iXchange Issue #23

October 1999

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


iX Registry Moves to the Web 1
Leaky Transfer Case Fix , etc. 2
Aux. Fan Upgrade 2
Short Shift Kit Installation 3
I Finally Found It! (My iX) 3
Water Pump Replacement 4
Leather Seat Touch Up 6
Major Leather Interior Reconditioning 4
Check those CV Boots 7
Suspension Clunk / ANSA Exhaust 7
Restore Black Plastic & Rubber 7
17" Wheel & Tire Upgrade 8


iX Registry Moves To The Web

The iX Registry now has more than 300 members. Due to the effort required to publish and mail the iXchange Newsletter and due to the overwhelming favorable response to converting to a Web-based information source, this issue is the last printed version of the iXchange. Your current membership is now converted to a "lifetime" membership in the iX Registry and access to the new iX Website at no additional cost.

The URL of the new (under construction) iX Registry Website is:


This site will contain some generic iX information (similar to that contained on the BMW CCA site) that will be accessible by non-members. There will also be a "password-protected" area for members only. E-mail for the user id and password. I will be adding technical information, iXperiences, and photos to this area as they become available.

I expect that most of you have access to the Web. If some of you do not and would like to have a refund for your remaining paid-up issues of the iXchange, please let me know and I will gladly forward a refund to you.

As always, I encourage your contributions and sharing of your iXperiences with other iX Registry members. With the move to the Web, it will be easier for me to post color photographs. If you have an article and/or photographs for the Web, please send them to me. If you are going to send me info electronically, the easiest way to do that is to send text within an e-mail message rather than an attached file. That eliminates the problem of converting from/to different platforms. If you have a graphic or photo to send, please do not send files that are larger than 100Kbytes--please convert them to JPEG, GIF or PICT format, rather than sending large Photoshop files, for example. If you only have hard copy photos, please just send them and I will scan them to convert them for use on the Web (as I do every month from the Roundel for the BMW CCA site.)

I hope this new format will be helpful and useful. I may e-mail out a notice to members when I make a significant addition to the Website, but this may prove too cumbersome. I encourage you to just check the site every month or so. There will be a page listing "New" info. I have e-mail addresses for most of you, but if you have a new address, and/or would like to just be certain that I have the latest and greatest, please send me a message (ghaines@epol.com) and I'll confirm receipt and update my records as necessary. Please include "BMW" or "iX" in the Subject Line to be sure your message makes it through my junk mail filters. Look for completion of the site with initial info before the end of the year. OK, enough of this--let's get on with some iXperiences and other helpful info.


Gene and Jackie Ritacco of Watertown, CT have a "few cents worth" they'd like to share:

1. A precaution we take when washing our E30s (`88 iX and `84 325e) is to close the fresh air flaps by pushing the "recirc" button on the heater panel before turning off the ignition. We have not taken on any water since we began this practice.

2. I have only had the pleasure (misfortune?) of removing one 5-speed transfer case. The factory manual indicated a fairly straightforward wrench twisting operation until I went for the upper left attaching bolt! No way from underneath but quite do-able from inside the car through the gear shift hole with a long extension and swivel socket. Also, when removing any iX transfer case, it is not necessary to remove the front drive shaft. Just push back the plastic collar (carefully - they do break easily). The splines mesh quite nicely upon reinstallation.

Here is a service bulletin pertaining to input shaft (actually transmission output shaft) seal leakage. I have seen a few of these and the seals become hard as stone. BMW part # for seals (2) is 27 11 1 226 314 and the gasket between transmission and transfer case is 24 11 1 215 463.

SERVICE-INFORMATION Group 27 Bulletin # 27 01 91 (3207)

Transfer Case Leaking at Weep Hole, 325iX Situation: Transfer case is leaking at the weep (oil) hole and repair attempts have been unsuccessful.

Solution: The installed depth of the inner seal has been revised.

