iXchange Issue #8

September 1995

A newsletter for BMW 325 iX Enthusiasts.


Current iX Registry Membership Exceeds 100 members! I need your inputs for the iXchange. Thanks for your support.

iXploits & iXperiences

Dave Ritter of Marquette, MI, had a squeal from his his heater blower and found a way to lubricate the bearings by removing the access panel on the firewall inside the engine compartment. The cover is held in place by four bolts and two plastic nuts. Dave reports:

Getting though the firewall cover was no problem. Once the cover was off I could see the bearings on each end of the motor behind the fans. I used a thin plastic tube to put a drop or two of light grease on each end of the motor shaft. Time will tell if this will stop the squeal I was getting on fan speed two.

Gary Black of Richland, WA, provides us a comparison of his new iX with his E30 M3:

After a long search I found my iX in May. I am in south eastern Washington state and I found this one in the San Francisco Bay Area at a BMW dealer advertising in the SF Examiner. It is a silver/black '88 with 38K miles. I also have owned a white/tan '88 M3 with 32K miles for the past 2-1/2 years. The iX isn't in as pristine condition as my M3. The iX was a So. CA car and the paint is beginning to oxidize in a couple places. It was also owned by a smoker so it doesn't smell like new leather as does the M3. The top of the dash and exterior black rubber and plastic trim are beginning to fade from baking in the sun. It also didn't have any maintenance records. It was missing the owner's manual, spare tire and the plastic tool kit and tools. I also put it through a $$$ service at the BMW dealer up here so that I would know all the fluids, hoses, etc. had been changed.

I would have liked to have located one with maintenance records that hadn't been smoked in but these are hard to come by. Plus I really wanted the sport seats since I am accustomed to them from the M3. That along with preferring a two door 5-speed pretty much left me looking at '88s. A good iX is HARD to find. Even though more iX's were imported into the U.S. than M3's were made world wide, the iX is a harder car to buy. Everything is stacked against you where it is all in your favor with the M3. The iX came in both body styles and both transmissions and the two door 5-speed is the one people hold on to. Owners put lots of miles on them and they are mostly found in places where there is lots of snow--and salt--on the road. With the M3 they are all the same body style. Owners baby them and only take them out on weekends. They don't get driven in the winter and are on the market a lot because owner's of cars like this seem to like to try different things.

So I went for an iX with low mileage since I expect to have it for a few years. One good thing about the one I bought is that I doubt it has ever been used much if at all on the snow. I had it up on a lift before I bought it and everything underneath was clean where dirt would normally accumulate from driving in the snow. I have also seen ones where small rocks kicked up from driving in the snow had taken paint off the front of the rear fender arches and behind the rear wheels below the bumpers.

One other somewhat disappointing thing with the iX seats is that the leather is lower quality than my M3. The M3 has soft "glove" leather with horizontal stitching across the seats. The iX has hard leather with vertical stitching up and down the seats. The soft leather seems to wear just as well as the hard leather (the soft leather surface wears off from entry/exit while the hard leather developers longer cracks) and is definitely more comfortable/luxurious. At least the seats in my iX don't show the wear of some of the other iX's I looked at. I also thought that maybe the iX wheels were the same as the M3 wheels since they are the same size tires and both the same BBS design. But the iX is a four bolt pattern while the M3 is a five bolt pattern (the center caps are interchangeable though:)

On the plus side for the iX (other than the AWD system that I haven't had much opportunity to test yet since we don't get much rain this time of year on this side of the state), it is much more drivable than the M3. It is pretty much a standard 325is with higher ride height and more mechanical noise from the AWD system from a daily driving standpoint. It starts up easily, the transmission is much smoother than the M3 and low-mid range throttle response is stronger. I installed an Autothority chip a couple weeks after buying it which actually makes it seem to drive smoother. I have a Dinan chip on the M3 and it seemed like a lot of people favored the Autothority because of its mid-throttle benefits rather than just full-throttle. It did have a slight valve clatter that the chip somehow covered/remedied.

