It's crazy BMW hasn't learned at this point. Maybe they simply do not care. Charge pipes (CP's) are a common failure on nearly all turbo BMW's. Yet, BMW continues to use plastic charge pipes responsible for carrying charge air (boosted air). Generally the charge pipes hold up OK on stock boost. However, tuning for more boost often exposes the charge pipes as a weak point. The S55 is no exception. In this guide, we'll discuss some of the best charge pipe upgraded for the S55 engine.
BMW S55 Factory CP's
We'll keep this short. Charge pipes refer to intake piping after the turbo that are responsible for carrying charge air - also known as the boosted or pressurized air. You may be familiar with the N54 or N55 but the charge pipes are a bit different on the S55. This is in part due to ditching diverter valves and replacing the FMIC design with a top-mount intercooler.
The primary charge pipes prone to failure on the S55 are known as the hot side chargepipes. They are the connection from the turbochargers to the top-mount intercooler. However, the S55 also has charge pipe on the cold side. This connects the intercooler to the intake manifold. It appears a less common failure, but it's something to consider when upgrading your CP's.
Why Upgrade Your S55 Charge Pipe?
This might seem obvious. The S55 charge pipe is prone to failure. However, there are a few reasons you may consider upgrading your charge pipes:
- Mitigate risk of failed charge pipes
- WMI injection (water methanol inection)
- Upgraded piping is often cheaper than OE
S55 owners may consider knocking this out to avoid the possibility of being left stranded. The S55 charge pipes rarely fail over time, but rather it occurs in an instant. Of course, it generally happens when under heavy boost. Anyways, all might seem fine one moment and the next you're on the side of the road with a cracked charge pipe. Running higher boost makes the factory piping more vulnerable. Some may find comfort in knocking this out as preventative maintenance, but others may prefer waiting for the charge pipe(s) to actually fail.
Charge pipes don't offer a direct performance benefit. However, most aftermarket CP's come with 1/8" NPT bungs for meth injection. You may consider opting for upgraded charge pipes if you plan to run meth.
Lastly, upgraded charge pipes are generally cheaper than the OE piping. That's obviously not true if you can get the charge pipe covered under warranty. However, we highly recommend opting for an upgraded option if you're paying out of pocket either way. They're cheaper and prevent the risk of another OE CP failing.
Best S55 Charge Pipes for M2, M3, M4
Below we'll list a few of best S55 charge pipes, in our opinion. Please note - this is not an exhaustive list. We believe these CP's offer an excellent balance of quality, price, and fitment. There may be other great options on the market, but the following charge pipes are our favorites.
1. S55 VRSF Charge Pipe Upgrade
We can't say enough good stuff about VRSF. If you're looking for a great balance of price, quality, and fitment look no further. The VRSF S55 charge pipes use powder coated black aluminum piping. They also include two 1/8" NPT meth bungs for those looking to run meth injection. The meth bungs are pre-plugged so no worries for those not running meth.
These charge pipes come backed with a lifetime warranty. Again, we love VRSF. We've used their parts on all of our modded BMW's with great success. VRSF S55 CP's are our top choice as we believe they're excellent quality at a great price.
Price: $299.99 (+$139.99 for cold side CP)
Buy Here: S55 VRSF Hot Side Charge Pipes
2. S55 BMS Charge Pipe Upgrade
Another solid option for those looking for S55 charge pipe upgrades. Burger Motorsports (BMS) are the creators of the popular and successful JB4 tunes. As with the VRSF offering, the BMS charge pipes come with two meth bungs. They're also pre-plugged for those not running meth.
From a price point they come in a bit cheaper than the VRSF charge pipes above and are also good quality. We ultimately recommend VRSF but either option is a solid choice.
Price: $279 (+$129 for cold side CP)
Buy Here: BMS VRSF Charge Pipes (Hot & Cold Side)
3. Masata S55 Hot and Cold Side Chargepipes
For our International readers looking for both hot and cold site chargepipe upgrades, Masata is the best in the business based out of UK. Their S55 chargepipes are built with high quality aluminum and coated in a matte black finish.
The chargepipes include a 1/8" bung for methanol injection. These chargepipes are the best bang-for-the-buck for M2/M3/M4 owners that are based outside the US as BMS and VRSF products are more expensive and difficult to find or import internationally. Masata offers just as high quality as both these brands and at an attractive price point.
Buy Here: Masata S55 Hot and Cold Chargepipes
4. S55 Eventuri Carbon Fiber Charge Pipe Upgrade
Damn - these things look good. As you'd expect with carbon fiber, they come in at a totally different price point than the above two options. They're not cheap with an $895 price tag for just the hot side charge pipes. However, they really do look spectacular. That's not to say the others don't have their benefits for those wanting an OE look. If you're looking to spice up the engine bay these Eventuri charge pipes will help without a doubt.
It's hard to argue with the looks of carbon fiber. Though, it may be tough to get down with the price tag. Nonetheless - for those willing to pay the price - this is an awesome option. The quality and looks are there.
Price: $895 (hot side only)
Buy Here: S55 Eventuri Charge Pipe Upgrade
BMW S55 Upgraded Charge Pipes Summary
That's really all there is to upgraded charge pipes. While they're not a power mod by themselves upgraded charge pipes help the S55 make boost and power with greater reliability. If your S55 CP fails outside of warranty we highly recommend opting for an aftermarket option. Some also may find comfort in knocking this out as "preventative maintenance".
We find it hard to recommend against VRSF charge pipes since they're a great product with a balance of price and quality. However, BMS also offers a great option. Finally, the Eventuri carbon fiber CP's look beautiful but come with a price tag that may not look as good.
Have you experienced a CP failure or are you looking to upgrade prior? Leave a comment and let us know!
OR check out our post about building a 600+whp S55 for under $2,000