iXchange Issue #1

January 1994

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.



Let the iX Registry Begin !

No doubt about it -- there are a lot of 325iX enthusiasts who are very satisfied with their unique all-wheel drive vehicles. How glad we are that BMW decided to manufacture this model for at least a few years. And how fortunate we are to have purchased this model which is so well suited for comfortable, spirited driving under all conditions. I am very pleased to initiate this 325iX Registry and to have your support and interest in sharing your experiences with other members. As I have mentioned, the success of this venture depends largely on information from you which I will be pleased to publish and distribute. Please feel free to call me or simply jot down your info and send it to me so I can include it in future issues of the iXchange. (I'm working on a Macintosh Performa 475 if you'd like to send me a ClarisWorks disk or file via a modem, but handwritten is fine.)

As I write this on New Year's Day, 1994, twenty charter members have officially signed up for the Registry. Fifteen or so additional iX owners have contacted me as a result of the Roundel article and I am sure many of them will be joining with us in this endeavor. Table 1 is a list of Charter Members with member numbers assigned in the order in which your applications were received. If you have a friend with an iX, let them know about our Registry and encourage them to join. I'm surprised that I've not heard from anyone in Canada. There must be some iX's there. Do any of you know of a car club or other point of contact that would allow us to reach owners in Canada, Alaska and Europe? If so, let me know.



1 Gordon Haines Aurora, CO '88
2 Bev Haines Aurora, CO '89
3 Bob Mitchel, Jr Wayzata, MN '89
4 John Callahan Dallas, PA '88
5 Chuck & Diane Aiello Gilroy, CA '89
6 Dan Guliano Nashua, NH '89
7 Tim Hanly Peabody, MA '91
8 Ellie MacDougall Wells, ME looking
9 Nick Yotz Enumclan, WA '89
10 Pam & Dave Ament Colo. Spr., CO '88
11 John Greene Lansing, MI '91
12 Bob Snyder Wyncote, PA '91
13 Merl Volk Littleton, CO '91
14 Paul Schultz Aurora, CO '91
15 Tim Parker Stillwater, MN '88
16 Todd Arbogast Port Matilda,PA '90
17 Ernst Kulka Torrington, CT '88
18 Michael Herrington Monument, CO '91
19 Patrick Tomaino Danbury, CT '91
20 Carolyn O'Hearn Denver, CO '88

Member Experiences

In each iXchange issue, I'll include suggestions, comments and experiences provided by members.

First, let me answer a few questions that several of you have asked. The full moon wheel covers on my '88 iX are stainless steel "Racing Disc Wheel Covers" from J.C.Whitney that cost about $50 for a set of four. Whitney also carries similar aluminum and chrome covers, but I think stainless was the correct choice. Also, even if you do not cut the front springs as I have, I'm sure that you would be very pleased with the improvement in handling obtained by installing a heavier rear bar. I have been very satisfied with the 19mm bar from Suspension Techniques. Also, after running at Sears Point at the O'fest driving school, I can say that I am very, very pleased and impressed with the 205/55 VR15 Dunlop D40M2s that I am using for summer tires on the stock alloy wheels. They are absolutely the best tires I have ever had.
Dan Guliano has written quite a few iX articles in his column cleverly called "iX marks the spot" which appears in the Profile News , the White Mountain Chapter's newsletter. Dan has graciously sent these to me and I'll include some of the highlights in this and following issues. Dan reminds us that although many parts on the iX are common to the regular 325 models, there are some significant differences which your basic service station and "Quick & Dirty" oil change facility mechanic may not realize. Although the oil drain plug is in the same location as on an ordinary 325, there are other drain plugs under the car which could be confusing to those unfamiliar with the iX. Try a dab of bright green paint on the oil drain plug.

