E39 brake job..

Hi All -
My E39 requires front brake pad replacement. My local gas station owner says he has ASE certified technician and can do the job as it's a simple piece of scope and he does it all the time for other premium
luxury cars (I see many luxury foreign cars in his lot).
I have never had anything done (other than tire replacement) on the car except from authorized dealership. The price diff for the brake job is literally double and the Exxon repair is guaranteeing they will use original BMW parts.
My E39 is a '98. Any opinions on whether I should go with the cheaper option given the simple enough scope of work..?
Thanks in advance..
-R
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SunK wrote:

Replacing the brake pads isn't rocket science.. but make sure you're comparing apples to apples. I'm certain the BMW quote includes new rotors. BMW's normally require new rotors with every front brake pad change (and new ones on the rear with every other pad change.)
It's possible the Exxon repair only includes "cutting" the current rotors. This is a bad idea since the rotors will be under or very close to under minimum thickness after cutting them, and prone to warping. BMW workshop procedures do not allow for cutting any brake rotors. Replacement is the correct way to do it.
Genuine BMW rotors aren't all that expensive - so make sure the job includes them. Then compare the price.
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Brake jobs aren't rocket science. I'd go with him.
Only slight "gotcha" is the wear sensor, you need to replace the sensor wire. But only if it's triggered the (O) warning light on the dash. Otherwise the old one can be resued.
If you brake fluid is >2 years old have it replaced.
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Replacing pads is a VERY straightforward job. Somebody that knows how can do the entire car, pads and rotors, in under an hour (assuming he has the parts on hand when he starts).
You did not say how many miles are on the car, so I'll give a bit of general information that you might need to be aware of.
The rear brakes _generally_ are replaced at a ratio of two sets of fronts for a set of rear. If you have had the front brakes replaced before (the age of your car suggests this can be true) then you should also expect that the rear brakes will beneeded as well.
The brake rotors typically last through two sets of pads. You may be ready for rotors as well, on the front only would be my guess. Youi may not need rotors, but the rotors have a number stamped into them that the guy will compare to a measurement he makes with a micrometer. If the rotors are close, or below, this number, you will have to get new rotors.
Guys that service their own brakes typically find that rotors run to about $50 each, and pads are about $50 per axle set. This should give a parts price for the project at about $300 if you need all rotors and pads. Adjust as needed for the parts you actually need, and factor in the notion that factory parts might be a bit higher.

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Good advice except that you'll probably being using substandard parts for $300. OEM or equivalent will run about $400-450 for rotors, pads and sensors.
R / John
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"Substandard" is subjective. I did a very good job on my first 3 Series at those prices. Personally, I don't see the attraction to buying these kinds of parts from the stealership, the aftermarket offers excellent quality parts for a better price.
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All - thank you all for excellent opinions - appreciate it. Based on what you say, I feel:
- the scope is simple enough that does not mandate a trip to the stealership. - the local store is procuring the spare parts from the local BMW dealership (pads, rotors and sensors), so parts quality should not be a worry.
Thanks again!
-R
Jeff Strickland wrote:

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I think you have done the right thing. Drive happy.
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SNIP

The price I quoted was aftermarket but to OEM standard. I ran a check and I'm off a bit, $360 plus shipping from turner motor sport. Given the cost of shipping but no tax, probably $400 even.
You can find bargain bits on eBay, but no telling the quality. If you go to the dealer you'll pay a premium price to maintain his parts dept.
R / John
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I went down the street to the local parts house and bought name-brand stuff that worked out just fine. And, I paid roughly $300 for four sets of pads and four rotors. The parts house offers up cheap stuff, good stuff, and premium stuff. I generally buy the premium stuff because the cost-up as compared to the good stuff is a few pennies on the dollar, and I never buy the cheap stuff.
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There is no reason to believe that OEM brake rotors are any better than those made by a reputable after market manufacturer. Indeed it's not unknown for pattern parts to be made by the same Co that supplies the motor Co, but being 'pattern parts' they are usually cheaper. Bearings are a classic example. A std bearing bought from a bearing supplier might cost 3-4. Put in a box with a car makers logo on it, and the price can more than double. For exactly the same spec bearing, from the same manufacturer. Mike.
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Mike G wrote:

Actually - there is. And it's not OEM vs the others, it OE vs OEM (as in Original Equipment from BMW and Original Equipment Manufacturer - where they can use the term because at one time they may have manufactured one little part for BMW.)

