iXchange Issue #2

March 1994

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.



iXploits and iXperiences


Tim Jones of Aurora Colorado provides the following about his iX:

"My iX was purchased new on November 11, 1987 from Davis - Moritz BMW in Arlington, Texas. This was, apparently, the first iX sold in North Texas!

I test drove the car on a very rainy afternoon the day the car was unloaded from the transport truck. I had a 1987 325es that was slated for trade-in the day I heard the iX was coming to the USA. It was like driving a car glued to the pavement. I took delivery the next day, and said good-bye to the 325es.

Some folks in Texas think that anything with four wheel drive has to have a truck plate on it, boy are they mistaken. The common response was "I DIDN'T KNOW BMW MADE A FOUR WHEEL DRIVE!" With the standard issue Pirelli P600 205/55-15 tires my iX made its way through anything that North Texas could dish out, (ice storms, snow covered icy roads , monsoons -- you name it).

My iX is Alpine white with black leather interior, my choice for interior color for my past three BMWS. White was "chosen" since it was the color the car was painted and my 325es was red so I thought it would be elegant to have an all white BMW that would be attractive yet still unique. I had the black bumper filler panels (not the rub strip), the door handles, door lock ring, the windshield cowling air intake vents, and the iX wheels polished and painted alpine white to match the body color. The result was subtle, but one can tell that there is "something about the car that looks "different". I achieved my goal and have been very happy with the modification the past six years. Note: have the paint shop, prepare the panels for painting by cleaning them thoroughly with a strong wax and grease remover. Otherwise the primer will not adhere properly to the panels and bubbles will appear soon after the process is complete.

Inasmuch as the deluxe BMW sound system caterwauls like a symphony, I was not quite as pleased as I could have been. Also, I wanted to install a Compact Disc changer, (BMWs Pioneer system was not available at the time). In May 1988, I took my iX to a Dallas car- audio specialist and in three days and several thousand dollars later drove my iX back to Arlington with a 10 disc CD changer, cassette deck, AM-FM receiver, Boston Acoustic speakers where the BMW speakers once were, dual KEF sub woofers and 400 watts. It is all remote controlled and marvelous! A CD changer is the way to go if you are as much of an Audiophile as I am.

In 1989 1 moved to Denver for a career change and hopes that I could have some fun with the iX in the snow. The P600's worked quit well as an all season tire, but at about 40,000 miles were starting to give up their grip, particularly in the rain. I made the mistake of installing what I thought would be a killer tire, the Yokohama A509 225/50ZR15. These tires were great on dry pavement, but very lousy in rain and snow. The inside edges wore down quickly, probably due to the extra width of the tires (on standard iX wheels) and compounded by the normal camber settings that BMW has for the iX. My advice -- don't stray from tire sizes that BMW recommends, unless of course you perform several suspension modifications and/or install after-market wheels. I think even a "Z" rated tire should go 25,000 miles, but with only 16,000 miles (and one driving school) my A509's were trashed.

I installed a set of B.P. Goodrich Comp TA 205/50ZR15's and they made the ix drive a bit easier, however I had some problems with wheel balancing and the car had a strange pull to the left. I had the alignment checked and even installed new HD gas Boge shocks, but this did not correct the pulling problem. At the time the Goodrich tires were installed, I noticed while they were on the balance machine that my wheels had fallen prey to "Pot Hole Syndrome". I took my iX to Denver's C-D Wheel Company and in a few hours C-D Wheel removed, straightened and reinstalled the wheels.

I continued to have tire pulling problems, so I went back to the tire store. They checked the balance and found that one tire required an excessive amount of weight to balance, so they replaced that tire with a new one. After about 500 miles I could no longer live with the annoyance of the car pulling, so I had the tire store replace the Goodrich tires with Michelin XGT-14 205/55VR15. This tire makes the iX more enjoyable to drive since the ride quality and steering response had been returned to normal and the pulling is gone. I guess I got a hold of some bad rubber in the Goodrich tires.

Another thing about wheel/tire combinations -- the offset of the iX wheel is greater than that of a two wheel drive version, so they are more susceptible to bent rims. I recommend that a biyearly check of your wheels be done and if necessary, "true" them to keep the "balance" of the car in sync. This procedure is not very expensive ($180.00 complete) when you compare this to the cost of a new iX wheel from the parts department at about $500.00.

