iXchange Issue #6

March 1995

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.



iXploits & iXperiences

Here's an input from Tim Parker of Stillwater, Minnesota :

"My experience continues! My pocketbook suffers somewhat, in part only through choice, but I am still very fond of this car (silver '88 iX).

I had fitted a Dinan adjustable rear sway bar. Nicely made, good fitting kit and instructions; the mountings are reinforced. My shop did it right with a little welding and rust re-proofing. They also aligned all four wheels. My car is now lowered by about 1.25"/O.75" front and rear with Dinan springs; also Koni "sport" shocks all around set at one click off softest. It's handling is transformed. So far I have found no downside to these modifications to the suspension.

I await Spring and a switch from snow tires (OEM 14" steel wheels and Hakka 10s) to Revolution five-spoke RFX 7"x l5" and a fresh set of Dunlop D40 M2s (I think). I like the way the E30 body shell looks
with the RFX.

At 93,000 miles I needed a new radiator because of a minute leak. This had followed an oddball problem. Here goes: I was experiencing the odd misfire with no real pattern to go on. The #5 cylinder usually seemed to have a fouled plug, though, with too much oil deposit. The other plugs were much cleaner. On advice, I had the cylinder head lifted and found that it was in need of new valve guides and a good overhaul. #5 cylinder bore showed some scoring, and both piston crown and combustion chamber had some "dents" - #5 rocker arms and cam lobes were also scored a little. Something had dropped into #5 at some time and the head had been lifted previously, presumably to pull out the "something" and repair the damage.

We overhauled the head, replaced the head studs and put it back, I have now done 3,000 miles and no fouled #5 plug. I still have a misfire but only occasionally, and only at start-up from cold - when the temperature is well below freezing. We have funny gas up here in Minnesota - that's what I am telling myself !

Come the spring I'll reconsider. I hope to be able to get away with a new camshaft and rockers. If it truly needs a rebore....

Recently fitted are lOOw main/80w low beam headlamp bulbs. I bought these from an ad in AUTOWEEK. As a direct replacement I kept blowing bulbs so I bought a special harness, with relays, to provide enough capacity. Once fitted I've experienced no further problems. On main beam I have 360w - these lights are bright would recommend this change to everyone."


Michael Sand of Corning, NY has provided several iXperiences which I'll include in this and following issues. Here's one of them --

Michael bought his '89 iX in August of '94 from Autosport in Binghamton, NY with over 100K miles on it. Michael makes a 216 mile round trip commute every day to Rochester and needed something to replace his '84 318. He had a 4000s Quattro before and appreciated the power and smoothness of the iX. For $10K he got a great car which included factory steel wheels, phone, passport, alarm, and amplified CD changer. He's happy as we all are to be driving an iX rather than "something Japanese".

His first problem was that the service interval (SI) board failed and the speedo, tach and temp gauges went psycho. But after replacing the SI board, the speedometer started acting up again and then died completely. "I was told by an 'expert' that the sender NEVER goes bad (it was) so I better have the instrument looked at." Unfortunately his boxed and ready to ship cluster was stolen from the shipping dock and he had to look for a replacement. After a very bad experiences with E&E Auto Sales of Harrisonburg, VA (sent a 325e dash which didn't fit, still waiting for refund check) and some difficulty with AAA Auto Parts (sent a 318 dash initially, but replaced it with a 325iC dash), Michael is back in business. "The net cost for the correct dash not including shipping and poor business practices was $450. Insurance paid for it, but pity I had just put the new SI board in (the old one.)

Michael also recommends the following: "Replace your stack ellipsoid/high beam bulbs with 80w/100w bulbs. Those (original) beams are nice but the lows are not all that bright. I got (my upgrades) from Imparts and have been very happy now that days are so short. I plan on putting Hella 500 clear round driving lights (100w bulbs) on the iX as I had done on my X1 /9 and Audi. By filling in that central hole left by the headlights, they are great for spotting deer here in upstate New York as well as for waking up left lane bandits. Daylight! Round driving lights on Bimmers also just look sooo choice... The other thing I would strongly suggest is that you install clear headlight guards over those bad boys. I went rock hunting the other day and got one in the drivers side low beam. At $138.00 locally (mail order $90.00), the $28.00 cost of the covers from Bavarian Motor Service would have been a blue chip investment. Aside: I have offered to accept a headlight from E&E as payment in lieu of a refund check. John had completely forgotten about my refund. He also said the paperwork from the time period of my order had been 'filed'. Circular file no doubt... " (Continued next issue.)

Thanks Tim and Michael for sharing your joys and grief.


