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Old 12-12-2004, 06:37 PM   #1
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Thumbs up W211 DIY Brake Job

I just installed new pads and rotors on my 2003 E500 after much deliberation. There has not really been a consensus on whether this was possible without disabling the SBC. I am glad to say that not only is it possible, but it is fairly easy. I just unplugged the SBC and went to work. I installed cross-drilled, slotted, and plated rotors (factory Brembo) at all four corners as well as a set of Pagid brake pads (all purchased from Sport Brakes). The only problem I had was with one of my brake pad sensors breaking. I would recommend having three (two for the front and one for the rear) on hand just in case. The brakes look great and I am anxious to see how they perform. The cross-drilling and slotting was mainly done for looks as I do not drive this car very hard. Total cost to do all four wheels was $550, much cheaper than the local dealer was going to charge and with better parts. Total time was about three hours, which included cleaning the wheels front and back and cleaning the calipers. I would rate this job a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Any weekend mechanic should be able to perform this and save some money while improving the performance and looks of their car.
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Old 12-12-2004, 06:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman
I just installed new pads and rotors on my 2003 E500 after much deliberation. There has not really been a consensus on whether this was possible without disabling the SBC. I am glad to say that not only is it possible, but it is fairly easy. I just unplugged the SBC and went to work. I installed cross-drilled, slotted, and plated rotors (factory Brembo) at all four corners as well as a set of Pagid brake pads (all purchased from Sport Brakes). The only problem I had was with one of my brake pad sensors breaking. I would recommend having three (two for the front and one for the rear) on hand just in case. The brakes look great and I am anxious to see how they perform. The cross-drilling and slotting was mainly done for looks as I do not drive this car very hard. Total cost to do all four wheels was $550, much cheaper than the local dealer was going to charge and with better parts. Total time was about three hours, which included cleaning the wheels front and back and cleaning the calipers. I would rate this job a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Any weekend mechanic should be able to perform this and save some money while improving the performance and looks of their car.
From what you are saying, I think that I will do my own brakes when the time comes. I have just less than 4,000 miles when I took the wheels off to put on the rear mud flaps and I could not see any pad wear at all. There was not even the smallest groove on the rotor. So in theory, if some people have to get new rear brakes by about 17K, I should have seen significant wear.

I would be willing to bet that your labor was more detailed and caring if compared to the dealer mechanics. You do like I do, which is to clean everything and do it right!

I have a few questions:
Do you have an E320 or an E500?

I know that there is one sensor on each front brake, but there is only one sensor for the back?

Which rear wheel is it on, the right or the left?

Could you PLEASE post a picture of the harness you are unplugging to deactivate the SBC??

Could you post some pictures of the brakes through the wheels?

Thanks a bunch?

Steve A.
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Old 12-13-2004, 12:15 PM   #3
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Steve,

I would agree with you and say that my labor is most likely more detailed than that of the average MB mechanic because I don't have to worry about the money I may lose on the next car in line! Here are some of the answers to your questions:

1). My car is a 2003 E500.
2). There are sensors on both front wheels and one rear wheel.
3). The rear sensor is located on the passenger side brake pad.
4). I do not have a camera available to take a picture of the SBC unit, but on the E500 it is located in the front of the engine compartment on the passenger side. It is very clear as to what it is since it has SBC embossed on it as well as all of the brake lines exiting it. You have to pull up on a clip and then the plug assembly with pivot towards the back of the car.
5). I will post some pictures as soon as my new camera and computer arrive, hopefully later this week.

I did have to go to MB to get a sensor today since I broke one of mine. It cost me $6.66 only, so I would just get all three before starting the job and replace them since they are so cheap. Let me know if you need any other information. Thanks.

Mike
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Old 12-13-2004, 12:32 PM   #4
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post some pics man
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Old 12-14-2004, 01:48 PM   #5
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I am JUST starting to learn how to tinker with my car. I have to admit that replacing the xenon matching bulbs was my first endeavor. Do you think I could manage the brakes or is this a bad idea??? Also, what set of tools would I need?
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Old 12-14-2004, 07:40 PM   #6
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Please post instructions and pics! This could save us a few bills!!!! :p
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Old 12-14-2004, 11:42 PM   #7
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I am JUST starting to learn how to tinker with my car. I have to admit that replacing the xenon matching bulbs was my first endeavor. Do you think I could manage the brakes or is this a bad idea??? Also, what set of tools would I need?
Dayum I wish my pop had pulled me into the yard more to work on the car. I would love to learn but would not dare learn on my baby - that's akin to performing my 1st precedure as a resident on my wife or child!

