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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 02-15-2015, 08:29 PM
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What is different about M5 brakes versus E39 stock brakes?

In a thread today, someone asked about fitting M5 brakes to the E39.
-> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Will e39 m5 brakes fit my non-M?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tom webster View Post
Will e39 m5 breaks fit my e39 540i 1999 tom
Ignoring the fact they spelled brake "break", which tells me something about their thought process right off the bat ...
- What doesn't brake when it breaks? (1)

I wondered to myself the question...
Q: What "is" the difference, between M5 brakes and E39 brakes?
  • Is it just rotor size (i.e., surface area and mass)?
  • Are the calipers fundamentally different?
  • Do they have different pad friction requirements?
Essentially, I'm confused:
What is the appeal of M5 brakes over the E39 stock brakes?
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:02 PM
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Running an obligatory search for /m5 f3 in the bestlinks, I find lots of references to M5 swaps (e.g., M5 sway bars, M5 folding mirrors, M5 steering wheel, etc.), but not to M5 brakes.

Running the obligatory title-only e39 only search for "M5 brakes" does net a few threads on the subject:
So, I'll read them to see if the question is already definitively answered.

Here is a pic from an M5 to E39 DIY, where the dust shield was trimmed instead of replaced:
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Last edited by bluebee; 02-15-2015 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:09 PM
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:11 PM
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While these threads don't try to answer the specific question of why, these tidbits may help understand WHY people want to "upgrade" their E39 brakes to M5 brakes.

EDIT: Most seem to be either trolls, or wannabees, or folks who can't spell brake, so, their logic is suspect from the start...

We'll start with Franka who is NOT a troll, and who decided, apparently, not to do it.
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > M5 Front Brakes on a 540
Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
Both vehicles are E39s.

Is this a bolt in swap? I've heard yes and no. Have also heard that it's not much of an improvement and that the M5 items are heavy in comparison to 540.

I would appreciate hearing from those that have done it or have researched it heavily.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mottati View Post
yes, you can do it. The m5 brakes are larger, still a single piston caliper, and they are heavier. The m5 has a different wheel bearing, with a locating pin to mount the M5 rotor, but i do not think you 'need' to do this to mount them on a non-M e39. You'd want the rears too, to keep the system in ballance. M5 brakes don't look that great, so it is not much of a style addition, if you can get a set cheap, it may be a worthwhile addition for a tracked 540 (though aftermarket bbk's are still better and lighter in weight).
I've tracked my m5 with both it's stock brakes, uprated pads and fluid and then a full bbk, of course the aftermarkets are much better for track use.
Mike
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > m5 brakes... any thoughts input
Quote:
Originally Posted by edirty9 View Post
i just bought some used m5 brakes just wanted some input.... im running 18in mpars right now and i know i cant run my 42s anymore... unless i get spacers or something... just wanna get some insight from those who have done this mod... thanks...
Quote:
Originally Posted by franka View Post
This is not an advisable swap due to long term cost of the M5 components.
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > M5 Brakes on E39 I6 and yes I searched
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW_525i_Noob View Post
I know I have seen a thread asking about putting M5 Calipers and rotors on an I6, but I cant find the information. Can someone please point me in the right direction?
Quote:
Originally Posted by PharoE39 View Post
Sorry I can't direct you, but I do remember reading that wheels are a factor. I think you can fit them with the 20" wheels. I believe the problem was in the fact that the rotors wouldn't fit a smaller diameter wheel such as a stock 15" or 16".
hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

Are you looking into upgrading to M5 brakes? if they are heavier, that will result in less unsprung mass; your car will have to work harder (making it relatively slower and possibly worse handling) than it already is with 20" rims.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EAC View Post
you dont need to run 20s to clear them- M5s came with 18s.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW_525i_Noob View Post
i believe you meant I will have more unsprung mass due to the increased weight of the larger tires and rims.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EAC View Post
and here comes the bubble bursting post.

Have a look at this parts cross reference for a 530i front caliper : http://www.realoem.com/bmw/partxref....3131&showus=on

now a 525i: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/partxref....3385&showus=on

not trying to confuse you but what I am getting at is you need 530i or greater e39 front carriers just to bolt the M5 calipers up to a 528i or 525i. Sad but true.

