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Old 02-27-2005, 03:54 AM
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OctaneGuy OctaneGuy is offline
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Maintenance :: Changing FRONT Brake Pads for Beginners!

*******
CAUTION: PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK
As with all mods or DIY articles, the information provided here is without warranty. I am providing the steps for your information, but beware that problems may occur and that you accept full responsibility. Should you encounter any problems, please take a deep breath and post your problems to this thread and we will all do our best to assist you. I am not a professional mechanic. In fact, this was my first time working on brakes, but I spent many weeks researching this subject.
************

MINI Brake Pad Installation
Changing your brake pads is a very rewarding DIY project. This tutorial focuses specifically on giving you the complete picture on how to replace your OEM pads and Brake Pad sensor for the front axle. After you've done this yourself, changing the rotors or upgrading to aftermarket pads is a breeze!

Background Story
It all started a few weeks ago when I noticed my brakes were noisier than usual. They squealed every time I came to a stop. I wondered if my brakes pads were worn. But how would I know? I found a BMW measuring tool in my Bentley manual that you just insert into a hole in your wheel, and it tells you how much pad is left. A visit to the local MINI dealer said they could order it for $45. It wasn't outrageously expensive, but I decided to learn more before buying this tool.

Then I noticed a new light was on, on my dash. I have the OEM navigation system, and next to my seat belt warning light, was a yellow symbol. It was a circle with 3 little lines around it. The manual said it was the Brake Pad wear sensor.

I had read earlier that our MINI's have 2 sensors, one on the front left wheel and one on the right rear. While I had assumed I needed new pads on the front, I did read on NAM about some people who had defective calipers which caused their rears to wear out first.

I was in a dilemma. I really wanted to go for EBC Green Stuff pads to reduce the brake dust. I told myself this 20,000 miles ago, that when my pads were worn, I would go this route. Of course, I also heard that some people have had their brake pads replaced under the service warranty. With 4,300 miles until my next service and my Brake Sensor light on, I didn't think I was going to make it!

Again, how far could I drive with the sensor lit? How much pad was left? A call to the local MINI Service dept told me they wouldn't be able to replace my pads before my trip to AMVIV II next week. I seriously doubted I was going to be able to go another 600 miles on these pads. Of course, I didn't really know the condition, it was just an assumption. I also read that the wear sensor is a wire that's attached to the pad itself. When the pad reaches a particular thickness, that wire wears down too--causing the Brake Pad Sensor to light on the dash.

While I would normally have ordered aftermarket parts by mail, I needed the parts now!! So I found that my local Pep Boys had the EBC pads for my MINI in stock, but they didn't know much about them, and said they didn't have the slots for the wear sensor. Since I knew there were 2 versions of these pads, the original without the sensor hole and the new ones for 04-05 MINI's, it only made things worse, because I had an 03 and I WANTED to retain the sensor. The wear sensor is the reason I'm in this predicament. I didn't want to forego using it. It kept me from doing more serious damage--like metal to metal contact of the brake pad backing plate to the rotors!!

Also I read on the forums that some people had problems replacing the fronts with EBC's and leaving the rears OEM. It had to do with the new ones gripping earlier and not being able to balance out the braking force front and back and causing handling problems.

So there's the dilemma. I needed to get my car back into safe working order by spending the least amount of money, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There was no documentation about the Brake Pad sensor on the forums, since most people seemed to discard it when going to aftermarket pads that didn't support their use.

I didn't want that light on my dash, so I knew I was going to have to buy a new sensor wire, and it didn't make sense to not use that new wire with new EBC pads that might cause other problems!!!

So I decided to put everything back to stock. I would buy OEM pads, the Brake Pad sensor, and get everything working. Then several months down the road, I can consider going to EBC's. I had enough on my plate already!

So now with this determination I needed to find out if I needed front or rear pads? So I took off the front left wheel with the Brake Pad Sensor. I looked at the rotor and found the brake pad--well what was left of it. I had read that the brake pad should be atleast as thick or thicker than the backing plate that holds the pad in place. In my case, the pad looked to be completely gone--or maybe a 1/16" sliver! That didn't look good.

