iXchange Issue #22

April 1999

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


Future iXchange Issues on the Web?
Replacing Shocks & Lower Control Arms
Replacing Instrument Light Bulbs 4
Half-shaft Replacement 4
Catalytic Converter--iX Unique 5
Hard Starting--a simple fix 5
Painting an iX 5
Brake Upgrades 6
My New iX & Other iXperiences 7


Future iXchange Published on the Web?

Editor's note: With the growth of the iX Registry to around 250 members, it has become more and more of an effort to publish and mail the iXchange . I am considering publishing issues of the iXchange only on the Web at some time in the future. Many of you have paid for a printed version of our newsletter through issue #25, so I will plan to issue at least 4 more hardcopy versions. After that, I may post the newsletter and photos on the Web at no cost (a password that I'll provide may be required.) I'd notify members via e-mail that an update has been made. I know that some of you do not have access to the Web, but since that is the wave of the future, and the future is now, I believe this is the reasonable thing to do. Please let me know what you think (e-mail: ghaines@epol.com).

BTW--as you know I maintain the Website for BMW CCA at www.bmwcca.org. We continue to get an average of 12 new members a day via credit card from the Website. Pretty amazing, huh?


Replacing Shocks and Lower Control Arms

by Paul Reitz of Palmyra, PA
Even after reviewing a number of previous articles and the workshop manual on these procedures, I was still uncertain about whether I should undertake these repairs myself. No one addressed doing both jobs together, and a few important details were missing. So, foregoing debate on brands, here are tips on how to successfully do the job - things I wish I had known before starting.

It took most of a weekend, but I was able to do the entire process at home. With the previously published procedures and these tips, you can make an informed decision. The total cost, including shipping, was just about $1000. And yes, the car drives like new!
Diagnosing the situation By 79k miles our '91 iX had a front-end clunk going over bumps, and seemed to wander on-center. Both outer ball joint rubber boots had split. With the front wheels off the ground, I could see movement of the outer ball joints as the wheels were wiggled; the left joint actually clunked. The tie rod ends were in surprisingly good shape - good feel and only superficial cracks in the rubber boots. They weren't replaced, as they can easily be done independently.

I replaced the control arms, and front and rear shocks, rotors and pads. Bekkers supplied OE BMW control arms at $179 ea., although the rubber bushings aren't included. I wondered why they weren't already on the new arms, but it turns out that they can't be (read on). They and all other parts were ordered from Eurasian.

I used Bilstein shocks. The fronts, unique to the iX, come with a new rubber boot as well as retaining collar and shock rod lock nut. The rear shocks are the same as other 3-series', and the protective plastic tube gets re-used. ATE has inexpensive gas-slotted front rotors; the pads were Metalmasters.

Lock nuts should be replaced; they're sold by bolt diameter, not wrench size. Here's what was needed:

Qty Bolt Dia. Wrench Where Used 
6  8 mm  13 mm shock tower mount
2 10 mm 17 mm tie rod ends
2 12 mm 19 mm shock rod nut (included)
4 14 mm 22 mm control arm joints
Consumables: medium strength (blue) threadlocker,
"approved lubricant" for control arm rubber bushing installation (see text)
brake cleaner,
antisieze compound,
silicone grease (for the ABS sensors),
wheel bearing grease for shock tower bearings.

ITEM             Part No.            Price ea.      Qty

Control Arms     31 121 701 058      $178.00       1
                 31 121 701 060      $178.00       1
Bushing Set      31 10 1 130 503     $ 39.95       1  (stock iX)
or Alternative   31 12 9 069 035     $ 70.00       1  (stiffer E36 M3 bushings)

Front Shock     Bilstein PS6-0251    $101.00       2
Rear Shock      Bilstein PS6-2028    $ 66.00       2

Front Rotor     ATE 240322-0122.1    $40.95        2
Rear Rotor      Zimmerman 150 126 00 $32.95        2

Tools needed Tools were the key to many of the tasks, but because some can be done different ways, it's important to understand the tasks well. You may already have a different tool that will do the job as well. First you'll need a 1/2" drive impact wrench for wheel lugs, axle and control arm inner bolts. Also, a 1/2" drive impact hammer is helpful for separating joints and removing shock retaining collar (mine were air tools and also required a compressor). In addition:

5-1/2" bench vise, two 1/8" thick x 3"x3" flat steel plates, and a short ( 10 mm) length of 2-1/2" ID steel pipe (or equiv.) - press control arm bushings into their brackets
ball joint separator tool - remove control arm rubber bushings
30 mm impact socket - axle nut
22 mm open-end wrench - outer ball joint nuts
19 mm 1/2" drive deep socket,
8 mm 1/4" drive socket, square to hex adapter and hex drive handle - used with socket 7) and a
10" pipe wrench - remove/install shock rod nut
13, 17, and 19 mm sockets - various bolts
5 mm hex wrench - ABS sensors and rotor bolt
7 mm hex wrench rear brake pad removal
a wood splitting wedge and hammer - separate control arm outer ball joint
spring compressor
torque wrench - axle nut, wheel bolts, others
sabre saw with metal cutting blade recover control arm bushing bracket
wood or plastic mallet - lock plate installation, general frustration therapy
hub puller to remove axle ($22, J. C. Whitney # 12 KE5996P)
electric drill remove axle nut lock plate

