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

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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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One never knows who will be reading these things. For someone who's done brakes before the need is obvious. The guy who just started doing his own oil changes maybe not so much. I know I appreciated the tip way back when.

I don't know if GM etc is still using a bladder on the reservoir or not. The older domestics are the last place I've seen it. No current experience on these. No idea why BMW, Porsche etc haven't done this. Maybe a good way of having required maintenance charges,,,

As to the immortality of fluid in a can that was opened you might want to pick up one of the cheap electronic moisture meters. Results can be interesting and very dependent on the container cap design. The ones with paper seals in the cap don't fair well. Turned out I had a sampling that got lost on the back of the shelf. When in doubt use a sealed one.

I won't sidetrack this thread further. Rant away. :D

Do you really think there is a risk of overflowing and spilling the fluid? I've done rotors and pads on many cars before and never once worried about that and it never pushed enough fluid up. Not even close. I presume this time was no different as I saw no spills anywhere. I could add it to the write-up but is it really that common to have the fluid spill through the cap of the reservoir?
I've not done an F10 before so no experience there. It has been necessary on other cars. Depends a bit on how worn the rotors and pads are which equates to how far the piston is out and whether the fluid has been kept topped up. It's been a while but I think the X5 was within a whisker of overflow. Easy enough to watch and no harm if it's not needed.
As brake pads wear, the reservoir level goes down and fitting new pads would simply restore the level to where it was when the prior pads were new. However, the increased air space increases the moisture pickup from thermal cycle and barometric breathing while there is less fluid to carry that moisture. So contamination increases with lower reservoir levels. Some will say to never add brake fluid when levels decrease from pad wear. But you can decrease breathing by adding fluid and also increase the amount of fluid that will absorb the moisture. There is the obvious reservoir overflow problem when fitting new pads/rotors etc. The problem with moisture pickup is rust in the master cylinder bore that accumulates at the end of the area swept by the MC cup seals. This does not appear to cause an immediate problem, however, during brake work if you press the brake petal down as far as it will go, the soft cup seals will be damaged by the rust deposits. One should avoid long strokes of the brake petal during maintenance. Moisture gets into the fluid at the MC only and decreased boiling point fluid in the MC reservoir not cause brake fade in very hot calipers. For that to happen the moisture would must diffuse through the brake lines to the calipers and lead to significant moisture there. Moisture in a stored half full container with tight lid is trivial. The color of brake fluid is a good indicator its contamination. Part of the problem is cast iron master cylinders. A stainless steel MC bore liner might be a great advance. Combining a hygroscopic fluid, cast iron and exposure to atmosphere is really a stupid situation.

GMDD/Terex tried to tackle this problem on heavy duty mining trucks by switching to hydraulic oil brake gear. Great idea, but the mining maintenance crews added brake fluid and destroyed the brake systems. Cannot ignore the human element...
Can somebody please point me to where I can find the brake fluid reservoir? I've come up with a "low brake fluid" service required notice and I'd like to check it out.

Mostly obscured by plastic cowling and right where you would expect it to be. You can just see in there a bit.
Are brake pads all very worn? A leak is a serious issue.
If you can see that fluid level is good, then its a level sensor error or wiring issue.
Thanks Dean,

I just got back from finding it. I don't see a leak. Can't see the level in the light where I'm parked. My iDrive is reporting pad service due in 3000 (rear) and 4000 (front), so that is likely the issue. Think I'll call my dealer and see what he wants to do. Maybe he will do a brake service. (I hope).

Same here...
Mods: This should be a sticky! :thumbup:
Glad someone resurrected this thread.
Caliper guide bolts - 55 NM / 40.5 ft/lb
Caliper support anchor - 110 NM / 81 ft/lb
Thanks for the write up. What are the torque specs for caliper bolts and other bolts which require torquing?
Anyone know what this job would cost if the dealer did it, new pads and rotors all the way around?
I posted this on another thread too, but on 1/29/16, Bavarian Autosport uploaded a video for the rear pads AND rotor replacement:
Great instruction

Excellent use of the internet! Thanks for taking the time to post this very helpful review.
My SA said to plan about $800 an axle.....

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Great post and I confident I can complete the entire brake job both front and rear, my questions or minor concern is the brake fluid overflow possibility. I just recanted got the brake fluid flush service done and I am wondering if pushing the pistons in will cause and overflow issue. What can I do as a proactive step to ensure I don’t botha a seal or mess something up with the brake fluid system? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

2011 BMW 550i
I've probably done brakes about 100 times in my life and never once worried about that. It was never a problem. I just pushed the piston back and everything was good.
I dip small sections of clean white paper towels into the brake reservoir to absorb some fluid at the start of the pad/rotor replacements.
my questions or minor concern is the brake fluid overflow possibility
BMW tech here,,,,next time on a F10 don't remove the caliper bracket,,,you don't have to,,,,,the rotor will slide out without taking off the caliber bracket,,,,you still have to remove the caliper with the 2 Allen bolt holding it in place,,,,,my blog page bmwtechnician . com
Firewall in front of driver. You have to remove the panel below the wiper blade to access.
Can somebody please point me to where I can find the brake fluid reservoir? I've come up with a "low brake fluid" service required notice and I'd like to check it out.

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