I then removed the wheel from the right rear corner and saw that the pad was just about the same thickness as the backing plate which indicated the obvious--that the front pads were in dire need to be replaced! I would keep the rears in their present state for now. And this brings me to the DIY article!

Featured Products:
You will need:
7mm Allen Socket
Torque Wrench
Jack Stands/Jack
17mm Socket
Breaker Bar
Replacement Brake Pads
Plastilube (Antisqueal compound)

Desirable:
Rubber gloves
Socket extensions
1/2" to 3/8" adaptor



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Lay Out Your Tools
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Make sure you have all your tools. Nothing is worse than finding you need to put your car back together to drive to your nearest auto parts store to find that missing tool! (I did that for this article!)

Extension Sockets
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A set of these can be very handy when you find you just don't have enough room to reach your bolts!

Start Time
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Brake Pads from MINI Dealer
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Your brake pads come with 4 shoes (2 for each wheel)


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A replacement brake pad is being trial inserted into a compressed piston.

Plastilube (Antisqueal compound)
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This is how Plastilube comes packed. Available from the MINI Parts department. You will want this to prevent any brake squeals!

Each Pad Pair is Evident
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Notice that in each pair, one has a clip, the otherside is flat. Each pair is identical, so there is no need to worry about interchanging them. Make sure that you don't touch the face of the pads with your fingers! Oils from your skin will cause problems! The side with the clip will clip into the Piston. What's the piston? Read on!

Brake Pad Sensor
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The brake pad sensor (small end) consists of a long wire that connects to the front left pad assembly. The other end (Cylindrical end) goes to a receptacle that's hidden by some of the paneling.

When Should You Change Your Pads?
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The pad in front is my pad after 32,000 miles. Pretty much worn down to the backing plate. The plate in the rear, is the new pad. You can see the difference is pretty dramatic. You should look at your pad thickness everytime you rotate your tires. If the pad is thinner than the backing plate, it's probably time to replace the pads. If you replace them before you get to the wear sensor, you can save yourself $16.50 in parts!

Brake Pad Thickness
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Just by looking down the brake rotor, you can see the thickness.

Step #1
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We're going to lift the MINI up on jacks. But before we do that, make sure to loosen the lug bolts. If you lift the MINI on stands before loosening your lug nuts, you won't be able to remove the wheels! The OEM wheels come with this little tool to remove the hubcap.

17mm Socket and Breaker Bar
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If you plan on working on your car frequently, get atleast an 18" breaker bar. It makes removing the lug nuts much easier over using the spare tire kit that comes with the Cooper.

Breaker Bar is Hinged
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You can turn the breaker bar at a 90 degree angle to remove the lug bolts, then straighten it out and spin it with your fingers to remove the bolts.


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Use a Coffee Can to Hold Loose Parts
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A coffee can works great to keep all the parts you removed in one place!

Step #2
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To keep the MINI from rolling, chock the rear wheels, pull the handbrake, and shift the car into gear.


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Lifting the MINI
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The MINI has 4 jacking points. Since you're going to want to use these points for the jack stands, you're going to have to find a different place nearby to jack the car from. I found a place that was acceptable and didn't leave any marks.


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Working on one side at a time, remove the wheel and set it aside.

Retaining Wire
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This wire actually holds the two parts of the brake calipers together.

Removing Retaining Wire
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To remove the clip, insert a flat bladed screw driver on the lower portion of the clip at this point, and simply wiggle it off. Inserting it at this location is the easiest way of removing it.

Full Brake Assembly
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Part Remaining on Rotor
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As you can see here, this part stays on the rotor. It actually loosely holds the outer brake pad. If you wanted to remove this part of the brake assembly, you would need a 16mm socket to remove 2 bolts, but for just changing brake pads, they will remain as they are.

Brake Calipers Removed
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This assembly holds the inner brake pad. The piston is a part of this component and isn't very visible here. It's what pushes the brake pad against the caliper when you step on the brakes.

2 Components
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It should be pretty clear now that there are 2 major parts here. Each component holds each side of the brake pad. The pad with the clip goes on the part of the caliper that is hanging.