DO NOT USE tools 27 1 720 and 27 1 271 to install the Inner seal as stated in Repair Manual No. 7, frame 27-18 (microfiche P/N 01 51 9 770 561).

The correct tool is P/N 88 88 7 271 203 which consists of a seal driver and shim. Please refer to S.I. 04 13 91 (3294).

First, the seal driver together with the shim is used to install the inner seal with its lip facing in.

Next, the seal driver alone is used to install the outer seal with its lip facing out.

Prior to installing the transfer case, the hub on the transmission output shaft where the seals ride should be polished with a fine grit Emery cloth to clean up the seal surface.

Note: Transfer cases produced before 11/87 have a collar which prevents removing or installing seals from the outside. The seals are serviced from the inside after separating the case halves. Installed depth is to be measured from the outside.

Prior to installing an exchange unit, a visual check should be made to verify that the inner seal is installed to the revised depth. If the seal is at the proper depth, the weep hole is partially covered as can be seen in the drawing.

From Jackie - as a suggestion to assist in bringing back your plastic/rubber bumper surrounds and trim pieces, we have had great success using a product, "Blue Magic" marketed by Car Bright, Inc., 1910 S. State Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana 462O3. We have been able to purchase this through our local BMW dealer (because Gene works there), but you may be able to communicate with the company to ascertain local suppliers. I apply with various sizes of stain brushes to all of the exterior vinyl and rubber surfaces, let soak and wipe/buff. Initially, I was relentless in weekly applications When I began noticing a difference (within 6 to 8 weeks). backed off (this product is not inexpensive and overuse/overkill isn't prudent!) As one precaution, it is a thin liquid; and, if you apply too liberally, it tends to run/drip so be ready to wipe the excess! We have found this well worth the expense and effort. We also use it on both winter and summer tires to avoid that bleached out look with its making a world of difference in our cars appearances!


Radiator Auxiliary Fan Speed Upgrade:

In St. George, Utah where we moved in early June, mid-summer daytime highs are around 105oF, (but humidity is normally under 10% and nighttime lows are in the upper 60s. In the winter it rarely snows.) Bev and I found that the '88 iX's air conditioning was marginal for around-town driving. At speed, the air was performing perfectly, but without enough air passing through the radiator, the cooled air was just not cool enough. I made the following modification which was very effective in solving this problem. It is easy to do and results in the Aux. Fan switching to high speed at a lower coolant temperature--when the coolant reaches the temperature which previously (before the mod) caused the fan to run on low speed

The Aux Fan should already run on Normal (low) speed whenever the AC is on (check this to see if your temp sensor and circuitry are functioning properly.) The temp sensor on the '88 is a 3-wire, dual temperature sensor that is located at the top right of the radiator. If you need a new one of these, order Part # 61-31-1-378-073 from Eurasian Parts Select or your local dealer. (It is possible that some later iXes have 2 separate sensors --one low temp, one high temp. If so you can simply connect the electrical connector on the high temp/high speed sensor to the low temp sensor.)

Here is the info for the 3-wire, dual temp sensor on the '88 (later model wire colors may differ.). At the electrical connector on the sensor, the Green/Black: wire is hot, carrying +12v from Fuse 19. The Black wire connects to the Normal (low temp) Speed Relay. The low temp sensor is closed above 91 deg. C and supplies 12 volts to the Normal Speed Relay at and above this temperature, causing the Aux fan to run on low speed. The Black/Brown wire connects to the High Speed Relay. Temp switch which is closed above 99 deg..

Cut the Black/Brown Wire & Black Wire about 2 inches from Dual Temp Switch Connector. Then connect the Black/Brown Wire that goes to the High Speed Relay to the Black Wire of Dual Temp Switch Connector. Leave Black Wire from the Normal Speed Relay Disconnected. .The fan will now run on Low Speed at all times and run at High when the coolant temp is above 91 deg. C. This completely solved the marginal cooling of the AC in low-speed city driving.


