A close-up image of a 2017 BMW M2's grille.

Charge Forth – Performance Charge Pipes for BMW N54 and N55 Engines

In 2006, BMW introduced a new mass-produced turbocharged engine for the first time in twenty years—the N54. Three years later, they released the N55 as a successor to the N54, which offered fuel efficiency and reliability improvements over its predecessor. While the two engines have their differences, at their core they’re both three-liter, turbocharged straight-six engines, both put out over 300 horsepower, and both were used for as the powerplant for numerous BMW models. But they have something else in common—a weak point.

An image of a blue 2017 BMW M2.
Fig 1. A 2017 BMW M2 in our garage for test fitment.

Stock Evaluation

Hop onto any BMW forum and search for either engine with the words “charge pipe”. It won’t be long before you find post after post about the charge pipes on these engines cracking and failing, even on stock tunes. The OEM charge pipes used on the N54 and N55 engines are plastic, which becomes brittle and weak after time and repeated heat cycles. Once the charge pipe cracks, the engine begins drawing in unfiltered air—which can lead to unwanted debris entering the engine—and no longer receives boost from the turbochargers. This can cause poor performance, the vehicle going into limp mode, and engine damage.

Another issue with these OEM pipes is their notoriously difficult installation and removal process, particularly with the N55. Frustrated owners struggling to remove stock pipes often resort to cutting the pipe in half just to get it out.

Design Overview

With those problems in mind, we set out to design better charge pipes for both the N54 and N55 engines. 

Our engineers knew that the first step to improving reliability was to do away with the OEM plastic construction. Instead, they decided to use 3” mandrel-bent tubing. Aluminum is not only stronger and more reliable than plastic, it boasts improved thermal management and the ability to handle higher pressures. The mandrel-bent design also offers superior strength and optimal flow thanks to a consistent inner diameter throughout the pipe. While these improvements appeal to N54 and N55 owners looking for dependable reliability, they’re especially important for owners planning to tune their car.

A 3D rendering of the performance charge pipe for the BMW N55 engine.
Fig 3. 3D rendering of our N55 charge pipe.

Once our engineers tackled reliability issues, they moved on to convenience and compatibility. Both kits are designed for a direct-fit installation with no cutting or modifications necessary, and they feature CNC quick-disconnect couplings to make that process even easier. Extra attention was given to ensure our charge pipes fit as seamlessly as the OEM pipes and that they’re safe to run on a stock tune.

A close-up image of the quick-disconnect fitting on the Mishimoto charge pipe for the BMW N54 engine.
Fig 4. Close-up of the quick-disconnect fitting on the N54 charge pipe.

For the N54, we’ve included new O-rings that are more reliable than the old, flattened OEM rings, as well as new quick-disconnect clips to replace the worn-out originals.

Unlike many other aftermarket charge pipes for the N55, we decided to retain the OEM-style mounting bracket to maintain secure fitment and prevent the pipe from moving around the engine bay.

 Lastly, both pipes are finished in a black wrinkle powder-coating to protect the aluminum against corrosion and offer a sharp look in your engine bay.

From a 3D rendering, a close-up image of the mounting bracket for the Mishimoto charge pipe for the BMW N55 engine.
Fig 5. Close-up of the mounting bracket for our N55 charge pipe from a 3D rendering.

Conclusion

Boasting a more reliable construction, optimal flow, and easy installation, our charge pipes are a significant improvement over stock. Whether you’re looking to make your daily driver more dependable, prepping to tune your car for improved performance, or replacing an OEM charge pipe that already cracked, the Mishimoto Performance Charge Pipes for BMW N54 engines from 2007-2013 and N55 engines from 2011-2018 are the perfect choice.

 

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For over a decade, these two engines were used in a wide array of BMW models, from the E90 to the Z4 to the first-gen BMW M2 Engine. These cars are getting older now, and the plastic OEM charge pipes are only going to get more and more brittle. Upgrade today and keep those N54’s and N55’s running right.

An image of the Mishimoto Performance Charge Pipe for the BMW N54 engine.
Fig. 6 The Mishimoto Performance Charge Pipe for the BMW N54.
An imagine of the Mishimoto Performance Charge Pipe for the BMW N55 engine.
Fig. 7 The Mishimoto Performance Charge Pipe for the BMW N55.