I am surprised by how quickly the 2.5 liter six revs up and how high the redline is. It winds up much quicker than the 2.3 liter 16 valve four in the M3. Plus it seems more willing to do so. The M3 sounds much better/more purposeful in the upper rev range but it definitely takes more effort to drive it this way than the iX. The M3 also pulls strongly in 5th from 80 mph up well into the 100's where the iX just loses its "go". But most days I would just rather drive the iX, snow or not. If I had to give up one of my cars I would have to keep the iX even when ignoring the AWD because it is a more pleasant car to drive both in town and on the highway. Plus it doesn't make me feel like the number 1 public offender like the boy racer M3 does. I'm glad to now have two BMW's because I think that the market for both M3's and iX's is and will continue to be very strong in the classified section of the Roundel.

Paul Reitz
of Palmyra, PA, has been trying to fix a road/tire noise issue on his iX. He thinks he has the problem solved, but would like input from other iX Registry members if you have had similar problems. Paul reports:

When I first test drove this '91 iX, the car had a speed-periodic hum/whine first noticeable at 36 mph, then every 12 mph: 48, 60, 72. The tires were Pirelli P600s. When I mentioned it to the (independent BMW/Mercedes specialty) used car dealer, he admitted he had noticed it too. His mechanic diagnosed the problem as the differential, which a cooperative area BMW dealer replaced under warranty before I purchased the car. (I confirmed this by an inspection.) Afterwards, it still had the speed-periodic noise, but with lesser intensity. It disappeared when winter tires were mounted. You could also (still) hear, inside the car, the rear brake pads rub the rotors upon braking. And in general, road noise appeared to come only from the rear.

My diagnosis is that drive train noise and vibration is coupled from the rear subframe through two very thin (approx. 2 mm) rubber spring seats into the trunk area sheet metal structure. This apparently excites the (untreated) sheet metal around the shock tower just above the spring seats, in the spare wheel tub, in the tire jack and battery wells, and the trunk floor, all of which resonated badly. I removed the trunk liners, identified the resonant areas by light tapping, and covered them with one or more layers of of vibration damping material.

Is this car is an anomaly, or are they all like this? The rear suspension/structure on this car is as *poorly* isolated/vibration damped as the front end is *well* isolated/damped. It might not be unusual that BMW left the sheet metal undamped if they expected good noise isolation. Did BMW miss something here when the created the iX? Are all 325s like this?

The treatment was successful. Road noise now seems to originate only from the front of the car rather than the rear, even with the P600s, and the brake pad contact noise is not noticeable. It might also be possible to eliminate by changing the spring perches, but this would have to be coordinated with spring changes. I'd appreciate hearing from others, particularly if your experiences are different.

Paul can be reached at prreitz@amp.com or at (717) 534-1741. If you have info on Paul's problem, please also let me know so I can pass it on to other Registry members.

Here is quite a story from William Buckwalter of Warrenton, VA:
In 1989 we bought a new ix automatic, four door primarily as a commuter for my wife, Marty. I was out of town often, and we lived on a mountain so the four wheel/ ABS thing made sense at the time. The car continues to serve us well as we have moved from Charlottesville, Va. to Springfield, Ma., and back to Warrenton, Va. since then. Although the car has not stranded us to date (with over 100,000 miles) it has had it's problems. Around 35,000 miles we noticed a new noise in the driveline, and took it to the dealer who surmised the rear differential was too noisy and changed it out under warranty. The new noise was still there, but a noise we had been living with since delivery was gone. With new tires the new noise left and we iXperienced a level of quiet never realized before.

About this time we installed a remote alarm system that afforded us a remote locking feature. That has been very handy. At about 90,000 miles we installed an Auto Authority chip, primarily for the "improved throttle response". We are underwhelmed with that and would take our money back in a heartbeat if we could. We have received great service from the Tire Rack on winter rims and tires. Other than that this car is stone stock.

Every now and then since new the engine would turn over but not start on the first crank. Sometimes it took many attempts before firing. I rounded up all the usual suspects, ignition inhibit switch in the transmission shifter linkage, key switch, etc...No faults found. Then one day Marty described an incident that seems to indicate the engine would spontaneously shut off for a second or less, then return to normal while motoring down the highway (!). This happened a few more times, with increasing frequency. So into the dealer who found a faulty "main relay". Since they put in a new main relay (@ 58224 miles) neither of these problems have appeared again.