Note the cross reference for the M5 carriers: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/partxref....6496&showus=on

So before you can even think about running M5 brakes you need to upgrade carriers. you need 1 of each:
31211096495
31211096496

can you tell I looked into doing this to my 528i yet?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EAC View Post
I was wrong guys, sorry. There is a similar thread going on bf.c and it appears I gave you guys some wrong info. You don't need the wheel carriers or steering knuckles, you just need the m5 caliper carriers or caliper brackets. http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1277716

many apologies- I guess I am getting old or something. I hate being wrong but I'm not afraid to admit when it happens.
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Quick question - will 16" 530 wheels fit over M5 brakes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjh530i View Post
Been searching for answer with no luck. Thanks in advance!
Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
Not sure. 20% is a tight fit, 80% they won't. You might need to measure for clearance.
Stock M5 had 18" wheels.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack View Post
A better question is WHY???
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjh530i View Post
Knew this question was coming...I couldn't fathom the idea either. I've got some 16" and 17" wheels for sale and a guy with an M5 said he was interested in the 16"s. I was like, sure, I'll sell 'em to you but I don't think they'll fit. Turns out the 16"s were gonna be for someone in his family who had a 528. So, my question is now moot.

Thanks for the info guys!
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > --M5 rear brakes--
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexbenz View Post
Does anyone know the specs..... how much bigger are the calipers/rotors then a 528i?

i searched but couldn't find the specs...

to do the retrofit i'd just need the caliper and rotor and to trim the dust shield ??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
Look at this thread by StillJester:
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1277716
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexbenz View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
M5 rotors are 328mm in diameter and 20mm thick.
528 rotors are 298mm diameter and 20mm thick.

In addition to the rotors and calipers you also need the carrier brackets for the calipers.
I have a nice set of M5 calipers and the carrier brackets that are powder coated black if you are looking to buy a set. They come with an almost new set of OEM pads and the brake sensor. The calipers come with parts 1 to 12 in this link.
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...36&hg=34&fg=10

I also have the backing plates and rotors. The rotors are near the min thickness. They are good for one more set of pads.
The rotors will come with parts 13 to 16 in the above link.

The actual size of the calipers is less important, the area of the pad is what you are probably looking for. If so, I can measure both if you are interested.
Here's a pic of my 540 and the M5 rear caliper. My 540 and your 528 rear calipers are the same size.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerteck View Post
For the rear M5 brakes the Caliper brackets are certainly different as well as are all the parts I checked below, could be an expensive proposition, depending on how you source the different parts.

M5
Brackets-34212229705
Calipers -34212229703 & 34212229704
Rotor 328x20-34212229379
Pads-34216761248
Backing Plates-34212228769 & 34212228770


528i
Brackets-34211163648
Caliper-34211163649 & 34211163650
Rotor 298x2-34216767060
Pads-34216761281
Backing Plates-34211162773 & 34211162774
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexbenz View Post
wow, 212 each side listed on realoem....i'm sure i can get them a little more cheaper but this will all add up to prob 500 bucks by the time i'm done...........where can i source them for cheap?
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Upgrading BRAKES with E39 M5 BRAKES!
Quote:
Originally Posted by 525iBEAST View Post
Whatsup everybody just wanted to do some upgrades on my 2002 525i. Wanted to know if I could fit a e39 M5 front brakes and calibers on my 2002 e39 525i. Hope somebody can help me out with this SOON, was wanting to do it ASAP for better braking and larger brakes. Instead of going 3,000+ with Brembo!
Sent from my SGH-T989 using Bimmer App
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohmess View Post
Dude - i have M5 brakes on my car. Before you do this, consider that you will be paying a price for the bigger brakes in the form of unsprung weight. This will effect acceleration and handling. The first thing you want to do is stainless steel brakes lines and good brake fluid. Step 2 is better pads. These will make a huge difference with no weight penalty. If you try that and still want more, bounce back. I have my 540 sport brakes laying around heresomewhere.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayster0966 View Post
I am in the process of doing the exact same thing except on a 528. Not to thread jack but am I correct that all you need to do this conversion are the following;

1. Front M5 calipers/carriers
2. front backing plates (dust shields)
3. Rear M5 calipers/carriers
4. rear backing plates
5 front/rear brake lines (will purchase new ones)
6 front/rear rotors (new)

all of these should bolt on with no other mods, correct? Are the backing plates required as they seem to be the hardest part to find used.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 525iBEAST View Post
I just wanna do the front brakes and do you really need the backing plates (dust Shields)?