Brake Pad Sensor
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The wire you see in the middle here, is the wire for the brake sensor. This wire can be found on opposite corners--the Left Front Wheel and Right Rear Wheel.

Disassemble Caliper Assembly
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To take apart the brake assembly, you only need to remove 2 screws. They are hidden behind these plastic caps. Just use your finger nail to remove the cap and insert a 7mm Allen.


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7mm Allen Socket
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This is the tool you need. I could only find it for a 3/8" ratchet. Because I wanted to use it with my 1/2" Torque Wrench, I bought an adaptor to convert my 1/2" drive to a 3/8" socket.

Set of Adaptors
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I found this set at Pep Boys. Figuring I may need this in the future, I decided to buy a set of adaptors for $10.

It Doesn't Fit!!
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It should be evident here that a 3/8" Allen Socket won't fit a 1/2" Drive ratchet

An Adaptor Saves the Day!!
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Now it Fits!
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7mm Allen Bolt
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You can't see what the 7mm Allen head looks like because it's facing away from you.

Loosen Allen Bolt
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Using a ratchet, just loosen the bolt.

Loosen By Hand
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Once you've loosened the 7mm Allen with the ratchet, remove it, but leave the socket in place, and just use your fingers to remove the Allen bolt.


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Allen Bolt
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If you look closely at where the Allen bolts travels, you can actually get your fingers in there to help the bolt come out.

Remove Caliper
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Once you are sure the 7mm Allens have been loosened and removed, you can slip off the caliper assembly. It will need to be wiggled quite a bit. The piston will be fully extended making extraction a little difficult.

On to the Piston!!!
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Ok, you can see the piston here. It's that large cylindrical part with a rubber boot. You can see I'm removing the brake pad with the clip from it. This pad has the brake sensor still attached. In the next step we will remove it so we can free the brake pad.

Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Remove Brake Pad Sensor
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Use some needle nose pliers or a flat bladed screwdriver to remove the old sensor. Once the sensor light comes on in your MINI, you need to replace it with a new one.

Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Piston!!
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Here's a better view of the piston! It's fully extended here.

Piston!!
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Take a look inside the piston! I was surprised to find out exactly what the piston was. It's much larger than I had anticipated. After reading so many horror stories about people having problems with compressing the piston on the rear brakes, I now better understand the problem. As I mentioned earlier, the piston is the part that pushes the brake pad against the rotor. When you remove the old (thin) brake pad, and replace it with a new (thicker) one, you'll need to make room by compressing the piston. This is easily done with a clamp and a piece of wood!

Compressing the Piston
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To Compress the piston, just use a regular wood workers clamp. Insert a soft piece of wood between the piston and the foot of the clamp, and just tighten the clamp.

Compressing the Piston
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Compressing the Piston
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Attach Sensor Wire
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Attach the new sensor wire to one of the new brake pads with the clip.

Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Remove Caliper
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Gloves can greatly help keep your hands clean. This is a very messy job!!

Apply Plastilube
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Plastilube comes in these foil packets for about $2.50 each from your MINI Parts department.

Apply Plastilube
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To prevent squeals, apply Plastilube or Antisqueal compound on front edge of piston. Working with this material can get pretty messy fast, and it's very easy to get it on the pads if you aren't careful. I would recommend applying antisqueal compounds in this order--Piston face, inside of caliper, and on the caliper carrier that's still on the rotor. Apply it anywhere there is metal to metal contact between the brake pad backing plate and the caliper assembly.

Apply Plastilube
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Insert the brake pad.

Apply Plastilube
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Use a wirebrush to clean off the brake dust before applying the antisqueal compound.

Apply Plastilube
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Next apply it to the inside of the Caliper assembly--immediately opposite to the piston. A flat bladed screwdriver works great to spread the compound.

Apply Plastilube
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Removing Brake Pad Sensor Attachment Points
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The brake pad sensor is attached in several different points. A needle nose pliar works best to remove this cable.