Abbreviated Procedure: Here is the approach taken for all the front end tasks:
remove axle lock plate, loosen wheel bolts and axle nut,
jack car up, remove wheel bolts and axle nut
disconnect control arm, tie rod, stabilizer rod, caliper and ABS sensor from strut
pull strut hub off axle, remove strut from car
compress spring, replace shock, clean and repack shock tower bearing
disconnect control arm inner guide joint and rear mounting bracket; remove control arm
recover control arm mounting bracket, and press new bushing into bracket
reinstall strut, insert axle and nut, snug but not torqued, fasten tie rod end and stabilizer rod
reattach new control arm at inner and outer ball joints
install new rotor, caliper, new pads, new wear sensor and ABS sensor
reinstall wheels, lower car partially, snug bolts
install bushings/brackets on control arms, bolt brackets to frame rails
lower car completely, torque axle nuts, insert new lock plates, torque wheel lugs

Strut and control arm tips To remove the axle locking plate, drill a hole through it and insert a sheet metal screw to jack the plate out. Drill the flat area near one of the locking indents, toward the outer edge, to avoid the axle nut. To install the new lock plate, drive it into position with the 30 mm socket and a mallet.

Remove the rust in the exposed ball joint and tie rod end threads before separating the joints. Apply WD-40 and run a (preferably, a non-locking) nut up and down over these threads several times until the nut moves freely. This way the nut will come off easily after the joint is separated, without risk of wringing the joint back together. (Need to ask how I know?) Due to lack of clearance, the outer control arm ball joint nut has to be loosened with an open-end wrench (22 mm) unless you're willing to grind a box wrench to fit. As William Buckwalter noted in his article on CV joints (#15 p. 5), the outer ball joint can be separated by driving a large chisel (I used a wood splitting wedge) between the control arm joint and strut. The inner joints will come right apart. Tie rod joints were separated by applying the impact hammer to the strut near the joint. WD-40, a hammer, time and patience are the alternative. Wear ear protectors.

I bought a nice quality hub puller but only needed it on one side. The other side inadvertently separated while I was "popping" the outer ball joint. I can't prove the difference was due to having sprayed the splines of this side with WD-40 and waiting an hour or two, but it apparently didn't hurt. Clean the splines on the axle and in the hub, and they'll go right back together. To get the impact wrench and 22 mm deep socket on the inner ball joint nut on the driver's side, remove the air filter box. On the passenger's side, a 10 inch long 1/2" drive extension (6" might have worked) was also needed to use the impact wrench. The socket on a 1/2" drive ratchet would fit, but I couldn't muster the strength to loosen the nut in the limited space.

The assortment of special tools shown in the factory manual for changing the control arm rubber bushing is scary, but with improvisation only a few simple tools are actually needed. First, you must recover the bushing mounting bracket from the old control arm. I removed the bushing and bracket together, using the ball joint separator as a wedge between the bushing and the wider part of the arm. As the gap increases, add the 22 mm open-end wrench as a spacer. Use a sabre saw to make one or two cuts through the outer metal ring of the old bushing, from in between the rings, but don't cut into the bracket. This avoids having to press the old bushing out. As a shortcut, you could just do this latter step with the bushing still on the control arm, and leave the old bushing in place.

I pressed the new bushing into the mounting bracket by placing both between two flat steel plates in a bench vise. You could also use three or more long bolts and nuts to draw the plates together. Lube with WD-40 before pressing. The bushing is thicker than the bracket and needs to be centered in it, so at some point it is necessary to back up the bracket with a steel cylinder to finish the press. I found a metal object that worked, but suggest a 1/2" length of 2-1/2" ID steel pipe.

Putting the bushing/mounting bracket onto the control arm with a lubricant must be the final reassembly step in order for the bushings to self-align to a strain-free position. This compensates for all mechanical tolerances, and is the reason they're not already on a new control arm. The realignment can only occur with the car in its normal position, and before the assembly lubricant dries, about 15 minutes.

I was concerned about how to install the bushings and what lubricant to use. A mechanic suggested Palmolive dishwashing liquid for both purposes. I first tried this with the control arm off the car, and could easily push the bushing on using my weight, and slip it off again. But on my back under the car was a different story. I had just enough strength to push the bushing onto the control arm without tools.

