Frequently Asked Questions about Ignition Wires


These questions and answers are periodically up-dated and changed


The Questions:

  1. Why should I choose Magnecor Ignition wires?
  2. What is EMI, and why is it important to suppress it?
  3. Some performance ignition wires advertise EMI suppression — are Magnecor Race Wires suppressed any better?
  4. Do I need ignition wires with a low electrical resistance?
    4.1 I have seen an MSD demonstration stand which compares all the well known "performance" wires — it shows Magnecor KV85 wire’s resistance is higher than any other brand of wire on the stand!
  5. How much extra horsepower can I expect when I fit Magnecor Race Wires?
  6. Are Magnecor Race Wires expensive?
  7. How long will Magnecor Race Wires last?
  8. What are the most common problems with ignition wires?
  9. Do I need an 8.5mm or a 10mm size wire if my original wires are just 7mm (or smaller)?
  10. I like the flexibility of Magnecor Race Wires — is there a reason your wires are not stiff like other performance ignition wires — are any other wires as flexible?
  11. What gain, if any, will I get using 10mm size wires — compared to 8.5mm size wires?
  12. Which spark plugs should I use with Magnecor Race Wires?
  13. Why is it so difficult to find Magnecor ignition wires in my area?
  14. Why are sparks jumping from boots and cable jacket?
  15. After I fitted Magnecor wires, my engine runs worse than it did before!
  16. Performance wires always interfere with my radio — are Magnecor Race Wires any better ? I currently have radio interference, how do I identify interference coming from ignition wires?
  17. Why are Magnecor ignition wires for German and some other European vehicles so different?
  18. Which ignition system should I fit to get extra horsepower?
  19. (Received from the UK) I see Nology advertise "Plasma Leads" that increase horsepower — can Magnecor Race Wires do the same?
  20. I need suppressed wires for my top fuel drag engine. I currently use solid wire conductor ignition wires because the huge spark energy this engine needs burns out every other style of wires I try. Will Magnecor Race Wires work in this situation?
  21. How do I stop wires popping off spark plugs (and distributor caps and ignition coils)?
  22. Do I need to clean my wires? If so, what should I use?
  23. Your web site and advertising seem negative, why are you so critical of your competitors?
  24. I see "Vitek" advertise that their wires resist 1,200 degree F temperatures, is this possible?
  25. I want to use your KV85 Competition wires on my late model unmodified street car. Can I damage stock ignition components if I use these wires? I have heard that wires used for race engines can do that.

The Answers:

1. Why should I choose Magnecor Ignition wires ?

Magnecor RACE WIRES:

Magnecor KV85 Competition (8.5mm) and Magnecor R-100 Racing (10mm) Ignition Cables are primarily designed for modern race and modified production vehicle engines that use computerized engine management systems and high-output ignition systems. Magnecor's exclusive Metallic Inductance EMI Suppressed 2.5mm high-capacity conductors (that cost 4 times more to manufacture than original equipment or generic ignition wire conductors) will maintain conductance of full spark energy indefinitely without emitting EMI and RFI. For heat protection, Magnecor Race Wires have insulating jackets made entirely of aerospace silicone rubber (which costs 2-3 times more than multi-layer generic jackets used on all other ignition wires) that will withstand heat better than any other ignition wires.

Unmodified exhaust-emission controlled production vehicles will also benefit from the improved ignition performance and permanent EMI suppression provided by Magnecor Race Wires. Best of all, Magnecor makes wire sets for almost every engine ever made, as well as custom made sets or individual leads to suit customer's requirements.

Original equipment or aftermarket carbon conductor (suppression) ignition wires and European and Japanese spiral wires will provide adequate EMI and RFI suppression during the limited service life of this style of ignition wires. However, none of these wires are designed to be used with high-output ignition systems, and will fail prematurely at conductor terminations if used on a race engine, or an engine used in a street vehicle where the original ignition system has been replaced with a high-output ignition system.

