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BMW E46 Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement DIY 325i, 330i, 325xi, 330xi

In this article I will show you how to change your BMW E46 3 Series pads and rotors.  In this particular example I am replacing the rear brakes on a 2002 325xi but you can use this article to do the fronts as well since the front brakes are pretty much identical in design.  To do this job you will need some anti-seize, a wire brush and at least a liter of DOT4 brake fluid.  

1.  Start out by removing the wheel and unclipping the brake pad wear sensor wire from the trailing arm.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the Brake Pad Wear Sensor

2.  Connector for the wear sensor will be in a small black box in front of the wheel.  Open the box and disconnect the sensor.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the brake pad wear sensor.

3.  Use a screw driver to remove the brake caliper anti-rattle clip.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the brake pad anti-rattle clip.

4.  Remove the caliper guide pins.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the brake caliper guide pins.

5.  Grab the back of the caliper and pull the caliper towards yourself so you can compress the piston just enough to be able to slide the caliper off the rotor.  After removing the caliper use a wire to hang it up on something.  Don't just let it hang on the brake line because due to a possibility of damage to the rubber brake line.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Compressing the brake caliper.

6.  Remove the caliper bracket bolts.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the brake caliper bracket.

7.  Remove the brake disk set screw.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Removing the brake rotor set screw.

8.  Remove the rotor.  Make sure your parking brake is released or the rotor will not come off.  If the rotor is rusted on to the hub and won't come off, whack it with a hammer from the back side a few times.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Brake rotor removed.

9.  Install the new rotor.  Use some anti-seize on the rotor set screw so you can get it off easily next time you have to do brakes.  If you got the coated rotors there is no need to clean them.  If you got the non-coated rotors you'll have to wash the oily coating off completely prior to installation.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - New brake rotor installed.

10.  Use a wire brush to clean rust and old brake dust off the caliper bracket and the brake caliper.  Be careful not to damage the caliper piston rubber boot.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Cleaning the brake caliper bracket.

12.  Use a large C-Clamp to compress the brake caliper piston.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Compressing the brake caliper piston.

13.  Put some anti-seize on the caliper bracket and the caliper where pads contacts the bracket and the caliper.  Try to not get any anti-seize on the caliper piston rubber boot as anti-seize can swell it up and ruin the rubber.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Lubricating the brake caliper bracket.

14.  Reinstall the caliper bracket and torque the bolts to 65 Nm if you are doing the rear brakes and 110 Nm if you are doing the fronts.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Brake caliper bracket installed.

15.  Clip the the inner pad into the caliper and install the outer pad into the bracket.  Don't forget to install the wear sensor into the inner pad. Install the caliper and torque the guide pins to 30 Nm.  Do not lubricate the guide pins, just clean them well.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Brake caliper installed with new brake pads.

16.  Reinstall the anti-rattle clip.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Installing the anti-rattle clip.

17.  Lubricate the wheel hub with some anti-seize.

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Lubricating the wheel hub.

18.  Bleed the brakes starting from the wheel that is furthest away from the brake master cylinder.  I prefer using a pressure bleeder but it can also be done with a helper pressing down the brake pedal as you open the bleeder screw. 

BMW E46 Brake Replacement - Bleeding the brakes.

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