iXchange Issue #28

January 2002

A newsletter for BMW 325iX Enthusiasts.



Clutch and Brake Parts -- a note from Gordon

As a result of a little research through the BMW Parts Catalog, I found the following info for a member who was doing some maintenance on his iX:

The clutch for the 325 (eta engine) is different from the iX, but the 325i and 325iX clutch discs are the same. The pressure plate is unique to the iX. The throwout bearing is the same for all E30s.

BMW Part No. for the iX are:

WRT the Brake Rotors -- according to the BMW Parts Manual --

Front rotors for the 325, 325i and 325iX are the same: F. Rotors: 34 11 1 160 915
Rear rotors are unique to the iX: R. Rotors: 34 21 1 155 015.

This is not what I had thought, but this is clear from the BMW manual. Suggest you check out the ATE "Power Discs" rotors from Zygmunt Motors (http://www.bimmerparts.com/) or from Eurasian (800.824.8814) that I'm using -- they work very well.

I still recommend Ferodo pads which you can order from Original Quality, Inc. 1089 Atlantic Blvd., Suite 19 Atlantic Beach FL 32233 Phone: 904.241.0757, FAX 904.241.0758.

Part Numbers: Front Pads - FDB303A, and Rear Pads - FDB296.

Worn Spline Photos

Bob Kuimelis of Brighton, NY, has put together some great photos of his worn front driveshaft splines and the transfer case splines which look OK. Bob replaced the driveshaft and says, "I checked around and the best price I could get on the front driveshaft (26 20 1 226 183) was $260, from South BMW in Florida with availability in only 3 days. Even my regular sources could not touch that price. It apparently comes complete with the flex disc, bolts, etc."

These photos should help you assess the condition of your driveshaft if you are inspecting it. CLICK ON A PHOTO FOR A LARGER VIEW. Thanks, Bob for all the good info!

Old and New Driveshaft Transfer Case End View Closeup

Carry a Spare Main Relay?

This has been discussed before in a previous newsletter, but I guess I'm getting paranoid as my iX ages. I got to thinking about driving the iX here around southern Utah and Nevada where it is possible to drive 20 miles or more without seeing another vehicle. (Hard to imagine for you on the east coast? -- see the article below about our 160 miles of dirt road to and from the Grand Canyon.) Seems like I should carry a spare "Main Relay" in my" Odd Job Tool Box" because if that fails, all the electronics stop functioning. So I checked the one in my '88 and bought a spare (Part No. 61 36 1 729 004) which lists for about $21 (ouch!). Here's a photo of the location of this item -- a white 1 inch cube. Note that the black covering over the 3 relays has been removed for the photo. You might want to add this relay to your list of spares to carry, although I only know of a two iXes that have experienced a failure of this part. Actually, in addition to spare accessory belts, I should also probably carry a spare fuel pump and fuel pump relay, but I haven't convinced myself to do that yet, knock on wood.

THE ACCIDENTAL OWNER - The birth of Pergie by Matt Friedman of Arlington, VA.

This is the story of a man and his toy. It was a cold and wintry weekend in October 1999, and I was visiting a client in southern Wisconsin. After a long week of long hours, I was preparing for my eagerly await trip home, when the weather...true to form for Chicago....conspired to ground flights. SInce my plans for returning home were foiled, I decided to spend the weekend in the area, and explore the Racine/Milwaukee area.

Saturday morning, I awoke and started my day as I usually do....attempting to overdose on coffee. As I was flipping through the paper, I came across an add for an manual transmission 1988 325iX 2-door with 175K miles. Well, I couldn't resist. I called the owner and took the car for a test drive. What a fun car! This had been my first experience with an iX.

Upon seeing the car for the first time, my girlfriend exclaimed, "What a cute car.....Let's name her PERGIE". SInce I am a realist, and I know that my role in the relationship (as is the man's role in any relationship) is "to obey and to serve". Thus I agreed. I quietly review the list of projects and hoped to myself that "PERGIE" had a strong heath car plan.

Unfortunately, the car had many Wisconsin miles and winters under it's belt. While the car looked fantastic from the outside, closer inspection revealed a long list of project to be undertaken: - The front and rear differentials were leaky - The transfer case was leaky - There was excessive slop in the stick shift - the Air conditioning system R-134A was leaky. - Emergency brake which does not grab - A faulty electrical systems which causes total battery drain if the car sits for more than 3 weeks - Water leak on the floor of the front passenger seat. - A tired and exhausted front suspension - Failed radio Antenna - A burned out display on the on-board computer.

