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2010 2011 BMW 5 Series Forum F10 F10 Technical Topics DIY Guides & Discussions DIY brake flush/bleed - comments and feedback
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      08-05-2019, 04:04 PM   #1
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DIY brake flush/bleed - comments and feedback

Just did this job on the F10 this weekend. Here are a few notes...

I've been doing brake bleeding the old fashioned way for a couple of decades on various cars, Japanese and German, and most with MT so there was clutch bleeding too.

Overall, based on my experience with the F10:
  • You really want a power bleeder
  • You really want ISTA
  • You need more fluid than you might think (2L minimum, next time I'm ordering 3)

Some instructions from TIS that apply to my F10:

The most general doc: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f...ion/1VnXvjGCJ0

Bleeding brakes with DSC: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f...ion/1VncYvP97T

Possible special procedure if needed for rear brakes with parking brake: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f...ation/Cl8orLIE


I bought a Motive Powerbleeder just for this job after reading the page on ISTA. I read many posts on various forums for F-body BMWs and most people were reporting that they were experienced DIYers and their pedal softened after doing a traditional bleed, and got firm again only when ISTA was used as per the BMW procedure. For $80 I just went right from the get-go with the Motive.

(Mostly) following the ISTA procedure, which different slightly from the TIS procedure, it walked me through a pre-pre-bleed of all four corners. Then it told me to open LR for the "pre-bleed stage". It activated a DSC pump and pumped 0.4L out the bleeder in a 15 second procedure. Then it told me to open LF for pre-bleed and did similar, but lower quantity.

Then on the actual bleed round, 90-100 seconds per corner with ISTA "click to continue" at each step. During this stage the brake bleeders were open at each corner, one at a time, and the DSC-and-friends systems went through many different patterns of operation while the brake pedal was pressed every 5 seconds throughout the process based on ISTA instructions. There were all kinds of weird noises, different pumps and valves. Not a lot of fluid moved during this stage compared to the pre-pre-bleed, but maybe a good .25L or more. (I wasn't measuring) My collection bottle on the rear circuit had some noticeable brown crud in the bottom from the true bleed phase.

When it was all done I had very little of my 2L of starting fluid. To be on the safe side I might want 2.5L or so so that I wouldn't need to cut any corners if it took a while to run bubble free.

Based on how I observed this go, I wouldn't want to do it any other way than with a power bleeder plus ISTA+ (or equivalent Foxpro etc...). It was not just a simple "buzz" of the pump once while each bleeder was open. There was a LOT of DSC activity in many different patterns. On E46, E90, E39 cars I didn't ISTA bleed but made sure to cycle ABS lots in low traction situations in the winter so that all the fluid mixed.


One thing I wonder about, and where I did NOT follow the procedure.... I have always put a brick or board under my brake pedal when bleeding in order to limit pedal travel to stay within the normal range seen during braking. The wisdom imparted there is that the master cylinder is polished in the area of the stroke where most driving activity occurs, and it is rougher and may even have bumps, spurs or barbs in the deep areas where the pedal never goes (to the floor). The internet is full of people who bled the brake and then a week or two later figured out that their brake pedal was falling to the floor while they were stopped and they needed a new master cylinder. The idea is that the seal on the master cylinder piston was damaged by them pushing the pedal to the floor during bleeding and then it leaks.

The ISTA+ instructions said to pump the brake pedal "as far as it goes" every five seconds during the procedure. My "assistant" pumped it to the brick. It's possible that my brake pedal has a tiny bit more travel than before the operation, but the brakes work better. I would really love a high, rock-hard pedal but that's not really a 5-series design consideration.
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      08-05-2019, 06:21 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surly73 View Post
Just did this job on the F10 this weekend. Here are a few notes...

I've been doing brake bleeding the old fashioned way for a couple of decades on various cars, Japanese and German, and most with MT so there was clutch bleeding too.

Overall, based on my experience with the F10:
  • You really want a power bleeder
  • You really want ISTA
  • You need more fluid than you might think (2L minimum, next time I'm ordering 3)

Some instructions from TIS that apply to my F10:

The most general doc: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f10-535i-xdrive-lim_201104/repair-manuals/34-brakes/34-00-braking-check-ventilation/1VnXvjGCJ0

Bleeding brakes with DSC: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f10-535i-xdrive-lim_201104/repair-manuals/34-brakes/34-00-braking-check-ventilation/1VncYvP97T

Possible special procedure if needed for rear brakes with parking brake: https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f10-535i-xdrive-lim_201104/repair-manuals/34-brakes/34-00-braking-check-ventilation/Cl8orLIE


I bought a Motive Powerbleeder just for this job after reading the page on ISTA. I read many posts on various forums for F-body BMWs and most people were reporting that they were experienced DIYers and their pedal softened after doing a traditional bleed, and got firm again only when ISTA was used as per the BMW procedure. For $80 I just went right from the get-go with the Motive.