Sent from my SGH-T989 using Bimmer App
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupid Kid View Post
if you just do the fronts its going to be very biased and lock up quickly in the font under heavy breaking, do the rears as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 525iBEAST View Post
http://www.vividracing.com/catalog/2...3-p-93702.html

Found a alternative that I like and I think I'm going to get and try out. No weight gain, 13" rotor's, 8-piston brake caliber's looks pretty good!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohmess View Post
I should have posted this earlier, but the number one thing you can do to improve your car's braking is to make sure you have good tires. If you are buying rims and tires don't go cheap on either one. In both cases, cheaper is heavier and is far more likely to be out of round (yes, lots of tires sold in the US are not round).

Are you planning to track your car? If not, your stock brakes with some better pads are likely going to be fine. Spend your money on better wheels and tires; decreasing your unsprung weight will make the car lighter and more nimble.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 525iBEAST View Post
Well I wanted a overall look but also great breaking too. Tracking my car, maybe when it comes around, because I wanted to get into that tracking, autocrossing etc and only tire's I use that I like are toyo proxes.
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 530i vs M5 brakes
Quote:
Originally Posted by mio_e46 View Post
looking to upgrade my brakes, wondering if there;s a significant difference between stock sport 530i brakes vs M5 brakes? would I save money by going with the M5 calipers over a aftermarket BBC? Thx
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Your 530i already has the same as a V8 540i brakes. Unless you are adding a supercharger, what advantage do you see with m5 brakes?

Unless you get them for free, save your money and use it towards preventative maintenance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTK12 View Post
Why are you upgrading the brakes? Do you have brake fade? Old brake fluid can cause brake fade, because any water in the brake fluid will lower the boiling point. First thing I would do is to change the brake fluid to something that has a high boiling point like ATE Super Blue Racing and get pads that have higher fade temperature. Do you track you car? The stock brakes are more than adaquate on 530i for city driving. If you want the bling then go for the big brake kit. Larger brake means slower acceleration and lower MPG.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
I don't know if he posts anymore, but Duck did the M5 brake upgrade on his 530. I drove it, and the pedal feel was much firmer, and felt great. I didn't drive it hard enough to say if they were more fade resistant or not, but would assume so. You will definitely want the M5 limited slip diff, if you are doing an engine swap. I would agree, with the stock engine, I would just upgrade to SS lines, and a performance pad.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTK12 View Post
Sport pins won't or cross drilled rotos won't increase your brake performance.. Better pads will increase it some. As I said before, if you really want your brake to match the 700 hp engine you need bigger brakes. An example would be: Brembo big brake kit with 380x34 discs & 8 piston calipers, good brake fluid (ATE Super Blue Racing), larger brake master cylinder and brake pads you like.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solo12 View Post
OP be honest with yourself and figure out if you want to upgrade your brakes to M5 or a BBK because you want 1) better fade resistance, 2) shorter stopping distance, or 3) bling factor? Here is what I have learned by doing some brake research. I am not an expert so if there are some errors others who are more knowledgeable can correct them.

Fade Resistance
Brake fade is really going only be an issue for serious track days, maybe if you live in an area with a ton of twisty roads and are really, really pushing the car with little rest to let the brakes cool, or you intend to drag race your 700HP beast. But remember many people do driving schools in their BMW's with stock brakes and experience no or only a little fade b/c they are not really pushing that hard. The next step to combat fade is to change pad compound and switch to a higher temp brake fluid (stainless steel brake lines for better pedal feel are optional). Just changing the pad compound and brake fluid is going to reduce fade. Most people are probably not going to be pushing their car hard enough even the track to need more than that.

Shorter Stopping Distance
The stock e39 brakes are NOT underpowered especially the 530 which got the same brakes as the 540s. I doubt you will notice much a difference in stopping distance with a BBK. I think bigger stickier tires would have more of an impact b/c you'll have more grip and surface area to slow the car down faster.

BBK helps reduce fade by 1) having bigger brake pads and 2) having larger diameter and thicker rotors. Bigger pads give you more brake pad surface area so the pads don't heat up as quickly and can dissipate heat better. The larger diameter rotors also give you more surface area to dissipate heat better. And the thicker rotor also helps dissipate heat better too.

Bling Factor/ Looks
M5 brakes especially with Euro floating rotors will look a little better than stock 530 brakes. A fixed multi-piston BBK is going to look even better on the car. I really like the BBK look and I do not think there is anything wrong with getting a BBK even if you don't intend to track or push the limits of the car's stock brakes. But realize unless you do a lot of track days you really don't need a BBK for braking performance purposes.

