Factory charge pipes are a common failure point on many modern turbo BMW engines. A charge pipe (CP) is in part responsible for carrying charge air (boosted air) to the cylinders. Unfortunately, BMW decided to use a thin, weak plastic charge pipe. The N20 CP is prone to cracking and ultimately failing at higher than stock boost. It's also not unheard of for the charge pipe to fail at stock boost. Enter upgraded charge pipes. In this guide, we will examine some of the best N20 charge pipe upgrades.
*These charge pipes will fit both the N20 and N26 engine. We will mostly reference the N20 throughout the post, however this guide also applies to the N26.
Why Upgrade Your Charge Pipe?
There isn't too much to say here so we will keep it short. The N20 charge pipe is a basic intake hose that runs from the intercooler to the throttle housing. It's located post-turbo meaning it must carry the turbocharged pressure. A few reasons to upgrade your charge pipe may include:
- Mitigate risk of failed charge pipe
- Meth injection
- Upgraded charge pipes are often cheaper than OE
Some N20 owners may find comfort in knocking this upgrade out up-front to avoid the possibility of being stranded. Charge pipes rarely fail over time, but rather it occurs suddenly. One minute everything is fine and the next minute your charge pipe has a huge crack in it. The more boost you plan the push the more likely the charge pipe is to fail at some point. Use your own judgement as to whether or not it's worth replacing as preventative maintenance.
Water methanol injection (WMI, meth, meth injection) is another reason you may need to upgrade your charge pipe. Most N20 meth kits rely on spray nozzles located on the charge pipe to inject the WMI. Of course, the OE charge pipe does not have any locations for meth injection. Upgraded charge pipes often contain one or two meth bungs for those interested in running meth.
Finally, the most obvious reason to upgrade is if you actually experience a failure on the stock charge pipe. You'll notice upgraded charge pipes are often cheaper or roughly the same cost as the OE option. We highly recommend upgrading if your stock N20 charge pipe failed.
Best N20 & N26 Upgraded Charge Pipes
We're now moving onto listing a few of the best charge pipes for the N20, in our opinion. We believe these CP's offer the best balance of price, fitment, and quality. Although, please keep in mind this is by no means an exhaustive list.
1. N20/N26 VRSF Charge Pipe Upgrade
VRSF makes some of our favorite bolt-on parts for turbo BMW engines. We believe VRSF truly offers an unmatched balance of quality, price, and fitment. The N20 VRSF upgraded charge pipe uses powder coated black aluminum piping. It also features one 1/8" NPT bung for WMI. This comes plugged for anyone not intending to use the meth bung. Also, VRSF offers a lifetime warranty on the N20 charge pipe. Excellent product at a great price and it's hard to argue with a lifetime warranty.
Buy Here: BMW N20 VRSF Upgraded Charge Pipe
2. Masata N20 Chargepipe Upgrade
Masata makes our favorite products for European folks as they are based out of the UK and have unmatched quality for the price. Masata offers two chargepipes: one for all F20 and F30 N20 and N26 engines and a separate for all F10 and F11's.
Their chargepipes come with 1/8" bungs for methanol injection and come in a coated black finish on top of some aluminum piping.
3. Evolution Racewerks Charge Pipe Upgrade
Evolution Racewerks (ER) also makes some incredible aftermarket products for BMW engines. Like the VRSF option above, ER backs their N20 chargepipe with a lifetime warranty. It features two 1/8" NPT bungs for water methanol injection. It's a bit pricier but some may prefer the looks and/or idea of having two meth bungs rather than one. The N20 ER CP also comes finished as brushed or polished for free. The anodized black option is an extra $35 or so.
Price: $314.96 - $350.96
Buy Here: BMW N20/N26 ER Upgraded Charge Pipe
4. FTP Motorsport Charge Pipe Upgrade
We're not too familiar with FTP Motorsport but their N20 upgraded charge pipe looks to be a great product. Charge pipes are pretty basic products so it often comes down to preference assuming the quality and fitment is there. The FTP aluminum charge pipe features one meth bung as with the VRSF CP. However, FTP is the priciest of the 3 charge pipes we've mentioned. As such, we would recommend opting for VRSF or ER. However, this still looks to be a solid option for anyone interested.
Buy Here: BMW N20/N26 FTP Upgraded Charge Pipe
BMW N20 Upgraded CP Summary
An N20 charge pipe is really a pretty basic intake component responsible for carrying charge air. However, the factory plastic piping is prone to cracking and failing at higher than stock boost. Heck - they even fail from time to time at stock boost. It's a great upgrade to do as preventative maintenance, but that's up to each N20 owners discretion.
If your CP fails or you want to run meth injection we highly recommend opting for an aftermarket N20 charge pipe. They're typically cheaper than OE and the solid, metal piping is likely to hold up for the life of the vehicle. VRSF, ER, and FTP offer some excellent options for the N20. Based on price points we find it hard to recommend anything other than the VRSF charge pipe.
What's been your experience with the N20 charge pipe? Feel free to drop a comment and let us know.
OR check out our post about building a 350hp N20 for under $1500