Installing a Short Shift Kit
by Phil Bell of San Diego ('88 iX)

Well, I got it done! I installed the UUC Motorwerks Short Shift kit in my iX today. Rob and Ben at UUC had warned me that it was a major task in the iX, and it wasn't easy. UUC thought I would need to drop the transfer case to replace the shifter. Well, I didn't. Here's the details:

The work from inside the car was the same as for any Bimmer. The problem I was experiencing was a lot of slop and the shifter rising up in 1st to 2nd and 3rd to 4th shifts. I could pull the shifter up about 1/2 to 3/4". Once I removed the knob and the boot I found the bushing that held (or use to) the shifter ball was breaking apart. This was causing a lot of the problems I was having with the slop. Fortunately I had also ordered the Delrin bushing from UUC. I would recommend to anyone who is doing this install to replace the bushing at the same time.

From underneath (fortunately I had the use of a hoist) was a different story. I determined that access to the shifter from below was very restrictive. I removed the exhaust from the manifold to the cat, and the driveshaft. Then I removed the rear transmission bracket. This allowed me to move the transmission enough to reach the shifter. I then had access from the rear of the transmission, reaching over from the rear to the shifter. There's a retaining clip on the shaft of the shifter that must be removed before you can pull out the old shifter. A long screwdriver solved that one. With the old shifter out, it was easy to replace the shifter with the new one. Also the tool that UUC supplies for the removal of the bushing is essential. If you're looking at another short shift make sure the tool is included in their kit. I don't know how else you could remove the old bushing without it.

Once I put it back together, and I was excited to drive it. What a difference! This is the "street" model, and the throws are somewhat shorter, put very precise. The "competition" version isn't available for the iX or I would have put that one in.

The good news here is I didn't have to drop the transfer case, (or the transmission) and the total time was about 2 hours. I had the opportunity to look under another E30 at the shop, and that install should only take about 30 minutes (with a hoist) as everything is accessible. If you're going to replace your clutch, that would be a perfect time for this job.

The UUC directions are clear, but unfortunately doesn't cover the iX installation. I can see why, as there are so few of them out there.

If you're going to do this job, I would recommend a hoist and the Delrin bushing. To learn more about the short, check them out on the Web at www.shortshifter.com or phone them at 732.398.0001.

Now I can't wait for the next autocross!


I Finally Found it!
by Jeff Carroll of Wilton, CT

After months of assiduous searching, I found my 325iX. It is a dark Lazur Blue 2dr, 1991 model with tan leather interior. 5spd, of course. Ansa exhaust, H&R springs, Bilstein sport shocks, BBS basketweaves w/ Yokohamas for summer, steelies with Blizzaks for wintah! 97K miles. New timing belt.

I know its July, and I found it last March, and should have written earlier to get it registered and all, but my dog ate my PC....
I picked it up in upstate Connecticut, and drove it home, feeling as if it was riding on rails. As it was spring, the summer footwear was on, not the Blizzaks, and the ride was much stiffer and heavier feeling than my 325e, but very sure footed, stronger braking, and an absolutely great exhaust note beginning at about 4K rpm!

The next morning I woke up to an unannounced New England treat - 6 inches of new white, slick, heavy snow! Sometimes you just know the karma is good. I hopped right into the iX, and drove out of the garage, down the drive, and out into the street - all as if there were no snow on the ground whatsoever. Work is 25 miles away - across back roads, superhighway, and state road - so I got to test this baby in a variety of conditions. Because the snowfall was so unexpected, many "regular" cars were slipping, sliding, or spinning their wheels at stop lights. I just drove. How much better could it be with the Blizzaks?