I think my 1st tinker will be installing the CL-style grill and replacing the hood ornament and I'm wondering if I may be on the road to scratching the hood while doing that!

I think doing some things yourself on the car makes you appreciate it more. I love washing the car myself.
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Old 12-15-2004, 12:18 AM   #8
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I just personally spoke with the head mechanic at my dealer and he stated that unplugging the SBC module will let you do the brake job like a normal car. This is great news!!

Steve
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Old 12-15-2004, 07:48 AM   #9
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Unfortunately I do not have pictures of the brake job, and I would rather not take the car apart again. But if you were to just want to change pads (without changing rotors) this job is very easy. All you would need to do is disconnect the SBC and brake pad sensors, use a small punch to drive out two pins holding the pads in, compress the pistions and switch out the pads. It takes more time to jack the car up and take the wheel off. It is a little more work to remove the caliper and the caliper bracket to get the rotors off, but once again it is not a difficult job.

If you have ever confidently done brakes on another car before it will be fairly easy. Just heed my advice and have new brake pad sensors and all will be well. The new Pagid pads I installed seem to work very well. As far as I can tell, they produce much less brake dust than the factory pads. The brakes do not feel any different. I would highly recommend calling Ras at Sport Brakes to get your components. They do not stock the rotors so give yourself a couple of weeks lead time. Feel free to email or PM me if you have any questions. Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2004, 08:42 AM   #10
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Steve,

Yes, that is great news. My curiosity is satisfied when I can see what has happened and then can fix it. If the mechanic says that I need to turn or replace the rotors, does that mean that the rotors really need turning or replacing or does it mean that the shop will make more profit if he can persuade me to have them turned or replaced?

Jim
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Old 12-15-2004, 09:34 AM   #11
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Steve,

Yes, that is great news. My curiosity is satisfied when I can see what has happened and then can fix it. If the mechanic says that I need to turn or replace the rotors, does that mean that the rotors really need turning or replacing or does it mean that the shop will make more profit if he can persuade me to have them turned or replaced?

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Mercedes doesn't recommend turning rotors. When they wear down to a certain thickness, you replace them. It costs about as much to turn the rotors as to replace them. It's all about labor costs anyway.

I've never had to replace a rotor before 90,000 miles. Unless the rotor is damaged by a worn pad, I don't see why they shouldn't go quite a while.
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Old 12-15-2004, 09:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topspin4hand
Dayum I wish my pop had pulled me into the yard more to work on the car. I would love to learn but would not dare learn on my baby - that's akin to performing my 1st precedure as a resident on my wife or child!

I think my 1st tinker will be installing the CL-style grill and replacing the hood ornament and I'm wondering if I may be on the road to scratching the hood while doing that!

I think doing some things yourself on the car makes you appreciate it more. I love washing the car myself.
A delicate balance because you have to start somewhere (first time for everything)... But I agree that it is tough to do it on your baby and not to mention that it is your brakes (kind of critical!).
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Old 12-15-2004, 10:39 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by JimPurdy
Steve,

Yes, that is great news. My curiosity is satisfied when I can see what has happened and then can fix it. If the mechanic says that I need to turn or replace the rotors, does that mean that the rotors really need turning or replacing or does it mean that the shop will make more profit if he can persuade me to have them turned or replaced?

Jim

From personal experience on my past cars (Toyotas), it would take me anywhere from 90K - 100K miles before replacing my stock rotors. Only cause for premature wear on a rotor would be from racing pads that are aggressive on the rotors, driving until your brake pads are worn out, or warped rotors (heavy braking). But for normal driving, I highly doubt you would need to replace your rotors. On another note, I was never fond on having my rotors turned. The more metal they shave off...the thinner the rotors get....and thinner rotors are more prone to warping. Gotta give props to Iceman for letting us know that the brake job is a DIY.
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:14 PM   #14
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Just another FYI - at 50K miles my rotors were showing significant wear. I do not drive the car hard whatsoever. They were a little grooved and there was a substantial lip between the contact area for the pad and the outside of the rotor. I was also told that MB does not recommend having the rotors turned. As I mentioned, I bought cross-drilled, slotted and plated rotors for the same price as MB wanted for the stock rotors (and the rotors that I bought were Brembo from MB!). Call Ras at Sport Brakes if you need some as he is very nice to deal with.
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Old 12-16-2004, 02:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman
Just another FYI - at 50K miles my rotors were showing significant wear. I do not drive the car hard whatsoever. They were a little grooved and there was a substantial lip between the contact area for the pad and the outside of the rotor. I was also told that MB does not recommend having the rotors turned. As I mentioned, I bought cross-drilled, slotted and plated rotors for the same price as MB wanted for the stock rotors (and the rotors that I bought were Brembo from MB!). Call Ras at Sport Brakes if you need some as he is very nice to deal with.
Still no pictures??? My 300E would develop a lip (like the one you are talking about) on the rotor after the 1st brake pads were warn. If they were not warped and still worked fine, I would just change the pads and wait for the rotors to warp. I ended up getting two sets of pads per rotor (approx 80 to 90 K miles).

