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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 03-21-2012, 03:40 PM   #1
peytonracer4
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One wheel has a lot more brake dust. Why?

My passengers side rear wheel has a lot more brake dust than my other wheels. My brakes aren't new, they're fairly worn but don't need replacing yet.
What could cause this? I don't think I have a stuck caliper. But I guess I don't really know.
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:45 PM   #2
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Take a drive: Go on the highway for a bit using your brakes as little as possible. Stop in a safe place (again, without using your brakes very much) and feel is one wheel/rotor is hotter than the rest. If so, you have a stuck caliper.
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:51 PM   #3
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Take a drive: Go on the highway for a bit using your brakes as little as possible. Stop in a safe place (again, without using your brakes very much) and feel is one wheel/rotor is hotter than the rest. If so, you have a stuck caliper.
+1

Also, when you're on a slight incline, check to see if the car rolls freely in neutral. When my left front caliper started to seize I noticed that my car would not roll out of my garage like it normally would.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:24 PM   #4
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Assuming it is a seized caliper, what do I do?
Buy a rebuild kit or replace the caliper
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #5
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Rebuild kits are 15 bucks, if you don't feel conformable working on a brake caliper, than buy a rebuilt one: http://www.pelicanparts.com/cgi-bin/...5%29%2C%20Each
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:37 PM   #6
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Could be a warped rotor, causing the the pad to rub when rotating, generating a lot of dust. I believe my front right rotor has this problem, is makes a scraping/whooshing noise every rotation for a second. It makes a lot of dust and is warm. I think I'm going to rebuild that caliper and replace the rotor just to be sure.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:41 PM   #7
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^Today's rotors don't actually "warp" like rotors from the 70's, pad material gets stuck on them and causes a vibration/noise the simulates a warped rotor. Just don't want you to replace a rotor for no good reason. Try a caliper rebuild first.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:43 PM   #8
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Assuming it is a seized caliper, what do I do?
Buy a rebuild kit or replace the caliper
I had this dilemma too. I ended up finding a great caliper shop in my city that sold rebuilt calipers for $65 each! New piston and seals and the caliper body was sandblasted so it basically looked new.

The piston boot on my old caliper had torn off and the piston had started to rust so i figured its not worth buying new seals and pistons.

Search around in your area for shops that rebuild calipers.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:50 AM   #9
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I'm Pretty sure it is a stuck caliper. When my car is on a hill to roll backwards I can feel my suspension preload on that side.
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Old 03-23-2012, 12:03 PM   #10
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Guaranteed it's a stuck caliper. I do one a year on average. Not so much now.
Check you classifieds for a caliper rebuild shop. They also usually do alternator rebuilds and starters.
All for $50 for the same one your mech will charge $300 for because it's "BMW".
you'll have to leave a $50 deposit until you return the old caliper.
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Old 03-23-2012, 05:28 PM   #11
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Well, not so fast guys!

Not saying it's not a caliper, but it could also be the guidepins are hanging up in the bushing...both can be cleaned, and although it's against the TIS, the guidepin can be greased with brake grease...my rebuilt calipers came greased this way.

You could dissassemble things and have a look. Clean everything up really well, inspect both pads, grease also where pads slide on caliper.

Not saying it's not caliper...it could be. If the seal is broken, odds are that the caliper is seized. You could rebuild it yourself with a kit for $20, but you'd need compressed air to remove the piston. If you have that, the rebuild should be pretty easy. Clean up the piston with fine sandpaper...replace square o-ring and seal. I didn't do this myself, but again, with air, should be easy.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:07 PM   #12
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Why do you need compressed air?
I'm familiar with the design of the calipers but what do you need compressed air for
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:34 PM   #13
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If the caliper is seized, like mine was, I couldn't get the piston out. I'd already bought remanned ones, but took the old one to play around with. I spent an hour trying to get the piston out...but it was seized. I didn't have air at home...but tried every tool I had to pull it out to see what was going on inside it. It wouldn't come out no matter what.

Next day, I brought it to my shop. My buddy put his air gun into one of the fittings, held the other with his finger, and in 3 secs. it popped out.

