iXchange Issue #18

March 1998

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


Front Shock Replacement 1
Hakka 1s & Headlight Bulbs 2
Rally Preparation Checklist 2
Computer Display Repairs 3
Replacing the Front Driveshaft 5


Tales of a Shocking Experience in a 1989 iX by Ken Warnock of Essex, Massachusetts

This fall, driving our rutted New England roads generated a bit more pounding under my right foot than expected. A little of the bounce test, combined with a few painful trips thru the Big Dig in Boston, soon had me convinced that it was time to retire the 130k stock Boge shocks.

Gordon's article on replacing shock in Issue #1 clearly laid out the battle plan for replacing the shocks. Things went pretty much as spelled out, with a few unpleasant surprises due to my procrastination at replacing the shocks.

If you haven't done so within 40k miles, take a close look at your front shocks under the shock boots! Otherwise, you may be in for more than a set of Bilsteins.

With the car on the ground, I loosened the front axle nuts with an impact wrench. Once in the air, disconnecting the front suspension bits was easy, with the exception of freeing up the front swaybar links. I had to remove both ends on one side to get the links free of the shocks, and found that the thin 17mm/19mm combo wrench in the trunk toolkit came in handy keeping the link ball joints from spinning. Pressing off the hub required endurance, as the shaft splines were a tough push for all 2" of their length despite being clean.

Once I had the strut assemblies clear and the springs removed (grab at least 5 coils with the spring compressors, and use the safety hooks!) I looked for the nuts that retain the strut inserts. AND kept looking- they had disintegrated into a rusted chunk on each side! The plastic shock boot had done a tremendous job of keeping all of the moisture on the nuts, reducing the tops to mush except where they held the inserts to the strut housing. Penetrating oil, the heat wrench, and the 15-lb sledge failed to do much but increase my frustration.

I had always wondered who bought the "Strut Housings" I've seen listed in atalogs. They seemed like listing "roofs", "frames", or "hoods"- in other words, stuff that should never wear out. Little did I know I would almost need a pair; after pricing them over $450 per side, plus $100 for each hub bearing, it was on to plan B.

Plan B: Slice several 1/4" long slots through the strut housing into the remainder of the insert nut. Pry back each strip like the petals of a flower, spin/pound out the nut, and remove the old strut insert. Then, bend each strip back (I hadn't bent them much, and they weren't rusted except at the top), place a big split clamp collar of the right ID over the mess, and weld everything back in place.

P.S. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, unless you know exactly what you're up to. This threaded joint supports the hub at full suspension droop and the thrust load of the compressed spring with the wheel in the air. In my case, 95% of the original thread was still OK, and the outer wall of the housing had only surface rust.

Everything went back together, except I had to free up and re-grease the strut bearings. One side was stiff turning, possibly due to the shock seals being AWOL when the shock on that side drooled all the damping fluid out. A bit of cleaning showed the balls to be OK with no pitting and little play. Re-grease, and save $100 per side on new strut bearings.

Reassembly was much quicker and easier. I coated the front shock insert nuts with underbody seal, and resolved to check them frequently. New nuts went on all the suspension bits, and new lockplates over the hub nuts after driving the splines back in (lubricated with Moly Disulfide grease). The first drive was like having a new car again.

Handy notes:

1. Bavarian Autosport has a "Best Price" policy- they matched the $40/boot price that Eurasian had for the front outer CV boots, down from their normal $60. The inner boots were OK at 130K, the outers split when I pulled them from the hubs. $400 for a set of new Bilstein HD's and all nuts also seemed to be a good price.

2. Russell Performance Products makes some neat brake bleeder valves with integral spring-loaded ball check valves. Truly one-man operation, with no leakage like from some vacuum bleeders on loose bleed screws. HOWEVER, they're easily broken like most bleed screws. Tighten snug to seal, and count on the threadlock to hold them.


James Stephen of Marlboro, Massachusetts shares some iXperiences:

I have "tested" the Nokia Hakkapeliitta 1 s with studs. On the dry, they seem to have better grip than the Blizzaks, with stiffer sidewalls and tread. On the snow / ice they are outstanding, with super grip in cornering, acceleration, and braking. In the noise aspect, the only thing that I notice is a sound similar to riding on gravel at slow speeds.

I also replaced the sand blasted headlights, then upgraded the bulbs from 45W low / 65W high to 80W/100W. Beware that places like Imparts sell the bulbs for about $9.50, and places like Competition Ltd. sell the SAME EXACT bulb
for about $20. Also note that some police (especially MA state police) take a very "dim" view of the blue bulbs. The white ones are clearly brighter. The headlight buckets were expensive, but the overall change was noticeable.