Plan B would be to fashion a puller with a length of strong steel wire, a pair of 2 to 3" long eyelet bolts (1/4" dia or less), with nuts and two large diameter washers. Put the eyelet bolts through the two gaps between the bushing's metal rings, and run the wire through a control arm lightening hole, securing each end on one of the eyelets without slack. Use the nuts with washers to pull the bushing onto the arm. As soon as both bushings are installed, bolt the brackets to the frame rails, lower the car completely, and let it sit for half an hour.

Front shock replacement tips To remove the shock rod nut, prevent the rod from rotating by clamping it, or by holding it with the 8 mm socket. Put the socket and 1/4" square to hex adapter on the shock rod hex, then the 19 mm deep socket on the shock rod nut. The hex adapter should protrude through the 19 mm socket drive hole. Attach a drive handle to the adapter to hold the rod, and loosen or tighten the shock rod nut by rotating the 19 mm socket with a pipe wrench. This prevents the new rubber bellow from twisting when you install the shock.
The impact hammer was perfect for removing the rusted shock retaining collars. Previously I used a pipe wrench, but as others have noted, the collar flange rusts so badly there isn't enough metal left to grip. Aim the impact hammer with circular tool downward on top of the nut, and angle the impact counterclockwise. In less than 10 seconds the nut was off. A chisel and hammer would probably work, but not as quickly or easily.

For some reason, BMW and Bilstein do not recommend using oil in the strut housing for single-tube gas pressure shocks. While the strut is apart, clean, inspect and re-lube the shock tower bearings. Spray brake cleaner into the bearing from the top (clean) side; this removes the caked grease and washes the dirt away from the bottom side. Re-lube from the bottom with wheel bearing grease.

Rear shock and brake tips Due to the iX's ground clearance, rear shock removal is practically trivial - it doesn't even require a jack. The top of the shock can be unbolted either via the two rubber bearing mount nuts, or the single shock rod nut. However, the former is probably easier and allows close inspection of the shock mount, which is supposedly prone to failure. With gas shocks, the tendency of the rod to fully extend requires the shock to be jacked up to align the lower mounting point.
When replacing the rear rotor, removing the pads first (7 mm hex wrench) frees access to the caliper retainer bolts.


Replacing Instrument Light Bulbs by Rob Brady of Houston, TX. (revised from the BMW Digest.)

1) Unclip the knee-level cover that starts below the steering column and goes down towards the pedals. It is held in place by 3 plastic tabs and one screw that holds the cover to the steering column.
2) Look under the dash and find two knurled aluminum nuts that are screwed into studs. The studs are connected to either end of the plastic trim panel that goes below the instrument cluster (IC) and behind the steering column. Unscrew the two knurled nuts from behind the panel. Be careful with the right nut it just might drop right into the center console gaps and will send you on a fishing expedition into the center console. Remove the plastic trim panel. It can be forced out from behind the steering column without breaking the two tabs on the panel. This will expose 4 mounting screws that hold the bottom of the IC to the dashboard.
3) Remove the 2 short chrome Phillips screws in the middle and 2 very long black ones on the ends that were behind the panel.
4) Remove the 2 medium length black Phillips screws that hold the top of the IC trim in place.
5) Remove the IC trim.
6) Unscrew the 2 medium length black Phillips screws that hold top the cluster to the dashboard.
7) Remove the 2 bulb sockets for the check engine light and ABS light that just pull out of the IC.
8) Wiggle the IC out of its position (top first) just far enough to disconnect the IC from the wiring harnesses. With a screwdriver you pry loose the black clip on top of each big wiring harnesses connector and the connector is easily removed from the IC. Try to remember where all the connectors go. Especially the two hole connector with one wire which is the only one that fits multiple sockets. This wire gives the speedometer signal to the cruise control unit. It is in the center of the IC and I reinstalled mine in the socket closest to the steering wheel.
9) Now turn the steering wheel to around 10 o'clock position. This will provide just enough room to wiggle the unplugged IC out of the dashboard.
10) Replace the bulb and re-assemble. My recollection is that the bulbs that light up the speedometer and tachometer are #192. All of the other smaller bulbs are #74 (available from Pep Boys.)

Front Wheel Drive Half-Shaft Removal by Ken Warnock of Essex, MA

I've been talking with Jim Tussey ('89 iX, Caro, MI) on changing his iX front wheel bearings. I've listed below a Haynes-based, self-edited version of the procedure for your records and/or future use. Haynes seems to have iX- specific stuff that the Bentley 3-series manual does not carry.

Note: A number of special tools are required to perform this operation. Use the BMW factory numbers given to shop for these from factory sources, or to cross-reference similar tools that may be available in the aftermarket. Use 33 4 050 and 00 5 500 to drive in a new lockplate for the brake disc. The tie rod can be pressed off with 342 2 070. Control arms are pressed off with 31 2 160. Use 33 2 112 and 33 12 113 to press the output shafts out of the brake discs and 33 2 112, 33 2 124 to press them back in. On the left side, the output shaft is pulled out of the drive axle with 31 5 011 and 30 31 581. On the right side, 31 5 011 and 31 5 012 are used to pull the output shaft out of the differential.


