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.
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:
T50 Torx Bit
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.
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:
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.
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.
**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:
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:
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.
Be sure to use a torque wrench and use the correct settings for each bolt when putting everything back together:
To reset the service indicator on the onboard computer use the following instructions:
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:
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.