Well, that was the last snowfall of the year. It seems a long time ago now, on a sweltering 95 degree day in July, with 85% humidity (and you know Gordon, sea -level air holds much more water than that mile-high thin stuff!). My shirt is heavy with sweat, and the lemonade glass perspires a wet ring on the desk. I am not fooled though. Soon enough the leaves will turn and fall, the air will chill, and the snows return.

I will be ready!


Water Pump Replacement
by Steve Harmony of Los Alamos, NM

So there I was, lying on my garage floor looking for the engine block drain plug, when I saw, for the first time, my "new" 325iX's oil filter. I remember thinking, "Oh, so that's where it is." It seemed ironic to me that I was about to swap out my failed water pump and my almost-50,000-mile timing belt and I had yet to even change the oil.

It all started on my way back to Los Alamos, NM from Santa Fe after spending Fathers' Day there with my two teenage sons. Passing a car on US 285, I heard a chirp that sounded like the squeal of a slipping v-belt. I thought, "Darn, I hope that doesn't mean my water pump is going out!" Sure enough, by the time I finished the 40-mile trip home, I smelled antifreeze, the temperature gauge was climbing, and the coolant LED on the check panel was lit. When I opened the hood, coolant was dripping down its inside surface.

I ordered a new pump from Eurasian for $54.60 with shipping, saving $22.28 before sales tax from what my "local" dealer (100 miles away in Albuquerque) would have charged. Actually, I could have saved 10% if I'd shown them my BMW CCA membership card, but forget it for ordering it over the phone. After consulting with Gordon over e-mail, I also ordered a timing belt from Eurasian. The Bentley manual says you should always replace the timing belt whenever tension is released from it. You can in theory replace the water pump without releasing the timing belt tension, but when you're that close and your timing belt is as old as mine, you might as well replace it while you're at it.

My parts arrived Friday, so I set aside the weekend for doing the job. My Bimmer was back on the road Sunday night. The following notes detail the steps I took. You'd be nuts to try a job like this without the Bentley manual (or equivalent) in hand, so I'll mostly describe the sequence of steps I took, jumping between the Bentley sections for water pump and timing belt replacement.

For a job like this, you have to be organized. An empty egg carton is great for storing the fasteners you remove, in the order you remove them. The 18-egg size is good for this job, it's also less tippy than the 12-egg size. I kept notes because I wanted to write this up for the iXchange, and found the notes useful during reassembly. Especially when I came to the two mystery screws in the egg carton! Be careful with some of the plastic pieces, many are brittle after 100,000+ miles.

OK, here are the steps, with a few notes:

1. Remove splash guard under radiator.

2. Drain radiator (cold engine, heater control at full hot). The drain plug is blue plastic. Use a #2 Phillips screwdriver. Position your drain pan to catch the initial surge, it flew at least ten inches from the drain plug.

3. Drain block. Use a 19-mm wrench to remove the plug, which is about six inches in front of the oil filter on the right side of the block. Again, watch out for the splash!

4. Disconnect the upper and lower radiator hose. The lower hose connects to a black rectangular crossover pipe that connects to the thermostat housing. Leave the lower hose connected to the pipe. You'll need to remove the pipe later.

5. Disconnect the overflow hose from the expansion tank. I didn't like the hose clamp on this small hose, so I replaced it with a small worm-type hose clamp.

6. Disconnect the thermo-switch from the radiator. Squeeze the clamps on the connector carefully, they'll be brittle.

7. Detach the fan shroud. It's held in place by two plastic expansion rivets. A center piece pushes in and expands the back part. Pry the center piece out carefully, I broke the brittle head off one. If you do it's no big deal, just push it out from behind. Temporarily hang the shroud from the fan.

8. Remove the radiator. Bentley shows mounting bolts, but my iX has a black plastic hold down, attached with two bolts. Lift the hold down, position your drain pan under the radiator drain plug, and lift the radiator out.