Can anyone recommend what to use to keep the antenna working correctly ? HHS 2000, and lithium grease are of no use, and silicone type sprays need repeated use.


Rally Equipment & Preparation Checklist from Satch Carlson , based on his experiences with the ALCAN 500 & Rally of the Lost Patrol:

These are some of the procedures that have been tried--sometimes successfully--by members of the Alaska Rally Team in years past, along with some of the extra bits that people have thought to carry along. No doubt you will have your own ideas; it is unrealistic to even consider conforming to every item on this list. But it's a reasonable place to start thinking about what will make you confident and comfortable with your own preparations.

Engine compartment and exterior:
__ A/C belts removed
__ Oil cooler taped
__ Engine compartment sealed
__ Coolant adjusted to 65/35 antifreeze mix
__ Engine-block heater installed
__ Magnetic oil-pan heater installed
__ Battery heater installed
__ 100-watt "night light" installed
__ Heavy-duty battery installed
__ High-output alternator installed
__ Engine skid pan installed
__ Fuel tank skid pan installed
__ Driving lights installed
__ Driving lights wired
__ Extra high-mounted tail lights, brake lights, and back-up lights installed
__ Floormats insulated
__ Navigation lights installed (one in back seat)
__ Computer inputs installed
__ Computer installed
__ Business-band radio installed
__ 2-meter HAM radio installed
__ CB radio installed
__ 12-volt accessory sockets installed
__ 12-volt heater installed
__ Way-cool stereo installed
__ Additional instruments installed
Safety Equipment and Spares:
__ 25-foot "cold flex" extension cord
__ Flashlights (two)
__ First-aid kit
__ Emergency triangles
__ Road flares (six)
__ Spare Red Line 5-20 oil
__ One case of fuel-line antifreeze
__ One gallon of antifreeze premix (65/35 antifreeze/water ratio)
__ One gallon low-temp washer mix (methyl alcohol, basically)
__ Two ice scrapers
__ Propane lighter
__ One can of starting fluid
__ Jumper cables
__ Tools
__ Fast lug wrench
__ Fast jack with wide plywood base
__ Ground cloth
__ Tow strap
__ Fast-link chain lengths
__ Fuel funnel
__ Spare fuel (carried outside of car)
__ Small shovels (2)
__ Work gloves (two pairs)
__ Wool blanket
__ Pillow
__ Small cooler
__ Cable chains
__ Spare fan/alternator belts
__ Spare bulbs for all lights


Display Backlights & Intermittent Time/Temp Display
by Gordon

One morning after starting my '88 iX, I noticed that the LED display of the on-board computer was very dim. I could see that the time was being displayed properly, and all the functions seemed to be working, but the display was barely visible. Also, on Bev's '89 iX, the Time/Temp Display occasionally "goes crazy", particularly when the temperature is hot. I decided that it was time to fix both of these problems.

I logged into the BMW CCA Website (www.bmwcca.org) and went to the Cool Links page to link to the BMW FAQ (frequently asked questions.) I did a search for "computer display" and found some helpful info that provided basic guidance on these common problem with E30s.


Turns out that there is a "light bar" behind the LED display with to bulbs that eventually burn out. Here's the procedure for this repair:

First, I'd suggest you disconnect the battery to preclude shorting out any wires. Then using a large screwdriver, remove the plastic fastener below and to the left of the glovebox on the side of the center console under the dash. Next, lower the glovebox by pulling the pushpins out of the straps that suspend the glovebox and allow the tray to lower to the floor. Then remove the panel above the glovebox by removing the Phillips screws at the top of the glovebox opening and removing a couple of plastic push pins which pull right out after you rotate them 90 degrees. Next remove the panel to the left of the glovebox that covers the opening into the area behind the heater controls by removing another Phillips screws and a couple more pushpins.

Next remove the radio. Typically, the radio is held in place by two screw mechanisms which are accessible behind two quarter-inch size covers on each side of the front of the radio. These little covers swing open to expose two screw heads. These screws require a special tool, but a small Allen or Torx wrench can be used to turn these. But be careful, the head will strip pretty easily. Loosen the screws and pull out the radio (toward the seats.)
Display Details

You are now ready to remove the computer--this is awkward and, depending on how the wires and cables are routed, this can be pretty frustrating. I suggest you use a small mirror to locate the mounting hardware. On my '88, the computer is held in place by 4 small Phillips screws, but the FAQ indicates that a small socket is required. Assume that you will lose a couple of these screws during this process. (I used a magnetic retrieval tool to recover the screws that I dropped.)

