iXchange Issue #25

November 2000

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


Xfer Case Chain Source Update
E30 Message Board on the Web
iXperience From Norway
Hard Starting Problem Solved
Faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator
330Xi First Look
Fan Clutch Replacement for Better Air Conditioning


NOTE NEW UPDATE: Xfer Case Chain Source

Addendum to Articles in Issues 20 and 21 From: "Jack Colburn"

I have ended my search for a transfer case chain -- a company out of Norfolk VA called ATC Distribution Group (1-800-622-6997) were the only people willing to help for a price of $138.13 plus s/h. The vendor Tanstar (see below) only sells to company's not to individuals. So I have the chain in hand and am feeling a little better.


Front differential woes..

By Cornelius Biezenbos of Slidel, LA

On a Saturday in June of this year, I loaded up my trusty stead for a fishing trip in the bayou. Backing out of the driveway, my '89 iX jerked twice. I had no idea what the problem was, so I pulled forward and it jerked again. I parked the car and jacked up the front. The front differential was covered with oil and I could move the CV joint next to the differential over .125" with my thumb, so I figured that a blown differential was the problem.

I called 3 independent shops and only 1 would take the car. They quoted me a price of $850 for labor and $1200 for the differential. I called the local dealer and they reluctantly said yes, they would fix it for $600 labor and $1100 for the part. Both quotes were more than the budget could stand, so the iX sat for a couple of months while I pondered my options. I Emailed Gordon and asked some questions, then checked the major repair section of the newsletter and read the report there on front differential removal and replacement. I was encouraged by the tone of the article. I subsequently read the newest iXchange (#24) and saw an ad for Bimmerworld in the classified section. I called them and they had a good front differential for $300, so the deal was struck and I committed to repair the car myself.

The part arrived in good shape. I removed the 13mm bolts that hold the inspection cover and checked the gears. They were in excellent shape. There was no sludge or residue inside the unit and there were no metal shavings. I jacked up the car and opened the drain plug on the front differential. The fluid that came out looked like the inside of an Etch-a-Sketch. A lucky guess on the diagnosis.

I looked around under the car and got started. Everything was going fine until I tried to remove the passenger side output shaft from the differential. It would not budge. After an hour of trying to coax it out of its nesting place, I called it quits and called a friend in Knoxville TN that works on BMWs for a living. He told me that the metal shavings had probably gotten into the splines and were causing the restriction. I asked him what to do and he told me "do not try brute force, you'll break something else. Take off the inspection cover and see if you can apply leverage from the inside." I'm thinking, "Yea, right!" Well, I did as he suggested and low and behold, I can see the shaft and there is room to get a tool in there. I will not tell you what my first thought was, but I will tell you that I took a small chisel and put an 18" piece of pipe on it, placed the chisel point flush against the output shaft, leaned into the planetary gear cluster and pushed on the pipe and "ping", out popped the shaft. Unlike the author of that documented his experience with front differential removal and replacement, I had no difficulty once that shaft freed up. the unit came right out. I reversed the process to install the new differential, which took a third of the time of the disassembly.

Three very important points from my experience. First, verify your diagnosis before you start ordering parts and going to work. Second, I read every article in the iXchange that was even remotely associated with this tear-down and tremendous help came from all of them. For example, the article on shock replacement told me how to remove and reinstall the ball joint and tie rod ends. Third, don't get in a hurry. Patience paid off in the price of the replacement part and not damaging the car because the output shaft was stubborn.

Thanks to the iXchange and the


E30 Message Board

Note: the message board for E30's at http://www.bimmer.org/ has been very handy for several members of the Registry.


An iXperience from Norway by Johannes Hauge

Here are a small introduction of what's going on in Norway. As you all know Norway is small country with a lot of snow. For us snow is usually something we have a lot of during 6 months every year. We are used to sleepy roads and everyone use snow tires with studs in them except from in the major cities where we avoid using them due to pollution.

The taxes on cars and petrol(gas) in Norway are huge; as an example a 90' 325iX in good condition will cost you about $15,500,- and one liter of fuel is about 1 dollar and 30 cents. Still we have a lot of nice cars and a lot of four wheel vehicles. There are tons of Quattro's, syncros, and Mercedes 4matics and all kinds of other 4wheelers. The good part is that there are only a few iX's on the market. The reason is probably because the price for a new 1990 325ix was approx. $34,000,- without any special options, ten years ago!.