Dan points out that replacement alloys for the iX (which are different from those on an ordinary 325 due to the front hub, rotor and caliper design) cost anywhere from $400 to $600 apiece to replace. He has been very happy with his aftermarket 15x7 CSA-35 five spoke wheels from Exotic Wheel & Tire, a Roundel advertiser. (The CSi-15 he first tried from them did not clear the front calipers and had to be returned.) Dan experienced a small amount of rubbing on the outer edge of the rear tires (D40M2s.) At first he thought the inner flange of the rear wheel wells needed to be peened to provide a little more clearance because of differences in the offset of the CSAs from the factory wheel. However, he eventually traced the problem to badly worn shocks at 60K miles. After installing H.D. Bilsteins, Dan reports the iX handles better than ever and no rubbing problems exist.

Note: When I was researching wheels before I bought the factory 14 inch steels for winter, I uncovered the following as possibly suitable for the iX. DP-Select #705-41020 from DP Motorsport, the Ronal R15, RW Wheel's High Tech I and II, and ATS's Models 2,3 and 7. I have not tried any of these, but they offer a starting point for your search. Be sure to mount and drive any wheel you consider before purchasing them. I know of one iX owner who thought his wheels were mounted properly but when he tried to drive away he couldn't move the car. The wheels were bound up on the calipers. Fortunately, wheel spacers solved the problem, although this is not an ideal solution.
By the way, I am still absolutely convinced that the 185/65 R 14 studded Hakkapeliitta 10's are absolutely the best possible choice if you are going to go all out for the ultimate in traction for your iX. I have yet to find a surface, even glare ice on the lake in Georgetown, Colorado, where I could not apply full power from a standing start with little or no wheel spin. It is awesome to blast across a snowy intersection when the light turns green and see the traffic disappear in the rear view mirror. I am also regularly impressed with the handling of these tires on dry pavement. Quite a combination -- the iX and 10s.

Derek Bell Drives Gordon's iX

Bev and I had the good fortune of attending the 1993 BMW CCA Oktoberfest in Northern California. It was a very enjoyable week and served as a reminder of the work ahead of us in the Rocky Mountain Chapter as we prepare to host Oktoberfest '95. (I'm already starting to think about a special showing of iX models, so mark your calendars for July 17-21 next year. But I digress.)

Although I had driven Sears Point before, I needed a refresher on this demanding track and appreciated being a student on Monday of O'fest week. Plus I had installed Koni shocks as described later in this issue and had just replaced the Pirelli 600s with the Dunlops. I was ready! The "4X4 BMW" was a bit of a novelty in California. I know that its capabilities, coupled with what I like to think of as my smooth driving style, surprised a few people. I received numerous comments on how well the iX performed. It was a very enjoyable day which prepared me to be a helpful instructor on Tuesday.

Concurrent with the Driving School, the Golden Gate Chapter conducted a safety school in the paddock area of the track using a skid pad, collision avoidance exercise and low speed handling course. Michelin tires, sponsor of the safety school, brought in Derek Bell, a world-class race driver, as a special instructor and to promote their products. I guess Derek was impressed with the superb selection of BMWs and mentioned that he'd enjoy driving some of the more unique cars. Well, sure enough, my iX was on his list. At the end of the day on Tuesday, to my surprise, the chief instructor asked if I would allow Derek to drive it. I thought to myself, "This iX has to get us back to Denver. Nigel Mansel --sure. Nelson Piquet --sure. Derek? Well, sure." So I handed him my keys and wished him well with a sincere, "Enjoy."

Derek returned after one lap to take me as a passenger. The three laps with him proved to be the highlight of the week. His hot laps were not dramatically different from the laps I had been making, but they were undoubtedly somewhat quicker. They were not smooth in the manner that we stress in our Driving Schools. Most impressive was his ability and willingness in an unfamiliar car to constantly find and come back from the limit. There was no neutral time -- Derek was hard on the throttle or hard on the brakes. I assume that after a few more laps of exploring the limits or in a race situation, he would have settled into a smoother, more consistent rhythm. He commented that the iX seemed very well balanced and very forgiving. I never felt uncomfortable or really concerned. I knew he was not planning to embarrass himself or anyone else. So, as I had done almost exactly 9 years before as a passenger at the Bondurant School on the same track, I sat back , relaxed and enjoyed the experience of my car being driven by a very experienced world-class driver. Definitely an ultimate driving experience.

