330d brake upgrade – floating and drilled!

Unless this is the first sentence of mine you’ve ever read you’ll know that despite being a BMW fan-boy, I am eternally disappointed by their brakes. It’s not that they don’t stop well enough, or that they overheat, it’s that the discs warp, and that happens well before the pads are so much as half worn. It was an ongoing problem with my E36 M3s, it was an issue with my E36 328i (until I upgraded to drilled discs) and with this 330d, the situation has been chronic. Here are relevant excerpts from my 330d maintenance list:

  • 26/09/2010 – front discs replaced (warped)
  • 11/06/2010 – rear discs & pads replaced
  • 11/06/2010 – rear right caliper replaced
  • 25/10/2009 – Front nearside caliper replaced
  • 24/10/2009 – Front discs & pads replaced
  • 27/09/2008 – Rear brake pads and sensor replaced
  • 18/08/2007 – Front brake discs replaced (warped)
  • 24/03/2007 – Front discs and pads replaced
  • 01/04/2006 – Front discs & pads replaced

We got the car in March 2006, so in 5 years and 50,000 miles, including today’s episode, I’ve replaced the front rotors 6 times. Good going, eh? In the past I started replacing with genuine BMW items, then as the tedium set in, I reverted to ECP’s finest. This time, thanks in part to advice from Jim Marren, I’ve “invested” in BMW’s new drilled and floating disc offering for the 330d. So this morning, I set about the replacement job. Before – standard massive rotors:

Up we go – by now an all too familiar pose:

Wheel off:

Caliper off:

Carrier and disc off:

On the near side (the side that seems to warp worst), I’ve elected to also replace the caliper as I suspect it of sticking (it is nearly 14 months old now after all). ECP offer a Pagid refurbished item for only £97.20 if you give them your old unit, so I taped up the hose and nipped into town to make the purchase.

Now we get to the good bit. How’s about this then for a bit of bling brakey-brakey action?

So, what are they?

They are obviously drilled, but they are also “floating”, which means the outer disc part (that comes into contact with the pads) isn’t the same piece that the wheel is clamped to on the hub – the two different materials are connected by a series of “bobbins” that reduce heat transfer and permit some adjustment as the disc changes shape subtly with temperature. This is supposed to reduce the chances of warping. The drilled holes help with heat dissipation, removing gases that are created under braking, and even stopping a film of water developing on the disc surface in wet weather.

My E36 M3 Evos has floating discs; their brakes warped all the time. However, I fitted drilled discs to my 328i and the brakes were just lovely from that point on, so here’s hoping! Final information about the discs:

B34.11.2.282.871 – left disc – £144.17 + VAT
B34.11.2.282.872 – right disc – £144.17 + VAT

Pricey. Time will tell if they’re worth it!

4 comments so far

  1. Mark Jones on February 9th, 2011 14:49

    Tart!

    Hope these work better – it will be interesting to see.

    So are these originally intended for the current 3 series or have BMW released them for the E46?

    Cheers,

    Mark

  2. Neil Mukerji on February 9th, 2011 16:47

    They are for the E46, 330i and 330d. In any case who cares how they work when, as you say, they look so deliciously tarty! :P

  3. Jim Marren on July 6th, 2011 12:17

    So… any positive news on the longevity of the disc upgrade??

  4. Neil Mukerji on July 6th, 2011 12:58

    Hi Jim,

    Yep! I’m pleased to report that so far, so good with these discs. It may also have helped that I replaced both front wheel bearings just after fitting these.

    Neil.

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