iXchange Issue #24

April 2000

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


It's Alive (after an engine rebuild)
318 Wheels on an IX
Driving Impression: iX vx. X5
iXperience from Sweden
My iX Won't Move!
PAGID Brake Pads


It's Alive!

by Dan Guliano of Nashua, NH

Having chosen to replace the iX's engine with a factory rebuild, and doing some of those "...while we've got it apart anyway.." things, we anxiously waited for delivery of the iX.

It came back to us in late December. Now be aware, there are two schools of thought on 'breaking in' a new engine. The first is, drive it like you gonna drive it. That is, if you regularly run it to the red line, go ahead and do that from day one. After all, that's how it's going to be used anyway, and it should get used to it quickly. The second is to use reasonable care for the first thousand miles or so. Vary engine speed, refrain from hitting the rev limiter, allow the oil to warm up before pushing the engine over 4,000 rpm, in other words, act like an adult. We chose the second approach, for the first 800 miles. Then we brought the iX back in for it's first oil change and drove it like we normally would. That is, cruise at high speed but not using max acceleration. Until we put 3,000 miles on the engine. Then we brought it in for it's second oil change and made the switch to synthetic oil. (after all, the original engine went 242,000 on dinosaur oil, we should be able to do even better on the engineered stuff). In the ensuing months we put another 3,000 miles (and another oil change) on the engine. Suitably broken in, the question is - how's it run? Wicked awesome.

It's as if it was the month we picked it up, new, in 1989, only better. The engine is as strong as we ever remember. It has the torque and horsepower of a new engine (which it has) in a well sorted chassis (which it didn't have when new). The stronger engine invited us to work the iX through the twisty bits. On ramps, off ramps, short chutes, we pushed the iX hard and began to feel some things we hadn't really recognized before. There was a certain sloppiness in the steering, we could feel the tire sidewalls flex and 'roll over' and a brake vibration became more evident. A careful examination found the tie rods were badly worn (and original), the control arms needing replacement and tires becoming scuffed as only all-wheel drive can do. Snow tires (Michelin Arctic Alpins) went on the iX for the winter and we decided to live with the tie rods, control arms and brake vibration till March. With the newfound power and snow tires we had an opportunity to practice controlled oversteer - the iX's big rear sway bar allows the rear end to be hung out like a dirt track 'outlaw' car in the snow - something you just can't do in a 'regular' iX - with the safety of all wheel drive to keep it all manageable. Great fun, even if it scared the heck out of other drivers (and my spouse, who resurrected one of her favorite phrases "... if you don't cut that out, I'm gonna throw up...").

In anticipation of spring and the upcoming Driver's School season, we decided to address the steering and brake issues. New control arms, with solid offset bushings, along with new tie rod ends went in. Also, to reduce the sidewall flex, we moved up to Borbet Type C wheels (35 mm offset) and 215/45x17 Bridgestone RE71 tires. Now all the power of the new engine can be put to good use. There is no brake vibration, never was. The vibration was caused by the combination of worn steering components. The offset bushings gives increased caster, for better high speed stability and the modifications make the steering wheel come alive in your hands. The iX can be placed EXACTLY where you want it on the road, with enough power and grip to really drive it through the corners. This is the iX the factory should have made. Although with the chassis modifications, it could probably use another 50 or 60 horsepower, and I hear Mike Morris at Schneller has a supercharger kit for E30 325's..............................


318 Wheels on an IX

, by Stephen Cramer of Wyoming, MI You may already know this but upon reading over the wonderful articles in the iX registry, I noticed some articles concerning alternative wheels for the iX. I skimmed through most of them and did not see anything on the 14" 318i bottlecaps. They DO fit. Here is the story; Along with my '88 325ix, I also own an '84 318i. Well, I was bored one hot summer day so I decided to switch the wheels on my two just to see what happened. Much to my surprise the stock 318i bottlecaps fit perfectly on my iX. I have read countless articles claiming they do not fit, however, I have proof that they do. I was delighted to discover that the wheels fit, so delighted that I went out and bought a second '84 318i parts car just for the wheels. Now I have set a wheels just for winter(with Hakka 1's of course). Here is a link to some pictures of my iX with the 318i bottlecaps. I do realize that the offset is slightly different but I believe the decreased wheel width (from 15"-14")

makes up for this offset somewhat.


These pics are not very good since I took them at 4a.m. after a long night completing my bumper conversion and painting the valve cover.


Also by Steve Cramer -- thanks, Steve!

