Changing the front brakes on your BMW is one of the easiest mechanical repairs you can do yourself. If you take your car to your repair shop, not only are you paying twice as much for the parts, but you’ll pay hundreds of dollars in labor, shop fees, sales tax.
With some basic hand tools and a Saturday morning, you can easily perform a brake service on your BMW. The first thing to keep in mind is you’ll need a safe, clean space to work. Safety is paramount with auto repair work, so be sure to have a level surface such as a garage floor to work on. Jack stands are necessary- never work under a car without proper safety precautions. I also recommend gloves, eye protection, and ear plugs.
I have owned over 15 BMW’s over the years across many models, so I am relatively qualified to share my experience in terms of different brands of replacement parts. In this global economy, nearly everything is manufactured in China or Mexico these days. Unfortunately, even the once trusted German brands such as Continental now manufacture in Mexico.
Made in Germany, China or Mexico?
To make things more confusing, some brands create German sounding names or design packaging to make the consumer think they’re getting German quality OEM parts. Low cost eBay brands with German sounding names are all made in China. Another example is Meyle parts, a German owned brand. Their well designed packaging is covered in German language text that reads Premium Bremsscheibe and Geprufte Qualitat.
A few years ago I ordered Meyle brake rotors for our E46 325xi and thought they were made in Germany. I was shocked to see the tiny font Made in China on the boxes once they were delivered. It’s easy to be mislead by packaging and making assumptions based on company history, but the fact remains: if it’s manufactured in China or Mexico, it has no place on your BMW.
Why am I so against low cost parts? I have tried the low cost parts several times over the years in an attempt to save money. The truth is that they never last very long and I end up doing the job twice. I’ve learned my lesson, which is why I only recommend using genuine BMW parts made in Germany (some rotors made in USA) for longevity. You really do get what you pay for, and it’s as true as ever with automotive parts.
The one caveat to this is that if you have a situation where you have no brake pad left, or a severely worn suspension arm that is dangerous- and you are low on cash- installing the cheap parts is better than doing nothing. They’ll get you by in a pinch, but they just won’t last.
Below is a DIY brake video I uploaded to the BIMMERZEIT YouTube channel recently. This should cover most BMW models as the brake systems are essentially the same design, unchanged for decades since BMW’s first 3 series.