Because of this high prices nearly all iX's are privatly-imported from Germany and are 7-10 years old where they are cheap to get. Germans do not like old cars.

It is especially expensive to have an iX. My story started when I wanted to have a second car for my self (girlfriend uses the 528i) and I looked for a very special E30 that I wanted to import from Germany myself. I ended up with a black 89' 325iXA Touring with recaro leather, A/C and all the options. The price in Germany was approx. $6,000,- and when I had imported it into Norway the price went up to $13,900,- all taxes included. The car is black ,nice looking but not mint outside; inside it is like new.

The first problem I had was a grease leak in the right front drive shaft. I already knew about this week point and got it replaced without any problems. The car was lowered a little in the front with the a set of original Boge shocks. They have now been replaced with Bilsteins and I will replace the front springs back to the originals. In Norway you need the height if you are driving in the snowy mountains.


iX Hard Starting Solved

by Steve Lafredo of Norristown, PA

I FINALLY solved ( well not me ) my hard starting and stalling problems with my 1989 325iX. I was witting mainly to thank everyone who helped.

First the problem.

I had a VERY intermittent problem where I could not start the car or worse it would just die as I was driving it. It acted like my kill switch was thrown.

At first I thought this was because I has "cleaned" the intake so well with BG products and destroyed a sensor or two. At least that is what the fault codes led me to believe. Well I would like to report that the BG products are fine and not the cause.

Some of the suggestions in no particular order were...

- fuel pressure regulator - fuel pump - big electrical connector under throttle body - fuel pump relay (I think one of you suggested this?)

Fault codes (see iXchange Issue #7) said it was the Wide Open Throttle (WOT) switch.

I replaced the fuel pressure regulator. Didn't notice much.

I checked the big connector. Looked fine. Nice and clean.

I replaced the WOT switch. Seemed to work. Then after a while I noticed this was not the solution.

I was getting really disappointed and b/c the fuel pump was expensive I was getting ready to suck it up and bring the car into a professional. My only fear was that since the problem was so intermittent that I would walk out of the shop with a big diagnostic bill and the problem unresolved.

Then I was talking to another enthusiast (JT) about other things and described the problem exactly as I did above to him. He suggested I try two things...

1) main relay
2) big connector

Well I knew the connector "looked OK" so I might as well try the relay.

Me: "So JT how do I test the relay?" JT: "Tap it"

Cool that's simple.

I find the relay as JT described and start the car. I only have the relay cover in my hand so I use it :) to tap the relay. Nothing. So I whack it harder. The car stumbles. :) I whack it real hard :) The car stalls!!!

I go to the dealer for the relay. Total cost $19, very cool. Everything has been working GREAT now for a week. Then I decided, to replace the two orange relays ($7 ea) next to the main relay for good measure. I think they control the fuel pump.

That's it.

Again, xhank you all VERY MUCH for all of your help and ideas!!! Knowing all of you makes owning a BMW the best car in the world.


Faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator

Ken Warnock of Essex, MA

I had an interesting experience about a month ago with a fuel pressure regulator whose diaphragm ruptured on my 89 ix. This is not ix-specific, but given the age that the E30's are coming up on, someone else might find this helpful...

The problem started with worsening mileage and increasingly tougher starting. I initially wrote it off to age (there still is a little with the problem fixed, but not as bad).
Then- On the way to the airport (late, as usual), the car begin running INCREDIBLY rough. It wouldn't idle unless I held the idle above 3000 RPM, stalled when I took my foot off of the gas, and would only run somewhat smoothly at speeds over 75 MPH. After a bit of praying and some funny stares from parking garage attendants (why does everyone think you're trying to run them over when your car has a fast idle?), I made it to the airport intact.

While away, I found a web page listing the fault code sheet. Five quick stomps on the pedal when I returned, and I got the "1215" readout via the check engine light- "Mass Airflow Sensor". All the cables looked good and connections were fine, but when I started the engine, it still ran like crap. I made it home, but had to do the high idle trick and get used to the rough running. Fuel economy also dropped by about half, hmmmm...