(Mostly) following the ISTA procedure, which different slightly from the TIS procedure, it walked me through a pre-pre-bleed of all four corners. Then it told me to open LR for the "pre-bleed stage". It activated a DSC pump and pumped 0.4L out the bleeder in a 15 second procedure. Then it told me to open LF for pre-bleed and did similar, but lower quantity.

Then on the actual bleed round, 90-100 seconds per corner with ISTA "click to continue" at each step. During this stage the brake bleeders were open at each corner, one at a time, and the DSC-and-friends systems went through many different patterns of operation while the brake pedal was pressed every 5 seconds throughout the process based on ISTA instructions. There were all kinds of weird noises, different pumps and valves. Not a lot of fluid moved during this stage compared to the pre-pre-bleed, but maybe a good .25L or more. (I wasn't measuring) My collection bottle on the rear circuit had some noticeable brown crud in the bottom from the true bleed phase.

When it was all done I had very little of my 2L of starting fluid. To be on the safe side I might want 2.5L or so so that I wouldn't need to cut any corners if it took a while to run bubble free.

Based on how I observed this go, I wouldn't want to do it any other way than with a power bleeder plus ISTA+ (or equivalent Foxpro etc...). It was not just a simple "buzz" of the pump once while each bleeder was open. There was a LOT of DSC activity in many different patterns. On E46, E90, E39 cars I didn't ISTA bleed but made sure to cycle ABS lots in low traction situations in the winter so that all the fluid mixed.


One thing I wonder about, and where I did NOT follow the procedure.... I have always put a brick or board under my brake pedal when bleeding in order to limit pedal travel to stay within the normal range seen during braking. The wisdom imparted there is that the master cylinder is polished in the area of the stroke where most driving activity occurs, and it is rougher and may even have bumps, spurs or barbs in the deep areas where the pedal never goes (to the floor). The internet is full of people who bled the brake and then a week or two later figured out that their brake pedal was falling to the floor while they were stopped and they needed a new master cylinder. The idea is that the seal on the master cylinder piston was damaged by them pushing the pedal to the floor during bleeding and then it leaks.

The ISTA+ instructions said to pump the brake pedal "as far as it goes" every five seconds during the procedure. My "assistant" pumped it to the brick. It's possible that my brake pedal has a tiny bit more travel than before the operation, but the brakes work better. I would really love a high, rock-hard pedal but that's not really a 5-series design consideration.
Hey man I have some questions to ask about this procedure mind shooting me ur number ?!
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      08-05-2019, 08:25 PM   #3
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Sounds like whatever the dealer chargers is a bargain!
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      09-01-2019, 03:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezaircon4jc View Post
Sounds like whatever the dealer chargers is a bargain!
I'll agree from what I've read in the past - 'whatever YOUR dealer charges is a bargain'. Not so with mine.
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      09-04-2019, 11:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezaircon4jc View Post
Sounds like whatever the dealer chargers is a bargain!
I thought about doing it myself but after reading this I think i'd rather pay the dealer to do it
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      09-04-2019, 10:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezaircon4jc View Post
Sounds like whatever the dealer chargers is a bargain!
I thought about doing it myself but after reading this I think i'd rather pay the dealer to do it
It's a lot easier then he makes it seem lol just YouTube it no reason to use ISTA.
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      09-05-2019, 06:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonobro View Post
It's a lot easier then he makes it seem lol just YouTube it no reason to use ISTA.
Watching other Youtubers making DIY's across the BMW platform they make it real easy do do. But hearing ISTA brought up made it sound like it's a must now or recommended. I dunno
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      09-05-2019, 08:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
Watching other Youtubers making DIY's across the BMW platform they make it real easy do do. But hearing ISTA brought up made it sound like it's a must now or recommended. I dunno
I'd recommend using ISTA+. Brakes are the only thing that can safely stop you, why risk any issues? My personal philosophy is to never half ass anything safety related.
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      09-05-2019, 11:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unspec View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
Watching other Youtubers making DIY's across the BMW platform they make it real easy do do. But hearing ISTA brought up made it sound like it's a must now or recommended. I dunno
I'd recommend using ISTA+. Brakes are the only thing that can safely stop you, why risk any issues? My personal philosophy is to never half ass anything safety related.
Do you have to brake bleed every side or just fronts ?
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      09-05-2019, 11:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonobro View Post
Do you have to brake bleed every side or just fronts ?
by rule of thumb anytime you brake bleed it's recommended you do all four
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      09-05-2019, 12:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
I thought about doing it myself but after reading this I think i'd rather pay the dealer to do it
?

