This is a DIY guide for replacing the rear brake pads on your E90, E91, E92, or E93 BMW 3-series. If you’re also replacing your front E90 brake pads, the steps are very similar, however, there are a few differences. We will link our front brake pad DIY here once we have completed it!
This guide is specifically for E9X 3-series models, but this procedure is generally the same for all BMW models when it comes to the rear brake pads.
Symptoms of Bad BMW E90 Brake Pads:
- Squeaking, grinding, squealing noise when braking
- Slow brake response times
- The brake wear indicator on your dash or iDrive is going off
- Pedal feels soft or spongy
- Car vibrates when breaking
How to Replace your BMW E90 Brake Pads
DIY Level: Beginner
Time Required: 1 hour for first time DIY’ers
Replacement Interval: every 50,000 miles
Should you replace your brake rotors at the same time?
Generally, we recommend replacing your brake pads every 50,000 miles and replacing your brake rotors every other time you replace your E90 brake pads. So, every 100,000 miles. However, if you have been driving with bad brake pads for a lot of miles, the metal has been rubbing on metal, etc. then you should replace your rotors or at the minimum have them resurfaced when you replace your pads.
Tools Needed for the DIY:
- Car floor jack (unless you have a lift)
- Jack stands for safety
- Basic wrench set
- Lug nut remover (should have one in your trunk)
- Brake caliper tool
Recommended Parts for the DIY:
OEM Jurid Rear E90 Brake Pads or Genuine BMW (if you want to get pricier)
Zimmerman Coat Z if you are replacing your rotors too. If you want a higher-performance version, we recommend the Zimmerman Sport Z X-Drilled version.
Brake Pad Sensors
Steps for Replacing your E90 Brake Pads
1. Jack your car
Loosen the bolts on your wheels, then jack your car up using your floor jack and jack stands. You can go side by side or just lift the whole rear end. Just make sure you loosed the wheel bolts while the car is on the ground, otherwise you might have some difficulties while it is in the air.
2. Remove the brake pad sensor
The brake pad sensor is what causes the light on your dashboard or iDrive system to go off. These need to be replaced every time you replace your brake pads. You can find our DIY for replacing these sensors here: BMW E90 Brake Pad Sensor Replacement DIY. The sensor has a little clip with it that will pop off along with the sensor. You can use a flat head screwdriver to pop off the sensor.
3. Remove the clip on the front of the caliper
The front brake pad is held in place with a clip that protrudes from the front of the caliper. Remove this – you should be able to do it easily with your hand.
4. Remove caliper bolts
There are two bolts on the back side of the caliper that hold it in place on the rotor. Use a 5/8 socket to remove the bolts on the caliper. Be careful, once you remove the bolts the caliper will come loose from the wheel. You do not want the caliper to just dangle from the car, so get something to place underneath it to hold in place prior to removing the bolts.
5. Place something underneath the caliper
As mentioned above, don’t let the caliper hang from the brake lines. Place something underneath it that will hold it in place without putting pressure on the break lines.
6. Remove the brake pads
The outer pad does not have any clips so you should be able to pull it out without any resistance. The inside pad is held in by clips that clip inside of the piston. You can pop the rear pad out from the backside – put your hand behind it and try to push it forwards from the back.
7. Clean the caliper
We recommend pulling the caliper bracket outwards and spraying all of the components with brake cleaner or WD-40.
8. Get clearance for the new brake pads
The new brake pads will have a lot more meat on them then the old ones, so you will need to push the piston back inwards to create enough clearance for your new pads to fit in and then fit back onto the rotor. You might be able to put a lot of muscle into this and get it to move – but it’s easiest to use a brake caliper spreader tool for $10 and using that.
9. Put the new pads in
Place anti-squeal paste (Part # 20240) on your new pads and then put them back into place inside the caliper. Here are pictures of the inside and outside caliper being put into place.
10. Reattach caliper
Reattach the caliper to the brake rotor, and put the two bolts back into the back side of the caliper to secure it on the rotor.
11. Replace the brake pad sensor: DIY here
And voila! That should be it. Note that this DIY is specifically for the E90, but it is applicable and mostly similar for all rear brake pads on any BMW.
Before you Drive with your new E90 Brake Pads
Make sure you pump your brakes multiples times and hard before you actually start driving! This will make sure they set properly. Take your car for a slow test spin around the neighborhood and break the pads in. Pump your brakes while your stopping and brake hard to get them to break in nicely before trusting them in traffic.