Changing your front rotors/brake pads
from Esteves' post on Message Board
Thanks Esteves!
Original post here

This is for M Coupe, but should apply to all Z3sJust for kicks, went to an independent shop to see how much they would charge to replace front rotors with Euro Floating Rotors and change out the front brake pads.


Okay, now that I know how much I'm saving, went home and got to work.

Now, this is for those who would like to swap out their rotors, but wasn't sure if they had the mechanical know how. Hopefully this will help.

When replace rotors, it's a good idea to replace the brake pads as well, so be sure to have fresh brake pads.

1. Loosen the bolts on the wheel. In case you don't know, you'll need a 17mm socket. If you've got a breaker bar, that works great.

2. Jack up the front of the car. It doesn't matter which side you start off with, but I started with the driver side so I suggest to do the same for all of this to make sense. Remove the wheel.

3. Remove the caliper clip. Use a screwdriver wedged against the rotor and force the clip towards the rear of the caliper (there should be an arrow pointing in the direction you are suppose to push, but it is most likely covered in brake dust). Use another screwdriver to lift it off its housing. Warning - it may snap and fly off somewhere. Go get it.

4. Removing the brake pad wear sensor. There is only one on the driver side (none on the passenger side). Also, there is a brake pad wear sensor on the passenger rear, but not on the driver side rear. Why? Who knows... Anyhow, carefully remove the brake pad wear sensor. You may need to use needle nose pliers to get at them, but be careful not to CRUSH the brake pad sensor.

5. Remove the plastic caps that are covering the caliper guide bolts. The caliper guide bolts need an 8mm hex bolt to remove. There are two of them. Once loosened, you may need to use a small screwdriver to push out (but not completely out) the caliper guide bolts. The bottom caliper guide bolt is a little difficult to push back, but be patient. You need to make sure the caliper bolts are completely out of the way in order to remove the caliper. Like everyone says, don't let the caliper hang. Find something like a shoe box to hold it up.

6. Pull out the old brake pads.

7. Now for the part I had the most difficult time with. Removing the caliper mount bolts. The caliper mount bolts use a 16mm socket to remove. Mine were torqued on VERY TIGHT. I had a 1/2 inch socket wrench driver and still had a hard time. It can be done, but requires a lot of muscle. When you remove one bolt and loosen the other, keep one hand on the caliper mount so that it doesn't fall onto your rotor when the second bolt comes off. If you don't care about your rotor, than don't worry about it. Remove the caliper mount.

8. The rotor is held onto the hub with a small screw. The screw uses a 7mm hex bolt. Remove that. The rotor will most likely have rusted onto the hub. Now comes the fun part that everyone talks about. Take a hammer and give that rotor a FORCEFUL WHACK to loosen the rotor from the hub. If the rotor doesn't come off, increase the force. Remove the rotor.

9. Clean off the hub and then apply anti-seize compound on the hub where the new rotor will make contact. Place the new rotor on the hub. Screw the bolt (using a 7mm hex bolt) back in place that holds the rotor onto the hub.

10. Return the caliper mount back into place, being careful not to scratch your new rotor.

11. When you remove the brake pads from the caliper, you'll notice the brake cylinder out. You'll need to push the cylinder back into the housing. You can use a plank of wood. I highly suggest investing in a disc brake caliper tool set. You'll find it VERY handy on every vehicle you have.

I suggest this set from The Tool Warehouse
It's a nice set, very reasonably priced.
Update December 16. 2012: On 12/14/12 4:28 PM, MTW Partnerships wrote:
My name is Matt Fowler and I am a marketing manager for Mechanics Tools Warehouse. I am contacting you because I came across your website and I loved all of your great advice for BMW! I absolutely love my Z3 and enjoy working on it too.
I am contacting you to let you know that on this page there is a broken link pointing to the disk brake tool set. We here at MTW also offer a great set at a decent price. Our set is located here: . If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.

12. Once the cylinder is pushed back in, put the new brake pads on. I placed a small amount of anti-seize compound on the back of the brake pads that make contact with the caliper.When pushing the brake caliper cylinder back into the housing, don't forget to remove the cap off the brake fluid reservoir.

Also, when you are done, don't forget to screw it back on.

13. Return the caliper to the caliper mount and bolt it back on.

14. If you want to use this opportunity to flush your brake fluid, go right ahead. Here is a great reference on bleeding your brakes courtesy of Ron Stygar. Click here.

15. Return the wheel to the hub and place the wheel bolts back on.

16. Torque the wheel bolts to 88 pounds and you are half way done.

17. Now go do the passenger side now that you know what you are doing!

Also, here is another great reference that could be helpful in changing rotors/brake pads. Again, courtesy of Ron Stygar. Click here.

Now that you've saved yourself $150, go buy something for yourself!
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