Then the big guy. While I was out of town, Marty mentioned the car seemed to have reduced traction. Sure enough, when I took it for a spin, it had only rear wheel drive! The dealer looked at it and advised we had ran the transfer case dry (!), causing it to strip the front drive shaft spline. At 68547 miles we had to replace the transfer case and front driveshaft. I harassed BMW until they bought the front driveshaft ($500.), but the transfer case and labor was all mine at $2500. That was a tough pill to swallow.

The automatic transmission began leaking out the front shortly after the transfer case was replaced. The leak seems to subside when the dip stick shows the fluid level to be half way down to the add line. I am living with that, but will soon go after it as I hate owning a car that hemorrhages on the garage floor.

We have noticed after the car sits for a week or more there is an occasional cold start problem requiring several cranking cycles. When it lights, it stumbles to life as if it was fuel starved. This is more likely if the fuel tank is low. Our mechanic suggests we have a leaky injector and should change them all out to the new improved ones. Other than that the car is working fine. At 105,000 miles it is on it's third set of tires (Dunlop 8000's on the stock rims w/ a set of Blizzaks on V.W. 14" rims for the winter), second set of shocks, second battery, second timing belt, third tune up, original oxygen sensor and plug wires and is running strong. We plan to swap out the belts, hoses, plug wires and maybe the injectors before this next winter, and some day start after that transmission leak.

We also plan to put another 100,000 miles on this car. It is clean and strait and runs well. What I like most about this car? It is driver oriented and fun to drive. What I like least about this car? Cleaning the basket weave wheels.

Sam Schiff
of Acton, MA, shares the following iXperiences:

I have had good experiences with Tire Rack of S. Bend, IN. This past winter, I ordered a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks (195 R 65x14) mounted on BMW factory 14" steel wheels. I only had to wait about 2 weeks before the first significant snow fall in New England. The traction, handling, and turning capability of these tires is awesome. We had a six inch snow storm followed by rain, which turned the roads into deep slush and puddles before the plows could get out. The car went through it smoothly at 55 mph without any problems, while everyone else was slipping and sliding at 35 mph. For the member who recently wrote requesting an alternative to the studded Hakkapeliittas due to state laws banning studded tires, the Blizzaks are an excellent alternative.

I recently put Castrol's new synthetic Syntec 5W-50 in my '88 iX. With about 1000 miles after changing to the new stuff, I have noticed a difference: about +1-2 mpg additional gas mileage; and now the oil light goes off immediately upon cold start-up vs. about a one-second delay with regular Castrol 20W-50 that I was generally using in the summer months. The only downside appears to be the cost, $4.50 per quart (ouch!).

Bob Mitchell
of Wyzota, MN, has pulled his digital clock out to replace on of the lightbulbs and provides us this info :

This is the easiest repair I have done on my car so far. Here's how:

The faceplate is held to the clock itself by 4 little snap feet spaced back about 3/8 of an inch from the edges of the plate, you would have to be really ham-handed to break it while trying to pull it. Fingernails work fine and won't mar anything. Just gently pry around the edges and the feet will pull out one at a time. A jeweler's screwdriver or even a flat toothpick would work if you have no fingernails or just want to use a tool. Then the clock itself is right there, clips on top and bottom. Squeeze the clips toward each other gently with your fingers, pull it straight out. I guess you could get into some trouble pushing it back into the dash but it may have a stop -- I did not check that. Remove the lever-locked wiring connector from the back and there it is in your hand.

Absolutely no tools are required and I see no need to disconnect the battery, you would have to work at it to cause a short-- like pushing a (finger) ring into the connector. If you can change the sparkplug in a lawnmower and handle an iron cannonball without breaking it you are way overqualified to do this job.

To improve the contact, I applied 'tweek' contact enhancer, available from Crutchfield or an audio store, to the pins of the lever lock connector. We'll see if this does any good over the next few weeks. The 2 lightbulbs are accessible from the back, they are a few bucks from your dealer or maybe Bavarian. You do need needlenose pliers or maybe an 8mm 12-point socket to get at them, they screw in with a quarter turn, right-handed thread.