This year I purchased a used set of iX wheels (one was damaged by the curb monster). I had all four wheels repaired and trued as required, painted them Alpine white (no polishing this time) and install the "ULTIMATE" snow tire, the Bridgestone Blizzak 195/60-15. I have not yet experienced driving the Blizzaks in heavy snow, but I will summarize the event in a future article.

I conclude by stating that if you buy a "Z" rated ultra high performance tire, you should drive ultra performance wise, (and don't expect long life with the mark of Zoro). If you want all around performance with good wet weather yet still maintaining good cornering stability, then maybe a "V" rated tire is for you. To coin a phrase "You will always give-up something to get something else" and in buying tires this is very true, but only the driver and the type of driving that is expected can determine that.

And speaking of rear windows shattering: on January 7, 1994 while having my rear defroster on for no more than 10 minutes, I heard a loud "pop". Low and behold my rear glass was in a zillion pieces. Thanks to window tint, the glass stayed in the frame without getting all over the car. I had the window replaced, but I did bring it to the attention of BMW's customer service. I am still waiting for an answer on this situation. I have known several owners of 1987 and 1988 325's that have had this happen to them. I truly believe that there is a problem with the glass with or without the defroster on."

Nick Yotz of Enumclaw, Washington provides the following info on oil sensors and remote oil filters:

Nick has added a VDO oil pressure gauge and voltmeter to his 325iX and his 635. He recommends VDO "Cockpit" style gauges: oil pressure #350-040, oil sensor #360-023, voltmeter #332-041 and mounting bracket #240-803. This bracket is mounted just above the driver's left knee on the lower left instrument panel trim. It holds both gauges and, with slight modification, a warning light which comes with the remote oil filter described below. Five wires are required, so Nick used a six-wire connector on the back side of the panel so the panel can be removed if necessary.

Connecting the oil pressure sensor into the existing location of the idiot light sensor is nearly impossible because of limited access due to the engine mount. The remote oil filter system which Nick recommends has the required connections for a pressure sensor. This system is manufactured by Oberg Enterprises of Everett, WA (206-353-2595) and features a filter screen which can be cleaned and never wears out. This system is approved by the FAA for use in light aircraft. The 400 Series (with light switch) from Oberg is perfect for the iX and can be mounted on the inside fender behind the ignition coil. Nick is very pleased with this installation and says that this system and the warning light which indicates when the filter starts to be clogged saved him an engine replacement on his 635 after an oil pump replacement. This sounds like an excellent investment if you have any concerns about keeping your lubrication system in peak condition.

(Ed. Note: Thanks, Tim and Nick, for sharing these items with us.)

iXing on the Ice

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the BMW CCA has been sliding around on Georgetown Lake at an elevation of 8000 ft. for our annual Icekhana for nearly a decade now but, this year's event was probably the most enjoyable for participants of all the events we've held. (Particularly for me with the fast time of day.) We've been pretty fortunate with the weather in the past, but never has it been absolutely perfect as it was this year. At some past events the wind has blown hard enough to move the cones across the lake. Other years it has been bitterly cold. But this year the temperature was in the 50's and there was virtually no wind. Of course, the warm temperature created a thin layer of water on top the ice which made for very, very slippery conditions.

Talk about low friction surfaces! Some of the participants driving rear drive vehicles with non-snow tires found it almost impossible to navigate the course, getting stuck in the middle of the lake. The new 3-series vehicles were really a challenge. Even the left foot braking oversteer recovery techniques for rear drive vehicles discussed below in the "Winter Driving School" was not effective because of the ABS. A set of Blizzaks or studded Hakkapeliittas on all four wheels of these models seem absolutely essential if one needs to venture out in snowy conditions. But what else is new? Winter traction has never been a BMW strength. I remember such frustrations in my 2002 with regular street tires.

I guess that's why "iXing" seems such a pleasure. Haven't you jumped in your iX not out of necessity in the middle of a snowstorm and headed out to your favorite road to practice and appreciate your iX's capabilities? Traction control is very effective in precluding slides and spins, but as I've noted before, there is nothing like putting full power down on the slickest of surfaces and seeing two-wheel-drive vehicles, Jeeps and other wide-tired 4x4s shrink in the rear view mirror. It seems that BMW will eventually bring the new 5-series into the U.S. with four-wheel drive, but until then, the iX stands alone. Of course as iX owners you know that, but if you really want to appreciate your iX, drive an ordinary vehicle "again for the first time" on an icy road.