The rear pads lasted about 100k miles on my 300E, but the rotors were always warped by then. I had a friend turn them for me (free, they were also above the min thickness) and installed new pads. The rear rotors warped within 5,000 miles. As a result, I spent the $24 per rotor and replaced them. I will probably never turn rotors again.

Some people call me cheap, but I did not mind having a lip on the rotor if it was not vibrating when I put on the brakes. Also, I would never turn rotors on any German car. Like it was mentioned, the thinner they are the sooner they will warp. I am just very glad that I will be able to change my own brakes.

There is a strange thing though, one would think that these pads are really soft, then this would mean that the rotors are not getting warn as much.

Steve
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:16 PM   #16
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Question RE: W211 DIY Brake Job

Iceman...your steps are encouraging. I noticed in your original post on the topic you mentioned disconnecting the SBC cable (which I easily found per your instuction) but on a follow-up post you mentioned the SBC and brake pad sensors. What is the procedure for the brake pad sensor disconnection?

Side issue: My brakes started squeaking. I notice it is only loud when I first start driving but usually quiets after a little while. I don't get any info on my display of "Brake Wear - Visit Workshop" or the like. Do I really need to change my pads. I did a visual inspection but can only see that the pads are still ample on the rear wheels but I could not see the pads onthe front wheels...Any info/advice?

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Old 12-17-2004, 02:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burkett
Iceman...your steps are encouraging. I noticed in your original post on the topic you mentioned disconnecting the SBC cable (which I easily found per your instuction) but on a follow-up post you mentioned the SBC and brake pad sensors. What is the procedure for the brake pad sensor disconnection?

Side issue: My brakes started squeaking. I notice it is only loud when I first start driving but usually quiets after a little while. I don't get any info on my display of "Brake Wear - Visit Workshop" or the like. Do I really need to change my pads. I did a visual inspection but can only see that the pads are still ample on the rear wheels but I could not see the pads onthe front wheels...Any info/advice?

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Sometimes brakes squeak because they have a lot of dust and other dirt around them. This used to happen to my old 300E and still happens to my Audi. I go to the self service car wash and (make sure rotors are not hot) spray them with high pressure water. You will see a bunch of brake dust come out. Don't go overboard, but it is usually totally safe to do. It is no different than driving in a bad rain storm. But, if the rotors are hot, then you might warp them by cooling them off too fast!

Then take it easy on them the first few times you put on the brakes, but the squeaks should go away for a while. When you hose them clean, make sure you get every angle possible.

If you try it, tell me if it worked. It usually does the trick for me.

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Old 12-17-2004, 03:14 AM   #18
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any pointers on pushing the calipers back in order to replace the rotors? Whot sort of tool did you use? It was a B.tch pushing the calipers back, had to remove some of the brake fluid. Also the front E500 Sport brakes and the C32 AMG are identical at least what i can see from the side (have yet to remove the wheel on the e500).

Our e500 rear rotors are heavily grooved @ 20k miles. While my c240 rear rotors are smooth after 40k miles....any ideas?
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:44 PM   #19
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Brake piston return tool....

I use a C clamp and the used pads. If you don't add brake fluid you won't have to remove any next time. Topping off brake fluid is not a good thing to do for the very reason you experienced. Lower level brake fluid is an indication of pad/rotor wear which is normal. If the brake fluid goes below the 'minimum' level then either your pads are really gone or there's a leak....a leak means you have to fix it and replace/bleed the fluid anyway.
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Old 12-17-2004, 12:56 PM   #20
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On a side note

No Mercedes that I know of needs to have this done, but My Audi and some Subarus have a trick. As the caliper piston comes out to push the pad it also turns in threads. This means that when you need to retract the piston, then you can push it in all you want, but it will not go in. You need to turn the piston as if you were screwing it into the caliper.

I find this to be the case when with rear disk brakes if they are both the normal brake and the parking brake. My Audi actually uses the rear disks as a parking brake. MB, as far as I know, has always had a little drum brake inside the rear rotors to be used a the parking brake. This is a nice redundant system.