After some hardy negotiations, I acquired the car (the project car) for a very palatable price. The following weekend, I packed the car, and prepared for the long drive from Wisconsin to Washington DC. During this long drive, I learned a couple of thing about the car, first I had a lot of work ahead of me, but most importantly (during a snow storm in Pittsburgh) that this was a fun car!!!!


PERGIE has a leak. More and more, when I wold pull out of a parking spot, I noticed drops of oil on the pavement which corresponded to the location of the rear differential. As I climbed under the car, I noticed that oil was weeping out of the seals on both sides of the differential. Thus began project #1 on Pergie.

PARTS NEEDED: I apologize, this article is written as a retrospective, this I don't have documented the part numbers and tools required. I called Bavarian Autosport, and was pleased to find that they have a differential rebuild kit. I prefer to work with Bavarian Autosport, since they will accept the return of any unused parts after your project is complete. The kit ran about $50 to $60 dollars. Included in the kit are the parts to replace the seals on both of the rear drive shafts as well as the seal for the main input shaft. While I did not replace the clips on the shaft, it is recommended that these are replaced. Make sure that you buy a can of liquid wrench. This is best friend you will ever have while working on your iX.

DESCRIPTION: I pulled the car into the garage and jacked it up. Once on the jack stands I gave the car the requisite shake test to insure the stability of the jacked car. Since I am a firm believer in safety, I placed a hydraulic jack under the differential with about a 1/8 inch gap. This is because, one should never jack the car by the differential, but in case it pops off the jack stands this will prevent the car from dropping on to my head.

The first step was to get a can of engine degreaser, and soak all the caked oil and dirt located on the differential and covering all the bolts. I then used a hose and a rag to clean up all the components to be worked on. I wanted to insure that all the bolts and parts were accessible, but I really wanted to make sure that there was no loose dirt which could get into/onto the sensitive components.

I placed a flattened cardboard box under the differential (this will serve as an absorbant cover to protect the garage floor from oil leaks). The next step is to drain all the differential oil from the casing (Use a contained to catch the oil as it drains). Remove the drain plug on the back of the differential casing, and then the casing vent plug (located about 4 inches above the drain plug).

I loosen all the bolts connecting the rear half shafts to the output flanges of the differential. Once the bolts have been loosened, I used a coat hanger to wire up the shafts and support them once the bolts have been removed. I then removed all the bolts and let the half shafts hang in the wire.

The next challenge is to remove the output shafts from the diffential. To do this in a uniform manner without damaging the splines, I used the bolts which mount the flanges to the side of the differential. I picked two bolts which were 180 degrees apart from each other. AS I backed them out, their heads made contact with the differential side of the output shafts. Continuing to back out the bolts, alternating between the two bolts, pushed out the output shaft. The shaft in held in place by a "C" snap ring which interfaces with circumferencial groove on the shaft and a matching groove in the differential casing. Using the flange bolts as jacking bolts will dislodge the shaft from the retaining ring. Once loose, the output shaft can be removed by hand. INSPECT THE SPLINES, looking for any metal debris. This will give you cursory feedback on the health of the internals.

I then removed the old seals from the differential. This was certainly a struggle! MAKE A NOTE OF THE DEPTH OF THE SEAL. The seal must not cover the vents in the casing. You must be very careful that you do not scratch the inner surface when wrestling with the seals. I fashioned two pieces of metal with hooks at the end. There is a recess on the back of the seal, which the hooks can grab.

To insert the new seals, I coated all the surfaces with oil, and then used an empty can (the base of which was the same diameter as the new seals. Once I had the new seals in place, I reversed the disassembly process. And Pergie was ready to go!!!


This was a relatively easy project to undertake. The only take-aways are that, you should degrease the day before, to allow the cleaner to penetrate. Secondly, note that the real time sink is the removal and installation of the seals themselves.


I noticed that Pergie's antenna was no longer rising and lowering with the power up of the radio. This first step in the troubleshooting process was to test the control wire from the radio. Most radio's generally have a control wire to the antenna, which sends a voltage signal to the antenna when the radio is turned on.

The antenna is located behind the carpeted driver side wall in the truck. It can be easily accessed. I placing a voltmeter on the control wire connection to the antenna housing, and had a partner turn the key in the ignition to the on position. I then turned on the radio (Make sure the unit is on, and in the case of aftermarket radios, have the unit on FM not the CD player or tape deck). In my case , I was receiving a strong signal. In case you do not receive the signal, I would remove your radio from the dash and perform the same test on the signal port on the back of the radio.