Removing Brake Pad Sensor Attachment Points
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Removing Brake Pad Sensor Attachment Points
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Reattaching Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Reattaching Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Reattaching Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Reattaching Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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Reattaching Brake Pad Sensor Wire
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There are 2 connectors--a blue and a black. The brake pad sensor attaches to the black one.

Finally Assembly
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There wasn't anything particularly difficult about putting everything back together again. Just slide the caliper assembly on, and tighten the 2 Allen head bolts.

Caliper to brake pad carrier (7mm Allen) 30 - 5 Nm or (22 - 4 ft-lb)

Even with the 2 Allen bolts secure, The assembly may feel a little wobbly, because the Piston is no longer applying pressure to the brake pads. But once the the retaining clip is put back on, the assembly will feel very solid. Slip the wire into the top hole first, and use pliers to insert the bottom portion of the clip into the lower hole. It will take some force to do this. Now replace the wheels and lug bolts and hand tighten them. Place a jack under the MINI again, and lift it high enough to remove the jack stand on one side. Remove the jack stand, and repeat on the other side. Now torque the lug bolts to the proper spec. Abound 85Nm using the torque wrench. Tighten opposing lug bolts as you do this. Replace the hub caps. Get in the MINI, and turn on the ignition. The first time you step on the brake pedal, it should go to the floor. Pump it a few times and it should feel like normal, although it may feel a bit spongy. Take a drive around the block being careful to ensure that the brakes are operational. Return back to your work area, and retighten lug bolts to 85Nm.

Ending Time
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I began with the left side brake. The sensor wire consumed a lot of time, as did preparation for this article. However, once I did it, I replaced the right front brake in less than 15 minutes! Of course no sensor wire to mess with either!

I am now confident that I can paint my calipers or even upgrade my rotors. I may even attempt to change my brake lines to braided steel ones, although that will require more tools that I don't currently have. Also I was advised by a BMW mechanic to consider replacing my rotors after this set of pads are worn out.

With proper instruction, anyone with the right tools can do this simple brake pad change in as little as 30 minutes! Of course if you don't feel comfortable working on something as critical as your brakes, get a qualified mechanic to do the job!

***UPDATED 5/19/05
If you purchased the Harbor Freight Disk Caliper tool for compressing your rear piston, it also works for the front. For the rear, you can just use the tool out of the box without any attachments, but for the rear you need to add one of the included "front end plates" to the tool.
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Also shoe boxes work great as support devices, don't let the caliper hang off the brake lines!!!
Click the image to open in full size.

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Rear Brake Pad How To Article
http://www.northamericanmotoring.com...345#post550345
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Last edited by OctaneGuy; 05-19-2005 at 12:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2005, 04:24 AM
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MadHatter MadHatter is offline
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Nice Work on documenting the Job, OctaneGuy!

Thank you and see you at AMVIV!
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:24 AM
onasled onasled is offline
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Good Job OG. Nice of you to take the time to do this.

So this is what this thing is for
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-27-2005, 08:48 AM
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kaelaria kaelaria is offline
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Very nice writeup! Thank you!
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:22 AM
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OctaneGuy OctaneGuy is offline
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You're welcome!! I was so frustrated not being able to find a basic article showing how to change my brake pads! Then I got to thinking, maybe it was such a difficult thing, that beginners shouldn't try it, but after going through this experience, doing the fronts brakes are really easy with the right tools and instruction. The backs are more difficult I think, but I will definitely do a writeup for that.

That tool is just little piece of wire with a hook on it. It's used to pull off the plastic center hub cap that hides the lug bolts! It came with my spare tire changing kit of my 2003 Cooper

Quote:
Originally Posted by onasled
Good Job OG. Nice of you to take the time to do this.

So this is what this thing is for
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:39 AM
searocko searocko is offline
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Excellent detailed write-up!

A couple of suggestions:

1. Do not let the freed caliper hang by the brake hose. The unsupported weight can stretch and damage the hose, potentially causing a leak. Tie the caliper up to the coil spring on the suspension with wire or zip ties to relieve the strain.

2. The horror stories you've heard of people having problems with compressing the rear caliper pistons is due to the fact that it requires a different procedure. Unlike the front calipers, you need to not only compress, but also rotate the piston. This resets the automatic adjustment mechanism for the parking brake. There are special tools available for rent/purchase that can do the job.

