BMW E36 Blog

Replacing BMW E36 brakes switch!

15th March 2007

Replacing BMW E36 brakes switch!

posted in Brakes, Do It Yourself, Technical Info |

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Hello my friends,


The BMW E36 brakes switch can fail easily and you should always check to make sure that your brakes are working fine. Of course, if you’ve checked and found that the brake lights are not working, you should fix the problem. First, you should check the rear lamps to make sure they’re working fine. If you found that they’re working fine, this means that you have to replace your brakes switch. The following article (which I found originally here) will guide you through this simple process . . . so enjoy it and after you finish, send me some $$$ LOOOL! just kidding.



Disclaimer: Use this procedure at your own risk!! I’m not responsible for your mistakes man! 😀


There may come a time when someone on the road motions to you about your brake lights not coming on. The brake pedal switch (Figure 1) in both the E30 and E36 BMWs gets a lot of use, and has a tendency to fail once and a while. Replacement is really easy, and should take only about 30 minutes maximum.



The first step is to verify that your brake lamps are not working. If you’re by yourself, then wait until night time and back up against a brick wall. You should see the reflection off of the wall when you step on the brakes – if you don’t, then your switch is probably shot. It’s important to note that at least on some years, the BMW warning system that tells you when a lamp is out will not tell you if the switch is broken – you will have to figure it out for yourself.


The first step is to gain access to the switch. Remove the panel directly above the driver’s side foot well. This panel is secured by a few screws (Figure 2), and a few snaps as well (Figure 3). In addition, you may have an electrical speaker unit attached to the panel. Disconnect the harness (Figure 4) and pull the panel down (Figure 5).






The brake switch is shown in Figure 6. It’s the rater large switch assembly that moves in conjunction with the brake pedal. Remove the harness from the brake switch (Figure 7) and yank it out of it’s bracket. I found that I had to break the plastic housing of the switch in order to remove it (Figure 8). That’s perfectly okay, since you will be replacing it with a new one very soon anyways.





To finish the job, simply install the new switch into place, and reconnect the wire harness. Test the brake lights to make sure that they are working properly, and then reinstall the knee panel.


Well, there you have it – it’s really not too difficult at all.

Are you looking for more do it yourself procedures (DIY) ? I recommend the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual for you. I got it and I think it’s a gold mine for us -BMW E36 Owners-. If you didn’t grab your copy yet, get it right now! I’m sure you’ll find this book worth every penny you’ve paid for. Get the Bentley BMW 3 series service manual


Wait for more from . . . BMW E36 Blog


Best regards,

Tony Sticks.

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There are currently 6 responses to “Replacing BMW E36 brakes switch!”

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  1. 1 On March 20th, 2007, laurie said:

    That’s really helpful!
    Last time i fixed my brakes switch was a mess. It ended to a mechanic and found out that it needed more braking system tweaking. I had new EBC brakes installed for better braking performance. Since, i love racing, i think it was worth it upgrading my brakes.

  2. 2 On August 19th, 2008, andrew paton said:

    thanks for the info, has really helped me managed to fix my brakes withing an hour the garage were gonna charge 30 quid just to look

    i addition to the above as i have just found out, if you manage to get the old switch off in one peice you can take this switch apart clean the contact points and bend the flex bars back into position its a very simple switch inside. careful that you dont lose the springs inside the switch though.

  3. 3 On August 19th, 2008, Tony Sticks said:

    @andrew paton: No problem! I’m glad to help.

  4. 4 On September 12th, 2008, bmwlife said:

    although the brakes are good, why does the abs light stay lit?

  5. 5 On November 25th, 2008, COPYRIGHT said:

    Thanks Tony, this is a great help as I think my switch may have gone pants up, new switch from BMW only £24 inc VAT 🙂

  6. 6 On December 15th, 2008, BMW E36 M3 Brake Light Switch Replacement . . . DIY | BMW E36 Blog said:

    […] wrote a post about replacing BMW E36 brakes switch before as this is a very common problem in the BMW E36 cars. Yesterday, Jeff was very kind and sent […]