iXchange Issue #5
A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.
IN THIS ISSUE
- iXploits & iXperiences
- Trunk Lid Protector
- Painting Your '88 Bumpers
- Tips & Tidbits
iXploits & iXperiences
Just a reminder that I'd really appreciate your comments for inclusion in our newsletter.
Your notes or article don't have to be fancy. If you'll fax to me (call me first
so I can turn on my MAC), I can use the optical character reader to import into the iXchange. I can also receive MAC or DOS files from just about any word processing
program, but prefer a fax of typed text or sketch. If you have a special photo of
your iX, I'd be pleased to include it also.
of Akron, Ohio, reports that he (as am I)
is very pleased with both the Dunlop D40M2's and the Hakkapeliitta 10's he is using
on his iX. Mark had a great time at the BMW CCA Buckeye Chapter's Driving School,
experiencing both scheduled on-track time and a no-harm-done unplanned off-track
excursion in the rain which provided a valuable learning lesson about the iX's handling.
(Good for you, Mark -- that's what these schools are all about.)
He was pleased to be able to apply his experiences, expertise and the iX's capabilities
to "show the other traffic my tail end for the rest of that rain-soaked afternoon."
Mark has had some maintenance problems with his iX, replacing rear shock mounts
twice and brake pads three times, replacing a set of rotors and a bearing in the transfer
case which had to be shipped from Belgium. Mark is still very happy with his iX,
proclaiming "these aren't gripes however, just recollections of five years of spirited
motoring on the street and track... Let is snow!"
of Dallas, Pennsylvania, says that he bought a set of mud flaps from Co Van Herwaarden (our dealer support) which he knew were not specifically designed for an '88 iX,
but which can be trimmed with a sharp knife to fit satisfactorily. He has 80K miles
with no significant problems, but wonders if anyone has found a source for fog light
lens replacements for less than the $118 list that BMW wants. (Please let me know.)
He's tired of cleaning crud from the alloy basketweaves so he'll try some Blizzaks
on 14" steel wheels this winter. (Let us know how you like the combination, John.)
of Colchester, Vermont, uses and highly recommends Redline MTL for the gearbox and
diffs. He also is pleased with Eurasian Parts Select (vs. Peter Pan and Imparts)
for parts at good prices. (Yes, Blair, no problem with the stock 15" wheels & tires with the cut springs.)
of Watertown Connecticut (Gene is a BMW mechanic by profession) "gets a chuckle"
whenever he hears that CSA 35 wheels work on the iX. The ones he got from Exotic
Wheel and Tire locked up on the front calipers. After a refund, he ended up with
Rial "G" wheels and is very happy with them. He is also very pleased with his Bilsteins shocks
and reports that he had to use a hammer and chisel to remove the nuts at the top
of the shock. Gene reports that he has replaced the rear seal in the transfer case
but that it is not a difficult job. He has also replaced the 2 back-to-back seals on
the front differential on two iX's, and that this is not too difficult. (I'll see if I can convince Gene to give us some guidance on this procedure.)
says she got some strange looks from her neighbors when she had 16 wheels and tires for their
iX and 325e lined up in the driveway for a thorough washing and waxing! (Jackie, "Where there's a wheel, there's a way." That is what a flight attendant
said as I brought a BMW wheel on board as carry on luggage on a return flight from
An unfortunate story is provided by
of Bellmont, Massachusetts who bought an '89 iX with 67K miles for a very good price.
Shortly after taking possession the car became difficult to start and finally just
died. The diagnostic machine showed that the DME control unit was bad and Bob had
to spend $661 for the replacement plus labor. He plans a chip replacement for more
performance and hopes that this type of problem is not typical. (Sorry that you've had this problem, Bob -- I don't know of anyone else who has had
to replace the DME. )
Come to think of it (probably unrelated) to Bob's problem), shortly after I bought
my '88 I got stranded twice when the car refused to start. The engine would turn
over for a while with the starter, but not fire. As soon as it was jump started,
it fired right up. I replaced the battery and have never had the problem again. It is possible
that there was a bad cell in the battery or some other problem with it that lowered
the voltage when the engine was being cranked below the voltage at which the electronics worked properly or at which some relay functioned. By the way, if you haven't
replaced the battery in your '88 or '89, you might consider doing so as a preventive
measure. Its about time for these to start causing problems and it's not worth being stranded.
of Nashua, New Hampshire has provided the following for our enjoyment:
100,000 miles in an iX
the experience of campaigning an iX in New England for 100,000 miles.