Recently I've hooked into the Internet and have been surfing through the vast quantity of information available there. Whatever you want to know, you can find an answer there -- read the latest news, join a discussion on chemical physics, download "Alice in Wonderland", get the weather report for Sheboygan, get photos and phone numbers of your congressional delegation, talk live in a romance room, download all the Road & Track articles about the new M3, hook into Stanford's computer and get several of their 54 solitaire games, or send e-mail to your friends.

One of the many discussion and e-mail groups is the BMW DIGEST headed by Richard Welty at IBM somewhere in the U.S. ( When sending on the Internet, one does not really know or care where the recipient is physically located.) Apparently there are about 600 people around the world who are subscribed to receive electronic copy of the daily 2-10 pages of messages that are exchanged between members of this group. Typical discussions concern the best alarm system for BMWs, experiences with tires, problems and fixes for heater and cooling systems, etc. There are a lot of great suggestions from people who obviously know a lot about BMWs.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that at least two members of the iX Registry are subscribed and participate in this group -- Rick Kjeldsen of Poughkeepsie New York (who maintains a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list on the net) and Barry Wellman of Toronto, Canada. Both Rick and Barry have been very helpful in assisting me with my surfing adventures. Turns out that every couple of weeks someone asks something like, "What's an iX?" or "Is the 325iX any good?". As an iX enthusiast, Barry has been quick to provide some great answers for those who have not yet become believers! Recently someone asked a few questions for which Barry and I provided a set of answers. These provided a good summary of the 325iX and I've included most of the material in the next section of this newsletter. If you have an Internet connection and wish to receive the daily e-mail from this group, send an e-mail message containing the command:
subscribe bmw-digest address
where "address" is your internet address. You'll have daily mail in you mailbox.

iX Highlights and Features

(ed. note -- the following is a n assembly of info on the iX that I have sent to the Internet BMW Digest described above.)

The 325iX was produced from '86 through '91 and imported into the U.S. for model years '88-'91. The iX has viscous couplings (filled with silicone) in the drive train to split torque front to rear and also in the rear axle to provide limited slip. Handling in the dry is quite satisfactory, particularly with a few mods that I've made (cutting the front springs to lower the front 1-1/2 inches, adding a stiff rear bar, installing Koni sport shocks and a Dinan chip, upgrading bushings and running D40M2's. Even Derek Bell was impressed when he drove my iX around Sears Point at the '83 Oktoberfest. (I had the pleasure of riding with him then and also have enjoyed finishing 3rd in class as co-driver in an E30 M3 at the 3 hour '91 SCCA World Challenge race at Sears Point.) Based on these experiences, I assert that the iX is very satisfactory on the track and that it will not be embarrassed by any E30 with a close-to-stock engine.

But the iX is really in it's glory in inclement weather. With studded Hakkapeliitta 10's, the iX is awesome. Even on the most slippery surfaces (including the ice on the lake at Georgetown, CO) the iX can accelerate at full throttle after the first several yards. The ABS which includes a special program (not included in the ordinary 325) for low friction surfaces is also very impressive. Ford Exploders, Jeeps! and Chevy Blazeers have no idea what left them at the stop light. If you love BMWs and need a car for all seasons, this is your car!

The '88s were available only as a 2dr loaded with standard features such as Recaro seats, electric sunroof, map lights, full trip computer and upgraded radio. In '89 a 4dr was offered, but many items were added cost options. The '89 and later models came with a removable rear armrest and ski bag and had smaller color-coordinated bumpers. These later models also had a 15" alloy spare rather than a 14" steel spare wheel. A driver air bag was added in some '90 and all '91 models. All models came with special body side moulding and 15" wheels. Asking prices in the prime Denver market range from about $10K for '88s to $23K for '91s.

The iX viscous couplings on the 325iX are filled with silicone and are not computer controlled. The one behind the transmission splits torque front to rear (nominally 37/63%). A series of plates with holes and slots turn in the silicone fluid. Some plates are attached to the input front axle drive shaft and some are attached to the rear axle drive shaft. Normally the plates turn at the same rate without relative motion. The silicone becomes very viscous as soon as it is heated by friction and shear caused by differences between the motion of the plates. This tends to lock the drive shafts. If the rear wheels and drive shaft are slipping and turning faster than the front, friction between the plates increases, slippage is reduced, the rear wheel spin is reduced and the power from the input shaft is transferred to the front.

The drive system add only 140lb. to the vehicle and is very reliable. The viscous couplings are sealed permanently and require no maintenance. The only additional maintenance items required are changes of 1) the front differential oil (GL-5 90 weight, same as the rear) and 2) the transfer case fluid which is ATF. All drive train fluids should be changed at "Inspection II", nominally at 30K miles.