3. You may need to extract some brake fluid out of the reservoir, especially if you've topped off the fluid. Otherwise you may have difficulty compressing the piston as the fluid will have nowhere to go. Also loosening the brake fluid reservoir cap will make piston compression easier.

Do you have the torque specs for the bolts? I think that would be very helpful. Also, where did you get those cool wheel chocks?

Thanks again for the excellent how-to and pictorial!
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:53 AM
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Excellent write-up!
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Old 02-27-2005, 09:58 AM
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Hi Larry!!

Good point about #1. I actually supported the caliper most of the time to prevent strain on the brake hose--except, I didn't have 3 hands for the picture, so I let it dangle--but you can hang it very carefully in such a way for a few seconds that won't cause excessive strain.

re: #2
Well you see, I had no idea what the piston looked like! And when I read that people used needle nose pliars or a c-clamp with a rubber foot to compress it, it made me think the piston must be pretty small. Well the needle nose pliars were used for the rear--where you need to twist and push as the same time. Having used this wood workers clamp, I'm wondering if the same procedure would still work--if there would be enough grip on the piston to be able to rotate the whole clamp. I've read it's possible.

re: #3
Good point. I didn't touch the brake fluid. My Bentley manual stated that you might want to open the brake bleeder valve---I think!! I don't recall exactly.

re: Wheel chocks
They same with a $50 all in one 2 ton jack, jack stands, and wheel chocks from Pep Boys!! I thought they were pretty cool too!

re: Torque specs
Yeah I need to look them up again, and will include it in the article.

Thanks for your feedback!!!

Richard

Quote:
Originally Posted by searocko
Excellent detailed write-up!

A couple of suggestions:

1. Do not let the freed caliper hang by the brake hose. The unsupported weight can stretch and damage the hose, potentially causing a leak. Tie the caliper up to the coil spring on the suspension with wire or zip ties to relieve the strain.

2. The horror stories you've heard of people having problems with compressing the rear caliper pistons is due to the fact that it requires a different procedure. Unlike the front calipers, you need to not only compress, but also rotate the piston. This resets the automatic adjustment mechanism for the parking brake. There are special tools available for rent/purchase that can do the job.

3. You may need to extract some brake fluid out of the reservoir, especially if you've topped off the fluid. Otherwise you may have difficulty compressing the piston as the fluid will have nowhere to go. Also loosening the brake fluid reservoir cap will make piston compression easier.

Do you have the torque specs for the bolts? I think that would be very helpful. Also, where did you get those cool wheel chocks?

Thanks again for the excellent how-to and pictorial!
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Old 02-27-2005, 10:12 AM
searocko searocko is offline
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No problem Richard. Just trying to fill in things that I noticed off the bat. I haven't heard of people using needle nose pliers to compress a piston. But if I hadn't done a brake job before and read that, it would give the impression that they are tiny!

Thanks for the info on the wheel chocks. Hopefully they sell them separately. I have a couple of plastic chocks that are normally used for RVs or trailers but they don't fold flat for storage.

Motor on!
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Old 02-27-2005, 10:29 AM
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OctaneGuy OctaneGuy is offline
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Thanks Larry!! I updated the article with the proper Nm values for the 7mm Allens. You're welcome on the chocks. Let me know if you need more info--I can go find out the brand, etc..

Richard

Quote:
Originally Posted by searocko
No problem Richard. Just trying to fill in things that I noticed off the bat. I haven't heard of people using needle nose pliers to compress a piston. But if I hadn't done a brake job before and read that, it would give the impression that they are tiny!

Thanks for the info on the wheel chocks. Hopefully they sell them separately. I have a couple of plastic chocks that are normally used for RVs or trailers but they don't fold flat for storage.

Motor on!
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:45 AM
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This is GREAT! Richard!
I always wonder how you can work and take pictures at the same time

See you in Vegas!
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:46 AM
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I end up with a very dirty camera!!! LOL. My silver Nikon was caked with brake dust, but it still works! LOL

See you Vegas!!

