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DIY Front Brake Discs and Pads at 20,300 miles

31 October 2009 - Filed under: Repairs

The MINI has a sensor on the front and rear brakes which handily tells you how many miles you have until you need to swap your brake pads. Unfortunately on my car, and I suspect on most, the sensor reports the pads as being worn rather prematurely. Apart from putting up with the warnings there isn’t a great deal you can do as a replacement sensor would wear almost instantly with the old pads in place. I bit the bullet and swapped the pads after a week of being nagged by the onboard computer. I also chose to swap the discs as well whilst I was at it so that hopefully I won’t have to worry about the brakes again for a while.

Old brakes

Old brakes

If you’ve ever swapped the pads and discs on a car before you should find the R56 rather straightforward, there’s no wire clips around the caliper, you only need to remove a single bolt to remove both pads, and the pad retaining springs are large and easy to fit. It’s worth noting that previous generations of the MINI have a different caliper and pad design to the R56.

To swap the discs and pads you’ll need the following parts:

1 x 34 11 6772892 – REPAIR KIT, BRAKE PADS, GALFER
1 x 34 35 6783230 – BRAKE PAD WEAR SENSOR
2 x 34 11 6774985 – BRAKE DISC, VENTILATED, 280X22

You’ll also need some anti squeal compound/copper slip or similar, I had some leftover from another car but your local MINI garage should be able to supply this.

You’ll also need the following tools:

13mm Socket
17mm Socket
T50 Torx Bit
Torque wrench

If you’re swapping just the pads you won’t require the Torx bit or the larger socket. It’s worth noting that a T50 Torx bit is a lot larger than the sizes found in most sets. In the UK Halfords sell individual T50 bits for around £5. I phoned and emailed a few MINI dealers and eventually got a quote for the parts of £167, £30 less than the MINI list price. My local dealer matched this price, slightly begrudgingly.

The parts

The parts

I downloaded the relevant instructions from the BMW TIS system, I’ve uploaded them here as they were pretty much spot on for the entire job:

Removing and installing or replacing both front brake pads

Removing and installing or replacing both front brake discs

To rewind the piston on the calipers I used a block of wood and a G-clamp, it’s worth noting that if you’ve had the first TLC service on your MINI this includes a brake fluid change so it’s worth keeping an eye on the brake fluid reservoir as it may overflow once the pistons are rewound. If the brake fluid passes the max level remove some and dispose of it carefully.

Rewinding the piston

Rewinding the piston

I found a paint can proved useful for supporting the calipers whilst I removed the discs. The discs took quite a bit of persuasion to remove from the hubs, patience and a rubber mallet prevailed.

New pads and discs installed

New pads and discs installed**

**Update: 14/04/2011 – A reader kindly pointed out that there’s a rather obvious gaffe with the above photograph. The outer pad is installed in the wrong direction, the pad should be flipped through 180 degrees so that the groove which would take the brake sensor faces outwards. If you’ve already swapped your pads and want to double check that you did it correctly the groove should still be visible once the caliper is reassembled. Thankfully I must have spotted this mistake after taking the photograph, but stupidly forgot to take an updated photograph and then forgot my error once I came to write up this guide.

The only slightly unusual step in the whole process is the installation of the new pad wear sensor. Luckily you only need one sensor for the front brakes which is installed on the nearside of the MINI. The TIS instructions below are useful but don’t mention that you need to partially unclip the wheel arch liner to disconnect the old sensor and connect the new one:

Replacing a front brake pad sensor

MINI have made the nearside arch liner easy to remove, you only need a philips screwdriver to remove a few plastic clips. Once released the arch liner can be swung up out of the way so that you can trace the sensor wire back and locate this connector:

Pad sensor connector

Pad sensor connector

Unclip it connect the new sensor and reinstall the sensor as per the instructions. The sensor my dealer provided was a slightly different design to the one I removed, but it worked as expected.

Sensor and arch liner reinstalled

Sensor and arch liner reinstalled

Be sure to use a torque wrench and use the correct settings for each bolt when putting everything back together:

Front brake torque settings

To reset the service indicator on the onboard computer use the following instructions:

R56 Service / Brake lights etc Reset Procedure

The above reset procedure actually includes a few unnecessary steps, a technician at my local garage showed me a much quicker version which I’ll document soon.

*Update – Oct/2010* – I must admit I’ve forgotten the exact procedure shown to me by my local MINI technician, a few people have asked me for it now so I’ve consulted the BMW TIS and found this article which I believe to be the same process:

CBS Reset

I hope this quick guide proves useful to someone else, there’s quite a cost saving associated with doing this sort of work yourself, and if nothing else it is quite satisfying. Just remember to take it easy until the new pads and discs have bedded in properly.

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Comments x 26

  1. CarlosUnited States 8 November 2009 - 10:43 pm

    This site is priceless…. Thank you

    Carlos.

  2. scott greenGreat Britain (UK) 3 February 2010 - 1:02 pm

    Iv had my mini since 2007 and always changed my pads a discs my self as mini want £190 just to do the pads on the front!!!!so i have spent years looking for how to rest for the wear sensor!!!!! now i have it! thanx

  3. Enrique Gabriel MuniveMexico 6 July 2010 - 10:14 pm

    Thank you very much. Good tutorial and util information. :D

  4. St. Abruzzese, IUnited States 3 August 2010 - 9:10 pm

    Did you find the easier way to reset the brake light yet?