9. Remove fan shroud.

10. Remove the fan. It's held to the front of the water pump with a left-hand thread. The back of the fan clutch has a 32 mm hex, a 1 1/4 Craftsman combination wrench was a good fit on mine. You might need to loosen the crossover pipe mentioned above to get enough clearance behind the clutch to slip your wrench in. Break the fan clutch free by hitting the end of your wrench with your hand, turning it clockwise as seen from the front. Once it's free, you can spin the fan off.

11. Remove the pump pulley (four bolts). The belt is trapped behind the power steering and air conditioner belts.

12. Snap off the plastic distributor cover.

13. Remove the hose between the water pump and the thermostat housing.

14. Remove the distributor cap. The three screws are captive, don't remove them from the cap and you don't have to worry about losing them. Move the cap to the side, leaving the wires attached.

15. Remove the rotor (three captive screws, 3 mm Allen wrench).

16. Remove the distributor dust cap.

17. Remove the crossover pipe. One bolt goes into the timing belt cover from the front, the other goes into the pump from behind. Heat-embrittled plastic clips hold it to the timing belt cover.

18. Remove the reference sensor with a 5 mm Allen wrench.

19. Remove the v-belts. I like the way BMW tensions the belts. There's a rack-and-pinion arrangement that allows you to dial in the tension you want with a 19-mm wrench. Save your money, though, when Bentley tells you to use a crowsfoot wrench on a torque wrench to tension the belts. NAPA charged me over $16 for a 19-mm crowsfoot, and I didn't get enough tension on the belts using it. My AC belt was so short (810 mm, the replacement from NAPA was 840 mm) I had to cut it off; I couldn't get it loose enough to slip off. Luckily I'd already decided to replace the v-belts!
20. Remove the upper timing belt cover, the lifting bracket, and the black rubber piece that seals the side of the timing belt cover. Pay close attention to how the rubber piece attaches. I had to remove the alternator adjusting arm to get the cover off.

21. Use a 22 mm socket to turn the engine clockwise until the O|T mark on the vibration damper points to the marker on the lower timing belt cover. I found this confusing in Bentley. Figure 4-9 shows the 6-cylinder engine timing mark, it's behind the toothed metal disk that the reference sensor senses, on the rubbery part of the vibration damper. The mark on the damper is near the toothless portion of the toothed disk. The groove on the camshaft pulley should align with the mark on the cylinder head at the same time. Remember the driveshaft turns twice for each turn of the camshaft. Beware, there's a ridge on the head inside the belt that looks like it MIGHT be the timing mark. It's not. The right one is outside the belt near the top of the head.

22. Hold the crankshaft from turning while you break loose the six bolts that hold the pulleys and the vibration damper to the crankshaft hub. Bentley warns about a two-piece hub on early E30s, removal of which requires 300 lb-ft of torque to remove. Fear not, all iXs have the single-piece hub, and you will be able to slip the timing belt off without removing the hub. Once the six bolts are free, check to make sure your timing marks are still aligned. Then remove the bolts, pulleys and vibration damper.

23. Remove the lower timing belt cover. Note that Bentley has this step and the one above reversed. You can't get the lower cover off until the vibration damper is off.

24. Loosen the timing belt tensioner mounting bolts. Use a large screwdriver to pry the tensioner towards the passenger side as far as it will go (releasing tension on the belt), then tighten the upper tensioner mounting bolt.

25. Peel off the timing belt, starting at the tensioner, then the camshaft, the intermediate shaft, and finishing at the crankshaft.

26. Carefully remove the upper tensioner bolt, pushing against the spring to keep it from flying away.

27. Remove the spring and guide pin.

28. Remove the tensioner.

29. Remove the pump.

Whew! Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly (I've always wanted to say that!). Use a new gasket with the pump. Attach the new tensioner , pushed over to the passenger side. Carefully wrap the timing belt in reverse of how you removed it. Don't use tools to pry it onto the tensioner. Slowly loosen the upper tensioner bolt, allowing the tensioner to do its thing. Tighten it, check your timing marks, then carefully rotate the crankshaft through two revolutions to make sure the timing marks are still OK.