Richard

Quote:
Originally Posted by cafemoc
This is GREAT! Richard!
I always wonder how you can work and take pictures at the same time

See you in Vegas!
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Old 02-28-2005, 11:20 AM
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Great write up!

When you consider doing this job, instead of doing this:

Click the image to open in full size.

You may want to get one of these:

Click the image to open in full size.

Disk Brake Caliper Tool Set from Harbor Freight for $40.00. It has the proper attachments to do both the front and the rears calipers, and will save a lot of wear and tear on you and your calipers.
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Old 02-28-2005, 11:49 AM
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Thanks for the tip! I guess the point was that if you didn't have the "proper" tool, a c-clamp with a soft material--like pine or mahogony in this case, can also work. It doesn't take much force to push the piston back.

I know that Randy had a c-clamp with a rubber foot that worked as well. When you say the Harbor Freight kit works for the rear--how does it compress and turn the piston?

Just wondering which of those tools in that kit does that, since I've never used it before? :smile:

Thanks!

Richard


Quote:
Originally Posted by SumWon
Great write up!

When you consider doing this job, instead of doing this:

Click the image to open in full size.

You may want to get one of these:

Click the image to open in full size.

Disk Brake Caliper Tool Set from Harbor Freight for $40.00. It has the proper attachments to do both the front and the rears calipers, and will save a lot of wear and tear on you and your calipers.
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OctaneGuy
how does it compress and turn the piston?
The "T" looking device in the kit is basically a long bolt with a nut in the center. The circular looking parts are engage plates for the piston. You fit the correct engage plate onto the end of the "T", put the backing plate on (looks like a brake pad with a hole) and place the "T" between the piston and the outside brake pad brace. You use a socket wrench to turn the "T" which in turn, turns the piston while applying pressure. Viola! The piston compresses. Very similar to a pulley removal tool, except it is pushing the piston in instead of pulling the pulley off. Works about the same with the front, except the engage plate is smooth so it doesn't cause the piston to turn as it applies pressure. Much nicer than messing around with clamps and wood (been there done that) and cuts change time down quite a bit especially on the rears.
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Old 02-28-2005, 01:55 PM
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WOW..............What a GREAT write up! I am now about to tackle this job! Just two questions........Do you need to replace the brake pad sensor each time? Also, with the exception of the piston compression on the rear, is the procedure and parts the same? EXCELLENT JOB!

Thanks......
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:03 PM
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Thanks Sum Won! I'm going to buy one of those kits so I can do a write up on the rear! (edited 2:49pm I just ordered the kit cause I think soon I'm going to be the "brake guy" in my club. LOL.)

Hi D.D.,
the brake pad sensor only needs to be replaced if you wore down your pads to the point your Brake Pad sensor light is on. If it is, then that means the sensor has also worn down, and needs to be replaced as well. Remember the sensor is only on the front left and right rear wheel.

If you keep an eye on your pads and change them before the sensor gets tripped, you won't need to replace it.

According to the Bentley Manual, the rears look just like the front except for the piston. I plan to do a full writeup on this in 2 to 3 weeks.

Also, I've read other people having problems resetting the interior brake pad warning light. I think the procedure was the same as when resetting the flat tire indicator light. In my case, it just required replacing the cable. Next time I started my car, the light was gone.

Hope the article helps you!

Richard

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.D.
WOW..............What a GREAT write up! I am now about to tackle this job! Just two questions........Do you need to replace the brake pad sensor each time? Also, with the exception of the piston compression on the rear, is the procedure and parts the same? EXCELLENT JOB!

Thanks......
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:27 PM
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about EBC greenstuff pads

I'm also interested in the EBC Greenstuffs, I also have an '03, and I would also like to keep the sensors. Do the pads for the '04-'05 MINIs have the slot for the sensor? Will they fit on the '03s?