The iX is the BMW that you can actually DRIVE every day of the year. Sleet, snow, rain,
dry pavement, machs nicht (it matters not). The iX will get you there with more
control than the 'traction control' models. It is not appreciably more expensive
than a 325i/is to maintain, and as we shall see, not much more expensive to repair, if the maintenance
work has been performed. In the time since July, 1989, when it was purchased new,
the iX has always gotten us home, always kept us dry and always generates the same comment "I didn't know BMW made a four wheel drive!!".
It seems appropriate to begin our discussion with the basic question, 'How soon after
you got it did things begin to break?' Those who have owned vehicles from Italy are
particularly concerned about this topic. In the case of the iX the warranty repair
history begins with:
A. The purchase of the 7 year/75,000 mile BMW 'Quality Continuation Plan" in July,
1989, at the time the iX was purchased. Cost of extended warranty: $500.
B. February, 1991; 28,575 miles. Developed a leak from the oil pressure switch.
Replaced under the terms of the basic warranty.
C. April, 1991; 31,000 miles. Developed a coolant leak from the thermostat housing.
Housing and thermostat replaced under the terms of the basic warranty.
D. October, 1991; 43,302 miles. Service Indicator lights fail to go out when reset.
Service light printed circuit board replaced under the terms of the basic warranty.
E. December, 1991; 45,560 miles. Passenger window becomes inoperative. Window motor
replaced under the terms of the extended warranty. Cost of repair if not covered:
F. October, 1992; 62,076 miles. Temperature gauge reads erratically, then fails.
Replacement of temperature gauge covered under the terms of the extended warranty.
Cost of repair if not covered: $168.60.
In all, not unreliable. Nothing stopped us, although we were inconvenienced some
by the lack of parts availability through the dealer. We basically broke even on
the extended warranty. One other item to remember with warranties - YOU ARE
TO HAVE YOUR VEHICLE SERVICED BY A DEALER IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE BASIC OR EXTENDED
WARRANTY. But, you must be prepared to demonstrate the service has been performed.
What Else Broke
This portion of our discussion will include what other items on the iX broke, once
the vehicle was out of warranty, as opposed to those 'wear' things we'll talk about
at another time.
A. November, 1989; 7,309 miles. Thought that was only a puddle at the apex of that
REALLY fast right hand sweeper. Wrong. It was a meteor impact crater, filled with
water. Damage to right front strut, bearing, stabilizer bar, wheel hub, wheel, tire
and miscellaneous small stuff: $1,913.80. Submitted through collision insurance - cost
of repairs, $200.00.
B. June, 1990; 17,259 miles. Well, it didn't really break but the passenger fog lamp
required replacement. Seems the iX was parked in one of the few metered spots in
downtown Boston for 40 minutes. When we came out, someone had fed the meter, but
had also neatly unbolted and removed the fog lamp. Cost to replace, $132.50.
C. July, 1991; 39,117 miles. Weather in New England, HOT. Temperature in the iX,
HOT. Air conditioner is thinking of cooling the air, but decides not to. Cost to
evacuate and recharge system, $36.00.
D. August, 1992; 58,620 miles. An oil leak appears from around the valve cover.
Cost to replace valve cover gasket, $29.43.
E. August, 1992; 59,961 miles. The driver's seat begins to recline, even though it's
at full forward, We looked at replacing the hinges for the driver's seat, but they
cost over $500, for parts alone. We purchase and install a Flofit driver's seat.
If we had it all to do over again, we'd have paid the extra for a Recaro. The Flofit's
adjusters only lockup on the outside track, so the seat torques under hard braking.
Cost to learn a lesson, $499.95.
F. September, 1992; 60,403 miles. The blessed antenna mast is bent. Broken my arm
to try and keep it clean and lubricated, but now it's bent! Cost to replace, $32.50.
G. September, 1992; 60,833 miles. Remember the passenger fog light? Well, the driver
side fog light is cracked and requires replacement. Cost to replace,
Hey! The price of the parts WENT DOWN!!