Driving Impressions: iX vs. X5

Soon after my local dealer received their first X5, I was excited to take it for a drive to compare it to my '88 325iX. The end result was less then satisfying and quite frankly, I expected a little more from the X5. The dealer has a parking lot in back, down a short hill that hadn't been plowed yet so it was covered in about 1' of soft powder snow. So I took the X5 back there and slid around a little in the snow a bit (salesman first asks if I am trading in my 325iX, I say no). I stopped right in the middle of the empty snow covered lot, made sure the Dynamic Stability Control was on, and floored it expecting the vehicle to take off. It didn't quite do that. According to the salesman, when the tires are spinning, the DSC retards the timing to give the engine less power (he asks again if I am trading in my ix). Well, it feels more like an old car running out of gas. When I first went full throttle I literally thought the X5 was going to stall, it didn't, but it did feel like an old car with a hesitation problem. Thank god it has a button on the dash to turn off the DSC. I turned it off and the X5 just slid all over the place, possibly due to the fact it still had the stock tires.

Now here's the funny part, when I went to leave the lot, I got it stuck. There is a short, fairly steep incline at the exit of that lot that goes to the dealer's main lot. I stopped just at the bottom of the hill, made sure the DSC was on, and proceeded up the incline with generous amounts of throttle. The X5 made it about 2 feet then stopped, so I gave it more gas to really test out the DSC. The engine cut out and the tires just kept spinning. I had to back down the hill and get a running start to get up it. The salesman claimed it was from the lack of snow tires on the vehicle (also asking once again if I will trade in my iX).

I finally made it up the hill and parked it. To compare it, I then took my 325iX to the same lot. My ix had much more traction and stability then this X5 did. I took my ix through all the same tests as the X5, even stopping at the bottom of the hill. Actually in my ix, I stopped on the hill, right at the bottom. I was sure to not be on the same tracks left by the X5 in case all that tire spinning may have melted some of the snow. I immediately gave it full throttle to make the tires spin. The tires did spin for a very short time and then the car quickly climbed the same hill that had stopped the X5.

Aside from this, the X5 is a really nice vehicle with way too many options, which you can read about in just about any car magazine. As far as performance goes, well, I'll keep my '88 325iX. With the 540i engine the X5 is quick, but due to the bad weather we had today I wasn't able to really test it the way I wanted, so I can't say how well it handles at higher speeds.

I am sure everyone will have a different opinion about the X5, but that was my impression.


iXperience from Sweden

by Daniel Sundstrm

Somtime november -98 I decided to buy a 4wd wintercar. Since I'm a bimmerhead I wanted a 325iX. It had to be a Touring since they're different and very good looking. I also wanted AC (yes we DO have warm summers here although not as warm as some of you) and sportseats in black leather. And absolutly not a red car! I bought car-add magazines for over 800 SEK (100 USD) and searched the internet. No such car fore sale in all of northern europe! As the months went by, I started to look for other cars, such as the Ford Sierra Cosworth, Audi S2 Coupe, Mazda 323 GTI-R Turbo, Nissan Pulsar GTIr and Lancia Delta HF Integrale. I almost bought an Audi in Germany and then almost a Lancia in Italy.

But than I saw an add on text-TV of a -88 iX, 2 door, 5 speed, black metallic, AC, sportseats (tan cloth, though), PW, roofhatch, 190k km only 550 km away.

I borrowed a -99 320d from my "local" BMW-dealer (80km away) friday afternoon. We went back home since my friend was going to a festival that night. He called me when he came home and we got going at 04.00 saturday morning. I drove 550km in 4 hours. I can tell you it was a lot of fun, although the 2 litre diesel is quite slow, it's no problem marching 200kmh once you get there. We arrived at 08.00 and since they'd had a festival there too, we waited 'till 09.30 before I rang and waked the iX owner. He had a BAD hangover (said he got home 'round 06.00...) and didn't say very much. We looked the car over and found the right front rotor, exhaust, paint and left front driveshaft to be defect. We than went for a testdrive. The owner sat in the backseat giving directions. I asked for the nearest highway and within short we were going +200kmh again. When we returned the owner was even pailer than before the testdrive, hehe. He claimed he didn't use to drive like we do and we beleved him. The car was rather slow, but reved and ran better after the testdrive.

We went to grab lunch and the owner went home to sleep. At lunch I decided to make a low bid. So I did and after going back and forth we agreed on a price (43.000 SEK, about 5900 USD) and the car was mine! We headed back home in two cars and slower due to traffic, at 16.00. It was also not boring (marching 140-160kmh) but we were both quite tired when we arrived at home 'round 23.00 after having returned the 320d.

I serviced the car and used it for 2k km and (exactly to the day) 4 weeks before the engine broke down. Even so, I totally fell in love with it! Hopefully it'll be up and running with a transplanted heart from a -94 M3 by early february.