And it's also known that BMW rotors are fully balanced. If you look at the newer ones you'll see little circular grind marks on the cooling fins between the two rotor surfaces. Older ones used balance clips that clipped onto the fins. ATE makes BMW rotors, ATE also makes "OEM" rotors that fit the same BMWs. The ATE OE rotors are balanced. The ATE "OEM" rotors are not. Same deal with brake pads.. ATE OE pads have chamfered edges. ATE "OEM" pads do not. Does it make a difference? Sure does - I found this out when I had to redo a job I did with ATE "OEM" stuff due to shudder and vibration. With the BMW parts installed - the brakes felt just like they did from the factory.

You're on solider ground with this statement on bearings, although BMW may specify closer than standard tolerances on bearings then the tolerances of an "off the shelf bearing". If the PN is identical - then the bearing is likely identical, but I've seen BMW specific bearings with a manufacturer's part number on them that can't be located in the manufacturer's catalog. Same dimensions as a stock bearing - different tolerances.

OE = Original Equipment - from BMW
OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer - which doesn't mean they manufacture THIS part for the manufacturer, or that this part meets the OE specifications.
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admin wrote:

Whenever I used ATE OEM pads they were chamfered. Used ATE discs too and never had a problem. Do discs really need balancing?

Obviously that's true, but conversely you can't say the OEM part is NOT the same, either.
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I always fit ATE and have since my first BMW and never had a problem either.
I can't see why a well made disc should need balancing - it would have to start out as a very poor casting if it was significantly out of balance after machineing. Perhaps the ones Mr Admin saw with signs of balancing started off as poor castings.
It's rather the same as with tyres. The pick of the bunch don't need balancing either when new. They usually go to the makers to be fitted to new cars.
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I just get an or car balance which takwes care of any sligh imbalance in the wheel, tire, hub, rotors, half shafts etc.
I resist the urge to get factory parts. 10 years later, so far so good.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

I think the difference is the amount of chamfer. BMW pads have a deep chamfer that goes at least 1" or so into the pad. Aftermarket pads typically have a small edge chamfer. The deep chamfer stays in place for a long time as the pad wears, and puts more braking force on a smaller area to begin with - which may help with pad-bedding-in.

Think about the casting with ventilated rotors - there is no way to machine the interior fin area, and this is a rough sand casting (probably done via lost-wax). There is obviously some need for balancing or BMW wouldn't bother doing it. Considering how fussy BMW front ends are for balance, it seems to be a GOOD THING to have the rotors balanced.

It we take this analogy further - then the pick of the bunch of rotors are sent to BMW who finds they still need balancing. Look at a factory rotor - on the E39 ones you'll see circular grinding marks at points along the fins where material was removed (undoubtably by an automated machine) to balance them.
I'm not one to waste money - but the work required to redo this job when it goes bad is enough to keep me using OE parts. Redid it once and that was enough aggravation that I don't want to redo it again.
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I'd not like to guess how many discs my brother and myself have replaced on our BMWs over the years, but they've all been ATE and all fine. Perhaps they come from more than one factory depending on the country they're supplying.
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I think you were just unfortunate. I've fitted many pattern discs and pads to my cars over the years without any problems concerning balance or efficiency. I don't believe in trying to save money on safety related items, if it means the parts are sub standard. If I believed that were the case I wouldn't use them.
A few weeks ago I had pattern rear discs, pads and brake shoes fitted to my E39. Total cost for the parts, under 100. No complaints so far. I don't know what BMW charge for the same parts, but I imagine it to be considerably more.

Somehow I doubt that. An off the shelf stock bearings is built to what might be called a std commercial tolerance, but by selective assy, and at added cost, a more precise bearing can be supplied. AFAIK designated by 'o', 'oo' and 'ooo' with 'ooo' bearings being the most precise.

Which is what I meant. OK a mistake on my part, but the context in which I used the term should have made that fairly obvious. Mike
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More like "sub-BMW markup"

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