H. February, 1994; 90,421 miles. The cooling system's acting weird, hosing down the
engine compartment on an irregular basis. Well, the thermostat isn't working properly
anyway, let's replace it. Cost to replace, $71.32.
I. February, 1994; 91,030 miles. Wow! The short version of the story is - a head
bolt stretched as it was in the process of failing. That allowed the engine, at
high RPM'S, to pressurize the cooling system. At very high RPM's the system went
over pressure and puked coolant everywhere. We, however, didn't know that until we did a tear
down. Meanwhile, we discover BMW NA had issued a service bulletin explaining the
upgraded cylinder bolts and the coverage under warranty - to replace those that fail.
The first appeal to BMW NA was turned down cold, the iX was out of warranty. The issue
was raised to the CCA Ombudsman. He believes NA will reimburse the costs related
to the head bolts alone, approximately $100. Cost to tear down, examine, magnaflux
and rebuild, $8,52.19. Amount reimbursed by BMW NA to date, $0.
J. February, 1994; 91,030 miles. Another blasted bent antenna mast. Cost to replace,
$29.95. Another parts price reduction!
Overall, not too bad. If the seat and the coolant problem were factored out, it would
be excellent. Remember, however, this is a vehicle that receives MORE than the scheduled
service. Oil & filter at 3,000 miles, or less. Coolant and brake fluid replaced annually. An occasional Inspection II Service in place of an Inspection I, and
What wore out, when and....
With the odometer on the iX now reading 106,000 miles, you expect some 'wear and tear'
to have occurred. Of course, the style of driving has a great impact in this area.
This iX has seen most (almost all) of it's miles from highway use - 50 to 100 mile
daily round trips to work, regular visits to the in-laws in Buffalo, NY and weekend
jaunts throughout New England. As you will see, that generates wear completely different
from "city" use.
A. Tires. In November 1989, after hitting the crater mentioned above, the OEM Goodyear
NCT's were replaced with Michelin MXV3'S. Good ride, mediocre handling, real screamers
(literally) when pushed. At 35,000 miles I could no longer stand the verbal abuse from the MXV3'S, replaced them with Dunlop D40M2s. Outstanding tires, highly
recommended to any and all. Ran those, year round, till 80,000 miles and replaced
them with another set. Good news, over time the price per tire can down from $130
to $100, mail order of course.
B. Battery. Well, it didn't actually die, but it was a really cold winter and a replacement
seemed appropriate. The battery was replaced after three years (1992) at 60,000
C. Shocks. Even though the iX got its' miles on the highway, that doesn't mean it
wasn't exercised. After 61,000 miles, the OEM shocks were tired, really tired.
The iX was solid, but handling wasn't sharp and there was an annoying tendency to
bump-rub the rear tires and the interior wheel lip. Replaced with Bilsteins
all around. What a difference! iX rides better than new, tight, handles great, goes
sideways faster than ever. Probably should have done that a year sooner.
D. Brakes. It took over 96,000 miles to wear out the brakes. The replacement included
pads and rotors. The iX has a non-standard rear rotor, though no more expensive
than the fronts. The calipers appeared in good condition that's why the annual brake
E. Timing Belts. Replaced twice, at 50,000 miles and
92,000 miles (the engine was opened for another reason anyway). Don't mess around
here. Replace them every 50,000 - 60,000 miles. The 'down side' risk is too great.
Valves and pistons cannot inhabit the same space-time continuum, and the result
of an attempt to do so is REALLY ugly.
F. Other wear items. Assorted light bulbs (get them from someone who knows BMWs,
it saves so much grief), floor mats (keep a 'winter set' for the salt & crud) and
the little plastic nubbie that goes through the thing attached to the strap that
holds up the glove box door (still can't find a replacement).
Once again, overall not bad, though we've just been informed the iX should have the
Lower Control Arms replaced because of ball joint wear. It appears that preventive
maintenance really does make a difference.
Thanks to Mark, John, Bob, Gene, Jackie, Blair and Dan for sharing with us!!