  5. IanGreat Britain (UK) 4 August 2010 - 9:36 am

    Here are the official instructions from BMW:

    CBS Reset

  6. Jeff TalbottUnited States 13 October 2010 - 1:11 pm

    Just replaced my brakes on my 2007 mini and your website was a good over view of the procedures. One question, to reset the brake sensor … what are the easier instructions?
    thanks, Jeff

  7. IanGreat Britain (UK) 13 October 2010 - 1:26 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    I must admit I’ve forgotten the exact procedure shown to me by my local MINI technician, a few people have asked me for it now so I’ve consulted the BMW TIS and found this article which I believe to be the same process:

    CBS Reset

  8. DIY Rear Brake Pads | R56 MINI Cooper BlogGreat Britain (UK) 20 December 2010 - 1:53 pm

    […] DIY Brake Discs and Pads at 20,300 miles […]

  9. johnGreat Britain (UK) 18 January 2011 - 7:22 pm

    Great info What is SWITCH ON TERMINAL 15 ?

  10. AnonymousUnited States 19 January 2011 - 9:39 pm

    […] How to change the pads in clip
    floating piston. […]

  11. IanGreat Britain (UK) 20 January 2011 - 10:03 am

    John – I suspect it just means switch on the vehicles ignition. Press the starter button with the car in neutral and without depressing the brake or clutch.

  12. hide104suzukiJapan 12 April 2011 - 10:33 am

    ??????????
    ?????

  13. BrianUnited Kingdom 11 June 2011 - 8:29 pm

    Am I being stupid or what? My wife’s come home saying her low brake fluid light is on, ok, no problem!!! I open the bonnet, where’s the confounded reservoir, I can’t see it. Point me in the right direction someone, I don’t like being a pratt. Oh, the car’s a 2007 Mini Cooper.
    Brian.

  14. IanUnited Kingdom 12 June 2011 - 10:52 am

    Hi Brian, the brake fluid reservoir is tucked away under a small plastic cover close to the firewall. From memory if you’re looking at the car with the bonnet up it would be in the top left hand corner, I think the battery is under a similar cover on the right hand side.

  15. DanUnited Kingdom 14 September 2011 - 1:42 pm

    do you happen to have the torque setting for the front and rear suspension?

  16. alain 9 May 2012 - 6:51 pm

    Ello ,
    what is the torque setting for the connecting rod bolts of mini cooper r56 — 2007 . engine : N12B16A
    Thanks
    Alain

  17. 20,000 miles, Sytner claim car needs brake pads - Page 2 - totalMINI ForumsGermany 18 June 2012 - 11:39 am

    […] No bleeding required just pads, A quick google search will locate all info for you but as i'm feeling helpful lol….. R56 service / brake lights etc reset procedure – North American Motoring MINI Brake Discs and Pads Tutorial | R56 MINI Cooper Blog […]

  18. Are these right....? - totalMINI ForumsGermany 30 August 2012 - 11:35 am

    […] reset the brake pad wear counter on the dash, instructions below. DIY info on pad change is here MINI Brake Discs and Pads Tutorial | R56 MINI Cooper Blog You should be able to pull the caliper piston back with your hands if you leave the pad in place […]

  19. DanielUnited Kingdom 10 November 2012 - 6:54 pm

    Thank you very much for this information. It has saved me a few hundred pounds.

  20. Alan BennettUnited Kingdom 10 February 2013 - 4:27 pm

    When winding in the rear brake piston,is it advisable to slacken off the the bleed nipple to ease the pressure ?
    I was told that in doing this you won’t cause any damage to the servo

  21. andy bUnited Kingdom 16 March 2013 - 3:02 pm

    this site is priceless saves you hundreds on dealer prices

  22. Geoff SUnited Kingdom 11 May 2013 - 6:22 pm

    Thank you! Superb instructions. I used this on a 2009 r56 Mini One. I also needed a 15mm open spanner to stop the 13mm bolts turning. Pagid brake pads disks/rotors and sensors. BMW provided the anti-squeal compound. I used copper anti seize from LOctite.

  23. Geoff SUnited Kingdom 11 May 2013 - 6:22 pm

    Thank you! Superb instructions. I used this on a 2009 r56 Mini One. I also needed a 15mm open spanner to stop the 13mm bolts turning. Pagid brake pads disks/rotors and sensors. BMW provided the anti-squeal compound. I used copper anti seize from LOctite.

  24. Geoff SUnited Kingdom 11 May 2013 - 6:23 pm

    Thank you! Superb instructions. I used this on a 2009 r56 Mini One. I also needed a 15mm open spanner to stop the 13mm bolts turning. Pagid brake pads disks/rotors and sensors. BMW provided the anti-squeal compound. I used copper anti seize from LOctite.

  25. Rich BUnited States 16 August 2013 - 8:46 pm

    Just picked up a 2007 MCS and this is going to help me tremendously! Thank you!

  26. Pete TUnited Kingdom 16 September 2013 - 9:00 pm

    Great information on this site, well done. I’ve just put my 2010 Mini Cooper S in for it’s 1st MOT and TLC service, I pointed out to the dealer a fault with the rear discs, which for a relatively new car, were heavily corroded around the outer 10-15mm, which I would have thought was due to a calliper piston having seized or another fault with the calliper. the dealership have told me that there was nothing wrong with the calliper and they would be quite happy to replace my discs and pads for a huge charge. But in spite of this the car passed the MOT! I can’t understand why the dealership didn’t want to do this work under warranty?

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