1. Loosen the lug nuts on the front wheels. Raise the car and support it securely. Remove the front wheels. Remove the drain plug and drain the lube oil from the front differential.
2. Lift out the lockplate in the center of the brake disc with a screwdriver. Then, unscrew the collar nut (NOTE: THIS REQUIRES A 30mm SOCKET. CHECK THAT THIS IS ON HAND BEFORE ATTEMPTING)
3. Remove the self-locking nut from each tie rod and press the tie rod off. A few good whacks on the side of the control arm with a large hammer may help to loosen the rod end if the factory tool is unavailable.
4. Remove the locknut and press the control arm off the steering knuckle.
5. Mount the factory tools listed above or a hub puller to the brake disc using the wheel bolts. Press the output shaft out of the center of the strut housing/wheel bearing. Repeat for other side of car.
6. Left hand axle removal: Install special tool 31 5 011 by bolting it together around the axle to that the ring on its inner diameter fits into the groove on the shaft. Install 30 31 581 onto the shaft so it will rest against the housing and the bolt heads of 31 5 011 will rest against it. Screw the two bolts in alternately in small increments to maintain even pressure on the shaft, pulling it out of the differential.
7. Right hand axle removal: Install special tool 31 5 012 on the diameter of the shaft directly against the housing. 31 5 011 by bolting it together around the axle to that the ring on its inner diameter fits into the groove on the shaft. Screw the two bolts in alternately in small increments to maintain even pressure on the shaft, pulling it out of the differential.


1. the shafts into the differential until the circlip inside engages in the groove of the shaft (Note: this implies to me that the inner CV joints on the axle are a snap fit into the differential, much as the bolted-together drive flanges on the rear axles are also snap-ins. You may be able to fab a means to pry these out without damaging the CV boots or joint- try one of the gear pullers that consists of two collar halves with "blades" and use it to grab the above-mentioned shaft groove ) It may be necessary to install the removal tool and tap against it with a plastic headed hammer to drive the shaft far enough into the housing.
2. Before installing the axle through the front wheel bearing, coat with light oil or molybdenum disulfide.
3. When installing the control arms and the tie rods to the steering knuckle , torque to 61.5 ft-lbs and use a new cotter pin/self locking nut.
4. Torque the axle nut to 181 ft-lbs. Drive a new lockplate into the brake disc.


Catalytic Converter Replacement contributed by Mehrdad Hadighi of Buffalo, NY.

1. The catalytic is different for an IX than other E30s.
2. A Canadian company that makes a very nice aftermarket catalytic with 5-year warranty that claims it to be IX specific. It is not--it does not fit an IX.

As a result of the above you might guess what happened. I had the whole system out, and no catalytic to put back in, so I had to get very creative with my own catalytic which was in perfect shape except for the expansion chamber (the spring metal part) which had separated. Nothing that a few hours of machining and fitting could not fix.


Hard Starting--a simple fix by Kevin Quinlivan of Buffalo, NY.

I still had problems with starting my car especially after It had been turned over successfully for a brief time seconds before. Got all sorts of bad advice from the BMW shops in town After replacing the main gas tank relay switch for $400, my neighbor, an executive for Towne Bmw, saw me struggling to start again my BMW one morning and simply asked how old the battery...being 5 yrs old ...he simply suggested I replace it. He claims that the old battery may be so drained starting the car that the electronics do not get enough JUICE to keep the engine running....then the engine floods ..and you can not restart... Well it has worked... no further problems....I was about to sell my BMW or pay for another expensive overhaul..it has to be reliable...I am a Physician and I need to start and go...


Radio Replacement by Dave Ritter of Marquette, MI.

There are different versions of the stereo in the iX, as the previous instructions posted by Mark Albert don't seem to apply to my 88 iX. I have found a page which is an excellent reference for those with the '88 "Premium" sound system.

The URL is, <http://infomatch.com/~cbaisley/bmw1.html> This page includes the amp location, wiring pinouts, and many other useful facts for the upgrade. The wiring on my iX is common ground for the speakers between the fader and the amp, so I connected to the speaker wires right after the amp, leaving the stock amp disconnected. I'm no audiofile, but I do believe that the quality of the sound using stock speakers with the new stereo is a big improvement over the stock radio/fader/amp setup.


PAINTING AN iX: (unplanned part II in a series of modifying the AWD bimmer)
-- From Malcolm & Julie Morgan of Larkspur, Calif.

As we mentioned in our last installment, we planned to upgrade and modify our iX in a series of stages, beginning with the brakes, then suspension, interior, lighting, stereo, and ending with the exterior; when our car was attacked and "keyed" on almost every panel. So, in this segment, we divert from the mechanicals and concentrate on the cosmetics...

Any iXers who are contemplating painting their vehicles may want to try what we did to our charcoal black `91: We decided to change the color of the car to contrast with the fender flares and rocker panel skirts of the original black. The engine compartment, trunk and satin black around the windows was left untouched. The remaining portions of the exterior were repainted dark metallic silver.