Bob' iX in the Snow

iX Won't Move

Click for a larger version of this great photo!

by Bob Judson of Media, OH

One day after starting the engine on his iX, Bob found that the car would not move! He says:

I found the transmission problem on my '89 iX. There is a control cable from the shift lever that corroded/broke at the transmission. The blue rubber protection boot was worn out. None of this configuration matches the drawings in the "Bentley Manual". Maybe this potential problem should be mentioned in the iXchange.

I am attaching an interesting photo of my iX in action.


Ferodo Pads -- Confirmed

by Malcolm Morgan of Sausalito, CA

Readers of my last article on upgrading the brakes on our '91 iX will recall that I had chosen PBR Metalmaster pads to use with the new cross-drilled rotors. On Gordon's advice, I recently switched to Ferodo pads [available from Korman] and can now definitely say that the Ferodo pads are superior in every way. The Ferodos make less dust, less noise, and seem to have less fade when hot. The Metalmasters never seemed to work very well when cold, whereas the Ferodos seem as good or better than the stock pads when cool. It does'nt get very cold here in winter, so I don't know how well this setup is in freezing temperatures.

As far as the overall performance of the [Brembo front/ATE rear] cross-drilled rotors and the Ferodo pads, I now have 5 drivers' schools, and several long trips on the setup and still no warped rotors! We have been very happy with this upgrade and would highly recommend it to other iX'ers.

Ed Note: You can order Ferodo Pads from Fran Ballard at ORIGINAL QUALITY, Atlantic Beach, FL at 904.241.0757. Front Pads: FDB303A; Rear Pads: FDB296A.

iXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiXiX Here's a nice photo of
Matt Rhoads' iX bathed in sunlight

Click on the photo for a larger view.



An unusual (?) but almost silly failure in the fuel system. By Ken Warnock of Essex, MA.

The symptoms began as a gas smell from the rear of the car after driving the car within about 50 miles of a fill-up. I recalled that my '84 318i had rusted out several of the fuel lines running across the top of the tank at about the 190k mark, normally requiring dropping the tank (and driveshaft, muffler, etc.). Naturally, I was very thrilled, but found out atfer a little investgation that the leakage was coming from behind the fuel filler.

After removing the plastic trim panel inside the back of the right rear wheelwell, the gas smell got stronger. Turns out that a connector on the 14mm "vent" line from the fuel tank to a surge tank inside the top of the wheel well had rusted out, allowing gas to slop all over the inside of the well when the tank was near full. Whether this is another casualty of New England weather, or my habit of filling the tank to the tippy-tippy-top, I needed to address it to improve on the 5-10 mpg I got for the first bit after refilling.

Turns out that the entire vent line was pretty well rotted, and needed to be replaced along with the rusted connector (14mm hose barb to 14mm hose barb with 6mm hose barb tee). A few part numbers and prices: 16-12-1-177-553 14mm hose, roughly 1 meter long, just enough to go from fuel tank fitting to tee connector near surge tank. $46.50 list, $37.20 after BMWCCA discount from BMW Peabody 16-13-1-178-752 tee fitting, $21.24 list, $16.99 discounted.

Additionally, I found out that fuel filler tube on my car had been "obsoleted" in the parts system and replaced by a newer part that incorporated the tee fitting. Also, one of the shop techs mentioned that the tee fittings are hard to find (hence $17 price) and had to be special ordered from BMW NA.

I pulled the fuel tank access cover under the rear seat, replaced the hose and fitting, and re-undercoated the affected parts in the wheel well. I never did have to use the fire extinguisher, and have made a new years resolution to not overfill the tank again! I don't know if a vacuum leak like this in the fuel system would lead to "diagnostic" or "running" problems like on the new cars with OBD systems, but who knows?
From Jeffrey White, New Brunswick, NJ

My wheels are 16" (Tire Rack was having a special on those wheels in that size) and, using their Wheel Rack program, I liked the look of the 16" wheels on the car. Unfortunately, the Dunlop SP8000 are not available in the appropriate size (205/50/16). I spoke with a guy here who is a long time BMW owner and who owned an iX (then sold it to his son!) and who sells tires for a living and he agreed with you that wider tires would be unadvisable. He also thought that for a short wheel base car (all E30's) a tire with a central rib would allow the car to track better. So, I decided on Pirelli P7000 summer (not all-season) tires. So far I really like the way the car feels and corners but I've not had the chance to try them in a drivers school. I am a little concerned about the wear rating on the Pirelli's but when you look at Tire Rack's test results, I'm not sure how much I believe those numbers.

Borbet Type M I'll keep the M+S Bridgestone tires on the original rims for winter. I painted the original wheels with Wurth wheel paint (silver then clear) and they look like new.

