If you've owned a BMW for long, you know these cars can come with their share of quirks and costly repair bills. The F30 generation of 3-series cars, produced from 2011 to 2019, is no exception. These cars feature high-performance braking systems, so repairing and replacing them isn't always a straightforward task.

The peculiarities of the F30's braking options might be particularly mysterious if you bought your vehicle used without selecting its original options yourself. This guide will help you understand the options on your BMW so you can make the right choice when it comes to brake replacement and repair.

What Makes The F30's Brakes Special?

Like many manufacturers, BMW often makes mid-cycle changes to its vehicles, adding minor upgrades or features without designing an entirely new generation. Packages can also change from year to year and between regions. In the US, the F30 came with various brake packages throughout its life cycle, and the brakes on your car will depend on its year, options, and model.

For US models, there are two primary points of distinction: the number of pistons on your calipers and the size of your rotors. 328i models may have come from the factory with single- or quad-piston calipers in the front and single- or dual-piston calipers in the rear. On the other hand, 335is came from the factory with 4-piston calipers in front and dual or single calipers in the back.

Why so many options? It comes down to the variety of trim levels available and the additional brake upgrades you could add to any trim level. Generally, cars with the M Sport trim package came with larger rotors but otherwise unchanged braking systems. However, the separate M Sport brake upgrade came with higher-end calipers, larger rotors, and different pads.

Why Does It Matter?

You'll need to know the type of brakes on your car when replacing or repairing any of its components. In particular, you can't install smaller rotors on a vehicle that came with larger rotors from the factory, and you'll need to know if you have single, dual, or quad piston rotors before replacing your brake pads. This information is especially critical if you're replacing a failed caliper or damaged brake rotor.

Unfortunately, the M Sport brake option code (S2NHA) isn't enough to tell you everything you need to know. This package varied by year, and BMW used the same code for similar, but not identical, packages. If you can't tell the difference yourself, you'll want to rely on an experienced BMW repair shop to determine which parts you'll need when working on your car's braking system.

For more information about BMW brake repair, contact a company like H&A Service and Sales.