New CTS Turbo charge pipe for N55 F30, detailed DIY install & review

Foreword:

Finally got a charge pipe installed in my car. This is a long overdue upgrade as I really don’t trust BMW’s plastic charge pipe that comes stock with the car. There are countless posts on the forums of charge pipes failing on modified cars or not, this is definitely a peace of mind upgrade with little performance change if any at all. Here’s my experience installing this chargepipe, not difficult but there were quite a few WTF moments. On the PITA scale, this one was a solid 5.

Spoiler

If you haven’t swapped your intercooler out yet and you have plans to, do them together, installing the Chargepipe requires removing the Intercooler so you might as well

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Technical skill
Cost
Time commitment
PITA factor

The Charge Pipe:

Here’s the pipe after taking it out of the box, all looks normal, seems to be constructed well.

TMAP sensor mount
Vacuum line up close

 

 

Prerequisites:

 Tools used:

  • Race Ramps or something to get your car in the air
  • 6mm nut driver (to remove belly-pan screws)
  • T25 Torx (to remove 2 torx screws holding the intercooler on)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Eye protection (intercooler grit in your eyes sucks)
  • Zip ties (for the intercooler clips)
  • Keep the paper the chargepipe ships with, great way not to lose stuff and make shims for the f&*#$@ing intercooler clips (explained further in)
  • (Optional) Heat gun, I had to heat the vacuum line on the chargepipe side to get it to snap on

 

All the tools I ended up using when finished

Intercooler removal:

These steps are a modified copy from my intercooler post here; This chargepipe install is basically an intercooler install with added steps.

  1. Get your 335 up in the air however you choose. If you have a proper lift I envy you, this would be SOO much easier on a lift.
    • I picked up a nice set of Race Ramps for my oil changing/intercooler swapping/possibly charge pipe in the future work. I chose this set as it was the least expensive, low profile set that would fit my car. A stock M-Sport 335 gets up on these things with a decent amount of clearance. Pretty sure it will not work if you’ve modified your suspension or have a front splitter
  2. With your 6mm nut driver, remove the belly-pan, there are a TON of screws, get comfortable sliding around on your garage floor.
  3. Once the belly pan is removed it’s time to tackle the infamous intercooler clip/clamps/sons a bitches
  4. The almighty charge clip, intercooler clip, charge clamp, intercooler clamp seen below. The below picture is to hopefully clarify WTF I’m talking about below.chargeclipindex
  5. The end goal of all this is to remove the labeled A nub on the charge clip out of its channel
    • You will hate this clip, I guarantee it.
  6. To do this you first need to relieve the tension on the 2 bars.
    • Insert two zip ties just above the little indent provided by the section labeled B below and slide them up and away towards the top of the engine.
    • This shouldn’t be hard to do, it takes very little force to do so. If you’re using lots of muscle, you’re doing it wrong.
  7. Once you approach the top near the C nub gently pull outwards on each side and you should feel the clip get stuck in a slightly open position on each side.
    • Create two folded shims out of the paper the chargepipe shipped with to hold the clip in that channel, this will save you a LOT of frustration

      The paper shim, your friend.
    • Push your thick paper shim away from the A NUB so that the shim will hold the C nubs on each side in their respective channels
  8.  This part sucks, the channel the C nubs get stuck in is very shallow and the slightest movement will knock them out of the channel and back into the locked position. The paper shim if made thick enough should hold the C NUBS in the channel.
  9. Ensure the C nubs are in their channel and grasp the charge air duct/hose and strongly pull it towards the intercooler.
    • READ THE ABOVE AGAIN! PULL IT TOWARDS THE INTERCOOLER, it is counter intuitive but this is how you remove the clip.

  10. It will take a fair amount of force and you will find getting a good grip on it is a major PITA, especially on the drivers side. While you are doing this you need to make sure the C nubs stay in their channel and do not snap back closed.
    • The goal here is to pull the charge air ducts towards the intercooler so that Nub can be pried out of it’s retaining channel.
    • It’s hard to tell if you pulled hard enough but if you did it right and pulled it down you should see that the very top of the Nub is now able to be pried out of its channel and moved up and out of the way.
  11. Pry the A nub out of its channel and move it upwards out of the way of the ducting and intercooler.
  12. Now that the clip is released you can struggle to remove the charge air ducts from the stock intercooler, twist, pull, be careful and they will wiggle out.
    1. On the drivers side I actually unbolted the intercooler first, removed the passenger side charge air duct from the intercooler, and pulled the intercooler down and out
  13. Remove the 2 torx screws holding the intercooler in
    • Torx bolt on each side holding the intercooler in place
  14. Wiggle, pull, slide, do whatever you need to do to get the intercooler out. Make sure you are pulling on the intercooler and not the radiator shroud, they blend in together quite well.
  15. Take a few minutes to knock out all the sand, grit, leaves, dust that are trapped up in the now empty intercooler area and vacuum them out. (Watch your eye-holes)

Charge pipe removal:

  1. Start by removing the TMAP sensor as pictured below. My trick to remove this clips is to use a very small/sharp regular screwdriver to press on the tab to ease pulling it out.
    • You should first unplug the sensor from the harness and then unscrew the sensor and very gently remove it from it’s hole.
    • I ended up having to use a socket wrench with Torx adaptor on the TMAP sensor as the space in there is very tight, to tight for the T handle torx drivers, the Gorilla torx on a set drivers and regular old Torx screwdrivers.
    • The TMAP sensor is on the charge pipe shown labeled in red on the above picture.