We finally decided upon Eurocal Auto Body in Santa Rosa, CA. Steve, the owner, walked us through the process, and explained what was involved, where money could be saved, and where it would be worth spending a few extra bucks.

Things have sure come a long ways since the good old days in high school when we used to round up a group of friends, and the proper ratio of 1 six-pack per 1 can of spray paint. Drink a beer, squirt some paint. Drink another beer, squirt some more, and by the wee hours of the morning, we would have a whole new paint job! Of course it helped that the more we drank, the more creative we would get with stripes, flames and the like...

This time there would be no such treatment for this car, this was definitely a job for the professionals. In the end it ended up costing more than most nice used iXes sell for, but with the insurance paying their portion we are glad that we decided to go ahead. I now see why it costs so much to repaint a car... The BIG expense in changing colors comes from the labor involved in painting the door jambs, the sunroof channels, the underside of the hood, decklid, etc. Every removable part is taken off and stripped or set aside. Doors, hood, windows, sunroof, flares, lights, bumpers, etc, all came off and were prepped separately. Better body shops actually use a chemical stripper instead of just sanding, and remove ALL the old paint, primer, etc and then start from bare metal. Luckily for us when all the paint came off, no dents or major bondo was found; Whew!

We chose to go with the more expensive paint ($300 a gallon!) made by Spies- Hecker Inc in Germany instead of the water-based paint that is used on some of the newer BMWs. We also took their advice and had them use a `flex' additive to the paint to reduce the susceptibility to scratches and stone chips. The colors are original BMW Granite Silver & Diamondschwartz Black, which coordinate beautifully together. I would highly recommend other enthusiasts try the two-tone treatment, it really sets the iX apart from the crowd, and turns heads everywhere we go with it. As a finishing touch, I was able to modify a set of factory E30 mud flaps (available from Bavarian Autosport) to keep the new finish from being ruined from flying debris from the tires. So, despite the dubious beginning to this part of the project, for now this story has a happy ending.

And Next: BRAKES -- continued by the Morgans.

As most of you already know, the stock brakes fitted to the iX cars are pretty decent compared to most other cars, but to steal a quote from our fearless leader Satch `Bad Dog' Carlson, "...if it ain't broke, fix it till it is..." So in keeping with that theme, in this installment we examine upgrading the stoppers on our favorite vehicle.

Those wanting to improve brake performance without a complete re-hash of the brake system may want to try what we did to our `91: replace the rotors, pads, flexible hoses, and fluid with newer, better pieces. We finally settled on a set of stock size, cross-drilled aftermarket front discs from Brembo, and drilled rear stock discs from ATE. At the same time we also replaced the old rubber flex hoses with new racing stainless steel hose assemblies. The pads we chose are made by Repco, and sold as `Metal Master Deluxe' they seemed to have the best compromise of all the different pad compounds on the market for the way we will be using our car. (all parts ordered from Bavarian Auto sport approx. $600 for everything)

A few words about changing over to different brake pads: Racing type pads used on a street car can be dangerous! They work great when hot, but in a panic stop situation on the freeway for example, the stopping distance is greatly increased. Conversely, street pads used on the track, or even for spirited street driving will quickly fade and lose their ability to stop at all. Chose your pad material carefully. Changing brake pads on the iX is a simple task and after the first few bloody knuckles, you will be able to do it in no time.

Replacing the discs is straightforward, after removing the wheels, find the two bolts that mount the caliper bracket to the hub, and remove the caliper and bracket as a unit. Be careful not to let the caliper hang from the hose (unless you are also replacing hoses) Make a small hook out of an old coat hangar to hang the caliper on while you work on removing the rotor. Locate the small socket-head screw that retains the disc. Using some penetrating oil and a small punch, tap on the head of the bolt with a hammer and punch to break any rust under the head; if you strip this socket-head screw, you will ruin your whole day. Once the screw is removed, the disc simply slides off. (Remember to release the parking brake on the rear) Being naturally anal, I chose to clean, prep, and paint all the new bits at this time. I found that Krylon hi-heat silver lasts about a year even under severe driving. Hint: if you paint the rotors, quickly wipe the braking surface of the discs with acetone immediately after spraying, this removes the paint only on this surface and keeps the new pads from becoming contaminated.
Replacing the pads is also fairly simple, with the caliper removed from its' mount, the old pads simply pop out, be careful to note the position of the small retaining springs, and don't forget the sheet-metal heat shields stuck on the back of the old pads. Use a small amount of anti-squeal paste on the back of each pad, as well as the front and back of each heat shield. Before the new pads can go in, you must carefully press the piston all the way back into the caliper, (I use an old wood carpenters' clamp) to make room for the new, thicker pads. Here are two things to remember when pressing the pistons back in:

1. Be sure to keep checking the master cylinder fluid level, it may overflow, and remember brake fluid is just like paint remover! 2. Remove only one caliper at a time, or as you press in the piston on one side, if the opposite caliper is just hanging without a disc to clamp onto, it can pop completely out of its' bore, and now you have to wrestle it back in, and then bleed the brakes! Ask me how I know!