Other Considerations
M5 rotors are bigger in diameter and thicker than 530 rotors. I am not 100% sure but I think the M5 pads might be a little larger. An M5 upgrade will probably be cheaper than a BBK because you should be able to find a good deal on used M5 calipers.

One last item to consider is if you have a fairly open wheel style a BBK will probably look very nice b.c the caliper will be visible.
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > M5 brakes in a 2000 540iA
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peteralper View Post
Just bought a pair of 2000 M5 front calipers. Anyone know if this is a simple "boly-in" or do I needM5 bracketing, and anything else specific to either model. Thanks for the info...in advance. Peter
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
What about the rotors, they are bigger too. Probably need larger backing plates too.
Check RealOEM between p/n's between the 540 and the M5.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AsulitoE39 View Post
I Did this to my 540i i changed the entire thing like Wheel bearings, Rotors, Calipers etc. M5 brake system in the front have vented rotors and are not the same as the 540i.
Here's a DIY, although it's not on Bimmerfest:
- M5 Brake System Retrofit on a 525i Highlights
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Last edited by bluebee; 02-15-2015 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:33 PM
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After reading all the aforementioned threads, I'm still not sure what the appeal is of the M5 brakes on an E39.
  • Certainly an M5 swap into an E39 will be pricey.
    • M5 Brackets-34212229705
    • M5 Calipers -34212229703 & 3421222970
    • M5 Rotor 328x20-34212229379
    • M5 Pads-34216761248
    • M5 Backing Plates-34212228769 & 34212228770
  • Almost all recommend both the front and rears for balance.
  • The caliper is a single-piston just like with the E39.
  • The wheels have to be at least 18 inches.
  • Clearly the unsprung weight has to go up.
  • M5 rotors are 100mm larger in diameter and the same thickness as 528 rotors
Here's a picture of the trimmed E39 dust shield to fit the 100mm larger diameter M5 rotors:
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Last edited by bluebee; 02-15-2015 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 02-15-2015, 09:57 PM
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Methinks it's a case of bling brag.
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:14 AM
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I think I can suggest an important reason why someone would want to upgrade to M5 brakes, but I'm going to get there in a somewhat round-about way.

First, let's establish what brakes do. They transfer energy. They take kinetic energy (motion) and transfer it into heat through the use of friction. Where does that heat go? It goes into the rotor, the pads, the wheel bearing, etc. The purpose of the brake duct is to transfer the heat from the rotor into the air. So given a few constants (initial velocity, final velocity, vehicle mass, time, friction between tire and road, ambient air temp), we have to define what is different. The mass of the rotor is significantly different. Based on the different mass, the rotor temperature difference between 2 otherwise identical cars will be different. The M5 rotors will not heat up as much because there is a finite amount of energy transferred into the rotor. It is the same amount of energy transferred into the 528 rotor, but given the lighter weight, it will heat up more. Heat is the cause of brake fade. IMHO, there is not enough of a difference for any one-time, reasonable speed (less than 100 mph) stop to see an appreciable amount of difference between M5 brakes and a 525 brake.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you take the identical cars with identical tires traveling at the same speed, there will be no difference. I would submit to you that the most pedestrian E39 brakes will be able to stop just as quickly as M5 brakes. This assumes that the friction of the brakes are not the limiting factor in the stopping distance. I'm assuming the friction between the tires and the driving surface will be the limiting factor is most situations and the ABS would serve to regulate that. I will not argue that M5 brakes are not capable of stopping in a shorter distance if the tires/driving surface is not the limiting factor.

Furthermore, I will not argue that M5 brakes will not hold up better during a track day. M5 rotors have a larger mass so they will heat up more slowly. Because they have a larger area, the ambient air through the brake duct will cool them down more effectively.

So...if you like to track you car, there will probably be a difference. For normal street driving, there would be no difference. For autocross - maybe a slight difference, but you also have to worry about modifications changing your car's competitive classification, which could actually make you less competitive.

Those are my thoughts.
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:24 AM
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Methinks it's a case of bling brag.
Seconded, bling brag.

I imagine braking performance of the M5 calipers, pads, and rotors is higher, but necessarily so due to the much greater mass of the M5, especially sitting over the front axle. Seems pointless on a 528i.

Then again, people climb Mt. Everest because it's there and can be summited, so who really knows.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:27 PM
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The larger the rotor, the larger the brake pad area, the more pistons in the caliper the greater the stopping power. Add steel braided lines and synthetic fluid and you go from good brakes to great brakes.