      The TMAP sensor up close (note I have a JB4 connected so mine may look a little different)
  2. Just above the TMAP sensor near the metal part the charge pipe connects to there is a large C clip with a large nub on the top, simply pry it off however you would like, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to remove. (Picture below)
  3. Remove the vacuum line as well, be careful as this little sucker is pretty delicate and getting a good grip on this thing is a PITA
  4. Now it’s time to get the stock Chargepipe out of the engine bay. This is where a second set of hands would help out a lot. I was able to get it out of the bottom of the engine bay but it took a lot of bending, twisting, going under the car, going back on top of the car, etc… There were a few coolant lines I needed to bend push on hard to get the pipe out but eventually it came out. No tips here from me except get some help as another set of hands/eyes would have been very helpful. Make sure you’re not pulling extremely hard on it as it will get snagged and you don’t want to pull out whatever it’s snagged on. Lots of choice words used during this part.

New chargepipe Installation:

  1. The new chargepipe is MUCH easier to get in, I suggest first connecting the rubber hose clamp tightly on the bottom side of the new chargepipe and leaving the other side very loose.
  2. I first installed the TMAP sensor in the new chargepipe and starting on the engine side (top of the charge pipe) install it with that large C clip from step 2 above. Install your vacuum line (again be careful) and move to the bottom of the car.
  3. On the bottom part of the charge pipe, take note of the c clamp’s screw position when the chargepipe is connected to the intercooler, you want the phillips screwdriver head to be in a position where you can tighten from the top of the engine bay.
  4. Wiggle, twist, pull, etc until you get the two parts of the chargepipe connected. Keep the top clamp loose and reinstall your intercooler.

Intercooler re-installation:

  1. The re-installation is much easier than removal, as the extra play the new charge pipe gives you help a lot. If you have the stock intercooler re-installation is a breeze and pretty self explanatory, connect each side as it was before. Now that you know how the stupid intercooler clips work you should have this down pat. SKIP STEPS 2-3 IF YOU’RE STOCK
  2. If you have a non stock intercooler be ready to shimmy, twist and push on things very hard to get it back in place. You can take a look at my guide here for more details but the re-installation is pretty straight forward assuming you have things positioned correctly as I suggested earlier.
    • There were a few issues I ran into here, the drivers side is super tight, there is a coolant hose in the way (it’s somewhat flexible but still in the way) and the plastic shroud inside the bumper is all sorts of in the way.
    • In the end I wiggled and forced the drivers side charge air duct in first as the radiator line is really in the way.
    • You will need to bend the crap out of the plastic shroud in the front bumper cavity to get the intercooler in, use lots of power, it isn’t easy. The intercooler weighs around 30 pounds or so, I positioned it above my shoulder and used a “shot-put” like motion to push it up. You will need to bend the bumper shroud a lot to get it in.
    • Another thing to look out for is the 2 slots on either side of the bumper area where the intercooler slides in, make sure it’s in the correct slot or the mounting Torx screws will not line up
  3. After you push the intercooler up and in, hopefully the charge air ducts are lined up with the intercoolers inlet/outlet. If so, you can use the rubber edged bumper shroud to hold the intercooler in place while you replace the 2 Torx screws.
    • Pull the charge air ducts over the intercoolers inlet/outlet and pull HARD towards the intercooler. Use a screwdriver to get Nub A back in the channel and lock the charge air ducts back into place. Everything should snap in tight, including the bars, when they look like they did when you started, you are done.
  4. You will need to twist and bend the new 2 piece charge pipe so that it’s connection with the intercooler sits flush, if you left the screw clamp loose this shouldn’t be too much of an issue just make sure it’s flush on both the engine side and the intercooler side.
  5. Plug your vacuum line in and your TMAP sensor and take it for a ride, at first I was a bit concerned the connection on the intercooler side was not tight but after a test ride with no signs of boost leak or codes, I guess it’s OK.

Lessons learned

  • Don’t use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the vacuum hose clip, you will most likely snap it… Ask me how I know…
  • Have a buddy help you out as snaking the chargepipe both in and out is a major PITA without one. You’ll get a full workout going on top of and below the car by the time the install is finished.

Long term review

  • I’ve had this installed since about January of 2018 and have not had a single issue with it, no leaks, no vacuum line issues, no nothing, everything seems to be working just fine.

 

2 comments Add yours
  1. I just installed the ER chargepipe on my car and came across your guide while looking for guidance. The clip you have pictured and labeled is the one that holds the chargepipe to the intake manifold. The clip that holds the charge pipe to the intercooler is shaped differently (“A nub” sticks in instead of out), and it makes your instructions a little confusing. I actually had no issues at all with the clip at the bottom. The plastic retainer came off easily and I pried the clip out without any issue. My charge pipe cracked and was loose at the intake manifold before I started on the intercooler clips, so that may have made a big difference. You might try releasing the manifold side clip first next time. (You also didn’t address removing the black plastic retaining clip on the intercooler so I’m wondering if that may have contributed to your issues.) I didn’t remove the intercooler for my chargepipe install. I pulled the stock pipe out from the top. The ER downpipe is a two piece pipe very similar to the one you installed and I found that it was easiest to put the top pipe in from the top, the bottom pipe in from below, and then tighten the clamps from underneath. On my 435 I had a reasonable amount of room to access the clamps. Thanks for the detailed post and pictures! It was very helpful for me to see what to expect before I did it.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I’ll get another picture up tomorrow.

      I don’t remember having to deal with the clip. You might be on to something, maybe there’s something I don’t know about the clip. After removing my stock FMIC, the CTS intercooler I have does not require that black plastic retaining clip (I hope!)

      I didn’t even think to try putting in the parts separately, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. If I ever have to remove the CP I’ll definitely try.

      Thanks again!

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