When you have installed the new pads and discs, carefully replace the caliper over the disc, and reinstall the caliper bolts gorilla tight. Remember when all 4 brakes are done, you should carefully flush and bleed the system (we do our fluid twice per year) and then proceed with the break-in procedure as follows:

Make 4-5 easy slowdowns from about 20mph down to 5mph, but without stopping completely. Repeat the process slowing 4 - 5 times from 25mph, then again from 30mph. The idea is to gently warm the rotors and seat the pads, then allow the car to sit and the rotors to cool for several hours. This avoids heat shock and warped rotors, which the iX is very prone to get.

Those intrepid iXers who wish to improve performance to the next level should consider upgrading to the stainless steel lines as well. Replacement is a direct swap-out, and except for the inner rear hoses access is easy. For the two inner rear hoses, buy the best quality flare nut wrenches you can find, this is not a place to scrimp. I had to bend one to fit, as the exhaust is right in the way on the drivers' side. Once installed, it is well worth the time spent.

SUMMARY: As in most hot-rod upgrades, whenever you modify or upgrade something, you pay a penalty somewhere else; brakes are no exception. The new cross- drilled rotors run cooler, but all those holes cost a certain amount of breaking surface for the pads to act on. In a single panic stop situation, effective braking distance is actually slightly longer than with an undrilled disc. However, with repeated applications, or even a typical drive in the country, the increased cooling greatly reduces the amount of fade; and as a fringe benefit, wet braking is greatly improved as the holes allow water to escape. I rate this upgrade as a win-win overall, and well worth the price.

WANT MORE? The next level is to do a big brake (spelled "big buck") conversion, and replace the stock rotors and calipers with racing type components. The good folks at Ireland Engineering in LA had some really nice looking pieces in their showroom, 4 piston calipers with vented and slotted heat treated rotors. Jeff, the owner thought he would be able to create a kit for under $2000, and maybe half that for the rears. I already have a set on my Christmas list... one interesting note, at several track sessions with our new setup described above, using a digital pyrometer to check tire and brake temps, the rear discs run hotter than the fronts. Maybe the answer would be to add a small duct to force air into the rotor area, I will address this when I do brake ducts for the front rotors, and will let everyone know what I come up with.

Next project: TIRES AND WHEELS


iXperience--My New iX! by Mark Johnson of Boulder, CO

About a year ago, I decided that if I could find a 4 door, low mileage, 5 speed 325iX, at a reasonable price, I should buy it. I had picked up a 1992 325i, and loved driving it, but living in the foothills of Boulder, it was strictly a nice weather car; I need 4WD where I live. My 4WD pickup has been the main vehicle for quite awhile now, but its in the autumn of its life. I figured that after the winter, there would be all kinds of iXes in the paper. I was also pretty sure that Colorado would be a good place to find an iX. I was right about all of that, but none of the cars I found met all of my requirements. The iXes that I found typically had over 100K miles, were selling for $12K and higher (I wanted to spend around $10K unless the mileage was very low), were automatics, and/or were pretty beat up. And there really were not that many of them to see. By this fall I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably have to find an SUV to replace the truck.

Then in mid November, I had a Hollywood moment. I was reading the paper before going to work one morning, and I was ready a little early, so I checked the used car ads. I hadn't checked them for a couple of weeks. There it was. A red 1989 BMW 325iX, 5 speed, 78,000 miles, leather interior, 4 door, $8500. My first thought was what could be wrong with the car. I looked in the prior day's classifieds, and it wasn't in that paper. The phone number listed also had an extension, so I figured it was the person's work phone. I went to work, and called the number a little after 7:00 am, and left a message that I was interested in the car, on their voice mail. I left a couple more voice mail messages that day, and the next. Finally, a day and a half after seeing the ad, the woman who owned the car called me back, and I arranged to see the car that night (Friday) at 5:30. She told me on the phone, that the car also had a sun roof, an OBC, a dent in the front fender, the radio antenna wouldn't go down, and the glove box had a problem. I thought for the price, I could deal with the problems, so I was pretty excited to see the car. She also told me that I was the first one to whom she was showing the car.

It turned out she lived only a couple of miles from me, so I drove by early, so I could see the car in the daylight. The car I saw at her address had a flat tire, so I knew it wasn't going anywhere soon. The dent in the fender was definitely a dent, but not real obnoxious. The car was dirty outside, but except for the fender, it looked in good shape, and, there was a lot of "stuff" inside. I drove home, and came back at 5:30. By then, it was practically dark. The owner explained to me that she had bought a new Mercedes SUV, and couldn't keep both vehicles. She apologized about the flat, explaining that she had bought new rear tires, and that one of the wheels had a slow leak, and she would have the tire store fix it the next day, and call me so that I could drive it. She also promised that she would detail the car before she sold it. I was able to start the car that night, and it sounded fine to me in the dark. She also promised me that she would not show the car to any of the other people that had called about it (evidently there were a few others) until I got to drive it. That made me feel good, but I also knew that promises can be broken. So, I went home to wait.