It is not necessary to remove all the screws. In fact it is best if you don't. Just loosen the two screws that are next to the glovebox a few turns rather than removing them completely. Then remove the 2 screws that are next to the radio. You can then swing the computer into the dash toward the heaterbox to release it from the two screws next to the glovebox. With the cable still connected, pull the computer out through the side of the console next to the glovebox so that it is accessible. The FAQ indicates that the computer should be pulled forward toward the seats, so some computers may be different.

The light bar is white in color (see photo) and slides out from the side of the computer--grab it with a needlenose pliers and just pull it out. You can replace the whole light bar for about $30 from you local dealer, or just replace the lights if have a Radio Shack store nearby and you are handy with a soldering iron. I choose to replace the bulbs, using two 12v 55mA "Bi-Pin Lamp", Cat. No. 272-1154, from Radio Shack. I actually replaced the circuit board wiring with two wires connected to the leads of the lamps (see photo.) You probably should connect the board to a 12v source to make sure that the bulbs function properly. I'd recommend that you cover the backside of the circuit board with some duct tape before you slide it back into the computer.

While you have the computer out, I also suggest you replace the other instrument light bulb that twists into the back of the computer box and illuminates the buttons when the headlights are on. This lamp with socket is Part No. BM 62 11 1 368 299, available for about $.60 from your local dealer. (Buy a couple spares for other dashboard locations while you are in the mood.)

Reconnect the battery and check that the lights function properly. The LED display should be nice and bright when the headlights are off. When the headlights are turned on the LED time display should dim and the buttons should light. You should be able to vary the brightness of these lights and the LED display with the rheostat on the headlight switch knob.

Everything check out OK? Then "Assembly is the reverse of disassembly", as they say. The hardest part of this process is getting the computer under the mounting screws that you left in place next to the glovebox and the remaining screws installed. I used a magnetized screwdriver and some masking tape to hold the screws along with a mirror to see the backside of the computer box. Reinstall the radio, the dash panels and the glovebox and you can now enjoy your time/temp/etc. display during daylight hours.


Occasionally, particularly in hot weather, this display on our '89 iX "goes crazy", diplaying random sequences of weird characters. The display's sanity can be restored temporarily by simply pressing in on the center of the display panel. But I was looking for a more permanent fix. Apparently, this problem is caused by a loose or broken solder joint which holds a chip socket onto the circuit board.

Fortunately, the simpler Time/Temp Display can be removed for repair a lot more easily than can the On-board Computer Unit -- it is not necessary to remove the radio or glovebox.

First, pry off the front panel of the display using a knife blade and small screwdriver. Start at the bottom of the panel using the knifeblade and work your way around the panel with the screwdriver to pry it out toward the seats. Then you will see two tabs (one at the top and one at the bottom) of the computer box that remains in the console. Pry these tabs with the screwdriver and knife blade to release these and pull the whole box unit out. Unplug the cable by swinging up the handle on the rear of the box and take the unit to a work surface.

Now you need to use the knife and screwdriver to remove the box-like back from the front of the box. Pry at the center top and bottom of the box to do this as shown in the photo. Pull the two pieces apart. Then, remove the 4 Phillips screws so that you can detach the circuit board. You will see that there is a 12-pin female connector on the circuit board. Examine the solder joints carefully. I'd recommend you touch a soldering iron to each of the pins on the backside of the circuit board to melt the solder and let it harden to re-solder the connections. Look for other potential broken solder joints, but be careful not to get any components too hot if you decide to solder any other joints (use a heat sink such as needlenose pliers.)

Reassemble the unit, again using the reverse procedure. I'd suggest that you replace both dash lights while you have the computer out of the dash. Hope this solves your "crazy" problem.


Replacing & Maintaining the Front Driveshaft
by Rob Brady , Houston, TX.

In issue 15, page 3, Bruce Mock describes in detail the failure of splines on the front driveshaft of his '88 iX. Similar problems have been reported by James Ferguson ('88 iX, Issue 13, page 5) and now by Rob Brady ('89 iX). Rob has obtained help from Bruce and provides the following procedure for replacing the front driveshaft. Bruce and Rob recommend that the front shaft be removed and re-lubricated every 60,000 miles to prevent the gradual weardown of the splines. The procedure below can be followed for this preventive maintenance item.

