E36 Brake Pads
How To Install Brake Pads on an E36 BMW
Do one wheel at a time from start to finish. That way, if you forget how things go back together you can use the “other side” for reference.
1. Siphon some (most) of the brake fluid out of the reservoir to prevent overflow.
2. Jack up the car and place it securely on jack stands. Remove the wheels.
3. Remove the spring clips that keep tension on the pads. It can be removed either by pulling with pliers in the center or levering out the end with only one “tab” with a screwdriver.
4. Remove the two plastic dust covers that fit flush over the end of the caliper guide pins. (Located on the back of the caliper.)
5. Using a 7mm Allen wrench or socket, remove the two caliper guide pins.
6. Before removing the caliper, push the piston back into the caliper . You can do this by gently inserting a large screwdriver or pry bar between the pads and rotor and applying steady, even pressure prying them apart. Keep repositioning the pry bar and applying pressure until the piston stops moving.
Alternate Methods: If you’ve got really strong hands and are worried about damage to the pads or rotors, this can be done without a pry bar. You can also push the piston back removing the caliper using a large pair of slip-joint pliers (or special tool), but we’ve found the “pry bar” method to be the quickest and easiest.
7. Remove the caliper, but do not let it hang by the brake line! You can briefly rest it atop the brake rotor or hang it by a coat hanger if you cannot reinstall it immediately.
8. Check the fluid in the reservoir again and remove more if necessary to prevent overflow when you push the next piston in.
9. Carefully remove the pad wear sensor (left front and right rear only) and slide the pads out of the caliper.
Steps 10-13 apply only to rotor replacement.
10. Remove two 15mm caliper bracket bolts and remove the caliper mounting bracket.
11. Carefully remove rotor set screw. These set screws can be difficult to remove. A hand impact driver is a big help in loosening the screw, but be sure the Allen wrench seats fully into the set screw or it will strip. Do not use an air impact gun or the screw may break.
12. Replace the rotor and replace the set screw. (Be sure to clean any cosmoline from the rotor before installing.)
13. Reinstall the caliper mounting bracket and the to 15mm bolts.
Note: If you choose to use an anti-squeal compound on the replacement pads, apply a thin coat only to the surface that mates to the caliper and allow it to fully set up before installing (24 hours isn’t too long).
14. If your inboard replacement pads have OEM-style clips to hold them to the piston, install like the original pad and hang the outboard pad on the caliper bracket. If no clips are present, hang both inboard and outboard pads on the bracket.
15. Slip the caliper over the pads.
16. Reinstall the caliper guide pins and replace the dust covers.
17. Replace the tension spring.
18. Replace the wheel and torque the lug bolts.
19. Pump the brake pedal several times (until firm) before driving.
20. Refill the brake fluid reservoir if necessary to proper level.
Be sure to follow pad manufacturer’s instructions for proper bed-in procedures.