Also on the back of the clock, there is a nylon screw head that will select either AM/PM and Fahrenheit, AM/PM and Celsius, or 24 hour clock and Celsius. I set it to the latter, I think it goes better with the German flavor of the car. Unfortunately 24-hour and Fahrenheit is not an option as far as I can tell. The owner's manual mentions that the dealer can do this for you if you want. Hey, you can do it yourself in less than 5 minutes with your hands and a Swiss Army knife. When you re-install, it will need to be set per your owner's manual, remember you have to push 'hour' after you get the time set with the small buttons, and likewise 'date' after setting the date, to enter your choice in the clock's memory.

A recent Roundel has the info on changing the lights on the OBC if you have one, that's a LOT harder but still not a really intimidating job like (I have heard) some 5-series heater cores are. If your clock is dead, you could try (used) Vines, (800-214-4839) Bav. Motor Wrecking (800-269-0946) (rebuilt) Programa (407-338-8843) or (new) Maximilian, Eurasian, AAA small car...Anyway, don't go around with a clock that won't work, -- fixing it is totally unintimidating.

Thanks to Dave, Gary, Paul, William, Sam and Bob for sharing their "iXperiences".

O'fest '95

I know you will read all about the Rocky Mountain Reunion (Oktoberfest '95) in the Roundel. I believe the general opinion was that our Rocky Mountain Chapter hosted a great event. About 600 people made the trip to Colorado -- one of the highest attendances of all O'fests. (But, hey, 6000 riders attended the BMW motorcycle meet in Colorado in July.) The following iX Registry members met early Wednesday morning for an "iX Tour" through some of Colorado's scenic mountain country.

Terry and Tony Miele
Dee Raisl
Maureen Sander
(Okemos, Michigan)
Carolyn, Dan and Ashley O'Hearn
(Aurora, CO)
Pam and Dave Ament
(Colorado Springs)
Kevin and Nancy Conlon
(Dubuqe, Iowa)
Bev and Gordon Haines
(Aurora, CO)

We convoyed north from Breckenridge to Kremmling and over the scenic and deserted Gore Pass Highway. Dee and Maureen had to leave our convoy early, but the rest of us stopped at State Bridge for some liquid refreshment and a photo session. (Thanks to
for the photos on page 6.) While we were stopped we enjoyed watching a fleet of 12-man rubber rafts floating down the Colorado River. (The mighty Colorado which carved the Grand Canyon is only a hundred feet wide and pretty tame at this point and is a very popular rafting river.) We returned through Vail and over Vail Pass to Breckenridge to enjoy the picnic, gymkhana and mini-car circus which you will read about in the Roundel.

BMW CCA on the WWW

One of the projects I've been working on along with Leo Newland (VP Southwest Region) is to create a home page for the BMW CCA on the World Wide Web. Those of you who have a web browser (Netscape recommended) can check it out at the URL address


You can go surfing from there.

Changing your Boots (front axle type)

One day in June, I opened the hood of my '88 to check the washer fluid and found what appeared to be grease strewn about in the passenger side of the engine compartment. Upon further checking I found that the grease was coming from a small slit in the in-board rubber boot on the right front halfshaft. The rest of the boot seemed to be ingood condition, but sure enough, I'd have to replace the boot.

I took a look at the service manual and decided this was not too difficult job to tackle, considering I had already had the front axle apart to replace the shocks as described in issue #1 of the iXchange . I ordered the "EPS Maint Kit 325IXE30" from Eurasian Parts Select for $51.93, including shipping, both in-board and out-board boots, clamps and CV grease. I got a hub nut locking plate, 17mm and 22mm nuts from the BMW dealer and dusted off the hub puller and torque wrench. If you need to replace your boots, follow the procedure in issue #1 through the point of pulling off the hub from the spindle .

Once you have the hub off, remove the metal hose-type clamps which hold the rubber boot in place and peel the boot back on the inside of the outer boot and wipe off the excess grease. You'll see a large (about 1.5 inch) circlip on the inside of the outer CV joint which you will have to spread and slide back. (See the photo on page 6.) At this point, the CV joint should slide off with a little pressure or light careful tap with a plastic hammer. Be careful keep the CV joint together -- don't let it fall apart into pieces. Now you can slide off the outer and inner rubber boots. As a minimum, wipe away as much of the old grease as possible. If you suspect that water or dust has contaminated the grease, thoroughly clean the CV joints in kerosene and use all new grease.

