VRSF Charge Pipe Review: A Must for a Tuned BMW N55?


If you’ve got a turbocharged BMW engine like the N55, you probably know that there are lots of aftermarket upgrades available for it.

Among these upgrades, the charge pipe is a crucial component, albeit often overlooked.

The VRSF Charge Pipe Upgrade Kit is designed to replace the plastic OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) charge pipe, which can easily crack under pressure, especially after tuning your car.

I decided to install it in my F20 BMW M135i, and I will share my experiences below!

Overview: VRSF Charge Pipe Upgrade Kit (for BMW N55)

First things first, a charge pipe is a component in your turbocharged engine that carries the air from your intercooler to the engine.

Now, you might think, “It’s just a pipe, how important can it be?”

Well, the stock charge pipe that comes with your BMW is made from plastic, which, to put it mildly, isn’t the most durable material, especially when you start tuning your car and pushing more boost through it.

And that is the main thing that the VRSF Charge Pipe Upgrade Kit fixes:

VRSF Charge Pipe Kit

The VRSF Charge Pipe is made from T6061 grade aluminum, which is a fancy way of saying it’s tough, durable, and built to handle whatever your turbo can throw at it.

Unlike the stock plastic pipe, this aluminum pipe won’t crack or burst under pressure, which is the last thing you want when you’re gunning it down the freeway.

Here is an example of what can happen with the OEM charge pipe:

BMW N55 blown OEM charge pipe failure

But it’s not just about durability.

The VRSF charge pipe is designed to improve airflow, which translates to better throttle response and reduced turbo lag.

Now, you might be thinking, “Will this fit my car?”

If you’ve got a 2012-2018 M135i, M2, M235i, 335i, or 435i, you’re in luck.

This kit is designed specifically for these models, although VRSF also offers charge pipes for most other BMWs.

The VRSF charge pipe comes with a wrinkle-black powder-coated finish that looks great and blends seamlessly with your engine bay.

VRSF Charge Pipe Kit assembled

In the next sections, I’ll share my experience with installing this kit and its benefits in my M135i.

Installing the VRSF Charge Pipe

Let’s get our hands dirty and talk about installing the VRSF Charge Pipe on a BMW N55 engine.

First up, I’ll be honest – the installation isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s definitely doable, especially if you have a bit of patience and some basic mechanical skills.

As a comparison, I also installed the VRSF HD Intercooler and the VRSF Catless Downpipe on the same day, and I would say the charge pipe was the most challenging to install between the three.

But don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned mechanic; with some careful steps, you can get this done.

The challenge primarily lies in getting the charge pipe positioned correctly.

Because the kit includes a flexible silicone coupler, there’s a bit of room to adjust and rotate for the perfect fit:

VRSF Charge Pipe Kit silicone coupler

While this flexibility is great for getting a snug fit, it also means you’ll need to experiment a bit to find the best configuration.

Removing the OEM charge pipe is straightforward. Simply remove the TMAP sensor and loosen the two C-clips, one on the engine side and one on the intercooler side:

BMW N55 OEM charge pipe intercooler connection

As you’ve seen earlier, the VRSF charge pipe includes several individual parts:

VRSF Charge Pipe Kit loose components

When fitting the VRSF charge pipe, I tried various configurations to make it fit.

For example, first fitting the pipe from the intercooler, then the coupler, and then then top piece.

However, after a few tries, I wasn’t quite happy with the fitment.

In the end, what worked best was a bit counterintuitive.

I started with fitting the top pipe first, then adding the loose silicone coupler, then fitting the intercooler pipe into the loose coupler and securing it to the intercooler, and lastly securing the silicone coupler clamps.

I found that this method resulted in a great fit of the VRSF charge pipe.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Attach the top pipe. Start by fitting the top section of the charge pipe and attaching it with the C-clip.
  2. Position the silicone coupler. Next, attach the silicone coupler to the top pipe but leave it loose. This part allows some flexibility, so you don’t need to secure it just yet.
VRSF Charge Pipe Kit top pipe

Note: The additional black adapter between my TMAP sensor and charge pipe is part of my boost-actuated exhaust valve system and is not required for a typical charge pipe upgrade.

  1. Connect to the intercooler. Now, take the bottom part of the pipe (the longer pipe) and fit it into the loose silicone coupler. Once it’s in, attach the other end to the intercooler with the C-clip. This takes a bit of adjusting to get everything lined up perfectly.
  2. Secure the t-bolt clamps. With all parts connected, go back and tighten the t-bolt clamps around the silicone coupler. Make sure every connection is secure to prevent boost leaks.

Here is how the longer pipe should fit:

VRSF Charge Pipe Kit bottom, longer pipe

Remember, the kit comes with all the necessary components, so you don’t need to worry about running to the store for extra parts.

However, the kit doesn’t include instructions, so take your time and maybe keep a laptop or phone handy to reference online guides or videos if you get stuck.

Although it’s not fully visible, here’s how the VRSF charge pipe looks once it’s installed:

VRSF charge pipe installed

5 Benefits of a VRSF Charge Pipe

Installing the VRSF Charge Pipe on your BMW should give you the following benefits:

  1. Safety and reliability. Knowing that the OEM plastic charge pipe is a common failure point, especially after tuning, the upgrade to a VRSF aluminum pipe significantly improves reliability. It’s reassuring to drive without the worry of a sudden charge pipe failure!
  2. Enhanced throttle response and reduced turbo lag. Due to the optimized airflow, you might notice a slightly improved throttle response and reduced turbo lag.
  3. Superior construction. I could feel the quality of the T6061 aluminum holding the VRSF Charge Pipe in my hands. It seems robust and built to last. The mandrel bending process ensures the pipe maintains a consistent diameter throughout, which improves airflow. TIG welding adds to the pipe’s strength and ensures it can withstand higher pressures.
  4. Great finish. The charge pipe is finished in a high-quality wrinkle-black powder-coating. It not only looks great but it also protects the aluminum from corrosion and wear. Plus, the included 4-ply silicone connectors and stainless steel t-bolt clamps ensure a secure fit.
  5. 1/8″ NPT bung. This small feature is a big deal if you’re considering water injection for additional cooling and performance or need to perform boost leak testing.

FAQs about upgrading your charge pipe

If you’re doubting about upgrading your charge pipe, here are some frequently asked questions:

What does a VRSF charge pipe do?

The VRSF charge pipe transports the air from the intercooler to the engine. Made from durable materials, it’s designed to withstand higher pressures and temperatures, providing a reliable and stronger alternative to the fragile OEM charge pipe.

Does a charge pipe make your car faster?

While a charge pipe alone doesn’t directly increase horsepower, it can allow for a safer, more reliable software tune, which makes your car faster.

Does a charge pipe make your car louder?

Typically, a charge pipe won’t change the sound of your car. Its primary role is to improve reliability.

Do you need a new tune for an upgraded charge pipe?

Installing an upgraded charge pipe like the VRSF doesn’t necessarily require a new tune. The charge pipe is designed to fit without altering the engine’s tuning.

Conclusion

Having installed this kit on my own BMW M135i, I’ve experienced firsthand that the VRSF Charge Pipe isn’t just a piece of metal connecting two points.

It’s a well-thought-out upgrade that addresses the weaknesses of the OEM setup.

With its mandrel bent and TIG welded T6061 aluminum construction, it offers a durable solution that’s built to last.

Yes, installing the VRSF Charge Pipe may require some patience and effort, but the payoff is undeniable!

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