HOW TO: R53 Better than JCW / Factory Rear Brakes
I recently did the R56 Front Brake Upgrade (aka Poor Mans JCW Brake Upgrade) on my 06’ R53. I was shocked to find out that the JCW kits did nothing to the rear brakes. Now, I understand that 2/3 of the braking force is from the Front Brakes. That, of course, explains why the JCW kit has more sweep on the Rotor. However, this being the case, they did NOTHING to the rear; not even paint them!
So for those that want to upgrade the look and function of your rear brakes, here is a little How-To.
Things you will need:
- Tools (basic hand tools)
- Brake Fluid (at minimum to replace what you lost during the work)
- VHT Real Red Caliper Paint
- BMW Brass Guide Bushing - (I got mine from Turnermotorsports)* ~$60
- Stainless Steel Brake Lines - these can be had for as little as ~$38
- Cross Drilled and/or Slotted Rotors ~$180 for the pair
- JCW Stickers – [ SuperGraphix ] - ~$16 at current exchange rate
- New Rear Brake Pads – (I like ceramic) your choice here
- VHT Clear Caliper Paint
You will start by removing the rear brakes. I am not going to go into how to do this as it is well documented in online posts and YouTube videos. Also, depending on what all you are doing, it will be more or less involved.
You can paint the calipers on the car but that is a crappy way to do the job. The calipers come off easy enough, so once removed take off the caps and tape over (or plug) the holes. If you are changing out the Lines at the same time, I would just leave the old lines attached while cleaning.
Before cleaning I like to remove the parts I do not want painted; brake pads (obviously), E-Brake Spring, the previously mentioned bleeder caps, the brake wear sensor, guide pins and plastic guide bushings.
Clean with hot water, Simple Green & Dawn Dish Soap using a Nylon Brush. You do not need to get them back to bright shiny steel. You just need to get all the oil and loose dirt/brake dust off. Just scrub all over with the brakes separated into two parts. Dry the parts with a clean towel and let dry for a bit.
Next you will want to tape up the piston. A little side note here - if you are changing the pads at this time you will want to push the piston in. You can do this pretty easy once the calipers are off with a pair of needle nose pliers. Tape up the bleed screw and the complete e-brake mechanism (note: do not play with it as it is a ratcheting mechanism and you will have to push the piston back in if you do). I also like to tape over the baring surface of the carrier. This is the part that butts up to the car. It’s easy to figure out what I am talking about, as it is clean.
Spray the 4 parts with the VHT Real Red, I like to do 3 to 4 light coats, with 10 to 15 minutes in between coats, and ending with 2 coats of clear. CLEAR is Mandatory if you are adding JCW stickers! Other than those instructions I am not going to expand on spray painting. If you don’t know how to do it, then this might be a project that you want to seek assistance on.
So, now you have the four parts all painted and you let them set for several hours to cure. It is now time to rebuild. I will outline each of the possible add ons here. You can choose the ones you want to add to your kit. If it’s none then skip to the end.
Adding the BMW Brass Guide Pin Bushings: You will need C-Clip pliers for this. If you followed my instruction above you have already removed the plastic guide pin bushing for painting. The brass bushings replace these. The advantage to the brass units is there is NO FLEX. The guides simply are inserted in the holes that the plastic bushings were installed into, and the C-Clip installed to retain them. The guide pin kit includes (4) Pins, (4) Guides & (4) C-Clips. This is enough to do the rear brakes. You will need another kit if you want to do the fronts, but that would be another write up.
Video on installation: BMW Brass Caliper Guide Pin Bushings Installation - YouTube
Adding the Stainless Steel Brake Lines: I like to install the lines with the calipers off the car. The reason for this is that the swivel point is where the hard line meets the SS Line, not at the caliper. So assuming that you are changing these out and you left the plastic ones on the brakes for cleaning, just un-screw the old plastic lines and screw in the new SS Lines. Do not use any kind of plumbers tape, it can get in the system and clog things (BAD). Do not try to kill the fitting with force; just good and firm is fine.
JCW stickers: If you are adding these you may or may not have clear coated the calipers already. Clear coating is your choice. However, if you are adding the stickers this is a MUST. You MUST add the clear coat on top of them. So what I do is line them up, stick them on, press them down good, and then clear coat two coats over them. This seals the stickers and protects them.
Cross Drilled and/or Slotted Rotors: This does not have to be done, and there is even some debate to weather the drill/slotted adds anything, I am not going to get into that debate, I will say I like the look. Adding these at this point is VERY easy take out the single Torq bolt remove the old rotor, install the new unit, re-install the Torq bolt.
So at this point you have added the optional things that you wanted to do. Now you will just need to re-install the guide pins, springs, caps etc. If you are re-using your old pads, then re-install them and put the retainer in place (basically reverse the removal process). If you are adding new or upgraded pads, then you will have to reset the piston. There is a tool for this. If you do not have it you can use a pair of needle nose pliers to turn the piston in while pushing them inward.
I like to bleed the system down till I see fresh clear fluid. I personally use Motul 600. Whatever fluid you choose, you will need to bleed the system to make sure there are no air/bubbles in the system. Once you do this, replace the caps that keep the bleed screws clean if you still have them.
So in conclusion, I feel this is what the JCW kit should have had from the rip: Brass Guides, Paint, and Logo Stickers. But you can do it now for not much time, money, or effort. When it’s completed it looks very nice and gives you that something different that we all love on our MINI’s.
*The Brass Bushings do not have to be MINI as the MINI brakes are BMW units, and the brass guides have been the same size since the 60’s, so shop around and you can save a few dollars.
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