Once you're all buttoned up, you need to fill the cooling system. I like to premix my water and antifreeze, mixing 50/50. I bought distilled water because our local water is pretty hard. I poured half of one gallon bottle of water into a two-quart container, then filled rest of the water bottle with anti freeze. Then I poured the other two quarts of water into the half-empty antifreeze bottle. That gave me eight of the 11.6 quarts the engine holds. Loosen the air bleed screw on the top of the thermostat. It's a needle valve that lets fluid come out through a small slot below. Slowly pour coolant into the expansion tank. This is a good time to turn the stereo and the fan off, you need to listen to the coolant flowing through the system. After about two gallons (eight quarts) coolant will flow out the slot below the bleed screw. Close the bleed screw, put the cap on the expansion tank, and start the engine. Breathe a sigh of relief as the engine starts right up, let it come to normal operating temperature, then open the bleed screw until no more air comes out. Actually, I never saw ANY air coming out through the screw. It's about ten miles to work, so Monday and Tuesday I threw my third gallon of premixed coolant in the trunk and refilled the expansion tank after work each day.


Leather Seat Touch Up

A. J. Himmelsbach of Lancaster, PA advises:

"My seats were showing wear from getting in and out, and from someone having a "pager" on the left side of the driver's seat. Used liquid black shoe polish, let it dry, then applied a coat of "Son of Gun" leather polish. Seats look new, and have been wearing great since application this late spring."

Major Reconditioning of a Worn Leather Interior -- by Jeffrey Smethers of Merrimack, NH:

I am a new member of the registry ranks, having purchased a white 1988 iX earlier this year. Prior to purchase, I took the time to have several critical mechanical items taken care of such as the timing belt and head bolts. One of the most dismaying aspects of my car was the condition of the leather interior. It's not surprising that an eleven year old car would have some wear on the bolsters, but the leather surface was covered with small scratches that were quite unattractive.

I did not want to spend the money to buy new seats and read BMW digest e-mail about a company that sells a leather restoration kit. The company's name is Leather Master (800-300-2359). I called and ordered their "Sunsafe" kit , which includes a cleaner, colored dye, and a conditioner. As my car's interior is black there was no need to send a color swatch, although I would recommend doing this for more challenging colors. Leather Master advised me that I could send a swatch of material or the whole headrest and they would be able to make a perfect dye match. The cost of the kit was about $60 with shipping. I only used half of the kit for the whole interior of my car.

The instructions that came with the kit were somewhat general, so I'd like to share my experience with the Sunsafe kit. I took advantage of a sunny afternoon and pulled the entire interior from the car. For those that don't know, the front seats are bolted to the car and come out very easily. The rear bottom pulls up and there are two bolts that hold the rear back in place (once the seat belt hardware is removed). This is an excellent time to clean/shampoo the carpeting in the car.

The cleaner product is applied with a sponge, using a circular motion to drive the cleaner deep into the leather. It's very important that the surface area be clean before the dye is applied as it needs to be absorbed into the grain of the leather. You'll want the cleaner to dry completely, as is true of every step in the restoration process. I was surprised at the amount of grime that came off on the sponge while cleaning the seats.

The dye comes with a vinyl glove and a cloth for application. It's better to apply several thin coats (with sufficient drying time in between) than one heavy coat. I applied a fair amount of pressure to drive the dye into the grain, and used a hair dryer to accelerate the drying time so that I could determine which areas of the leather needed additional coats. You'll want to be sure that all of the critical areas are covered with dye. The time to apply the dye was over several hours given the drying times and the multiple layers. Once I was satisfied with the color of the seats, I left them out in the sun to dry completely for two more hours. The instructions recommend that the leather be allowed to dry overnight, but the direct sunlight sped up the process. Once again, I took a soft white cloth and wiped down the leather to ensure that the dye was completely dry.