The weather on the day of our Icekhana was so beautiful, many travelers on I-70 stopped to enjoy the Colorado sunshine, talk to the ice fishermen and see what these crazy people were doing with their vehicles on the ice. Even a large herd of Rocky Mountain sheep looked down upon us, perhaps with sympathy for our struggles to be as sure footed on the ice as they are on the rocky snow-covered hillside. We received a lot of comments. One couple visiting from Alabama couldn't believe it. They had never seen anything like this event, with vehicles slipping and sliding on the ice. Numerous people wanted to participate on the spot but we only could give them a CCA application and welcome them to join us next year. Then there was the "seen-it-all-before" perspective of the couple from Minnesota who couldn't believe that we actually had to pay to rent the lake! I suppose that whole state is an ice course this time of year. I'm sure our Minnesota members have some interesting iXperiences to share. Let it snow and let's go "iXing".

Winter Driving School

Two years ago, Bev gave me a fantastic present -- the full two day Winter Driving School at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, featured in the December '91 Roundel . Unlike the ice on the Georgetown Lake which is extremely slippery, this course is held on a snow packed track on the side of a hill which is very representative of adverse road conditions which one might experience in winter driving. The front straight allows speeds of about 60 mph. Elsewhere on the course are an agonizingly slow series of tight turns and a 35 mph circular skid pad on the side of the hill. We students drove their Jeep vehicles which included rear and 4 wheel drive Cherokees, front and 4 wheel drive Summits and front and AWD Talons, including the 190 hp TSi which I drove at every opportunity. We were encouraged to push the vehicles to the limits of traction and not to worry about sliding into the soft snowbanks. With perfect weather (light snow) and 1-2 inches of powder on the course, we headed into a great weekend. I knew that the iX was extremely competent and forgiving on the snow and that some of the techniques would not be applicable to iX driving, but I was excited to learn all I could about vehicle control with a variety of vehicles. And occasionally, I must drive an ordinary two wheel drive vehicle.

Saturday, we concentrated on familiar driving school themes such as being smooth, braking in a straight line, and taking the proper line through turns. (If you haven't participated in you local chapter's driving school, you really are missing an opportunity to have a really fun time and improve your driving skills.) We also covered three rules of winter driving which are counter to instinctive reaction:
These and other correct reactions make sense, given a few basic principles which apply in all driving conditions, but which are particularly applicable on slippery surfaces:
We practiced several maneuvers which demonstrated these principles. First was emergency braking in vehicles without ABS. We were taught to moderately apply and release the brakes about once a second. (Threshold braking as we teach in our chapter driving schools is not very effective or easy because the driver cannot hear the tires start to lock up on the snow as one can on dry pavement.) By releasing the brakes enough to allow the wheels to resume rotation, directional stability and steering can be maintained between lockups. This technique is the manual equivalent to the functioning of ABS.

We then practiced recovery from oversteer situations in which the rear end of the vehicle tries to come around due to lack of traction. You have experienced this situation and know to "steer in the direction of the skid." If this situation was induced due to excessive throttle, the driver must lift off the throttle and expect the rear end to come around even more because of the transfer of weight to the front tires and off the rear tires. If this situation arises when the throttle is only lightly applied, the driver can probably save the situation by adding slightly more throttle in addition to steering into the skid. Both of these reactions are not instinctive and require practice.

In an understeer situation, the vehicle refuses to turn and plows to the outside of the turn. This is a typical characteristic of front and four wheel vehicles, including the iX. The instinctive reaction is to lift off the throttle and turn the steering wheel even more. Lifting one's foot off the throttle is the correct reaction because this transfers weight to the front tires and makes them more effective in turning the vehicle. However, the other proper reaction is to unwind the steering wheel slightly to straighten the front wheels. This allows them to start rotating again and affect the vehicle direction rather than simply allowing the vehicle to plow straight ahead. (Installing a stiff rear sway bar reduces this trait.)

One exercise was particularly useful in demonstrating this technique. First we insured that we slowed in a straight line and then turned the steering wheel a little more than you might otherwise expect. By turning in a little extra at the start of the turn, the wheel can be unwound slightly through the turn. This avoided an understeer situation in which the instinctive reaction is to crank in more and more steering.

We also practiced handbrake turns in which the rear wheels are locked up to cause the rear end to slide around through a tight turn. This is particularly useful on front wheel drive vehicles at higher speeds when the driver stays on the throttle and causes the vehicle to rotate by slowing the rear wheels with the handbrake and causing them to slide. This technique is only effective in a limited way on four wheel drive vehicles because the use of the handbrake tends to slow all four wheels.