The number of wheel manufacturers out there is mind boggling. I almost bought TSW wheels but finally decided to go with ones that TIre Rack guaranteed would fit. The peace of mind was worth it. Also I had seen in the iXchange someone quote the offset of the iX wheels at 41mm. However, Tire Rack claims that the info they have from BMW has the offset at 38mm. All I can tell you is the wheels fit fine. Keith Fehl also bought a package at the same time (we corresponded quite a bit). He opted for Dunlop SP9000 tires on the same wheels. It would be fun to get the cars side-by-side to see what differences would turn up.

Audi Announces Voluntary Recall of TT Coupe

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. October 28, 1999_Audi of America, Inc. today announced it is voluntarily recalling its TT coupe. Approximately 3,800 vehicles in the United States and 25 vehicles in Canada are affected. This action is being implemented following reports Audi AG has received from some German customers expressing concern about the handling characteristics of their vehicles in certain situations at speeds substantially in excess of legal speed limits in the United States and Canada.

The Audi TT is a widely acclaimed sports car with highly agile handling. As with all sports cars, the Audi TT is designed to be very responsive to steering input. In sharp high speed turns or abrupt lane change maneuvers at speeds substantially above posted U.S. and Canadian speed limits, and depending upon road conditions, precise steering response may be demanded to retain directional stability. In the event vehicle control is lost, an accident may occur which could result in injury.

In order to enhance the Audi TT's handling under conditions like those described above, Audi will replace the front stabilizers in front-wheel drive Audi TTs, and the front and rear stabilizers in Audi TTs equipped with quattro all-wheel drive. A modified control arm will be installed in front together with firmer shock absorbers in front and rear. In addition, a rear spoiler will be installed. With the modified suspension settings and the rear spoiler, the TT will retain its satisfying agility, while the limits of stability will be spread over a broader range.

TT owners will be notified by mail in the near future. They will be asked to contact their authorized Audi dealer to have the modifications made at no cost. The necessary parts and repair instructions will be available at Audi dealers on or about January 15, 2000, with the exception of the spoiler, which will be available at Audi dealers on or about February 15, 2000.

Audi always recommends that owners obey all traffic laws, driving at speeds which are reasonable and prudent given road conditions, weather, and always within the posted speed limits. Customers with questions are welcome to phone Audi Customer Relations toll free at 1-800-822-2834.


I just received the latest (OCT99) iXchange. Thanks!

Good write-up by Steve Harmony on the timing belt replacement. I just did mine a few weeks ago (having owned a few BMWs now, it's the third timing belt change for me). The only additional comment I can make is that I verify the tension is close by seeing if there is about 3/16" space between the insides of the belt when one side is pressed towards the other, at the tensioner pulley. Note that belt tension will increase as the engine heats up and expands, and overtension will shorten belt life (and potentially engine life!).

A few personal learnings from my iX, so far, which may merit sharing: I've changed oils in the front and rear axles and manual transmission to synthetic gear lube. I've done this with all my other past BMWs (2002tii, 320i, 525i) and always with favorable results. For the slightly higher price of something like Mobil 1 Gear Oil (around $7-8 per quart, vs. $3-4 per quart for non-synthetic GL-5) and the infrequency with which one needs to change it, it's the way to go, especially if you have an iX that sees cold northern winters.

Other than that, keep up the good work. I appreciate seeing others experiences and tips. And I'm enjoying my relatively rare "touring" version while I'm assigned here in Belgium!

Mark Eckstein, La Hulpe, Belgium


From Bruce Monk of Colorado

There are three kinds of pads: Blue compound - high friction, rotor friendly Yellow compound - even higher friction than the blue, but still rotor friendly Yellow - for endurance racing only.

The fronts cost ~$125 and are avail from The Racer's Group, 29181 Arnold Dr Sonoma CA 707.935.3999 (They have an ad in the last two Roundels - not brake pad related though.)

I think the pads are called RS2 or possibly RS4 - in any case, refer to the "blues" or "oranges" and they will know what you are talking about. Part no. for the front pads for the iX is: U1544 - I do not believe they make anything for the rear.

I know that they make these for the e-36 M3 application as well.

I have tried stock Jurids, Pagids, Axis - Deluxe and Ferodos and none of these compare to the Pagid race orange in terms of stopping power and resistance to fading. I have three hard track days on the pads and they are still at more than 50% pad material. I have also come to be a firm believer in Balo (OEM BMW) rotors.

Actually the Ferodo pads are really pretty good too but I was only able to get two track days out of each set. At the rate the Orange pads are wearing, they are not really any more expensive than anything else.

Copyright 2000