The front wheels always have some torque transmitted to them. BMW chose this ratio (37/63) because this corresponds to the weight distribution on each axle under full acceleration. This avoids the problem typical of front wheel drive vehicles in which the front wheels spin under acceleration due to weight transfer to the rear. Road & Track (April '88) states that "The net effect of the center differential is to act as a power-management system, transferring engine torque away from the end that is slipping and to the end with greater grip; as much as 90 percent of the torque may be shifted to the front or rear as required. This is done actively, quickly and without the occupants of the car ever being aware of it."

Another interesting aspect: EPA figures for the iX are 17/23 and for the iX 18/24. One might expect more of a penalty for the AWD, but I recall Audi actually advertising that their Quattro system decreased overall fuel consumption because a driven wheel imparts less drag than a rolling wheel over about 20mph. I've never seen BMW discuss this issue or exploit this in their advertising.

In it's stock form, the iX understeers somewhat more than most BMWs, is 0.4 seconds slower than an ordinary E30 from 0 to 60, and 0.3 seconds slower in the quarter mile. The rear axle ratio is changed slightly (3.91 vs.3.73:1) to minimize the effect of the added weight on acceleration. Car and Driver specifically notes that the iX stops 13 ft. shorter than an 325is, probably due to wider stock tires (205s vs. 195s). With the few mods that I've made, I picked up 1.4 sec 0-60 and 7 sec. on a two minute lap around Pueblo, Colorado's track.

Although the iX does not have enough power to break the rear end loose in 3rd gear, the AWD system does provide some advantages when the car is 4 wheel drifting through a turn near the limit of adhesion. At the point where the
driver of a rear drive BMW would have to lift off the throttle slightly and counter steer, its likely that an iX would allow the driver to stay on the throttle. Power would be transferred to the front axle and the front wheels will pull the car through the turn. This is certainly the case on snow, ice, gravel, etc. and the same principle applies on dry pavement near the limit. It's just at higher speed and more exciting.

The basic technique used to drive the iX quickly is to "point and shoot". Upon entering a turn, aim to run over the apex, get on and stay on the throttle early, and allow the slight understeer to carry the car out away from the apex to the outside of the exit. Through turn keep the front wheels pointed in the direction you want to go and don't worry too much about where the rear end is going. This provides a high exit speed from the turn to carry you down the next straight. The iX and rear driver BMWs are great performers -- they are just different and need to be driven differently for maximum performance.

There's no significant difference between the 2- and 4-door models except the 4 door is maybe 50 lb. heavier due to the door hardware and window motors. The '88 iX seats provide lots of lateral support, are very adjustable, and have the extendible thigh support in the seat bottom. They were standard on all '88's (only 2-door iX's were imported in'88) and were optional in later years.

Until '90 or '91, the only colors available were red, black, white and silver. Later, a few other colors were offered, including a beautiful dark metallic blue/purple, but I don't know much about these items. (ed. note -- iX Registry members who have info on this item, please provide it to me.)

I've driven a Quattro coupe and it does have a bit more power, due to the turbo, but there is no way I'd buy one. Personal preference and bias, perhaps, but they are just not built as well as the BMWs. From an enthusiasts viewpoint, the '88 iX is very desirable, but if you'd like lower mileage, an air bag, ski bag and more attractive bumpers, go for a later model. In any case you'll have a car for all seasons, weather or not!


I didn't realize it until I bought the '88 and was able to make a comparison, but the clutch in the '89 was "heavy". By this I mean that it required slightly more effort to depress it, but more significantly, it was difficult to release it smoothly -- there was a very narrow range of movement in the pedal in which the clutch engaged. And this range of engagement was very close to the position in which the pedal was all the way out. On the other hand, the clutch on the '88 seemed less sensitive and easier to engage gradually over a broader range of pedal movement. The pedal was much easier release and it was easier to start smoothly in 1st gear. I knew that the hydraulic clutch master cylinder and the slave cylinder were not adjustable so I was curious as to why there was such a difference between the two cars.

After some investigations and some awkward contortions under the dash, I discovered that there is a spring on the pedal assembly which is adjustable and which affects the operation of the "over-center" mechanism of the pedal as shown in the figure. I backed the two nuts out all the way to reduce the spring tension using a 13mm open end wrench. If you want to try this, you'll find that this is a very tight fit. You'll need a wrench with a very narrow shank and you'll need an assistant to depress the clutch pedal while you turn the nuts 1/12 of a turn at a time!

By relieving the tension on this spring, I was able to significantly improve the feel of the clutch on the '89. The force trying to return the pedal to the at-rest position is reduced, but in addition, the over-center action is spread over a broader range of pedal movement. I've tried to illustrate this in the graph. If you feel you have the same problem as I had, it is worth the effort to make this adjustment.
Clutch Pedal Linkage Clutch Force

YiX! -- this is Radical !

