Imagine you’re cruising along one day in your F30 BMW 335i, having a great time on your drive, you hit the throttle a bit to pass someone, when you suddenly hear a “BOOM!” under the hood, and the car stops running altogether or lights up like a christmas tree.
Yep, something’s exploded under your hood, and there’s bits of plastic everywhere. Well, we’ll tell you what’s happened -it’s not your fault, and it’s not the end of the world either. Your chargepipe just failed.
What the hell’s a Chargepipe, you might be wondering – in simplest terms, it’s the tube that connects the intercooler to the engine, after the turbo. If the intercooler’s not connected, all that boost pressure coming out of the turbo is going nowhere – and the car likely won’t even run, and if it does, it’s not running good. You see, because it’s after the turbo, it’s under pressure. And BMW, in their infinite wisdom and brilliant choices for materials, decided to make the chargepipe out of plastic. And that’s fine – for a while.
Most BMW N54 and N55 engines are more than 5 years old now – and what this means is that 5 or more years of aging, oxidation and cycles of heat as the car warms up and cools off each day as you drive has taken its toll. The plastic gets brittle, and when you put pressure into a brittle plastic thing, it explodes – just like those soda bottles full of dry ice from when you were a kid. If you’ve ever seen a dry-rotted tire, you know rubber degrades just from being exposed to the air and environment. Plastic also degrades with time, just at a different rate.
So you’re going to have to replace the chargepipe no matter what you do – and it’s worth saying that the plastic material is not ideal for sealing things up anyway, meaning that it leaks some boost, even when everything’s put together perfectly. This means replacing it will improve throttle response and performance – not to mention a performance chargepipe is probably less than what your local dealer will sell you the OEM chargepipe for, meaning it’s an economical preventive maintenance item.
If your chargepipe hasn’t failed yet, we hate to fearmonger, but it really is going to fail soon in all likelihood, and while it may not blow up like it’s made of C4, it will pop, and it won’t seal anymore. In the past year along we’ve been flooded with calls from people all over the country, in a panic to find a chargepipe to replace the one that exploded ASAP. It’s an epidemic; as if suddenly the plastic hit its expiration date.
Evolution Racewerks has stepped in with a solution with the Evolution Racewerks BMW N55 Chargepipe – available in black or polished, which replaces the OEM chargepipe with a high flow replacement and even features a port for methanol injection (this comes plugged, in case you don’t run WMI).
The earlier N54 cars are especially vulnerable to chargepipe failure – Evolution Racewerks Chargepipes for BMW N54 engines feature optional blow off valves, like the HKS SSQV pictured above.
If you just want a straightforward replacement, a VRSF BMW N54/N55 Chargepipe is a great “budget” option but doesn’t have the same features as the Evolution Racewerks option.
One last direct replacement option we’d like to mention is the Cobb BMW N54 Chargepipe, which is patterned to directly replace the OEM chargepipe and use the OEM diverter valves or an aftermarket Plumb-Back BOV setup.
In any case, the plastic factory chargepipe under the hood of your N54 or N55 powered BMW is a timebomb waiting to go off – whether that’s a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5-series, as the years tick by, the odds of failure get higher and higher – so avoid the headache with an upgraded chargepipe today from the Mod Experts.
Give us a call at 714-582-3330; we keep many of the options we talked about here in stock at our location, ready to pick up or ship. Chat live at ModBargains.com or just stop by the Mod Auto shop in La Habra, CA on Lambert Rd at Harbor blvd, just 20 minutes from Disneyland in Anaheim.
Thanks for joining us, see you next time!
Story Nicholas Gregson