Changing Shocks

Why did I choose Koni Sport shocks rather than Bilsteins? I had Konis on my Volvo for over 15 years and 200K miles and when I sold the car, they were as stiff and free of leaks as the day I bought them. Plus I liked the idea of being able to adjust the front shocks with a turn of the knob at the top of the shocks and RD Enterprises (another Roundel advertiser) was a big help. I received the Konis on a special order in November of 1992. Total cost including shipping and a $50 special order fee was $440 for two front shocks (part # 8641 1144 SPORT) and two rear shocks (part # 80 2522 SPORT). You'll recall that I have cut the front springs to lower the front of my iX by one and a quarter inches.

I read the factory manual, took some notes and made a trip to the local BMW dealer to get a few parts. Note that removing the front hubs does not require any removal or disturbing of the front wheel bearings. The front hubs including the wheel bearings are pulled off the front axle shafts just as the rear hubs are pulled off the rear half shafts. You'll need standard open, box and socket wrenches, a 30mm socket for the front hub nut, a 180 lb-ft torque wrench, a spring compressor, a 5mm hex wrench for ABS sensors, some wire or coat hangar to suspend brake calipers and a hub puller tool (rented or purchased -- I bought "Old Forge" part number 2523 from Tool King.) In addition to a couple of standard nuts for the rear shocks, you'll need the following for the replacement of the front shocks and installation of the front shock towers:

2 - lock plates for the front hub nuts
2 - 17mm self locking nuts for tie rod joints
2 - 22mm self locking or castleated nuts for control arm joints (I used self locking type)
2 - large cotter pins if you use castleated nuts
2 - 19mm self locking nuts for the top of the shocks
6 -10mm self locking nuts for shock tower tops
2 - replacement rubber protective tubes for the shock piston rods (might as well)

Store your shocks in the upright position for at least 24 hours prior to installation to insure the oil is properly located. By the way, if you have the front shocks and springs removed, it would be a great time to either remove a coil (or one and a half as I did) or replace the springs with a sport set. And if you are really serious, how 'bout a set of camber plates from Dinan?


-- The following is a step-by-step procedure for the front of your iX. Installation torques and other installation notes are included in brackets.

Jack up car, support securely on stands and remove wheels.

Remove ABS Pulse sensors, 5mm hex [ coat with anti -seize].

Pry out the lock plate with a screwdriver and discard.

Remove hub nut [180 lb-ft, install several wheel lug bolts and use a pry bar hold stationary the wheel hub as you tighten the nut. Be sure the car is secure on the jack stands as you apply this much torque].

Disconnect the plug on the brake sensor.

Disconnect the ground lead if applicable (was not on mine) and remove from holder.

Take brake hose from holder (do not disconnect brake lines).

Unbolt swaybar push rod at top [30 lb-ft].

Unbolt and suspend caliper from wire, coat hangar, etc. but not from the brake hose [85 lb-ft].

Unbolt (17mm) and "tap off" the tierod joint. Don't use a separator tool. After loosening the nut, tap on the housing with a hammer. Leave the nut on the threads until the joint separates so you don't damage the threads [clean thoroughly, 27 lb-ft, upon assembly, place a jack under the joint and raise it slightly to cause friction in the joint to allow the nut to be tightened].

Remove the cotter pin if applicable, unbolt (22mm) and "tap off" the control arm guide joint as above, leaving the nut on until the joint separates [clean thoroughly, 47 lb-ft, use a jack as described above].

Take a break. Smell the roses.

Press off the wheel hub using a tool as described above [use some anti-seize, tap on the hub lightly with a rubber mallet if necessary to get it started, tighten it later as above].