Assembly is straight forward. Slide on the new rubber boots. If it appears that the splines are worn, you can add some Locktite 270 or equivalent to eliminate slop in the fit of the CV joint on the spline, but generally this is not necessary. Slide or tap the CV joint onto the spline until the circlip engages. The service manual says to add grease from an 80g tube in the outer boot and 150g of grease in the inner boot. As a minimum, replace an amount equal to that which you estimate as been removed during disassembly. Attach and tighten the new "hose clamps" around the boots, slide the hub assembly onto the spline and follow the procedure in Issue #1 for reassembly. Use new nuts on the control arm and steering arm and torque everything properly. You should be all set and have saved several hundred dollars of labor costs by doing this yourself. Let me know how it goes if you decide to do this.

Leather Care

One of our iX Registry members,
Paul Schltz
from Aurora, CO is the owner of "The Ultimate Detail Works". Paul's wife drives an iX and Paul has quite a collection of automobiles, including two M6's, an XKE and several American muscle cars. Paul has provide the following info for us regarding leather car. If you have questions on this subject or on other car care topics, call him at (303) 888-2303. Paul is one of the best in the business.

BMW uses a superior quality leather in their interiors. The seats are completely finished with leather and are not merely "leather trimmed" as commonly found in most foreign and domestic interiors. Proper leather care consists of cleaning, conditioning and, if necessary, repairing. Appropriate intervals are essential to ensure that the leather will not dry out or be oversaturated with oils and waxes.

One step cleaner/conditioners do little cleaning and may not actually condition the leather properly. Most well advertised leather care products contain penetrating solvents which cause the natural oils to rise to the surface and cause premature cracking. Vinyl conditioners may contain penetrating solvents in addition to silicone which makes seating surfaces feel greasy and slippery. Actually, the leather car product that your BMW dealer sells (Leder-Pflegemittel) is about the best product that you can use and that is redily availble.

Avoid household detergents,soaps and chemicals to clean leather interiors. Saddle soap is the most commonly recommended mild cleaner. For longest life, be careful not to saturate the stitching. To test the selected cleaner, find an inconspicuous place and see if the product tends to remove the leather color. Follow the cleaning with the conditioner (if necessary) and your leather interior will be well protected and offer lasting comfort and beauty.

Note: Paul has a special product (witche's brew) that he uses and recommend and I'm sure he'd be happy to sell you some if you give him a call. I've used it -- it works great!

Here's a tip -- I switched my front seats on my '88 to minimize wear on the seat bolster caused by getting in and out of the driver's seat. The seatback release handles are a bit inconvenient, but if you don't often need to fold the front seats forward, this can significantly extend seat life.

Another Recall

Ask your dealer about the Safety Recall "Fuel Feed Hose -94V-066" which is related to a possible problem with a fuel leak at the plastic nipple on the fuel manifold where the fuel line attaches. I have not done this yet, but you should check it out as soon as possible.

Follow-up on ECU Problem

In the last issue of the iXchange ,
Dave Ritter
described a problem he had with his Electronic Control Unit. Dave is happy to report that he did finally receive full credit from Vines Bessemer from whom he bought the ECU. His iX is still running very well with no sign of trouble.

Other iXperiences

Brad Krohn
of Coeur d'Alene ID reports that his '88 iX is the most favorite car he has owned. It has over 124,000 miles on it, looks like new and runs great. "I hope to own this car for many more years. I make a 1250 mile trip around Idaho every month. In winter, the iX gets shod with Pirelli 210s and away we go. I have never been stranded regardless of how bad the weather gets. The runs 95-105 mph on the Montana interstate all day long. (Their $5 speeding tickets don't go on your record.)

Robert Domos
of Bellmont, MA, is very pleased with the 205/55-ZR15 Goodrich TA3's he is running on the stock wheels. "What a difference. Everything is better -- handling, wet driving, and even gas mileage. ___________________________________________
Circlip and Tour