Instead of trying to open the housing and troubleshooting the internals of the antenna, I called numerous junkyards, and located a replacement unit at Zionville USED BMW parts. Once I had received the new unit, I replaced it, and all the problems were solved. Note, that you can order a new antennae mast separately from the servo motor. In my case the mast was also damaged, thus I replaced the whole unit.


iXing to the Remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon

EntranceMost visitors to the Grand Canyon drive north from Flagstaff and visit the South Rim of the Canyon where it is a mile deep and 17 miles wide. The views and vistas are spectacular, particularly early and late in the day when the sun is low in the sky. If you look at a map of Arizona, you'll see that there is also a paved road to the North Rim of the Canyon, pretty much directly north of the popular South Rim Area. Due to snow at the higher elevation on the north side, this road to North Rim is closed from September through May.

The Road InBut there is another access route to the North Rim farther to the west through the Toroweep Wilderness Area. It is really remote and accessible only by a well maintained dirt road -- check it out on a Map. From our home in St. George, Utah, Bev and I set off on this trip early last summer headed due south after loading a 2nd spare tire and lots of water and my "Odd Job Tool Box." By the time we made the round trip, we had traveled 160 of dirt road (plus 60 miles of paved road.) Most astounding was that on the dirt road section, we passed only one Forest Service truck and only 6 vehicles (all pickups and SUVs) passed by headed in the opposite direction!

The iX performed like a champ. The iX's suspension absorbed the bumps and washboard ruts with no problem. We were able to travel at around 40 mph most of the time with occasional sprints to 55 mph. But the last several miles required negotiating some rock fields at a crawl. When we parked, there was little to indicate the chasm that lay ahead. But a short walk took us to the edge of the canyon for an incredible view -- the Colorado River has carved out a trench a mile wide and a mile deep with sheer cliffs on each side. Quite spectacular! Here's a thumbnail photo of the view -- CLICK on the photo for a larger version. Yep, it's a mile straight down with a shelf about half way to the bottom. Thanks, iX for taking us there and getting us home. Overlook View

A Rumanian iX Lover -- from Sergey Prokhorov

Before buying my car I brought it to an independent service for all-around testing. He told me, that this is a serious car, it's driver needs to learn to drive it. And I understood his words at the first day of being a happy owner of my first BMW - as I tried to accelerate a bit quicklier as I always did, the car has tried to "run away" from me. That was very impressive, mostly because before I've driven a car with 75 hp for years, and I can not imagine, what more horses can do with a car. What can I say else - I begin to understand the slogan "Pleasure by driving". The car is much more comfortable than my previous one, it runs faster, it gets in turns better, (but you must know that all). The result - I'm more than satisfied with this buy.

Since I live in the capital of our country, BMW's are somehow common here. But several years ago this car was associated with criminals. Nowdays it sounds funny, but in most jokes a common businessman must drive a Mercedes, and a big Crime-Guy - a BMW. As the cars from Europa, USA, Japan are not seldom by us, we have many repair ways, from an official dealer to a well known big repair centers, that repair different cars to small "garage" - mechanics, that can repair "any" car, but you don't know how well it will run after such "repairs". Of course, all this service-facilities have different prices for their work, and different rate of quality. In my case, I decided to make a bunch of repairs just after buying this car, just to be sure that I wouldn't stand in a rainy night with a dead car. My buy has a long list of such repairs, but for that the price for it was decreased significantly. I hope, that replacing most part of drivetrain to new original or artermarket parts by myself will be easier than trying to find a real good E30 for sale - good cars are made for himselfs, not for sale.

After two weeks of waiting for parts and three days of standing in a repair - center I've got a "fast new" car for not so much money - and I'm happy.

As I see, the iX'es are not common by us. In our russian internet BMW-club are noticed only 3 or 4 of them. May be it's because of higher prices of repairs, if compared to other E30's, may be because this cars are pretty old, but still require expensive maintenance - not much cheaper than new BMWs do. Really a fan-car. Or a student-car, who wants a powerful car, and drives it until it dies, but pays only for gasoline.

The winter by us is commonly snowy, but I'm still waiting on it, now it's not very cold here (around 0 C ) but not snowing. So waiting to test full capabilities of my car. Maybe than I could write you more about snowy-experiences. In the mean-time, I read yours digest and have been very impressed about how much the members of iX Registry love their cars.