Support the strut from underneath with a jack or block.

Mark the location of one or more of the bolts on top of the shock tower relative to the fender to insure proper installation orientation, unscrew the 3 top nuts and remove the strut assembly [16 lb-ft].

Pat yourself on the back, cheer some and heave a big sigh of relief. Now you're ready to disassemble the strut.

Clamp the strut assembly in a vise and compress the spring. Be careful! A compressed spring is very dangerous.

Pry off the cap on the top of the strut over the top nut.

Remove the top nut (19mm), clamping the piston rod [47 lb-ft].

Remove the 2 washers.

Release spring

Lift off the rubber mount and associated parts noting the disassembly/installation order and orientation. The concave surface of the insulator inside the rubber mount faces the mount.

Lift off the upper spring retainer and coil spring. [ Upon installation, ends of coil springs must fit into and bear on the shoulders in the lower and upper spring retainers]

Remove protective rubber tube [install new tube]

Unscrew ring around top of tube [96 lb-ft]

Pull out shock and drain oil from tube. [If there is a rubber stop at the bottom of the shock, retain it and install it upon installation. Follow mfr recommendations on use of and amount of oil which dissipates heat from the shock into the strut tube.]

[Before starting reassembly and installation, adjust the shocks to the desired setting if necessary and conduct checks recommended by mfr to confirm that shock assembly is of proper length for the strut tube. As a minimum, compare the length of the new shock with that of the old shocks]


-- The rear shocks and springs are separate assemblies and therefore the replacement is very simple and is described in the Bentley 3 Series Service Manual:

Support the trailing arm before removing the rear shock. The shock limits the travel of the rear suspension. If it travels too far the rear CV joints could be damaged.

Remove the bolt on the bottom of the shock which holds it to the mount on the trailing arm. [60 lb-ft]

Partially remove the carpeting in the trunk to expose the three mounting bolts at the top of the shock tower.

Support the shock from below with a jack or block and remove the two nuts in the trunk. [16 lb-ft]

Remove the shock and the rubber gasket.

Remove the mounting hardware on top of the shock if you need to reuse it by loosening the nut on top of the shock piston.

I hope these procedures will be of help to you. It really is pretty straight forward. Most important items are to be careful with the compressed springs, don't damage the threads on the suspension linkage joints, and make the checks for length, oil and fit per the manufacturer directions.

Questions and Answers

This first issue, all I have for this section is a few questions.

Has anyone had any trouble with a "leaky transfer case" or is this just a rumor?

Anyone had trouble with your rear window shattering from use of the rear window defroster?

Anyone replaced or modified the bulbs for the high beam and fog lamp indicator lights in the instrument cluster to dim them?

Tips & Tidbits

Nick Yotz reports that a poor connection between the pins in the cap and body of the diagnostic connector in the engine compartment caused his service indicator lights to stay on all the time and his tachometer to fail. Cleaning and ensuring a good contact solved the problem.

 Correction fluid such as LIQUID PAPER is perfect for marking parts for reassembly, highlighting timing marks, labeling tools with you name, etc. It is impervious to gasoline and oil and even comes with its own applicator brush.

WD-40 is perfect for removing tar and road grime from wheels and lower body panels. It's also great for skuff marks on tile floors and a number of uses as listed on the can.

RESOLVE Carpet Cleaner, sold for home use is phenomenal for your auto carpets and floor mats.

SIMPLE GREEN is the absolute best for cleaning the brown oxidation on tires and for regular degreasing of the engine compartment.

EAGLE 1 Glass Cleaner and Polish really works well for removing condensed vinyl vapors from the inside of your glass and for cleaning road grime from the outside surfaces. This product is available from Paul's Products at (714) 964-1361 if you can't find it at your local parts store.

Remember I have the factory manual on microfiche and have made hard copies of many pages. Call me if you need some info.

Gordon's '88 iX