DIY Rear Brake Pads at 27,900 miles

20 December 2010 - Filed under: Servicing

The process of changing the rear brake pads on the R56 is similar to swapping the fronts with the added complication of the handbrake bowden cable and the requirement for a caliper rewind tool to retract the piston.

I didn’t swap the discs this time as they still seemed quite healthy. The TIS instructions cover the process with more accuracy than I can, so as per usual the links are here:

Overview of rear brakes.
Replacing rear pads.
Replacing rear brake pad sensor.
Rear brake torque settings.

The instructions do gloss over the replacement of the pad wear sensor. As with the front brakes there is only one sensor, however the connector is well concealed quite a distance from the rear axle. To gain access to the connector I had to remove several fixings so that I could flex the under tray of the car down enough to get my arm in and fumble around for the connector. One of these fixings requires a T20 Torx bit for removal.

You will require the following parts:

1 x Repair kit, brake pads: 34216778327
1 x Brake pad wear sensor: 34356789330

You will also need some brake pad paste/copper slip to prevent brake squeal due to the pads vibrating. I’ve used a tube of ‘Ceratec’ which is manufactured by Mintex for a few years now on several vehicles without any problems.

Rear caliper and pads removed.

Rear caliper and pads removed.

Here is the drivers side (right hand drive MINI) brake assembly with the handbrake bowden cable, the pad wear sensor, the caliper and the pads removed. The handbrake bowden cable is relatively easy to detach. As with the front brakes the pads and retaining springs are nice and easy to remove and insert.

Old pads and new pads.

Old pads and new pads.

The old pads were around 3/4 worn when removed, the car was beeping and displaying an error message on startup, constantly showing an error on the rev counter and constantly illuminating the handbrake warning light. I think BMW must have a policy to annoy people into servicing their vehicles.

New pads installed.

New pads installed.

As mentioned earlier the rear calipers on the R56 require a special rewind tool to retract the pistons. So the G-clamp and block of wood method that I used on the front brakes won’t do. I’d heard reports that a pair of needle nosed pliers or the tool for changing the disc on an angle grinder could be used instead. I’m not using the MINI daily at the moment (hence the film of rust on the discs) so I thought I’d have a go at bodging the piston rewind before coughing up for the proper tool.

DIY piston rewind.

DIY piston rewind.

First of all a word of warning, this method is obviously not authorised or recommended by BMW or myself, please be aware that you could damage the caliper by applying pressure incorrectly or slipping. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I removed the cap from the brake fluid expansion cap, remember to keep an eye on the level whilst rewinding. I then brandished a pair of needle nose pliers and started to rotate the piston clockwise. Apply a moderate amount of force and the piston will turn, but it won’t retract, I had to put most of my body weight behind the pliers whilst turning and eventually it started to retract.



Once reassembled reset the service warning using the easy to follow unofficial instructions, or the the slightly more confusing official instructions.

Remember to tighten the two bolts that hold the caliper on to the correct torque and refit the expansion tank cap if you removed it. I hope these brief instructions and photos prove useful.

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Comments x 12

  1. TinaUnited States 9 March 2012 - 9:30 pm

    I had a read through both of your instructions sets, and I like the unofficial ones much better 🙂

    Rear brake rotors if they need changed should be done so with a proper understanding on the job here, as they always are smaller than the fronts, so keep this in mind. If your interested, you can see for yourself just why this is by reading this article,

  2. MikeUnited States 31 May 2012 - 10:09 pm

    Thanks for the write-up. Great tip about the rear piston tool.

  3. JimUnited States 15 June 2012 - 2:05 am

    +1 for the angle grinder! Just take your time and turn slowly and 1/4 turns until you can slide it back on.

    Some missing To Do’s…
    ALWAYS grease the slide pins at every pad change. For $1.50, DO IT!
    Use some anti squeal on the backs of the pads.

    Just an FYI, the sensor plug is the toughest part of the job. It’s hard to get to while on jack stands.

    All in all, good write up.

  4. richardItaly 26 July 2012 - 5:28 pm

    hi,very good work!!
    Have you to turn from left to right to rewind the piston?

    thank all you

  5. IanGreat Britain (UK) 31 July 2012 - 12:31 pm


    Yes, turn clockwise whilst pressing firmly to retract. They’ll spin freely in either direction but won’t retract without a bit of pressure whilst turning.

  6. DIY Rear Discs | R56 MINI Cooper BlogGreat Britain (UK) 31 July 2012 - 12:49 pm

    […] DIY Rear Brake Pads at 27… […]

  7. KellyUnited States 13 January 2013 - 2:46 am

    I’m still searching on the net, but this lever that removes this bowden cable – I guess its ok to use something to pry this lever down to remove the cable.

  8. Rear Brake Pad Replacement - totalMINI Forums - MINI ForumGermany 5 October 2013 - 9:40 am

    […] 08:36 AM Have a look here…. DIY Rear Brake Pads | R56 MINI Cooper Blog Its a nice easy job as long as you have a caliper rewind tool. If you havent, go and buy one, […]

  9. Pete TUnited States 29 August 2016 - 9:41 am

    CBS warnings are based on milage and how you use your vehicle, when the warnings for brake pad changes come on you will find that the pads maybe only 1/4 -1/2 worn, if you decide to change them you should be able re-use the brake wear cable. However if you decide to reset the CBS indicator and wait for the pads to wear down to the sensors you will need to replace the cable as well.

  10. AdrianUnited Kingdom 14 January 2017 - 5:24 pm

    Changed my pads and discs rear passenger and drivers side today. Drivers side piston retracted with not to much problem but the passenger side piston is really extended and will not push back in.
    I have a rewind tool but the piston is that far out that I can’t get it in properly to use-I have tried a G-clamp and some grips turning it at the same time but still no cigar!
    Any help please?

  11. MarioEurope 5 May 2017 - 8:01 pm

    Hi Guys,
    Can anyone tell me the correct torque values to tighten the two bolts that hold the caliper?
    I’m the proud owner of a R56 Mini Cooper 2012.
    This weekend I’m going to replace the front and rear brake pads.
    More useful tips are always appreciated 😉

  12. Fabrizio RaffoUnited States 17 April 2018 - 5:59 am

    Hi quick question I do not see the end connector where you connect the break pad sensor on the rear left side of my mini I just purchased the mini and I was doing a complete tune up, do you know what connects to??? I did not find the end connector anywhere took se back seat the panels I still did not see it thinking that the previous owner push inside need helppp please

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