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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Mechanical Maintenance: Break-in / Oil & Fluids / Servicing / Warranty > Brake fluid flush 101?



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      06-16-2008, 12:48 PM   #1
txusa03
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Brake fluid flush 101?

This subject came up for me because my car is 57K miles and one of the service indicator is a brake system flush due on 11/2008. No, I have searched and there is no DIY yet for this on the forum. I called a few dealers and their general price for brake flush (also known as bleeding the brakes) run around $150. We all could use a few extra dollars in our wallet during this economic crisis but after reading up on bleeding the brake (thanks to a few respected members here who guided me into the right directions for further readings), I have second thought about doing this myself. I just finished changing the oil, micro filters, and air filter (air filter is more involved in this car then in an e46 model) and I just don’t feel like messing with the brake myself right now and this is my only car so help me if I screw up.

But I have until 11/2008 to make up my mind. In the mean time, I have a few questions to ask. It might be obvious for some so if you know the answer, please reply as I am sure other might be in the same boat as me. Also, feel free and correct me if I am wrong on any of this.

1) The brake system is a closed pressurized system so you can not just dump the fluid like you do with oil change. The brake master cylinder must always have brake fluid to prevent additional air from getting into the closed system.
2) I’ve read that you should flush the system every year (maybe that was for motorcycle). But my SA told me that it is roughly every 30K miles for my e90 sedan. That would translate to every 2 years for me.
3) What brake fluid should I use (DOT3, DOT4, DOT5, others maybe) and why?
4) If you must do this as a DIY, read up on and invest in a speed bleeder and the hose/bag combo for a truly one person job.
5) I was told that you should start with the caliper furthest away from the master cylinder. I have no clue why so?
6) Oh one last thing, any changes to how you bleed the brake on the new e90 vs the e46 model that we should be aware of?

Concept seems very straight forward but I am still nervous about doing this, could be the task of jacking up car and removing the heavy 18" oem tires that might persuade me to pay the stealership to have it taken care of (unless someone can motivate me to save $90 after subtracting cost for the parts). Well, be safe when dealing with brake fellow members. Here are some links for quick readings.

http://www.speedbleeder.com/install.htm

http://www.my330i.com/brakes.php
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      06-17-2008, 05:41 AM   #2
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Another question is whether this is one of those cars that needs the ABS pump cycled during the flush, which would make this (more or less) a dealer job.

Moving on, I use one of these on my other cars with good results: http://www.motiveproducts.com/. I did just use on the E90 for bleeding the clutch after doing a CDV delete. Cleanup is easy, using denatured alcohol.
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      06-17-2008, 11:35 AM   #3
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Service indicator for oil fluid change should light up. My went off @ 20k miles.
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      06-18-2008, 07:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 742 View Post
Another question is whether this is one of those cars that needs the ABS pump cycled during the flush, which would make this (more or less) a dealer job.
Could you go into more detail what this mean? or anyone with knowledge with ABS?
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      06-18-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txusa03 View Post
Could you go into more detail what this mean? or anyone with knowledge with ABS?
Some cars call for the ABS pump to be cycled during the flush in order to get the old fluid out. The normal way of doing this is through the OBD II connection and whatever magic computer toys the dealer has.

If this should be done on the E90 is one of many things that I do not know. Hopefully one of the techs will jump in and tell us if I am being overly paranoid.
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      06-19-2008, 08:23 AM   #6
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I've read recently (maybe it was Tech Talk) that while you need a GT1 to cycle the ABS/DSC system, dealerships don't bother for brake fluid changes. They only cycle the valves if they need to work on the ABS module itself.
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      06-19-2008, 11:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tintivilus View Post
I've read recently (maybe it was Tech Talk) that while you need a GT1 to cycle the ABS/DSC system, dealerships don't bother for brake fluid changes. They only cycle the valves if they need to work on the ABS module itself.
Thanks.
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      06-20-2008, 01:26 PM   #8
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Regarding brake fluid itself, if you look at the brake fluid tank you will see that BMW recommends DOT4, you can use something higher DOT 5.1 but NOT lower, so it rules out DOT3.

Regarding "one-man-bleeding" I don't believe in that. Just get you buddy and do it old fashioned way. That way not only you will save $150 on stealer but another $50 or so on those "one-man" bleeding tools.

Hope it helps
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      06-21-2008, 05:35 AM   #9
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My wife has it downpat!
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      06-21-2008, 08:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 06E90Rostik View Post
Regarding brake fluid itself, if you look at the brake fluid tank you will see that BMW recommends DOT4, you can use something higher DOT 5.1 but NOT lower, so it rules out DOT3.

Regarding "one-man-bleeding" I don't believe in that. Just get you buddy and do it old fashioned way. That way not only you will save $150 on stealer but another $50 or so on those "one-man" bleeding tools.