Taking things apart the next day, it became apparent that the plugs were dirty from some very rich running. Cleaned them, and then pulled the injectors. All clean, and all with the right resistance. Pulled the flap-type mass airflow sensor, and sniffed a bit of gas that had run down the intake into the air filter- hmm, normally that's blowby oil, but... I pulled the "sealed" cap off the MAF sensor and ohm'ed it all out- no problems. Just for kicks, pulled the fuel pressure regulator and hooked it up to the vacuum pump. I thought- "Wow! this pump can't generate any vacuum at all." Suddenly the gas smell, gas in the air filter, and the rich running all made sense.

Turns out the diaphragm pulled out at the seam of the fuel pressure regulator. This allowed raw fuel to blow through the manifold vacuum line, into the intake manifold, and thence to the cylinders. The fuel injectors must have been 100% closed all of the time, given the amount of fuel I was dumping in!

$70 and a new fuel pressure regulator later, all was OK. Ran the car fast for a few miles to clean all of the gunk out of the system, and as good as new (or at least 160k and 11 years!).

First Look: 330Xi

by David Halley of Larchmont, NY

Yesterday, I took my father to the last day of the New York City auto show. It took us about 4 hours to complete because he likes mainly american cars and, well, you know mine. I was aware of a new awd for bmw but didn't know it was coming out 2001. The 330Xi is the new model.

I was disappointed because not a lot of people were around it. It was surrounded by a rope and a security guard. A small plaque told us was it was. There was no spokesman or spokes model around. Mainly people were around the car they could not afford, the Z8. The car looked very simple and not as sporty as ours are. Unlike our basketweave rims, this model had very simple rims. Nothing on the car made you think is was an awd - not even a rear spoiler. Well, even my '89 doesn't have a rear spoiler. But may be that's what they were looking for.

I'm sure you've seen the 330Xi but I just wanted to let you know what I thought of my first glimpse of it.

Fan Clutch Replacement Yields Better Air Conditioning Performance

by Gordon Haines

See the Bentley E30 Manual, p4-14 for this procedure.

In iXchange Issue #20, I noted that in the warm climate of southern Utah (where it rarely snows), the air conditioning in our iX was just marginal, partularly when driving around town on days where temperatures reach 100+ degrees. As described in that issue, I re-wired the electric auxiliary cooling fan to run on high speed at lower temperatures.

On one trip to my local BMW mechanic, he noted that the viscous clutch on the cooling fan (behind the radiator on the water pump shaft) needed to be replaced. It was not "stiff" enough, allowing too much slip of the fan at a given engine rpm, thereby not forcing enough air through the radiator and the air conditioner condenser mounted in front of the radiator. The clutch can apparently gradually degrade over time due to slow leaks and changes in the fluid inside the fan clutch unit.

The easiest way to check this is to spin the fan by hand on a room-temperature engine (with the engine off, of course) and determine what portion of a revolution the fan takes to "spin down." This procedure for this is difficult to describe because the spin down is a function of how hard you spin the fan. Generally, the fan should only spin a half revolution or so. The best way to check this out is to spin the fan on a new (room-temp engine) BMW and then compare that with your iX's fan.

If you choose to replace the fan, it is fairly straightforward and thoroughly described in the Bentley manual on page 4-14. You will need a 32mm open end wrench for the nut that holds the fan clutch to the waterpump shaft. NOTE: THIS IS A LEFT-HANDED THREAD. You can remove the 2 screws at the top of the radiator to loosen the fan shroud. The nut can be accessed from the top on the left side of the engine compartment. Place the 32mm wrench on the nut and rap this left-handed nut in a clockwise direction as viewed from the front of the car. Remove the nut and slip the old unit and fan up and out of the engine compartment.

NOTE from Bentley Manual: Always store the clutch assembly in an upright position. Failure to store the clutch assembly upright may result in a loss of clutch fluid.

Transfer the old fan to the new clutch unit and torque the four mounting bolts to 80in.lb. Install the clutch assembly to the coolant pump and hand-tighten the 32mm nut. Then tighten the nut with a sudden impact on the wrench, just as you used to remove it. (The correct torque is 29ft.lb.) While you are in the area of the water pump, be sure to check the accessory belt tension.


Copyright 2000