Thanks! GREAT how-to!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OctaneGuy
*******

While I would normally have ordered aftermarket parts by mail, I needed the parts now!! So I found that my local Pep Boys had the EBC pads for my MINI in stock, but they didn't know much about them, and said they didn't have the slots for the wear sensor. Since I knew there were 2 versions of these pads, the original without the sensor hole and the new ones for 04-05 MINI's, it only made things worse, because I had an 03 and I WANTED to retain the sensor.
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:01 PM
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I find it all confusing as well. The EBC website makes no mention of this other than they sell pads with wear sensors.

Moss MINI seems to say the only pads with sensor holes are for 04-05 or no sensor holes for 02 - 05.

http://www.mossmini.com/Shop/ViewPro...eIndexID=34834

Personally, I think the wear sensors are for non enthusiasts, and I didn't feel this way before I changed my own pads. It's to keep the normal driver from causing more damage to their rotors when their pads wear down--a fail safe if you will. In fact, because of the cost of the sensor and extra install time, I'd rather not let it wear down to that point before changing my pads!

Now that I know what the pad looks like, and it's pretty easy to see how much pad is left by taking off the wheel, I'm not so sure the sensor wire is all that important to me anymore. :smile:

Just my 2 cents!

Again, I will say that I did NOT feel like this last week! Now that I've been through the process it's no longer a mystery to me and keeping an eye on remaining pad life isn't something I need to leave up to the MINI Service people!

Richard


Quote:
Originally Posted by Verruckt
I'm also interested in the EBC Greenstuffs, I also have an '03, and I would also like to keep the sensors. Do the pads for the '04-'05 MINIs have the slot for the sensor? Will they fit on the '03s?

Thanks! GREAT how-to!
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Old 03-06-2005, 10:34 AM
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Some observations on a DIY brake job

Excellent write-up OctaneGuy. Ya done good!



Here are some observations on my recent MINI brake job. Keep in mind that this is for a 2002 MCS with a little over 48k on the clock - they may not apply to you. The good news? Apparently there is nothing in the wheel wells to cut you - I would have found it. I walked away from this job without leaving any DNA behind. Whew! :smile: (Very unusual!)

Now on with the brake job.

Along with all of the aforwmentioned sockets and tools required, I would like to add another:

A "dead head" hammer. It looks like a rubber mallet, but has shot in the head. You can get them at Sears. Reason for the dead head? My rotors apparently were just happy right where they were and didn't want to leave their home on the hub - two out of four were stuck. I couldn't cuss them off, so a little tap did the job. Do not use a steel hammer because you will do damage where you don't want to do damage.

The rear calipers did not want to come off either. A couple of taps with the dead head loosened them , but make sure your hand brake is off. If it isn't, you are not going to get the caliper off. (No, I remembered to check first...)

Another word on the rear brakes. (You will be suprised how small they are compared to the fronts)... First, remove the caliper as described by OctaneGuy. I then found that you do NOT need to remove the pad brackets to remove the rear rotors. The bolts for the brackets are a bear to get to anyway, so leave them in place. A tap with the dead head against the rotor will free it from the hub. You can then wiggle it off the hub as you turn it away from the pad bracket. To replace the rear rotors, just do everything I just said, except backwards. I found this only works on the rear, not the front.

A dead head will also help in replacing the caliper spring clips. Place the top pin of the clip in the caliper hole, rotate the clip around so the top is against the shoulder, place the bottom pin in the calliper hole, grab the bottom of the pin with some pliers, force over the corresponding shoulder and tape the whole clip in place with the dead head.

A word on the use of torque wrenches. I have the break away type - once the desired torque is reached, the head "snaps" or "breaks"- you can feel it. When using the wrench to torque the wheel lug nuts, torque first to 40 lb/ft in a crisscross manner, i.e.: north first, then south, then east and then west. Dial in the final torque - my manual says 88.5 lb/ft. Torque in the same manner described above. This will seat the wheel against the brake rotor/wheel hub. After you torque all nuts, go back and recheck with 88.5 lb/ft on the wrench. After you torque everyting you need, remove the torque from the wrench - in other words, zero the wrench out before you store it away. Do not leave a torque on the wrench. If you do, the wrench will "remember" the torque you have set and will not function properly if you need to torque anything else. I say all of this (about torque wrenches) after working maintenance in Army aviation for about 12 years. EVERY nut on a UH-1H Huey is torqued and most are then safety wired. We DID learn how to torque something.