Hope it helps

DOT 5 (silicone) should not be used. Which of course is not the same as 5.1. but it can confuse the unwary.
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      06-21-2008, 08:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENINTY View Post
My wife has it downpat!
But does she let you bake parts in the oven? That is when you know that you have them fully trained.
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      06-21-2008, 06:08 PM   #12
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I use a pressure bleeder to bleed the lines. Then I drain and fill the reservoir with new fluid using a vacumm bleeder. And no you dont need to cycle the abs/dsc module.
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      06-22-2008, 08:57 PM   #13
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I can recommend the Mityvac. As its name suggests it uses vacuum rather than pressure so it connects to the brake bleed nipples and sucks the old fluid out. It also does not need a spare tyre with reduced pressure like some of the pressure bleeders do. It does require someone to top up the master cylinder reservoir periodically. I have used the Mityvac on my motorbike (BMW K1100 RS) which has ABS on numerous occasions and it has worked perfectly. I can't answer the tech questions on the e90 brake bleeding however when it gets around to the time when mine need doing I will be using the Mityvac in preference to coughing up to the stealers.

See http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...%3D4%26ps%3D42

for details of the Mityvac.

Tony
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      07-01-2008, 09:52 PM   #14
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@ txusa03

Best way to get past being nervous is to just go ahead and do it. You'll be fine. It's not brain surgery.
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      07-01-2008, 10:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ages944 View Post
@ txusa03

Best way to get past being nervous is to just go ahead and do it. You'll be fine. It's not brain surgery.
true, I am 50/50 about DIY and stealership at the moment. I might even try on one brake and see how messy I get and how screwup I get. I think I understand the concept now just need to get dirty and find the time to do it.

Thanks all for the vote of confidence.
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      07-01-2008, 11:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socom View Post
Service indicator for oil fluid change should light up. My went off @ 20k miles.
my went off < 10k..
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      07-02-2008, 03:17 PM   #17
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I thought I had read somewhere that the dealers only change out the brake fluid that's in the master cylinder. They use a turkey-baster type device to suck out the fluid in the reservoir and refill it... Can anyone verify that?
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      06-13-2011, 09:42 PM   #18
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Thread renewed!!! Here's a link to a DIY: http://www.bavauto.com/newsletter/20...ter.pdf#page=4
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      06-13-2011, 10:49 PM   #19
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I forgot I even wrote this. It really is that easy once you get down to doing it.
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      06-13-2011, 11:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
I thought I had read somewhere that the dealers only change out the brake fluid that's in the master cylinder. They use a turkey-baster type device to suck out the fluid in the reservoir and refill it... Can anyone verify that?
When I changed my brake fluid at 60K using a vacuum bleeder, all dealership service prior, the fluid was down-right skanky, I can't imagine that they had ever properly flushed it, let alone bothered to cycle the ABS when they did it. Don't take it to a dealership just because you think they will do this (ABS), you'd be better off at an indie.

I used the Pentosin DOT 4 Low Viscosity fluid developed for the X5:

http://www.pentosin.net/pressrelease...o_DOT4LV_3.pdf

1 liter is enough for a pretty good flush. They recommend not to mix the LV with normal Dot 4, only introduce it with a complete flush and only use LV for topping up.

With a 6mt, the clutch hydraulics use a compartment in the back of the master res. You need to keep the fluid level high in the res. to prevent introducing air in the clutch compartment. Fill to over the full mark and refill at 2/3 full. Bleeding or flushing the clutch is a whole other topic, there's a few posts on it.

Last edited by AlanAZ; 06-13-2011 at 11:37 PM.
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      06-14-2011, 08:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshall57 View Post
I can recommend the Mityvac. As its name suggests it uses vacuum rather than pressure so it connects to the brake bleed nipples and sucks the old fluid out. It also does not need a spare tyre with reduced pressure like some of the pressure bleeders do. It does require someone to top up the master cylinder reservoir periodically. I have used the Mityvac on my motorbike (BMW K1100 RS) which has ABS on numerous occasions and it has worked perfectly. I can't answer the tech questions on the e90 brake bleeding however when it gets around to the time when mine need doing I will be using the Mityvac in preference to coughing up to the stealers.

See http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...%3D4%26ps%3D42

for details of the Mityvac.

Tony
+1 you can also use it to check vacuum on various systems in the car.

I just used one on my friends E46 M54 to diagnose the secondary air system. His car was throwing P0491 and P0492. Basically just had to reconnect a hose.....lol
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      06-15-2011, 01:58 AM   #22
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I also use a motive power bleeder and catch bottle

Before starting the bleed/flush I use the motive bleeder bottle to empty the brake fluid reservoir, put the rubber tube into the reservoir, squeeze the bottle, plug the bottle's vent hole with your finger (small air tube on top of the bleeder bottle cap) stop squeezing the bottle and let the bottle fill up with fluid, no mess, splash or spraying hydraulic fluid.

Fill reservoir to max line and start using the power bleeder

I use German made Castrol GTX LMA for about $4 per bottle @ 3 bottles per fluid change
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