A charge pipe (CP) is an excellent early mod to knock out on your BMW N54. It's not so much for the performance benefit as it is for the peace of mind. The stock N54 CP is plastic and is prone to cracking under higher than stock boost. Chargepipe upgrades also allow the option to upgrade to a blow-off valve (BOV) rather than the stock diverter valves (DV). In this guide, we'll discuss the benefits to N54 CP and BOV upgrades and list a few of the best options available.
Why Upgrade Your N54 Charge Pipe?
We gave part of this away in the intro. However, there are a few reasons to consider upgrading your N54 charge pipe and switch to a BOV:
- BOV sounds
- Easy install
- Charge pipe injection (fuel or WMI)
Again, the stock N54 charge pipe can give out due to its plastic design. Some have even blown their CP's on stock boost, though it's unlikely. Our N54's ran 16-19 psi on stock charge pipes and diverter valves for years without issue. However, we finally opted for upgraded charge pipes and BOV's on our 135i and 335i. Boy were we disappointed we didn't do it sooner. The N54 BOV sound is intoxicating and it's definitely a head turner. Install is pretty straight-forward and even novice DIY'ers can knock out the install with a bit of patience.
Charge pipe and blow-off valve upgrades also aren't too expensive. Charge pipes usually run about $150 and blow-off valves come in around $250. Not too bad of a price to add some exciting sounds and peace of mind that the stock CP won't leave you stranded. They also come equipped with 1/8" NPT bungs for water-methanol or fuel injection.
N54 Diverter Valves vs Blow-off Valves
The cheap route is opting for a metal charge pipe and sticking with the stock diverter valves. However, as the N54 ages DV failure is also a possible occurrence. If you don't want the classic BOV sounds we recommend at least upgrading the stock DV's. Diverter valves recirculate the air which keeps sounds quiet. New or upgraded N54 diverter valves will ensure a reliable setup without the BOV sounds.
Other than sound there isn't a huge difference between an N54 BOV or DV. They accomplish the same goal in relieving the intact tract of charged (pressurized) air when the throttle closes. A blow-off valve simply vents to the atmosphere producing the classic "pssshhhht" sound.
Best N54 BOV & DV Upgrades
That's really all there is to charge pipes and blow-off valves on the N54. As such, we'll move onto a few of the best options on the market. Before we discuss the charge pipe upgrades we'll lay out some of the best options for N54 BOV and DV upgrades:
- TiAL BOV
- HKS BOV
- Turbosmart GenV BOV
- Turbosmart Kompact Plumb Back Kit (DV's)
These are all great options from well-known companies. If you're opting for a BOV then check out some videos and see which one sounds the best in your opinion. There's no right or wrong answer. For N54 DV's, other great options exist but we recommend the Turbosmart kit.
*TiAL is probably the most common option for the N54. Our 335i runs a TiAL BOV while the 135i uses the HKS BOV. In our opinion, the N54 TiAL BOV offers the best sounds. It was also easier to install than the HKS. However, that's just our opinion and everyone has different preferences.
Best N54 Charge Pipe Upgrades
Alright, we wanted to touch on N54 BOV's first since each charge pipe may be a bit different dependent upon the brand of BOV or DV you want. Some of them use different flanges, so it's important you're buying stuff that fits properly. You'll also want to ensure it's a metal charge pipe with one or two 1/8" NPT bungs for methanol or fuel injection down the road. Let's dive into a few of our favorite N54 charge pipe upgrades.
BOV Options: TiAL, HKS, Turbosmart
DV Options: Turbosmart
It's always easy to include VRSF when it comes to the best BMW bolt-on mods. VRSF offers excellent products for great prices, and the N54 charge pipes and blow-off valves are no exception. The VRSF N54 CP is aluminum powder-coated black. Our N54 135i and 335i are both running charge pipes from VRSF and we can confirm the fitment and quality are excellent. There's also a lifetime warranty, so it's tough to go wrong.
Furthermore, VRSF offers a solid selection of BOV and DV options. Pick the charge pipe with the right flange for your BOV and you're good to go. Our favorite was the TiAL BOV which came in just under $390 with the charge pipe. The VRSF chargepipe includes two 1/8" NPT bungs.
Buy Here: VRSF N54 Charge Pipe Upgrade
Price: $149.99 - $454.98
Masata is our recommended manufacturer for any of our International readers. Their products offer the same quality and attractive price points that we see with VRSF and BMS. Masata's N54 chargepipe upgrade offers dual meth bungs for WMI.
The only downside to the Masata offering is that their chargepipe is only compatible with the stock diverter valves and cannot fit aftermarket blow off valves. However, this is still a great product for anyone who has busted their stock chargepipes or is simply looking for a more reliable chargepipe.
Buy Here: Masata N55 Chargepipe
BOV Options: TiAL
DV Options: Stock
Burger Motorsports is another company that always makes the list. As with VRSF they offer great products with prices to match. However, compared to VRSF, the BMS N54 BOV options are a bit more limited. They offer an N54 charge pipe with the stock DV flanges. The Turbosmart DV kit will fit the stock flanges, but you'll need to source the actual Turbosmart kit elsehwere. This also applies to the TiAL BOV flange which will work with Turbosmart BOV's, but the BOV will need to be sourced separately.
Just like VRSF, the BMS N54 chargepipe is aluminum, includes two 1/8" NPT bungs, and comes with a lifetime warranty. It's hard to go wrong with BMS or VRSF products.
Buy Here: BMW N54 BMS Chargepipe Upgrade
Price: $139 - $389
BMW N54 CP & BOV Summary
N54 charge pipes and blow-off valves are pretty basic mods. They help avoid failure of the OE chargepipe and DV valves and BOV upgrades offer intoxicating sounds. Charge pipe upgrades for the N54 also include 1/8" NPT bungs for WMI or fuel injection. It's a fairly inexpensive upgrade with several benefits even though they don't directly improve performance by any notable margin.
VRSF and BMS both make great charge pipes for the N54 with a few BOV/DV flange options. VRSF has a few more options up-front; otherwise, these charge pipes offerings are nearly identical. Great products from great companies at a price that's more than fair.
What N54 charge pipe and BOV or DV are you running? Which are you considering?
Drop a comment and let us know! Or check out some more of our N54 content just below.