I'm not sure why exactly, but I think it must be because the square o-ring needed pressure from behind to release it. Maybe in some cases they can be removed, but I kind of have my doubts. Also, if you grip the piston with anything that 'scores' it, you might as well toss it...and they're pricey. At that point, a remanned is probably around the same cost.

Anyway, that was my experience, so I wanted to give you a heads up.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:36 PM   #14
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Well, not so fast guys!

Not saying it's not a caliper, but it could also be the guidepins are hanging up in the bushing...both can be cleaned, and although it's against the TIS, the guidepin can be greased with brake grease...my rebuilt calipers came greased this way.

You could dissassemble things and have a look. Clean everything up really well, inspect both pads, grease also where pads slide on caliper.

Not saying it's not caliper...it could be. If the seal is broken, odds are that the caliper is seized. You could rebuild it yourself with a kit for $20, but you'd need compressed air to remove the piston. If you have that, the rebuild should be pretty easy. Clean up the piston with fine sandpaper...replace square o-ring and seal. I didn't do this myself, but again, with air, should be easy.
It's me again - the guy doesn't want to buy special tools if possible. No air compressor needed for caliper rebuild; use the car's better and safer compressor - it's call brake hydraulic. This is even easier with E46 one-piston float caliper. (My vintage '74 3.0CSi has 4-piston fixed caliper.) Just leave the brake hose connected and carefully push the piston out with the brake pedal, which is included with the car when you paid for it, so free to use it!!! Air is compressible and could blow the seized piston out violently. Make sure to use brake grease to seal around the two ends of the piston rubber boot and water will never dare to enter and rust up the piston again (the factory could not afford for this kind of labor).

To diagnose if the issue is piston seized or float caliper guide pin seized: check which pad worn down "much" more than the other. Normally which pad worn quicker - piston side or other side? Want to take a test?
Normal caliper has piston side pad worn less than the other side, but not much. Intuitive one may think the pad pushed directly by piston should wear more, right? Wrong. Since a good working caliper has the piston retracted after used and so this side pad is freer from rubbing with the rotor. So if the piston side pad worn much more than the other then you have a seized piston.

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Old 03-23-2012, 06:41 PM   #15
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Nice...of course I hadn't considered that since I had the remanned already on the car.

I guess either way, the issue is you need even pressure from behind to get it out.

Peyton, if you go that route, just make sure you keep reservoir from going dry.
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:49 PM   #16
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Peyton, if you go that route, just make sure you keep reservoir from going dry.
Thank you Dmax; I should have mention this.

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Old 03-23-2012, 06:51 PM   #17
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Brake Pad Sensor Bad Design

BTW, the factory brake wear sensors are useless, most of the time. Why? I had found out that they had the sensor on the wrong side. For E46 floating single piston caliper, the piston side pad worn less than the other side, and so the sensor should be placed on the other side, but the engineer carelessly place on the piston side, and when the other pad was down to metal and the sensor not even triggered.

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Old 03-23-2012, 06:57 PM   #18
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Thank you Dmax; I should have mention this.

Sapote
Right back at you. No one here can be expected to know it all, or even if they did, to write it all! Together I think we have a pretty good team!

On the pad sensor, I agree with what you're saying...I wouldn't say it's on the wrong pad, per se, but maybe there were issues getting them on both sides of the caliper safely or reliably. Also, we can't see the inside pad, but we can the outside one pretty easily.
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Old 03-23-2012, 07:03 PM   #19
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Right back at you. No one here can be expected to know it all, or even if they did, to write it all! Together I think we have a pretty good team!

On the pad sensor, I agree with what you're saying...I wouldn't say it's on the wrong pad, per se, but maybe there were issues getting them on both sides of the caliper safely or reliably. Also, we can't see the inside pad, but we can the outside one pretty easily.
They don't have to be installed on both sides -- just installed on the side that wears fastest.

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Old 03-23-2012, 07:11 PM   #20
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They don't have to be installed on both sides -- just installed on the side that wears fastest.

Sapote
I wonder if maybe your guidepin was hanging up.

When I measured my pads, 700 miles after the warning was triggered, both pads were down to about 1.5-2 mm. Someone at a dealer told me I had 1500 miles to go. If I had waited that long, I would have been down to metal.

I'm not sure the outside 'always' wears faster; they seemed very even on mine.
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