The final step is to apply a conditioner to the leather surface that helps to seal in the dye and also provide some UV protection to the "new" interior. I applied this product with a soft cloth and allowed it to dry completely.

I'm still amazed with the look of the car's interior. I was pleased to discover that the dye had re-colored all of the worn areas on the leather while at the same time maintaining a perfect color match. I would recommend this DIY project to anyone that wants to refresh their interior. I'd be happy to answer any further questions that you may have about this process (<smethers@lucent.com>).


Check Those CV Joint Boots --a reminder by Malcolm Morgan of Larkspur, CA.

Twice in the last few months I have had a sudden unexpected failure of the inner front CV joint boots, which if not fixed promptly, allows all the grease to get thrown out of the joint; and dirt and water to get in . Replacement is just as the iXchange articles describe, except both times I have done this, I had to fight the bloody circlip for over an hour to remove it. (Why don't they just use a regular snap ring like everybody else??) I finally made a small flat 'holder' out of thin scrap metal, about 3/8" wide and 1" long, which I was able to jam in the circlip once I pried it open with snap ring pliers. The 'holder' works like the blade of a flat screwdriver to hold the circlip open, while I tapped the joint off the shaft. Hope this works for anyone else who has to do this. The moral of the story is CHECK THOSE BOOTS on a regular basis, our car has only 65k on it and very little snow use. The split in both boots that failed occurred down in the 'valley' in between the ridges on the inboard end. You can check for cracks in this area by flexing the ridges over and looking down in the valleys in between.


iXperiences -- by Ken Warnock of Essex, MA

Suspension Clunking Sound - The iX generated a thud/clunk from the right front side over any sort of bump or pothole late in January (constant noise, in other words given NE roads). Although in my paranoia I immediately diagnosed it as either a ball joint or a shock loose in the shock housing (only 1 year old!) Looking a bit further came up with some other interesting symptoms. The shock travel had a feel of stiction to it, and the "clunk" could be caused either by pulling up on the RH fender or pushing down. The balljoints seemed tight, the tie rods had no slop, and yanking the tire around produced no noticeable play. Even the shock nut was jammed tightly in place where I had pounded it just last year.

Feeling perplexed and cold that night, I gave in to the "mojo" fix- spraying down the strut piston with WD-40. Surprisingly enough, the problem went away- for a week. I remembered the coating of grease the strut rods had when I unpacked them, so I repeated the lube trick, only this time with some synthetic CV joint grease I had around. No problems since then, and no new ball joints, either.

Ansa Muffler - my 1989 IX original muffler gave out at 149k miles, with holes appearing near the hanger below the trailing arms. The tin can/Muffler Bandage fix kept things quiet for a few months, and then I finally had to give in to a new muffler or risk deafness and further public humiliation. I elected to go with an Ansa Sport muffler (2-piece- center and rear), despite the $50-100 premium I paid over the stock type from Bavarian Auto Supply. The bill came to about $270, with over $60 for the "Ansa-specific" install kit (gaskets, nuts&bolts, rubber donuts and rear hangers). On installation, I found that the Ansa-specific kit matched that which was already on the car (designed for an oval muffler can and not requiring anything special for the 2-piece design). I'm not sure what the difference is between this and the "stock" install kit. The Ansa sport muffler, surprisingly enough, was almost the same noise level as the original muffler (pre-holes, of course). Actually, when compared with the "throaty" sound that I had driven with for the last few weeks, it sounded positively tame! Performance? I didn't notice any difference in acceleration, but the chrome tips added at least 20 visual HP!


Restore Faded Black Plastic/Rubber Parts -- a tip from Richard Roeske , Lebanon Pa

I have found the answer to this problem and it works great. Clean parts with grease and dirt remover (DuPont Prep-sol). Tape off surrounding areas +spray with Blitz Black in spray bomb that can be purchased at any John Deere Dealer at about 5.00 dollars a can. It looks great (factory) and It Lasts! PS--It also works over aluminum parts + does not peel off.