Shaft Prices found by Rob:

Supplier State List  Discounted  Delivery  Freight
Hendrick NC $567 $425 3 day $47
Hunterdon NJ 335 10 day
Global GA 333 266 2 day $40
Momentum TX 333

Note: Bob Kuimelis of Brighton, NY, has put together some great photos of his worn front driveshaft splines and the transfer case splines which look OK. Bob replaced the driveshaft and says, "I checked around and the best price I could get on the front driveshaft (26 20 1 226 183) was $260, from South BMW in Florida with availability in only 3 days. Even my regular sources could not touch that price. It apparently comes complete with the flex disc, bolts, etc."

Excessively detailed procedure for replacing front drive shaft. Derived from BMW 26-12

1. BMW Caution: Don't drive without the front drive shaft or you risk damaging the central lock in the Xfer case.
2. Jack up and block driver's side of car. You don't want to use ramps since you need to spin the drive shaft to get to more than 2 bolts.
3. Remove the 3 bolts without lock nuts that are threaded into the differential flange. Hold wrench on lock nuts of other bolts to keep the shaft from spinning. I had to use about 1' long 2" dia. pipe cheaters on the wrench and ratchet to break the bolts loose. By the way, it's easy to round off the lock nuts.
4. Remove the 3 bolts with lock nuts that are attached to the drive shaft flange.
5. Slide plastic cap down shaft away from transfer case.
6. Slide drive shaft back into transfer case about 1".
7. Separate centering disk from shaft by twisting screwdriver in slot between metal centering disc and shaft flange.
8. Remove guibo and centering disk. My 93,000 mile old guibo had some fine cracks on it.
9. Pull shaft with attached plastic cap out of the transfer case.
10. Remove o-ring from outside of transfer case gear.
11. Clean red dust out of splines in transfer case gear. There is a lot of fine dust. I used a toothbrush and vacuum cleaner.
12. Remove o-ring from shaft and remove plastic cap from shaft. The cap can break if the shaft isn't clean. If you break the cap and don't want to have to repeat this, have one of these $5 special order item spares on hand.
13. Install plastic cap on new shaft so that it clears the splines.
14. Clean or replace o-rings, grease lightly, and reinstall on outside of transfer case gear and on shaft. New shaft o-ring comes with shaft. I replaced the transfer case gear o-ring.
15. Remove rubber cover seal from old centering disc, clean, and install on new centering disc.
16. Grease splines on shaft and inside transfer case gear with molybdenum disulfide grease. The dealer doesn't sell it and I was unable to find Molykote Longterm II that is recommended in the Bentley and the factory manuals. Hi Low and Pep Boys only had Moly Graph, that didn't list molybdenum disulfide as an ingredient. At Autozone, I found Exxon LIDLOK CG Moly that does list molybdenum disulfide as an
ingredient and that's what I used.
17. Install greased shaft.
18. Mount centering disc on flange of shaft.
19. Install guibo so that arrows face flange arms. New guibo comes with shaft.
20. Do not reuse old lock nuts and install all 6 bolts. New bolts with lock nuts and lock nuts come with shaft. I also got a spare bolt without lock nut. I torqued mine to 34 ft lb. A summary of lengthy discussion given below is that I think this is OK.
21. Slide plastic cap onto the transfer case after finishing the installation.

I called a BMW service department regarding tightening torques. The BMW service man said that M 10 bolts should be torqued to 64 Nm, M 8 bolts should be torqued to 32 Nm, and that all 6 bolts have the same torque specs. He kind of said that what I did was OK. I told him that the Bentley manual for 2 wheel drive 325's has the guibo to driveshaft flange bolts that have an 8.8 stamped on them at 34 ft lbs and that's what I used. My old and new bolts with lock nuts have 8.8 stamped on them. My old and new bolts without lock nuts don't have any stamping. Here's what Bentley has in Sect. 11, p.11.

M 10  8.8-grade   46 Nm (34 ft lb)
M 10 10.9-grade 72 Nm (53 ft lb)
M 12 123 Nm (91 ft lb)

I admire Rob the Roundel Hack Mechanic. After reading this you may understand why. I was sad to hear that he got rid of a black '89 5 speed 2 door with vinyl seats that is identical to mine. AWD was great in Jersey and Boston, but after all of this, I really don't want AWD in Houston. If you know of anyone, even with all of this information, mine is for sale. I'm looking for an old 7 series.