm, while the Volvo rotor is a relatively tiny 280x26mm. My "theory" would be valid if we were comparing Volvo and BMW rotors of the same diameter and overall thickness.
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  #9  
Old 08-23-2009, 05:05 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZeckhausen View Post
The 530i rotor is 324x30mm, while the Volvo rotor is a relatively tiny 280x26mm. My "theory" would be valid if we were comparing Volvo and BMW rotors of the same diameter and overall thickness.
You said:
" The design philosophy for BMW rotors is to minimize weight in order to improve handling and acceleration."

and

"It is no surprise that Volvo chooses to build heavier rotors that maximize service intervals at the expense of handling or convective cooling."

My point is that the 528/530 have heaver rotors than the Volvo V70 T5 (the example given) and E30s handle better than the V70.

Truly, it doesn't matter as we both don't know the "design philosophy" for the E39s. Judging by results, weight reduction was not one of them.
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  #10  
Old 08-23-2009, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_VQ View Post
You said:
" The design philosophy for BMW rotors is to minimize weight in order to improve handling and acceleration."

and

"It is no surprise that Volvo chooses to build heavier rotors that maximize service intervals at the expense of handling or convective cooling."

My point is that the 528/530 have heaver rotors than the Volvo V70 T5 (the example given) and E30s handle better than the V70.

Truly, it doesn't matter as we both don't know the "design philosophy" for the E39s. Judging by results, weight reduction was not one of them.
You're comparing apples to oranges. For a given rotor diameter/thickness, BMW rotors weigh less than Volvo rotors. To compare a smaller diameter rotor's weight makes no sense.

I'll poke around the catalog on Monday and see if I can find a concrete example where BMW and Volvo both share those two critical dimensions. The difference in weight is going to be as a result of the thickness of the two friction plates (another way to look at it is the width of the air gap) as well as the spacing, thickness and number of internal cooling vanes. You'll find that BMW rotors will have less "beef", while Mercedes and Volvo rotors will be heavier and meatier, with correspondingly longer service intervals.
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  #11  
Old 08-23-2009, 05:26 PM
Max_VQ Max_VQ is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DZeckhausen View Post
You're comparing apples to oranges. For a given rotor diameter/thickness, BMW rotors weigh less than Volvo rotors. To compare a smaller diameter rotor's weight makes no sense.

I'll poke around the catalog on Monday and see if I can find a concrete example where BMW and Volvo both share those two critical dimensions. The difference in weight is going to be as a result of the thickness of the two friction plates (another way to look at it is the width of the air gap) as well as the spacing, thickness and number of internal cooling vanes. You'll find that BMW rotors will have less "beef", while Mercedes and Volvo rotors will be heavier and meatier, with correspondingly longer service intervals.
So you are saying in a given car (Volvo/BMW) with the same sized rotor the BMW will be the heaver car? Doesn't mu and braking temp (cooling ducts) also factor in?

Anyways, only use time on this if you have nothing else to do.
I will take your word on it as I know nothing about Volvos (err Fords, err Geely/Beijing Auto Co)
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  #12  
Old 08-23-2009, 08:44 PM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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I am doing Front Brake soon, and as far as I can tell, the rotor is original at 103K miles. The P.O. relied on the indy mechanics for brake work.
My car brakes just fine, there is slight rotor warping (vibration when braking).
I will install the new ATE Rotor and report back the thickness of this OEM rotor at 103K miles....hehe....
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  #13  
Old 08-24-2009, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
there is slight rotor warping (vibration when braking)
Rotors don't warp (in most cases).

What you (probably) have is "brake poop" on your rotors (at least in most cases).
http://www.stoptech.com/tech_info/wp...rakedisk.shtml

There are ways to remove the brake poop.

See details on warp, shudder, and rebedding ...

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  #14  
Old 09-13-2009, 10:47 PM
cn90 cn90 is online now
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Follow-up,

As Dave Zeckhausen provided the data for E39 525i/528i Front Rotors
New = 22mm
Minimum thickness = 20.4mm


So I replaced my Front Rotors today. Believe it or not, it is stock at 105K miles (I am the 4th owner).
I measured it and it was 18.4mm:



So it is a bit below minimum thickness but I have been driving the car since May 2006 with no brake problems at all.
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2009, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
So it is a bit below minimum thickness
Brakes are simple, reliable, and have a fail-safe built in.

Once, long ago, my college roommate's boyfriend showed me a front rotor that was worn to the ribs. The college kid was still driving the car. We were all standing around looking at what was left of the rotor in amazement. It didn't even look like a rotor.

He had driven until the pulsatings from the puck-metal-on-ventilation-fins became worrisome to him.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Brakes are simple, reliable, and have a fail-safe built in.

Once, long ago, my college roommate's boyfriend showed me a front rotor that was worn to the ribs. The college kid was still driving the car. We were all standing around looking at what was left of the rotor in amazement. It didn't even look like a rotor.

He had driven until the pulsatings from the puck-metal-on-ventilation-fins became worrisome to him.
Did it look something like this?

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Old 09-14-2009, 08:04 AM
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People like that should just lose their license….
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  #18  
Old 09-14-2009, 08:28 AM
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People like that should just lose their license….
People like that probably let their license expire! And their insurance. And they likely never change the oil.
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  #19  
Old 09-14-2009, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by DZeckhausen View Post
Did it look something like this?

LOL!
Gives better ventilation and cooling...
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:41 AM
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Yeah,

That thing looks like airplane jet engine fan...LOL...
Nice pic Dave BTW.
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  #21  
Old 09-14-2009, 09:55 AM
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Yeah,

That thing looks like airplane jet engine fan...LOL...
Nice pic Dave BTW.
Hey!
Are you using the OEM replacement rotors, or the ATE Power Premium Slots???
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1085905
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:17 AM
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Jason,

That is exactly what I use: ATE Power Premium Slots.
Beautiful product!

ATE has this patent with "wear" indicator, when you do not see the elliptical grooves any more, it is worn and time to replace.
Same concept as tire wear indicator.
Interesting and nice design.
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:24 AM
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Jason,

That is exactly what I use: ATE Power Premium Slots.
Beautiful product!

ATE has this patent with "wear" indicator, when you do not see the elliptical grooves any more, it is worn and time to replace.
Same concept as tire wear indicator.
Interesting and nice design.
YES!
I love the ATE Premium Rotors!
I totally agree with you!
They do have an awesome design!

Picts of them on your car?
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:46 AM
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this thread should be stickied.
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  #25  
Old 09-14-2009, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DZeckhausen View Post
Did it look something like this?
OMG!

Yes. Exactly!!!!!!!

Amazing isn't it how they continued to drive well enough to get from point A to point B.

Brakes, even when grossly abused, are still reliable as marble!
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