I just documented what happened, because so many people don't. Even those who screen cap the ISTA procedure are not usually telling you what it's actually doing. Every job I do on the F10, especially the more electronic ones, are easier after the first time. Just trying to make it easier for others based on knowledge of what will happen.

I also documented what I did to reinforce that what ISTA is doing during the bleed is not just a rudimentary pump squirt and, according to what I read and saw, definitely worthwhile doing. And, in order to do the ISTA procedure, you need a power bleeder (which lots of people have chosen to use for all bleeding anyways).

There's always the crowd that says you don't need to do things the way BMW says. Don't use ISTA. Don't bother registering new batteries. Don't set the proper level in the transmission, just squirt and go. Use any cheap coolant you like. No need to replace single-use aluminum bolts. "It's all a BMW scam" etc...etc... Again, based on the high degree of activity from the DSC system, and the blob of brown crud in my collection container after performing the procedure, I'll just be doing it this way from now on. I read too many accounts of experienced DIYers with soft pedals until they gave in and did it with ISTA for me to bother fooling around with multiple attempts just to save $80 on a power bleeder.

Overall, I would say this bleed was less of a pain in the butt and less error prone than my previous manual bleeds. Put car on stands, hook up power bleeder, do what ISTA says while assistant pumps the brakes. It seems like a big ordeal when it's all new, of course.

The simplified process:

1/ bleed a little through all four corners
2/ open LR - ISTA will pre-bleed (large quantity, fast)
3/ open LF - ISTA will pre-bleed (large quantity, fast)
4/ open all four in sequence - ISTA will bleed each one in turn (90s each, modest quantity of fluid)

The "pre-bleeds" are really the bulk fluid change. In 15s per axle pretty much all of the old fluid is pushed out.

Anyways - I guess it all depends on what the dealer charges in your area. What I saved pays for the power bleeder several times over and I know it was done properly.

ezaircon4jc has a dealer with really good prices, I must admit.

Last edited by Surly73; 09-07-2019 at 03:59 PM..
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      09-05-2019, 12:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surly73 View Post
?

I just documented what happened, because so many people don't. Even those who screen cap the ISTA procedure are not usually telling you what it's actually doing. Every job I do on the F10, especially the more electronic ones, are easier after the first time. Just trying to make it easier for others based on knowledge of what will happen.

I also documented what I did to reinforce that what ISTA is doing during the bleed is not just a rudimentary pump squirt and, according to what I read and saw, definitely worthwhile doing. And, in order to do the ISTA procedure, you need a power bleeder (which lots of people have chosen to use even for all bleeding anyways).

There's always the crowd that says you don't need to do things the way BMW says. Don't use ISTA. Don't bother registering new batteries. Don't set the proper level in the transmission, just squirt and go. Use any cheap coolant you like. No need to replace single-use aluminum bolts. "It's all a BMW scam" etc...etc... Again, based on the high degree of activity from the DSC system, and the blob of brown crud in my collection container after performing the procedure, I'll just be doing it this way from now on. I read too many accounts of experienced DIYers with soft pedals until they gave in and did it with ISTA for me to bother fooling around with multiple attempts just to save $80 on a power bleeder.

Overall, I would say this bleed was less of a pain in the butt and less error prone than my previous manual bleeds. Put car on stands, hook up power bleeder, do what ISTA says while assistant pumps the brakes. It seems like a big ordeal when it's all new, of course.

The simplified process:

1/ bleed a little through all four corners
2/ open LR - ISTA will pre-bleed (large quantity, fast)
3/ open LF - ISTA will pre-bleed (large quantity, fast)
4/ open all four in sequence - ISTA will bleed each one in turn (90s each, modest quantity of fluid)

The "pre-bleeds" are really the bulk fluid change. In 15s per axle pretty much all of the old fluid is pushed out.