Hope this helps - again it is for a '02 MCS with 48k. It may or may not apply to your MINI.
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:18 AM
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Hi Rev. Limiter
Thanks for the nice words and the tip! I was curious, you said the dead head hammer is like a rubber mallet with a "shot". Do you mean "slot"?

SUMWON:
My Disc brake tools arrived from harbor freight. I can't wait to try them out!
I also saw in the catalog some battery powered 1/2" impact wrenches--one that does up to 220 ft lbs I believe. I'm considering going this route instead of buying a compressor and air impact wrench when it comes time to doing my rotors. Do you have any experience with these instead of air power?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Limiter
Excellent write-up OctaneGuy. Ya done good!



Here are some observations on my recent MINI brake job. Keep in mind that this is for a 2002 MCS with a little over 48k on the clock - they may not apply to you. The good news? Apparently there is nothing in the wheel wells to cut you - I would have found it. I walked away from this job without leaving any DNA behind. Whew! :smile: (Very unusual!)
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:59 AM
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We call them "Dead Heads". Some others call them "Dead Blow" hammers. Sears has them in a number of sizes, but you can probably find them in most any hardware store.


Pick one up and shake it. You can hear the steel (?) or lead (?) shot inside rattle. They merely add force to the blow when you hit something - without damage to the object hit...


(unless it's your x-wife - but that's another fantasy we won't get into...)


edit: I don't have any experience with an electric or battery powered impact wrench. I have an air compressor at the house...

Sorry.
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File Type: jpg Dead Head 02.jpg (16.4 KB, 279 views)
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Old 03-07-2005, 05:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OctaneGuy
My Disc brake tools arrived from harbor freight. I can't wait to try them out!

I also saw in the catalog some battery powered 1/2" impact wrenches--one that does up to 220 ft lbs I believe. I'm considering going this route instead of buying a compressor and air impact wrench when it comes time to doing my rotors. Do you have any experience with these instead of air power?
Let me know how you like it. I think it is as sweet as sliced bread.

I have used electric impact wrenches before and they can get the job done most of the time if you have the time and patients. They are not as strong as a good pneumatic impact wrench, but are better than nothing. If you remove your lugs regularly, I wouldn't suspect you would have too much problem with it. Back it up with a good breaker bar and plenty of penetration oil, and I think you would be good for wheel removal 99% of the time.

Good recomendation Rev. Limiter! I keep a dead blow in my tool box just for such occasions. Nothing is worse than getting a car up, lugs off, and the blasted wheel won't seperate from the hub! Couple of good wacks from a dead blow frees things up nicely.
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Old 03-07-2005, 07:15 AM
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Interesting tool. I'm always glad to learn something new--my wife on the other hand won't be glad to see that I've found yet another tool I need to buy.

Thanks!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Limiter
We call them "Dead Heads". Some others call them "Dead Blow" hammers. Sears has them in a number of sizes, but you can probably find them in most any hardware store.


Pick one up and shake it. You can hear the steel (?) or lead (?) shot inside rattle. They merely add force to the blow when you hit something - without damage to the object hit...


(unless it's your x-wife - but that's another fantasy we won't get into...)


edit: I don't have any experience with an electric or battery powered impact wrench. I have an air compressor at the house...

Sorry.
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Old 03-07-2005, 07:48 AM
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Trivia

The reason they are called "Dead Blow" or "Dead Head" hammers is because the moving shot inside the head almost entirely eliminates hammer rebound. When you strike something, the shot rebounds inside the head instead of causing the whole hammer to rebound, as a hammer with a solid steel head would do. Because there is no rebound, the blows can be more precise with less chance of marring your striking surface.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Limiter
We call them "Dead Heads". Some others call them "Dead Blow" hammers. Sears has them in a number of sizes, but you can probably find them in most any hardware store.


Pick one up and shake it. You can hear the steel (?) or lead (?) shot inside rattle. They merely add force to the blow when you hit something - without damage to the object hit...

Sorry.
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