Patrick Bauguess of Redding, California has provided the enclosed photos of the most radical iX wheel setup we've seen yet! Beautiful 17" OZ Corsa alloys with 245/40 ZR17 Pirelli P700Zs. Whoa! He's also in the process of installing H&R springs to lower the car 1.25 inches ($349 list from Motorsport 1, Redwood City, 415-367-1207). Lookin' good, Patrick! Thanks for the photos.

RMC Icekhana

The Rocky Mountain Chapter held its annual ice gymkhana in January on the lake at Georgetown. This is a favorite event for Colorado iX owners and for others who enjoy slipping and sliding around on the ice. The enclosed photo shows the train of iX's we assembled at lunch time on the ice which is 16 to 20 inches thick. From the front are iX's owned by Jim and Leslie Jenkins (GOZNSNO), Gordon Haines (4X4BMW), Terri Bendelow & Mike Carmack, Art & Betsy Krill, Steve Hamilton, Tim Jones (AWDBMW) and Merl Volk. Bet you haven't seen this many iX's together before.

The weather was beautiful again this year, but I hate to admitt that I was not able to defend my championship from last year. Gregg TenEyck, one of my best friends, the same guy who writes a column for the Roundel , the guy who allowed me to race his IT Datsun 510 many times, showed no mercy and showed up with brand new studded Hakkapeliitta 10s on his Subaru 4WD turbo Legacy. Gregg who is a very good driver took first place with fast time of day. He and I have been swapping first place about every other year -- seems that whoever has the best tires wins. In fact, the Subaru is very competent on slippery surfaces (although it's not the ideal car for spirited driving on the track.) But the next time you come upon one of these rice burners driven by an experienced driver on a snowy road, you may want to do a tire check before you assume that you'll be able to simply blast by this car as you might most others. In any case, congratulations to Gregg -- this year.

Oktoberfest '95 Plans

We expect a big turnout for Oktoberfest, July 17-21 in Breckenridge this summer. I hope you all will plan to attend and help us make a great iXibit. We'll try to arrange for all iX's to participate in the driving school and autocross on the same day. I'll plan a lunch tour on Wednesday and hope that we will have an impressive convoy of iX's over some of Colorado's most enjoyable and scenic roads. Please plan to participate and let me know of your plans. It should be a great week!

Tips & Tidbits

Here's a tip off the Internet from one of our own Registry members! Thanks, Rick!

Inoperative Power Windows -- from Rick Kjeldsen (kjeldsen@cs.columbia.edu)

The most common cause of a flaky power window is just the switch. The contacts in the switch get pitted and carbon buildup, and will become erratic. You can clean them pretty easily. Pop out the switch (it may be easier to pop up the shifter boot (manual xmission) and push the switch out from below), remove it from it's plug. Disassembly is easy, the bottom slides out of the case formed by the top and sides. Watch where the parts come from as you take it apart. Clean the contacts, clean and lube the rubbing surfaces LIGHTLY with a grease or white-lube, and reassemble. Takes about 5 minutes. After many miles the contacts may become so pitted that you need to replace the whole switch.

(Ed. note: -- I had problems with inoperative windows (all of them at once) on the '89 iX. Turns out it was the circuit breaker in the shift console. Pressing down on the breaker would make an internal connection and all would be fine. I removed the breaker, opened it up and sprayed the assembly with some WD-40. All seems fine for now.)

- Barry Wellman of Toronto says that he has fitted 7-spoke ROH-Actron wheels from the Australian company to his '90 iX with Euro Uniroyal 340 all seasons and that he is very pleased.

-- You may have seen the plastic cup holders that your local BMW dealer has to fit over the E30 center console. They are a bit tacky but can be dressed up to look great with the addition of a roundel hub cap emblem in the bottom of the holder. Part number 36-13-1-181-080, list $3.19 is a perfect fit. Also add a piece of weather stripping to the top ring inside the holder and you'll have a very functional and attractive cup holder for your iX.

-- Geof Richon of Gloucester, Mass. reports that he has had no major problems with his iX in 132K miles of enjoyable driving. He's happy to have his first BMW that "has four tires on the ground at one time". (He's had BMW bikes for the past 30 years.) He's happy with the service at Bill French's BMW/MB garage in Essex, MA.

- Albert Wimmer of Notre Dame, Indiana reports that his experiences with Tire Rack have always been positive (as mine have been.) He tried Ronal-15 wheels, but found that they rubbed the front calipers. Tire Rack replaced them with Borbet Type C's at the same price. He is very pleased with the tire balancing methods they use, including weights placed on the inside of the rims. He would not buy tires anywhere else!

-- The Tire Rack is advertising a 4 wheel/tire package for the iX consisting of 15" steel wheels and Pirelli Winter 190P's for $580.