I made the conversion on my Vmax which was a lot of motor cycle to stop with 154HP at the rear wheel. The stock rotors and calipers might have been good enough with the factory 112HP, but when I "tuned it up a bit" were no longer sufficient to drag that weight down from 130-140 in short order. The swap to upgraded parts, larger rotors, from 2 piston calipers to 4 piston calipers, and to upgraded brake pad size and pad material made all the difference in the world.

I once had to brake down from 60-70 to 0 for an unexpected red light next to a Ducati with carbon fiber wheels, a much lighter bike, and out braked it. The owner of the Duc and the people we were riding with were shocked.

If the M5 rotors are larger, if the M5 calipers are have larger pads and more pistons, there will be a decrease in brake fade and a decrease in stopping distance over stock brakes.

In this case, more is better.

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Last edited by MKJS; 02-16-2015 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 02-16-2015, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKJS View Post
If the M5 rotors are larger, if the M5 calipers are have larger pads and more pistons
Based only on reading the aforementioned threads ...

The rotors are 100mm wider, but the same thickness (apparently).

Likewise, the M5 is apparently a single piston, just as in the E39 (someone doublecheck me here).

The calipers are apparently larger, as would, one would think, the pads be.

Of course, the wheels are also at least 18 inches, which is probably larger unsprung weight.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:21 PM
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e39brakes

hey guys, I have a 2000 528i im about to do my front and rear brakes and i need a list of all
the parts needed and suggestions on afordable but good OE brands.
im doing the job myself using a diy link video posted on the forum so i would apreciate any sdvice.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 718bam View Post
hey guys, I have a 2000 528i im about to do my front and rear brakes and i need a list of all
the parts needed and suggestions on afordable but good OE brands.
im doing the job myself using a diy link video posted on the forum so i would apreciate any sdvice.
I think bluebee has all that stuff listed in the best thread links.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:36 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKJS View Post
I think bluebee has all that stuff listed in the best thread links.
Let me know if we missed any brake questions in the list below.

- What brake pads are most often recommended (1) & what brake rotors are most often recommended (1) & how long do rotors last (1) & how to measure runout (1) & should you just turn the rotors (1) & what's the real difference between drilled, slotted, and solid rotors (1) & what's the difference between various brands of solid rotors (1) & what is different about BMW M5 brakes and our stock brakes (1) & how to diagnose brake-related vibration (1) & the truth about so-called rotor "warp" (1) & what friction grade (e.g., EE, FF, EF, etc.) does BMW recommend (1) & how to bed your pads to your rotors and why (1) & what brake parts suppliers are most often recommended (1) & what brake specifications you must know (1) including minimum specs for the brake shoes (1) taking care to measure torque accurately (1) & one user's pictorial example of a complete brake job with all torque figures, specs, measurements, fluids, decisions, tools, tricks, mistakes, suppliers, costs, etc., that it entails (1) & how to replace and adjust the parking brake drum shoes (1) & what six brake hoses to check for wear (1) & how to do a preventive brake system & caliper rebuild (1) & how to change brake & clutch hydraulic fluid (1) & what is the recommended brake and clutch hydraulic fluid (1) & what are all the recommended brake job greases (1) & how to properly bleed your brakes (1) & how do you measure physically deformed rotor distortion often incorrectly termed "warp" (1) & where is the published brake disk/disc lateral runout rotor specification for the BMW E39 (1) & how to remove stuck rusted-on brake rotors (1) & how to remove a stuck 6mm brake rotor set screw (1) & what to do about unsightly rotor or caliper rust (1) & how to replace the anti-rattle spring (1) & do the brake pad sensors come with the pads or are they a separate item (1) & how far you can go once the brake wear sensor trips (1) & how not to remove a brake pad wear sensor (1) & how to clear the check brake lining warning the right way (1) and how to hardwire the sensor (1) & how to identify and replace all E39 brake hoses (1) & brake pipes (1) & what specific tools are needed or recommended for a typical four wheel front and rear brake job, including disc pads, sensor, rotors, and rear brake drum shoes (1) & why does the average moron consistently spell brake as break (1) & published tests of BMW E39 brake braking stopping distance (1) & what to check if your cluster indicates a rear brake lamp out (1) & how to remove a melted center brake light (1) & how much will a brake job cost if you do not DIY (1)
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 02-23-2015 at 02:40 PM.
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