I had trouble sleeping that night. Late afternoon the next day, I still had not heard from the owner, so I called her home. I got a hold of her son's nanny, who told me that the owner had been gone all day, and nothing had been done about the tire. I was irritated and sad, but I figured no one else could drive it yet either. The next day, Sunday, I called around 10:30, and I volunteered to put the spare on, so that I could drive the car and make a decision. The Broncos were playing at 2:00 that day, and no matter how excited I was about finding an iX, I didn't want to miss the game. She agreed to let me do that. I changed the tire, drove the car, and agreed to buy the car from her for $8500, putting $1000 down. There were a few more little glitches after that, such as she backed out of detailing the car because she couldn't afford to since she had meant to sell the car for $8900 but put the wrong price in the paper, and didn't understand why I wanted to have the emissions tested (a requirement for licensing in Colorado) before closing the deal, the interior was really vinyl leatherette, and the OBC was just the clock and outside thermometer, the timing belt had never been changed, and the mileage was really 79,500.

As soon as I could make an appointment, I took the car to Bimmerwerks in Broomfield, Co. to get a new timing belt, do an Inspection II, check and grease the front drive shaft. And later replace the RIBE hex hcadbolts with torx headbolts. I got the car detailed, fixed the glove box, cleaned the antenna and put graphite powder on the antenna (that fixed that), bought two new tires so that all four are the same, replaced the hood and trunk roundels, and bought two new wheel caps (the car only came with two). I replaced the NiCad batteries for the Service Indicator and rewired them to the steering column kick panel for the next time they go bad. And $10 for the iX registry. Bimmerwerks says I also need new shocks, front brakes, and a rear muffler. I figure I've added about $1500 to the $8500 purchase price, so I'm where I had budgeted to be for a purchase. After I get the new shocks, brakes and muffler, and fix the dent in the fender, I'll probably be out another $2000. But that still keeps me in the price range of a low mileage, good condition iX. So, I'm pretty happy.

Oh yeah, I finally got to drive the car in some snow this weekend. MOM upside down! Its about 0 degrees this weekend, and light snotty snow everywhere. The roads are so cold, the snow is not melting off. I got up early both days this weekend to avoid the Christmas traffic, and iXed in the snow all over Boulder. Not only did the car handle great, it was so much fun too! I rationalized, when I bought the car, that if I only put 5000 miles a year on the car, the car will have 140,000 miles on it when my daughter turns 16, and it would be a good learning car for her. Well, at least I didn't tell her she would get it with 140K on it. Come to think of it, I didn't tell her I was thinking about giving it to her at all. You know what, she can find her own car.


Other iXperiences - Ken Fehl , Caldonia, WI.

The iXchange has been a great help for me in getting familiar with the car and its common (and sometimes obscure) issues. Here are some I have iXperienced so far:

Water Soaked Carpet Problem - I got the soaked carpet problem when I washed the car for the first time. It seemed like even if the drain tube on the firewall is clear, if you get a hose aimed just right at the cowl vents below the wipers you can end up with water on the inside floor. The car sat in the driveway for a week and I foolishly used the hose to spray off the leaves which had collected in the cowl. The volume of incoming water must have been to much for the drains inside the cowl and water overflowed through the heater ducts to the passenger side front and rear floors. I snipped off about 1/4" of the drain tube on right side of the firewall in the engine compartment to make overflow draining easier and I am now more careful when washing the car to avoid too much water in cowl area. The problem has never returned since.

Weird Electrical Problem - After I first started driving the car regularly I noticed that the instrument panel lights and rear bumper side marker lights were on whenever the ignition was on even with the headlight switch off. I accepted the situation for awhile until one day everything on fuse 23 circuit stopped working. This includes the license plate lights and one tail light, so the faults displayed on the overhead LEDs with the 'check' flashing in the instrument panel. I checked the fuse box and found a blown 30Amp fuse in 23 (should be a 7.5Amp). There was also a jumper from fuse 23 through a 30Amp fuse to fuse 17 (power windows). As a first attempt I tried to put everything back to how it is supposed to be in the fuse box. It resulted in everything working to well - now even with the ignition off and no keys in the ignition, the instrument panel lights, rear side marker and license plate lights all stay on. Pulling out fuse 23 was the only way to turn them off. Being darkest December, this got annoying very fast. I eventually traced the problem to a combination of a bad headlight switch and a "hack job" installation of the aftermarket stereo. I never found out exactly which connection caused the problem since I replaced them both.