Trunk Lid Protector
Several years ago I discovered a cost savings short cut that BMW took when they designed
and produced the E30 model, including the 325iX. When I was still racing with the
SCCA and my good friend Bill Schaefer and I were maintaining his 2002tii as an ITA
race car, loaded a trailing arm assembly into the trunk of Bev's '89 iX and closed
the trunk lid. Unfortunately, the assembly was about a 1/2 inch too tall and I put
a small bump into the trunk lid from the inside! Sure enough, BMW saved a few bucks
by not installing a liner on the underside of the trunk lid. It sure ruined my day so
I decided that this would not happen again. I purchased a 2' X 4' sheet of tempered
Masonite, cut two pieces to fit around the tool kit on the inside of the trunk deck
and painted it to match the body color. I used short bolts and wing nuts which engage
into the slots of the trunk lid cross member supports, but one must be very careful
not to use bolts that are too long and which touch the underside of the lid. If
I were doing this again, I'd simply caulk a bead of Liquid Nails and hold the Masonite in
place with duct tape until the adhesive sets up.
I recommend you install a similar protective piece or be very careful when closing
the trunk lid on a full trunk. When I bought the '88 iX, this was one of the first
upgrades I made. Now, at least if I close the trunk on anything that is too tall
for the trunk to close, I'll only skuff the paint of the liner rather than dent the trunk
If you'd like me to trace the pieces and send you a template, send me a couple of
bucks, but you can probably make these pieces yourself just as well. Really, it's
worth a little time to install these in order to save yourself some grief at a later
time arising from a moment of haste.
Painting Your '88 Bumpers
1988 was the first year that BMW imported the 325iX into the U.S. This model year
had some very nice features as standard equipment such as leather interior with Recaro
sport seats, an electric sunroof, map lights built into the inside rearview mirror,
an upgraded radio with tweeters built into the door near the side mirrors and a full
trip computer. However, this model lacked a ski boot integrated into the rear seat
armrest and most '88's came with a 14" steel wheel as a spare. And unfortunately,
the '88 bumpers were not color coordinated with the body color and included massive black
plastic pieces on the side of the vehicle. See the picture of my '88 in the first
issue of the
iXchange. (The only good thing about the '88 aluminum bumpers is that they do allow the
installation of a trailer hitch as I have done on mine. The hitch assembly bolts
to the rear bumper and to the floor of the trunk. Call me for further details, if
We bought Bev's '89 iX new and it never occurred to me to appreciate the "new style"
red bumpers until a clerk at an auto parts store commented on them. He noted what
a nice job BMW had done in integrating the bumpers into the body and color coordinating
the flexible plastic with the body color. So when I started looking for an '88 iX,
I always had in mind that I would someday paint the bumpers. That notion was further
reinforced when I met
and saw his '88 "4WDBMW" with painted bumpers, wheels and other trim. But I got
discouraged when the paint shop told me that flexible additive for paint was very
expensive -- about $27 a pint! So I put off this job for some other day.
It was, in fact, Tim that made me decide to proceed with this project this past Fall.
When Tim mentioned that he had some stone chips on the white bottom extension on
his front spoiler and was considering have a body shop paint it, I knew it was time
to make a trip to the paint shop and get out the spray gun and compressor.
I had assumed (incorrectly) that I would need to add a flex agent to the spray paint,
but the paint shop, after looking at the iX bumpers, assured and convinced me that
the plastic pieces were not "flexible" in the sense of trim on some newer autos and
that a flex agent was not necessary. I ended up buying the following items:
- 1 spray can of standard "sandable" gray primer
- 1 qt. DUPONT Prep-Sol Solvent
to remove wax, etc.
- 1 spray can of SEM Sand Free
to promote adhesion on plastic and eliminate sanding
- 1 qt. DUPONT Centari Acrylic Enamel (in Alpine White, Code: 146, Year: 80, K7941A
for My car. I had purchased this previously to paint the trunk lid protectors.)
- 1 qt. DUPONT 8034 S Acrylic Enamel Reducer
for "Overall 55o-65oF" (also available for other ambient air temps.) for thinning: 2 parts
paint, 1 part reducer for spraying (& clean up)
- 1 qt. SEM Clear Water Borne No Lift Chip-Guard
for gravel and corrosion protection for lower body panels.
