How to rebuild brake calipers as shown on a E36 BMW M3

How To Rebuild Brake Calipers (example shown on an E36 BMW M3)

By Billy Johnson

Rebuilding the brakes is not as challenging as it may seem.  There are only a few more steps beyond simply changing out brake pads and rotors.  This is an information only step-by-step guide, undertake it at your own risk.  If you do not feel comfortable with the below steps, I would suggest getting help.  If you are remotely mechanically inclined and do oil changes and maintenance yourself, it really is not that bad at all.

E36 M3 brake overhaul

Although we are covering rebuilding the calipers on a BMW E36 M3, the procedures we are using are pretty close to any stock brake system.

Tools Needed:
- 16mm socket & wrench (long arm, preferably ½” drive)
- Flat Head Screwdriver
- 6mm & 7mm Allen wrench or socket
- Rubber Mallet
- Large C-clamp
- Compressed air line with a needle-style air chuck
- Brake and Caliper Grease (optional)
- Brake Fluid, Brake Pads, Caliper Rebuild Kit (dust boot and seal)
-1” wide block of wood
- Oil pan
- Scotch bright, Brake Clean, PB Blaster, WD40


1. Siphon most of the brake fluid out of the reservoir to ensure a complete brake fluid system flush. We use a turkey baster to get rid of most of the old fluid.
2. Break the wheel lugs loose.

How To Rebuild Brake Calipers (example shown on an E36 BMW M3)
3. Jack up the car and securely place it on jack stands. Remove the wheels.


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Friday, September 24, 2010 4:25 PM
I just recently became a flag tech and now I have to this. It really isn't that hard. Be carefull with phenolic pistons though.
Friday, September 24, 2010 5:03 PM
I strongly suggest that VW brake rebuilding paste (or Rubber Grease) be used to lube the piston -- not brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic -- and it attracts atmospheric moisture. It will corrode areas of the caliper bore and piston, beyond the seal area. Note that so-called rubber grease is fully compatible with brake system rubber and with brake fluid. You can also get this product in most autoparts stores. One tradename is Sil-Glyde -- by AGS Company.
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