Both of the rear brakes of our BMW X5 E53 smell like a grinding machine, the right more than the left. We assume there is a problem that causes the brake not to relief itself properly. We recognized it yesterday, because the whole surrounding of the car smelled. Yesterday was the first pretty warm day (~28°C) since a long time - could this be a coincidence?

Since there is holiday time now, the local mechanic isn't available for the next 2 weeks - as well as many of others. Is it safe to drive - let's say 35km - to drive to another mechanic?

Also, for some weeks now, it strongly vibrates but only in propulsion, could this be also related to the brake issue, or do you have any ideas which can cause this?

Would a repair likely be very expensive (> 1000€)? I know, no one can say this definitely via the internet, but we want to prepare ourselves mentally a bit before going to a mechanic. Thank you all for your help.


As you have noticed, it is most probable that the brakes are not being released completely, and and binding - do the wheels feel hot after driving (check VERY carefully using the back of your hand, as they can get very hot)?

I'd suggest there are one of three things wrong:

  • Handbrake sticking - this could be either the mechanism or the cable.
  • Caliper sticking
  • Hose ballooning, which allows fluid in to apply the brakes (high pressure), but won't allow it back (lower pressure).

The last is easiest to check and fix - if the rubber hoses look misshapen or perished, get them replaced.

The handbrake cable can be checked by releasing the cable from the caliper and seeing if that frees off the brake.

It's impossible for us to tell you how much it will cost, as we don't know which of the options it might be, or how much parts and labour cost where you are.

  • Yes they‘re getting hot. We‘ll get the brake fixed ... – Kinaeh Jul 16 '18 at 19:34

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