Brake switch Installment Tips
So I installed the brake switch on my 1998 e36 328i. There is an excellent tutorial on youtube. just search for "brake switch E36" and you will see an M3 red car. Here's the link.
So here are some tips because its not all black and white to a novice like me.
First there are 3 physical screws (at least in my 1998 328). The screws may have a factory cap covering on them. Just pry open the cap and you will see the hidden screws. Chances are yours have falling off throughout the years and not replacd, so you will physically just see the screws as found in your local hardware. The screws should have washers on them (at least mine did).
After removing them, pull the panel STRAIGHT towards you (not at an incline just straight heading towards the drivers seat. The reason for this is that there are two clips on the left side that will pop out when the panel is "slid". Just tuck a bit more on the left...apply a tad more force until it releases. Always just escalate the pulling from tug to pull.
The panel at the point should "slide" forward. It's almost as if its on a shelf is the best way I could explain it. When you pull slowly far enough it will drop off from the supporting rails.
There are 3 things connected. press on the two connector found on this circular white piece to release. There will be a light physically attached to the panel itself. With this light, I did not unplug it. There is a V shape clear plastic clip like piece that if press causes the entire lense to release from the physical panel. After its released, just turn it sideways to go through the panel. The light will physically just "hang" and also serve as potential lighting.
At that point you will find the brake switch on the brake lever on the left side. To see it well, you need physically lay on the carpet with your back on the carpet. I took a flat head screw driver and popped off one of the brake switch "tab".
There are many switches underneath there. Just compared the one that you brought and it should be obvious. As you apply the brakes you see where the lever is hitting.
I giggled the unit out after I popped off the tab and wala. It came off in like 4 minutes since I was gentle etc and still figuing out the mechanism. I giggled the unit, up and down, and right and left.
Now here's the tricky which is what prompted this thread. The switch needs to go in, in a certain way. Look at the switch where the white lever pop out thing is facing you. You will see that switch where it will eventually clip on to the metal holder is not perfect retangle in shape. One of the corners has a little piece that sticks out. The metal holder on the car is shaped EXCATLY the same way. You need to place it that way into the holder.
Here's a rough drawing of what I mean:
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The "back" slash is the piece that sticks on on the switch. The zero in the middle of the box is the white plastic piece that goes up and down. I know it is confusing, but if you look at the switch you will see what I mean. Make sure the "circle" is facing you.
When I first tried installing it, it would not got in easily because I was pushing it the wrong way. The metal bracket is almost shaped like a perfect square, so it's pretty hard to tell at first without exmaining the brake switch in detail.
Even after I figured it out why the brake switch would not go in. I had to apply just a hint of grease to the tabs on the switch and it popped it in 2 seconds. This after spending 2-3 minutes trying to push it in correctly.
When pushing the brake switch in make sure the that red recepticle piece is not pushed back. Put the switch in, and then slide the red piece back to secure it. Clean off the extra little grease. You could also apply the grease on the metal holder but I found it easier to apply it to the physical switch. And remember just a hint of grease. You really dont want to have this thing pop off while driving.
I WOULD ONLY DO TEH GREASE IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS PUSHING IT IN.
I kid you not, this things would not go in.
After it physically was in, I pulled on it a bit to see if it would pop out. It wasnt going anywhere.
Reassemble everything and dont forget to slide the foot rest "light" back into the panel before installing. I left it inside after installing everything back but I was able to slide it out and secure it in 10 seconds since it was very close to the openning.
Hope this helps.
The hardest part of this for me was pushing the brake switch in. It just would not go in.