On Sunday, we learned and practiced left foot braking techniques in which the right foot applies throttle and the left foot applies the brake lightly to accomplish different things depending on the type of vehicle. One of the few drawbacks of ABS is that these techniques (which require locked wheels or wheels which are turning at different rates due to braking) are not very effective. On a front wheel drive , left foot braking can be used to induce oversteer in the same way that the handbrake is used. Entering a sweeping turn, the driver stays on the throttle and gradually applies the brake with the left foot. Vehicle speed is maintained and there is no abrupt transfer of weight to the front tires caused by lifting off the throttle. The rear wheels tend to slow their rotation and cause the rear end to slide sideways. The amour of resulting oversteer can be easily controlled by the amour of pressure on the brake and throttle. Once the driver is sure of making the turn, the brake can be released and the car will accelerate out of the turn.

On a rear wheel drive, left foot braking can be used for just the opposite effect: to induce understeer. (Unfortunately on late model BMWs this technique is not effective due to the ABS. On the rear drive Cherokee and on several Volvos I drove this year on the lake at Georgetown, however, it was incredibly useful.) Consider the following situation on a rear drive car. The rear end has broken loose and is sliding in an oversteer situation. To recover quickly, the driver stays on the throttle to keep the rear wheels turning but applies the brakes to slow or lock the front wheels. The rear wheels which continue to turn straighten the vehicle very quickly as the front wheels slide. I know this sounds strange,but you'll be amazed at how effective this is when you practice this with a non-ABS rear drive vehicle.

On the four wheel drive Cherokee we used left foot braking to effectively and undramatically slow the vehicle in a turn and to tighten the radius of the turn. When the vehicle on the skid pad was just starting to slide outward due to lack of traction, a light application of the left foot to the brake while staying on the throttle slowed the vehicle without the abrupt and unsettling weight transfer which would have occured if the right foot were lifted from the throttle and used for braking. The front of the vehicle undramatically tucked in slightly to decrease understeer and restore balance and control.

I've had some success with these technique on the iX, and I am still learning. I encourage you to do as I do -- take every opportunity to experiment with the incredible capabilities of you iX so that in an emergency situation you know how your vehicle will respond and how you should respond. As we quickly learn in our driving schools and racing experiences, the performance of our vehicles is more likely limited by the driver than the vehicle itself. Practice can be very rewarding and a lot of fun. Enjoy!

Questions and Answers

Several of you have asked about the factory steel wheels for winter use on the iX. These are 6Jx14H2 wheels of unique design to provide clearance for the calipers on the iX. Ask your dealer for BMW part number 36 11 1 701 137. The small hub caps (about 4 inches in diameter) for these wheels as seen on the bottom right hand side of page 52 of the October '93 Roundel are held in place by the lug nuts and are part number 36 13 1 129 771. The trim rings shown are from Checker Auto and required just a small amour of straightening to fit into the factory steel wheels. If you know where to get a used set of these wheels, call me and I'll pass the info on to interested members or place a classified advertisement.

Nick Yotz of Enumclaw, WA, asks why "Oktoberfest" is not held in October. In planning for Oktoberfest '89 at Keystone, CO, we chose July/August as a time when people from all over the U.S. could travel with their families and also not be concerned with weather problems. Had we chosen October, few families could have enjoyed the Colorado mountains in prime time with their families. At over 9000 ft. elevation, October weather can be very unpredictable and often more suitable for our iX's than for traditional autocross, driving school and concour-prepared rear driven BMWs. I guess mid summer is simply a convenient time for enthusiasts to congregate and enjoy their automobiles and each other's company. Nick also points out that the January 1994 Roundel suggests a cure for bright bulbs for high and low beams.

Tips & Tidbits

Tom Williams wrote an excellent article, "A Bimmer For All Seasons" for the October '93 Zundfolge , newsletter of the Puget Sound Region of the BMW ACA. David Lightfoot, editor of that publication in Seattle (206-282-2641) would probably be pleased to provide a copy to you if you are interested.

Nick Yotz recommends Peter Pan Motors (1-800-346-9077) as a good, fast efficient source of parts with a 25% discount to CCA members. He also points out that the trunk lid is already cut for the addition of a second trunk light, part number 65 14 9 056 554.