My best guess is that whoever installed the stereo mistook the dimmer wire from the headlight switch as a ground since it is ground potential when the switch is off. Then, when the switch went bad, some circuits were backfed power causing them to be on when they were not supposed to be. Anyway, I installed a new headlight switch (~$45.) and took the factory stereo which was left in the trunk to an audio shop to test. The stereo worked fine - only a couple of burned out bulbs were replaced, tape belt replaced, and some circuit cleaning - total about $40. The hack installer of the aftermarket stereo had cut the original connection plugs off of the wires but fortunately left them in the stereo. I spliced the connectors back onto the proper wires and installed the unit.

At first I didn't get any sound out of the left channel so I removed the unit again and used a jeweler's screwdriver to bend the prongs in the unit which contact the plugs closer together to make a tighter contact. Now the factory premium sound system works great and all the lights of the car operate properly. To assist with the original stereo receiver installation and removal, I purchased the BMW factory anti-theft stereo tool from the Ultimate Garage (201-262-0412) for $13.00. One end has the 5-sided Allen wrench for the face plate screws and the other end is a nice thin flat blade for prying up the little covers on the stereo faceplate to expose the screws.

Brake Light Switch - When the weather got below zero in December, occasionally the brake lights would not function while the car was cold and the 'check' light would flash with the brake light fault LED illuminated. I traced the problem to the brake light switch on the brake pedal. It was sticking and got worse when the car was cold. I bought a new switch from the dealer (~$12.00), but when I removed the panel below the steering wheel to install it I noticed it looked different than the original. It appeared as if it was longer and I thought there may be problems with pedal travel. I brought the part back to the dealer and was told the part was changed at some point and was indeed correct. I went back home and installed it and found the dealer was right. There is a red sleeve in the switch in which the plunger travels, and this sleave adjusts to the right length when installed. This cured the problem and maybe can prevent a return trip to the dealer for someone thinking they have been given the wrong part as I did.

Obscure ABS Problem - When I purchased the car the 'Anti-Lock' fault light was illuminated constantly. During the initial servicing of the car I had the ABS protection relay replaced. This reduced the problem from a constant one to being intermittent, but not random. About 20 seconds after starting when cold, the light would come on and remain on unless the ignition was cycled after the car warmed up. I did some hard braking tests to verify that I truly had ABS when the fault light was off and did not have ABS when it was on. Even though I did not suspect either of these, I cleaned the ABS sensors in the brake calipers and inspected the toothed wheels which looked good. My suspicion is that if some thing goes wrong with a sensor or tooth wheel is that the fault would be much more random and occur while driving. Nevertheless I wanted to eliminate them from possibly and see if it changed the symptoms - it did not. Kudos to iXchange issue #7. The service bulletin (34-02-89-1857) which was included in the issue turned out to be the problem. Apparently there was an electrical tolerance problem in a signal between the DME and ABS control unit prior to 5/88. Unfortunately, the adapter harness called out in the bulletin to fix the problem is no longer available. After a lot of bugging of the local dealer, they contacted the regional manager of BMW NA to locate one. After about four weeks they found one in Germany - price $175.00. I had it installed and the problem was cured. The part was expensive, but was worth it to finally get the problem resolved - no more driving while being illuminated by the soft glow of the 'Anti-Lock' light.

OBC Display - In December the display for the On Board Computer went out. A closer look showed the computer was still operating - I could see the correct time/temp displayed when in direct sunlight. Gordon, thanks for your perfect instructions in issue #18 for replacing the OBC light bar - they worked to the letter. Dealer price for the new light bar was $25.00.

Rust Problem Area?? - In January one of the license plate lights burned out, and when I went to replace it I noticed some rust around the mounting screw holes for both license plate lights. I suspect this may be a problem area for E30s since there is no rust anywhere else on the car. After removing the carpeted panel in the trunk, I noticed it looks like some water can collect on the horizontal metal panel which the license lights mount onto. I used some fine steel wool to remove as much of the rust around the screw holes as I could, then treated the area with a rust converter product called ' Extend '. I'll try to check this area frequently to make sure the rust does not spread.

Quick Summary of the Products I Used in Detailing:

Armorall Cleaner - Worked well to remove some nicotine stains around the ashtray and heater controls.

Lexol Cleaner/Conditioner - Outstanding product, the leather looks excellent.
Fabreeze - An organic odor remover available at Walgreens. This is supposed to use an enzyme to break down odors. After cleaning the carpet with a rented carpet cleaner with auto attachments, I sprayed this onto the carpet in the car and trunk. The product worked great - both still smell fresh.
So far I have not had much success with the black plastic/rubber bumper surrounds and trim pieces which have faded. Some areas are actually pitted - from UV exposure I suspect. I have tried Mequire's ' Back to Black ' and another product called ' Bumper Black ', neither produced good results. Any suggestions for this would be appreciated.



Please send me your iXperiences for the next iXchange !