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Brake rotor/disc and pad replacement DIY with Pics, BMW 535i RWD F10 2011

67484 Views 75 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  dezand
Jack up the car, take the wheel off. Put another jack stand under where the lower control arm attaches to the frame.

Remove the anti-rattle clip holding the pads in place.

Using a flat screwdriver, take plastic covers off the caliper pin holes.

Use 7mm Allen bit to loosen and remove the caliper guide bolts. They should not be extremely tight and hard to loosen up.

Use your ratchet to wiggle the bolts out of their rubber holes, this may require a bit of wiggling so keep the allen on and try pulling it under an angle.

***** NEW for F10. The caliper will NOT COME OFF as it would in all other cars I have done. This got me thinking a bit and the solution is simple: at this point you must use a c-clamp to push the brake piston back in JUST A BIT to allow the caliper to come off. I was lucky to have the right c-clamp, but prepare for this - you may need to grab a special tool!

You only have to push it in a bit, just enough to get the clearance required to remove the caliper.

Lift up the caliper and the outer brake pad will stay on the bracket. The inner pad sits in the caliper piston. Use a wire to suspend the caliper (heavy!) above the rotor.

Remove the inner pad from the piston and use a piece of wood (or an old pad... I used wood since I kept the old pads just in case) to push the piston back in.

Use the 6mm Allen bit to remove the rotor holding bolt. Make sure you put the allen bit all the way in not to strip the head. If you strip the head, you will need to drill it out (extra time, part and stress!). You may need to stop the rotor movement by jamming it with a wrench or a screwdriver against the floor. Visible in this pic below the disk.

Use 18mm socket to loosen up two screws holding the bracket. WARNING: if your car is fairly new and things have not seized up yet, this will work with a breaker bar or a good hammer, BUT I've destroyed perfectly good sockets on this before (cracked the open). My past cars ran 10 years or so on the original rotors and after such long time loosening up those bolts was impossible without a blow torch and heating up the bolts to red-hot. After that, it went like butter...

Use a rubber mallet to bang on the rotor (hit it from the outside!). Careful... it may come off and fall down before you know it (unless it is badly seized up to the hub).

Wipe the guide rails on the bracket with a brush or sand paper and apply brake grease. Make sure you wipe the excess to never allow that grease onto the rotor!

Put anti-seize on the hub and make sure to leave a thin and even layer. Wipe excess off with a plastic glove and a finger.

Clean new rotors with a brake parts cleaner. I've never done this before but I did this time: the new rotors are ofter greased (to prevent rust maybe) coming from the manufacturer.

Put the rotor back on (do not touch the surface if your hands are greasy!!!). Hold the rotor from underneath or on the sides!

Put anti-seize on the holding bolt and install back in.

Reinstall the bracket with 18mm socket and bolts. Make sure they are on really tight. Look up the torque if you want and use a torque wrench.

Put the outer pad into the bracket.

And the inner pad into the piston.

Untie the caliper and re-install onto the bracket.

Clean the guide bolts with brake parts cleaner and apply brake grease before reinstalling.

Use the 7mm allen to insert them back and tighten to specified torque. Don't forget the two plastic covers to protect the guide bolts from dirt.

***** NEW for F10. The reinstallation of the anti-rattle clip turned out to be a massive challenge. I've done rotors and pads many times on my old E46 and the clip was easy... This time around, it took me 15 minutes of helpless tries to no effect. I ended up calling my wife and son for support, after which it went in really easy.

Here is what I did: push the top and bottom parts of the clip into their positions (they will fight!) and have two people hold them in place. Then use a screwdriver and a hammer to pry the centre clip outwards (away from the hub's centre) and bang/push it into its hole.

I found no other way so far and this worked fine (1 minute per side). This used to be a 1-man job, but I presume BMW ha a special tool for that now....

Put anti-seize onto the rotor (the non-braking surface!) BUT NOT AS MUCH AS I DID. I had to wipe it off later. Only apply it around the bolt holes.

Follow proper break-in procedure. I've found a few out there but I think the most important thing is to NEVER come to a complete stop as you break them in (because you will burn the pad material right into your brand new rotors thus effectively "warping them" (that is what is referred to as "warping" which it really isn't). Most guides say to to do a few hard accelerations and decelerations: first from 40-45 mph and then from 60 mph. Look it up.

****************** UPDATE (wrong!!) ******************

I forgot to put brake quiet on the back of the pads and I get horrible squeel at low speeds. I didn't really forget but what turned me off is that some instructional videos said to apply the substance 24hrs before doing the brakes and I did not have 24 hrs.

Anyhow: USE BRAKE QUIET if you want quiet front brakes! (I have never done it on other cars and never had a problem until the F10. Lesson learned.).


>>>>>> TURNS OUT BRAKE QUIET WAS NOT IT!. I never believed that stuff anyway. Supposedly I have used cheap pads that just squeal like sh^&*. I was told I needed expensive OEM pads for quiet braking. My pads continued on squealing badly (at very low speeds during braking to complete stop) for the next year or so and they've finally shut up as of recent.

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Photography by my 8-yr-old daughter Ania. LOL.
We should have done a video but I got that idea 24 hrs after the fact LOL.
Great job on the DIY! Looks like Ania art all over the driveway. :)
Nice work! Thanks for taking the time to share it with everyone.
Great Job and visual description! Thanks a lot to you and your daughter for taking the time out to describe the process.
You're welcome guys. I hope more F10 DIY's are coming. I hate paying shops big bucks and then finding out: "oh by the way we've found X, Y and Z broken when we took it apart..."