James Holland of Wilamette, IL, recommends use of REDLINE MTL (Manual Transmission Lube advertised in the Roundel ) to cure stiff transmission and linkage woes in cold weather. (Ed. Note: James, I concur with your tip. I've used MTL in several vehicles for the same reason with the same good results.)


Time to replace your P600's? State-of -the-art all-season non-snow tire options include the following:

I've been mail ordering tires from the Tire Rack (800-428-8355, Indiana) and euro-tire (800-631-0080, New Jersey) since 1975. I've been extremely satisfied and have never had any problem. The euro-tire catalog has an excellent tire conversion size table that I use regularly and have included excerpts below. This chart, for example, allows you to determine that a 205/55-15 is 1.2% smaller in diameter and has a tread that is 0.15 inches wider than a 195/60-15. Close enough -- both are acceptable for the iX.

                          TIRE SIZE COMPARISON

                 (in.)             (in.)            (in.)            (lb.)

STOCK SIZES (recommended by BMW)

   205/55x15    7.87             23.90           5 1/2 - 7 1/2     1140  
   195/60x14    7.72             24.21             5 1/2 - 7       1170


   185/70x14     7.32            24.57           5 - 6 1/2         1155
   195/70x14     7.76            25.04           5 1/2 - 7         1280
   195/60x14     7.72            23.23           5 1/2 - 7         1135
   205/60x14     7.99            23.70         5 1/2 - 7 1/2       1180
   185/65x15     7.28            24.45           5 - 6 1/2         1145
   195/65x15     7.72            25.00           5 - 6 1/2         1145
   205/60x15     7.99            24.68         5 1/2 - 7 1/2       1280
   225/50x15     8.78            23.90            6 - 8            1230
   205/55x16     7.99            24.88         5 1/2 - 7 1/2       1150
   225/50x16     8.78            24.88            6 - 8            1300
   215/45x17     8.58            24.80           7 1/2 - 9         1120

I personally do not recommend using 225/50-15  -- depending on the wheel, 
they may rub and they will cause excessive wandering in road ruts.  
Also, If you've visited the iX FAQ page you probably know that wheels that fit the standard E30
 do not necessarily fit the iX because of clearance problems with the front calipers.

                    iX Wheel Offset 

SIZE	    OFFSET      TYPE (Factory Wheels)      Part No.
6Jx14H2      47mm       (steel rim)                1701 137       
6.5x14       45mm       (alloy cross-spoke)
7Jx15H2      41mm       (alloy cross-spoke)        1179 140
TRX365x150   47mm       (alloy TRX)


I recall seeing a picture of a Corvette with license plate "IXLR8". For an iX in the snow, "iXLR8" would be apropos!

Using BMW's terms, the chassis type of your iX is "E30" and the Engine is an "M20/2.5."


Skimming through my factory Quick Reference Guides, I note that the following items are unique to the iX (different from the 325i and 325iC): oil pump, oil pan, coolant expansion tank small hose, header and catalytic converter, front bracket for a manual transmission, clutch pressure plate, front brake caliper seals (front rotors are the same), rear rotor, master brake cylinder, wheels, steering rack, almost all steering system pressure hoses, steering cooling tube, oil cooler and hoses (nonexistent on the regular E30), tie rod assembly, entire front suspension, rear stabilizer bar, rear springs and shocks, cooling fan switch, oil pressure sensor (same as 318 & M3), radiator, engine mounts, DME engine control module, ABS controller, manual and automatic transmission, transfer case (aka auxiliary transmission) and front differential of course, rear differential, and body trim pieces. Anybody know of any other differences?

325 Recall

BMW has issued RECALL CAMPAIGN NO. 93V-015 for 1984-1993 3-Series automobiles. I just got a notice for my '88 in the mail. The recall involves possible cracks in the heater core that may spew hot coolant on the driver's legs when the cooling system is under high pressure. Correction involves the addition of a thermostatic bypass valve in the engine compartment to control (reduce) coolant temperature in the heater core and the replacement of the radiator cap with a new design. Modifications are expected to require about one hour and are free of charge. Late in 1993 I asked about this mod for our '89, but the local dealer claimed that no recall was in effect. It could be that BMW is fixing older models first which is reasonable. Expect notification from BMW soon or if BMW does not have you registered as a 3-Series owner, ask your dealer about this recall.
Call Gordon for info from the 325iX Factory Repair or Electrical Troubleshooting Manuals