- 1 spray can of SEM Clear Chip Guard (acrylic lacquer base for a final coat on
Total cost of materials was about $100, but this will vary depending on where the
pant is purchased. Of course, I did not use even half of the material so it is available
for future touch ups.
Removing the bumper trim pieces is straight forward using 8mm and 10mm sockets and
wrenches. You'll have to remove the carpeting in the trunk and the taillight covers
in the trunk and you'll have to remove a few nuts and bolts in the wheel wells.
There are a couple of nuts behind the side marker lights in the bumper trim pieces. These
lights can be removed by carefully prying them out with a large screwdriver placed
at the rear of each light and pushing forward and out. If the lights have been inserted
in the opposite direction, you may need to pry from the front. Don't force anything.
They should come out pretty easily if you are working at the correct end. The rear
bumper does not have to be removed, but the front one will have to be removed to
gain access to all the nuts and bolts holding the trim pieces. This is an easy job --
2 bolts requiring a 10mm Allen wrench, 60 ft-lb to install. Disconnect the wiring
to the side marker lights and the turn signal lights as you remove the light assemblies
and the bumper. I also decided to paint the door handles, round trim ring around the
door lock cylinders and the black air inlets under the windshield next to the wipers.
After the trim pieces have been removed, washed and scrubbed, they should be sanded
first to remove any rough or skuff marks and then
cleaned with wax remover . If you use the wax remover first and then sand, the
softened wax will work its way into the sanding marks and decrease adhesion of the
primer and paint. After removing wax, position the parts in an area where they can
be sprayed. Then spray with the Sand Free and while still tacky, spray with the primer.
After the primer is dry, spray at least two coats with the thinned enamel. Allow
to dry overnight and then use the water based No Lift Chip-Guard, using a lower (20psi)
air pressure than normal as directed on the can.
The Clear Water Borne Chip-Guard provides a textured, mottled look on the trim which
looks fine over the white base coat. It may or may not be attractive and suit your
tastes on a darker color. After a week or two, i notices a couple of small stone
chips on the grill, so I put several additional coats of the Chip Guard (spray can) over
the water based Chip Guard. It looks like this will provide good protection against
chipping on the vulnerable grill. Note that you shouldn't apply the lacquer. The
trim pieces on the bumper are adequately protected by the water based Chip Guard.
I am very happy with the look of my '88 with the newly painted trim. Tim came by to
pick up his spoiler piece which I had also painted and we took the opportunity to
take some pictures which are reproduced in this issue. Note how attractive the white
trim spoiler piece is compared to the black piece on my iX. You can also notice that
my iX is lowered in the front as I described in the October '93 Roundel
article. No doubt about it, these are two unique 325iX's !
Tips & Tidbits
If your "CHECK ENGINE" light comes on or stays on after you start your engine, chances
are the connector for the oxygen (O2) sensor is corroded and not making good contact with the wiring harness. The sensor
only puts out a few volts and it is very easy for the terminals on the connector
to have a high enough resistance to preclude the signal from reaching the DME unit.
If this light comes on, first disconnect, clean and reconnect the connector located near
the washer fluid reservoir. Then start and stop the engine six or seven times in
rapid succession. This should reset the DME and extinguish the light in the instrument
cluster. This light may also come on due to corroded connectors inside the cap of the Diagnostic Connector, located on top the engine, just behind the upper radiator hose and above the alternator. Unscrew the cap and clean the pins in the cap and the connectors in the cap. A Q-tip moistened with alcohol seems to work well into the connectors.
If you plan to change the fluid in the transmission, transfer case, or differentials,
always remove the fill plug before removing the drain plug. It is very embarrassing
to have drained the fluid and then find that for whatever reason you are unable to
remove the fill plug. Of course you could turn the vehicle upside down and fill the
case through the drain hole!
Be careful when accelerating hard on a surface which includes both dry pavement
and patches of ice or snow. The chain in the transfer case is vulnerable to excessive
stress when the tires bite on dry pavement and other wheels are on the slippery surface. Back off the throttle a little -- it is not worth a transfer case replacement.
Since I bought the rear bar for my '88, it appears that Suspension Techniques has
moved or gone out of business. Does anyone know their fate? Has anyone located
a source for an adjustable rear bar? (A bar for an ordinary 325 should fit just
fine.) Please let me know so I can pass on the info.