Thanks, Sergey. We're glad you love your iX too!


Federalizing a Euro 525iX Touring

Christopher Jones of Anchorage, Alaska, says, "Getting the car Federalized wasn't difficult, just expensive. The converters quoted $6800. The shipping was about $800 and the taxes and fees another $900. The car cost $10,500 in Germany.

"I shipped the car from LeHavre October 2000 and went home to Alaska. It took them until the end of March 2001 to complete the job as they couldn't find a dynamometer to handle a 4 wheel drive. They finally found a way to disconnect the front drive. The final bill was $6050 as I had made a few of the changes myself. There were no changes to the engine. Just different headlights, MPH speedometer, seat belt warning light, etched passenger mirror, a 3rd brake light, and clearance lights on the bumper and of course a few stickers.

"This process is a bit of a gamble as if the car does not pass the EPA test it must be retested at a cost of $1500. I know of someone who had his M5 go through 3 times. I put about 10, 000 kilometers on it in Europe and put injection cleaner, and valve cleaner in the fuel. I also changed the filters and spark plugs. I even gave it a final oil change right on the dock before I shipped it.

"I drove it home to Alaska in May, and it is now my daily driver." The conversion was handled through J. K. TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, 3500 Sweet Air St., Baltimore, MD 21211, Phone: (410) 366-6332. Here is the letter that they sent to Chris.

For more info on importing and federalizing, see the Roundel article at


Alex Stella's iX Website

Another iX fanatic, Alex Stella of Waynesboro, VA, has posted information about his iX on his excellent Website at http://ix-machine.bmwe30.net/. Alex says, "The main attractions are the 'Photo Page', the 'Custom Page' and the 'About Page'. The 'Photo Page' has pictures I've taken of the AWD components, my car in autocross, and a few others. The 'Custom Page' has articles I've written of easy little mods I've made. The 'About Page' has information on iX's in general and all the things about my iX, including the mods I've done."

I encourage iXers to check out the valuable info and great photos that Alex has posted. Thanks, Alex.



iX Testimonial

I was contacted by Fred Larimer from Southern California who is assembling a book on the E30 BMWs. Fred asked me to write up a summary of my experiences with the iX and I thought you'd appreciate what I wrote:

Our first test run in the snow with our new '89 325iX was frankly, disappointing and uneventful. But as Bev and I pulled into our driveway, we saw a Jeep slide across the intersection and bounce off the curb. Hmm -- perhaps it was slicker than we realized. So we took out our old '71 winterized Volvo and made a comparison with the iX. We were astounded! The roads were, in fact, extremely slippery. Traction and braking in the iX was truly awesome. From that day on, we have been iX believers -- weather or not.

This '89 iX served for 9 years as Bev's faithful daily driver on a 50-mile-a-day commute in Denver, never stranding her and instilling confidence in the worst of weather. But after driving the '89, I was hooked -- I also had to have an iX. So in 1991 we purchased a pristine used '88 iX which is still our daily driver in southern Utah where it rarely snows. It has been modified with a Dinan chip, Koni shocks, cut front springs and a stiffer rear bar to reduce understeer. It is a real pleasure to drive.

325iX models were imported into North America for model years 1988 through 1991. The '88 models were fully loaded up with goodies, including Reccaro seats. Automatic and 4-door models became available with the '89 model year. Yes, iXes have deficiencies as do all E30s -- they are short on torque and rear seat room, and they require timing belt changes every 50K miles. But the iX makes up for this with style (via special M3-type side moulding and deck spoiler) and incredible traction. Road and Track Magazine ("Snow Test", Nov,'88) concludes that the iX is superior to the Audi Quattros of that era in acceleration, hill climbing and braking.

Front ball joints on the iX seem to need replacing at around 100K miles (control arms with inner and outer ball joints are about $150 each.) The weak link on the iX drivetrain seems to be the splines on the front driveshaft. About 2% of our iX Registry members have reported this problem which usually can be fixed by replacing the driveshaft only, but in several cases this has required replacement of the transfer case. There are several preventive steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of this happening, including adding shims to the driveshaft and properly lubricating the splines.

If you are interested in this all-season Blitzen, you can check out more info on BMW's 325iX on the iX Registry Website (with over 750 members.) But if you start looking to buy an iX, beware, 'cause most iXers are like me -- they consider their iX as a "keeper" and can't imagine selling it.


Copyright 2001