Just a little side not about other car brands,

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Old 12-17-2004, 01:57 PM   #21
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I usually just crack the bleed valve on the caliper and allow some of the fluid to to come out. I just put a hose on in to a jar. It has always been much easier than any other way I have found and I don't like the idea of pushing anything that might be in the caliper back into the ABS valves, etc. Of course, you will probably have to add some brake fluid after you finish.

Since I have not even looked at my 211's brakes, does this seem like a way to retract the pistons without having to use a clamp?
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Old 12-17-2004, 03:24 PM   #22
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burkett - The brake pad sensors have a small Weatherpack connector on one side and a lead that fits into the brake pad on the other side. If you buy new sensors, which I highly recommend, all you need to do is unplug the Weatherpack connector and remove the sensor while still installed in the old brake pad. Also, my "Brake Wear - Visit Workshop" indicator did not come on. My brakes were very worn and were on the verge of getting into the brake pad sensors. My brakes, like yours, were squeeking and even grinding a little which is why I replaced them earlier than I probably needed to.

As far as compressing the piston on the caliper, I use an old tool that I made a long time ago. It is a large screwdriver that has the blade dipped in Plasticoat. The coating on the blade ensures protection of the rotor. I just use this and pry against the old pad prior to removing it. It works very well and the pressure in my E500's system was not very hard to overcome. In other words, you do not have to pry very hard to compress the pistons in these cars.

YeeHaw - my rear rotors looked to be worn just as much as the fronts. I have been told that this is a function of the SBC system. I was told that the SBC system senses moisture (through the windshiled sensor) and applys a little pressure to the brake pads to keep the rotors and pads clean and dry. I live in a climate with plenty of rain and snow which would indicate that my brakes are in "clean off" mode frequently. To me it just makes sense to replace these components with high-quality components. Well maintained brakes are a must on any vehicle.

Steve - A lot of GM cars also have the "screw-in" pistons on the rear calipers as well. It is a royal PITA to work on. Thankfully our cars have a separate drum-style parking brake within the rotor hat.
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Old 01-03-2005, 07:26 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman
I just installed new pads and rotors on my 2003 E500 after much deliberation. There has not really been a consensus on whether this was possible without disabling the SBC. I am glad to say that not only is it possible, but it is fairly easy. I just unplugged the SBC and went to work. I installed cross-drilled, slotted, and plated rotors (factory Brembo) at all four corners as well as a set of Pagid brake pads (all purchased from Sport Brakes). The only problem I had was with one of my brake pad sensors breaking. I would recommend having three (two for the front and one for the rear) on hand just in case. The brakes look great and I am anxious to see how they perform. The cross-drilling and slotting was mainly done for looks as I do not drive this car very hard. Total cost to do all four wheels was $550, much cheaper than the local dealer was going to charge and with better parts. Total time was about three hours, which included cleaning the wheels front and back and cleaning the calipers. I would rate this job a 4 on a scale of 1-10. Any weekend mechanic should be able to perform this and save some money while improving the performance and looks of their car.
I know this thread is a little old but it is of high importance to me right now.
I am about to take this task on, and just wanted to know if the "Brake wear Visit Workshop" message goes away after the new pads and sensors are installed, or do I have to reset the computer in any way. Also, I was told that at no time until the job is done and all four tires are mounted should I try to open the doors because if so the calipers will close and can cause serious injury. Is this true even after disconnecting the SBC? BTW.. I am going with all Mercedes factory parts for this project, I am a big beleiver in OEM parts, especially for my baby..
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:54 PM   #24
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I read somewhere that Mercedes have new pads but were hard to get. Maybe you should check with the parts department to see what's available. I've noticed that Internet suppliers have added a Textar front pad to the Pagid that they have been selling.

Textar in the yellow box are a bit harder than the Pagid's. Maybe these are the new ones.
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Old 01-03-2005, 10:46 PM   #25
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I read somewhere that Mercedes have new pads but were hard to get. Maybe you should check with the parts department to see what's available. I've noticed that Internet suppliers have added a Textar front pad to the Pagid that they have been selling.

Textar in the yellow box are a bit harder than the Pagid's. Maybe these are the new ones.
Wish I would have known about that before I ordered mine. Do you happen to have a picture... My father works at a dealership and I am friends with the parts guy so I get price breaks on auto parts. I am not sure how much the OEM brakes cost at MB but I am paying $82 for the front pads, $64 for the rear and $4 for each of the sensors. These are MB OEM parts I am purchasing as well.
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