Anyways - I guess it all depends on what the dealer charges in your area. What I saved pays for the power bleeder several times over and I know it was done properly.

ezaircon4jc has a dealer with really good prices, I must admit.
and that's why I commented that it's probably easier just to have the dealer do it because of the price
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      09-06-2019, 08:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
and that's why I commented that it's probably easier just to have the dealer do it because of the price
How much does your dealer/indy charge for a brake bleed?
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      09-06-2019, 10:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unspec View Post
How much does your dealer/indy charge for a brake bleed?
$200 is what the dealer quoted me 2 months ago when I had my oil done
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      02-10-2020, 02:29 PM   #15
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Brake Bleed Fluid Change Nightmare

I went to change the brake fluid on my 2015 F10, as I did on my wife's 2015 X5 with no issue. Well....I've had the issue. Now I have paid probably 2-3x as more as if I just got it done by the dealer. I first started with a vacuum bleed, not much juice came out. Then I went to a pressure bleed, not much different. By this time it is obvious I put air in my lines. So now, I go on Amazon and get the reverse bleed set-up. Still no good results. So finally I got the ITAS software and ran with that. All went well. You can see a read out when you are done and both my axels are at 20psi at calipers, the pedal is like around 4psi. I have great pedal when the car is off, but still feels spongy when on. Should I go another round with the ITAS software set-up? Or is 4psi at the pedal where it is supposed to be. This has been a nightmare. I see so many videos and so many comments where a conventional brake bleed is fine....I have not seen it. I am glad it went ok on my wife's X5, but now I am questioning that pedal feel now since I have gone through all of this on mine.
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      02-10-2020, 10:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsturbointeg View Post
$200 is what the dealer quoted me 2 months ago when I had my oil done
I ended up just having the dealer do it for me, so I figured I'd throw the price out there. It was 228 and some change including taxes for me in South Jersey.
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      02-11-2020, 07:35 AM   #17
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Quote:
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I ended up just having the dealer do it for me, so I figured I'd throw the price out there. It was 228 and some change including taxes for me in South Jersey.
Yea. Tho I would like to start doing all my own maintenance the brake flush I'll have the dealer do this for me here in March
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      02-14-2020, 07:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun543 View Post
I went to change the brake fluid on my 2015 F10, as I did on my wife's 2015 X5 with no issue. Well....I've had the issue. Now I have paid probably 2-3x as more as if I just got it done by the dealer. I first started with a vacuum bleed, not much juice came out. Then I went to a pressure bleed, not much different. By this time it is obvious I put air in my lines. So now, I go on Amazon and get the reverse bleed set-up. Still no good results. So finally I got the ITAS software and ran with that. All went well. You can see a read out when you are done and both my axels are at 20psi at calipers, the pedal is like around 4psi. I have great pedal when the car is off, but still feels spongy when on. Should I go another round with the ITAS software set-up? Or is 4psi at the pedal where it is supposed to be. This has been a nightmare. I see so many videos and so many comments where a conventional brake bleed is fine....I have not seen it. I am glad it went ok on my wife's X5, but now I am questioning that pedal feel now since I have gone through all of this on mine.
There are some extra things to do if the system has been "open" - like the rear calipers may need to be removed and manipulated by hand.

The TIS instructions start at this link, with several other links off of that.

https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/f...nts/1VnY1gRBo9

I browsed through some of the instructions regarding master cylinder replacement (probably the worst case for air in the system) and there was nothing more specialized than recalibrating the brake pedal travel sensor.
So, in theory, the existing 'brake bleeding with DSC' instructions using ISTA should get all the air out.
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      02-22-2020, 09:23 PM   #19
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Thank you to all for this valuable insight since I just recently purchased a car need of the brakes being flushed per service recommendations and am a new member here.
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      03-03-2020, 12:01 PM   #20
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I have a icarSoft, don't have ISTA. Is this the same function I should be looking for?

"NEW FUNCTIONS: ABS Bleeding and Injector coding (some vehicle models do not enjoy the two functions) ABS Bleeding, release the air to restore ABS Brake sensitivity"
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      03-03-2020, 11:52 PM   #21
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damn it I was testing if my carsoft device had the ability to bleed the DSC which I now know it does. I pressed the button 9pm at night, didn't touch the brakes at all. Heard the mechanical noises of each side going through its process. Was scared I completely ****ed it up after, but went for a drive and it seems the same. Anyone have insights if I need to be worried? thanks!
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      03-04-2020, 03:14 PM   #22
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The TIS provided instructions about bleeding and rinsing. It appears those are 2 different things.

I would think that for just replacing the brake fluid, "rinsing" is good enough. For lost brake pressure, "bleeding" with ISTA is necessary. Both requires pressure tank.
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