Tire & Wheel Upgrade: Part four in a series from Malcolm and Julie Morgan of Larkspur, CA.

New tires can probably be the single most effective upgrade to the handling of your all-wheel-drive machine. Unfortunately, the wrong setup can also be the single worst thing to degrade the performance of an otherwise properly outfitted vehicle. Like most enthusiasts, the first question I always ask when tire I wheel shopping is "What is the absolutely fattest, stickiest, set of meats you have that can possibly stuff under this car?" Usually though the best solution is far different than the fattest tire that just squashes down to fit the rim. The iX is sensitive to tire size and especially rim offset. I called on the experts at the Tire Rack to see if they had any application info for the iX, and to my surprise, they had sold several of the same packages that I was considering to other iX owners before.

The goal was to improve cornering and wet and dry handling, but without incurring lots of road noise or extremely harsh handling. The final choice: 17" x 7.5" BBS RX rims, with 215-4OZR 17 Bridgestone S-02 Potenza tires. In the few months since we have installed this setup, I can say without a doubt this was a great choice. Every BMW club event we go to, over half of the cars run the same Bridgestone tires. The ride is actually better than the stock Pirelli's, and the dry handling is awesome. I ran the Sears Point Drivers school with only the front half of my new suspension kit and these tires installed, and consistently outran even the new E36 M3s in the corners. The ride is quiet, (I HATE the drone of noisy tires!) and the steering response, even in the rain is incredible. The only downside I have discovered is the traction in snow is non-existent. This is to be expected from a 3000-pound car riding on 215 cm wide tires though, and we have a set of studs for the snow anyway, right?

The design of the BBS RX wheels is beautiful, and seems to be a natural evolution from the stock honeycomb wheels. These rims also show off the cool cross- drilled brakes and all the freshly painted calipers and hubs (you DID paint the rotors and other pieces during the last project, didn't you?) If you are tired of cleaning the factory honeycomb wheels, you will love the BBS RX, with a simple pom-pom type cleaning brush you can reach all the way to the inside of the wheel, from outside the car.

SUMMARY: There are always trade-offs when switching to more aggressive tires, the Bridgestones are a great all round tire for most driving, and is especially suited to aggressive street, and occasional track usage. The BBS wheels nicely compliment the looks of the E30 cars, and even with the suspension dialed all the way down, I have never experienced any rubbing whatsoever. Interestingly, when I called BBS, they told me these wheels and tires would not fit under the iX, but Tire Rack guaranteed the fit, it really is no problem, even on lowered cars. The 35 mm offset (stock is 40 mm??) makes the steering slightly twitchy on rough surfaces; I reset the toe-in at 3/32" and it works great. I rate this improvement as a win - win most of the time, as long as you are prepared to belly up the extra bucks every time you wear out a set, which will be often. The soft compound that makes these rubber bands stick so well, means they wear faster than a normal street tire. Also the large bumps do get transmitted into the suspension more with these low profile tires, there is only about 1.25" of sidewall between the road and the rim. Total for the package with new locking lug bolts was approx. $ 1900.00 A great deal at twice the price...

WANT MORE? The next level would probably be the BFG R1 semi-race tire, which is great if you have room and budget for another set of wheels, this is a popular tire with the E36 M3 crowd, and is needed for regular track sessions at speeds over 100mph and cornering over 1 G. Beyond the R1 I believe you would be into a full-on racing slick, and that's where I run out of knowledge... By spring 1999 BBS should have ready the RK rim to fit the iX, it is similar to the RX, but fewer spokes, and only about 18 lbs in a 17" size. Remember a pound saved in the wheels, is like 10 pounds saved in the car. Maybe next year...


That's it for now, iXers. Look for new info on the Website.

Copyright 1999