I drive a 1989 BMW 325i, and a few months ago I got a brake lining warning light. I gladly took the opportunity to upgrade from OEM rotors and pads to nice, shiny, new cross-drilled and slotted rotors with street performance pads that came highly recommended from Turner Motorsports, a well-respected online retailer of BMW parts. I didn't replace the calipers.
I installed the rotors and pads myself, then brought the car into a local shop that's very well known in the area for their work, to put on some shiny, new stainless steel lines and to bleed the system.
All well and good.
However, ever since I put on the new pads (and did all the other stuff), my brake pedal now goes down to the floor, and stopping distance is, well, scary.
To put things in perspective, I can be moving forty miles per hour, then floor the brake pedal to be nearly flush with the clutch (as far down as it can physically go), then the car will stop after a second or two.
I don't have any numbers off the top of my head of what comparisons in stopping distance may be between OEM and what I'm facing now, but as someone with experience in the car, something's not right.
But that's where it gets interesting. We brought it back to the shop and asked about why it might not be performing as well, and they bled it again and found no air in the system. But on top of that, they said that it feels fine to them.
Just a few days ago, I took it to a dealer (this was their first time seeing the car) and they bled it again, and said that it felt fine, too. They also said that they found no air in the system.
So I'm confused. I respect and trust the opinions of each of these places independently (we've been working with each of them for probably fifteen or twenty years), but I also know that I don't feel comfortable driving my car because it just doesn't stop.
One thing that both mechanics had mentioned is that it could just be that my brakes aren't hot enough to be operating well, particularly since they're apparently very hard material, as I might expect of track pads.
My question is three-fold:
- I understand that track driving isn't like street driving (obviously), but shouldn't "street performance" pads generally, you know, perform well on the street? If I had gone for straight-up track pads, I'd get that they'd need to be hot. But for one, these aren't "straight-up track pads," and for two, I've had these ones smoking (literally) and still not been able to stop.
- Does it make sense that my pads being hard and not heated enough could lead to the pedal going to the floor? I totally get that this could lead to the car not stopping as well, but I'm confused about why the pedal would go further just because the pads aren't getting as much traction.
- I've tried following bedding procedures, but is it possible that I just didn't do that well? Could that lead to these symptoms?
The thought had crossed my mind that this could be a master cylinder problem, but this has been going on for months, and I can't imagine something like that continuing for so long.
My brake lining warning light is still on, and has been since I did the rotors and pads. I'm assuming this is coincidence and that the sensors are just not connected properly, but they are new sensors and I have checked them with a multimeter and they check out.
I bought new front OEM pads and they arrived today, so I haven't gotten a chance to install them, but even if they do work, I'm still curious about how that would lead to these symptoms.
One weird, and probably irrelevant thing, I popped off the caliper on one side the other day with one of my friends, and the brakes felt noticeably worse after that. They were bad before, but they were more consistently bad afterwards. I can't imagine what would have changed, so I'm going with coincidence, but that's another thing to note.
I put on OEM pads, and I am now able to get ABS to engage (one thing that was sorely lacking with the old pads). But it still really just doesn't feel right, and my pedal is going down just as far as before.
I'm surprised, since now the only things I've changed are the rotors and lines, neither of which has anything to do with being track-prepped. But I'm also not surprised, since I can't imagine how pads would make much of a difference with pedal travel.