I've done a lot of work on my old E46 and hope F10 won't be much different (well, I hope it won't ever break to begin with!). I've used others' manuals and saved huge sums so I am simply paying back whenever I can. I am glad you like the pics. Yup, 31 shots is a lot LOL. Next time I'll do a video.

I hope somebody does the rear, especially the hand-brake is of concern here.

**** Forgot one thing *****

The drivers' side brakes are equipped with the brake wear sensor. I've completely missed it until it was too late (and harder to disconnect) but the sensor can be most easily removed before you ever take the caliper off the bracket. Just use a flat head screwdriver to pop it off as soon as you take the wheel off. It will be visible going into the caliper from the back side (ie. the side closest to the rear of the car).
Thanks for the post, will come in handy soon!
did you remember to code the new rotors and brake pads? :D
Are you referring to resetting the service schedule for this job or does it need to be coded? ie:INPA
did you remember to code the new rotors and brake pads? :D
Great DIY wirte-up! Thanks for sharing.
Glad to see DIYs coming up for the F10 - I guess the car is at the age now :). It's refreshing to see how the conversation and thread topics have evolved as owner demographics have shifted from only serial leasers/revolving buyers to a more diverse a group of owners including those buying these used, many at prices less than a used Honda Accord! Too bad I'm probably selling my car soon - I like it a great deal but it just doesn't quite meet the "keep forever" standard of my 27 year E34.
Thanks for the write up. What are the torque specs for caliper bolts and other bolts which require torquing?
Awesome job! Thanks for sharing.
It's definitely my "keep forever" car. I've had it since new and I really like it. The only car that I'd replace it with (if I could afford it) would be the current M5, but I'm not even close financially. Nothing else comes close in terms of looks inside and out and I'm afraid it'll stay like this for years to come....

chsu74, sorry I don't have that info.
A post addressing issues specific to the rear brakes would be a great addition.

The small [6mm] caliper bolt indexes the rotor to the hub so the bolt holes line up. Once the wheel is mounted and torqued, this bolt does not do anything. These bolts do not need to be tight and can be lightly torqued to facilitate later removal. Thanks for the write up. Dealers might be guilty of tightening these excessively. With a new vehicle, I remove these bolts and bed down in never seize.

Yes, I'd also like to see the rear DIY.

As to the small bolt... well, I think it sort of helps to keep the rotor on the hub when you take the wheel off and change brake pads. Unless one does pads and rotors together. I'd feel better with it on. Does not hurt unless badly seized. But that's what anti-seize is for.
Good write up.

Maybe I missed this if already mentioned but it's a good idea to keep an eye on the brake fluid level in the reservoir when pushing the caliper piston in. It can potentially overflow when pushing fluid back from the caliper.

Unfortunately, you have to take panels off to expose the reservoir. Not sure how tricky that is.
Good write up.

Maybe I missed this if already mentioned but it's a good idea to keep an eye on the brake fluid level in the reservoir when pushing the caliper piston in. It can potentially overflow when pushing fluid back from the caliper.

True. Typically it's far simpler than a pad and rotor change as easy maintenance access is required. At least on a LHD 2015 535ix the reservoir, master cylinder and booster assembly is on the drivers side firewall. Level is visible through the hood hinge and strut opening.

If the triangular panel covering it needs removed there are three plastic rivets with a center pin to remove first along the aft side then the panel lifts out. They made these with nice large heads that I pulled with a couple finger nails. Guess these are cheaper than the quarter turn cam locks BMW used to use.

Install is the reverse. Just hold the back of the panel tight against the spot where the rivet goes, insert the rivet and push the lock pin down. Repeat for the other two. The front of the panel clips over a brace. Might have to run a thumb along the rubber weather strip to pull out any that was caught. It took far longer to type this than to do it.

I just mentioned this as pushing a piston in displaces a fair amount of fluid back to the reservoir. If the reservoir overflows it makes a nasty mess. After completing the pad change fluid level should be adjusted to the max fill level marked on the reservoir using new fluid from a sealed container.

Unfortunately, you have to take panels off to expose the reservoir. Not sure how tricky that is.
"Sealed container" That is a bogus concept. The reservoirs are vented to atmosphere. Every temperature change, barometric/altitude change and every application of the brakes moves air in/out of the reservoir causing moisture contamination. A part full container of fluid with the lid on tight on your shelf is basically immortal. The issue was garage attendants decades ago leaving containers open. The sealed part became misunderstood when sealed against air infiltration was the intent. Assembly lines get fluid from bulk tanks... sealed for your car's fill?

I have kept reservoirs full to the tops as less air means less air to expand and contract [contamination]. Yes, you need to evac fluid before caliper work, but no problem with that as you should be watchful anyways. When replacing pads, the reverse flow of fluid in the lines moves moisture contaminated fluid to the reservoir and you can evac that and replace with new, and that should be done before a brake bleed to keep from flushing the contaminated fluid in the reservoir through the system. Moisture cannot enter the system anywhere except the vented reservoir.

I have not seen a bladder barrier brake reservoir for decades that prevents this obvious design flaw.

< end of rant > ;}
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