Spiral conductor ignition wires that most performance parts marketers include in their product lines sold through speed shops and mass-merchandisers in the USA will function satisfactorily on a carbureted race or modified street engine — however, none will prevent EMI from interfering with a modern engine's electronic ignition and fuel management system, or any other on-board electronic device. Most "low-resistance" and "super" conductor etc. wires are nothing more than branded cheaply constructed generic spiral conductor wires containing conductors that won't provide (despite claims) either adequate EMI or RFI. More expensive versions are dressed-up in elaborate colorful sleeves to protect inferior jackets against the heat of a race motor. EMI radiated from these ignition wires can adversely affect the function of computer managed electronic ignition and fuel systems, which in turn, will decrease engine efficiency. Some of these wires have been made to resemble Magnecor Race Wires in both color and cable diameter, however the conductors and insulating jackets used are entirely different.

Magnecor's Conventional Style 7mm and 8mm ELECTROSPORTS Series Ignition Cables will provide the conductance and heat resistance similar to the very best wire sets our performance parts competitors have to offer, and superior to all the rest. However, unlike our competitors' performance ignition wire sets lines, all of which cover only a very limited selection of popular unmodified and modified engines, Magnecor's 7mm and 8mm ELECTROSPORTS Ignition Cable line includes ready-to-fit wire sets for almost every engine ever made, as well as sets for popular modified engines and custom made sets or individual leads to suit the requirements of customers (and at very competitive prices). Our previous version conventional style 7 and 8mm HIGH PERFORMANCE Cables were always popular for use on older vehicles and restorations that did not require full EMI suppression. With our new ELECTROSPORTS Series, full RFI and EMI suppression is provided, allowing these cables to be used on any vehicle, no matter whether the engine is old, new or technically advanced.

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2. What is EMI, and why is it important to suppress it ?

EMI = electromagnetic interference

EMI from spark plug wires can cause erroneous signals to be sent to engine management systems and other on-board electronic devices used on both racing and street vehicles in the same manner as RFI (radio frequency interference) can cause unwanted signals to be heard on a radio receiver. Engine driveability problems ranging from intermittent misfiring to a dramatic loss of power can result when engine management computers receive signals from sensors that have been altered by EMI radiating from spark plug wires. This problem is most noticeable on modern street vehicles used for commuting where virtually every function of the vehicle's drive train is managed by a computer.

For many reasons, the effect of EMI on engine management computers is never predictable and, often, improper diagnosis for a driveability problem results in huge repair costs for a consumer because engine management sensors and other parts are replaced when all that was needed was a set of ignition wires capable of suppressing EMI (usually replaced as the last resort). As production vehicles age, engine management sensors, connectors and wiring deteriorate (and corrode) and become more susceptible to EMI radiated from spark plug wires not able to adequately suppress EMI. The problem is often exacerbated by replacing the original ignition system with a high-output system.

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3. Some performance ignition wires advertise EMI suppression - are Magnecor Race Wires suppressed any better?

Unfortunately, the claims in promotional literature and advertisements that so-called "super conductors" and "low-resistance" spiral conductor, as well as so-called "built-in capacitor" wires are EMI suppressed are as factual as other claims you see for the same wires such as: "300 times more powerful spark" — "30 times more spark energy" — "15 times more powerful" — "over 300% more spark energy" etc. In reality, it is impossible for "low-resistance" spiral conductor and so-called "built-in capacitor" wires to properly suppress EMI (or increase sparks or horsepower), even with the application of a short-lived conductive coating (in which the spark current actually travels when the wires are new) over the conductors' spiral windings (see Truth About Ignition Wire Conductors).

Performance parts marketers of "low-resistance" spiral conductor wires in particular have always claimed their wires provide RFI suppression (which can be heard on a radio), but in reality, the RFI suppression provided is far from adequate. Fortunately for the marketers, in anticipation of promised additional spark energy and horsepower, most consumers who listen to FM broadcast stations and drive in areas where AM radio signals are strong will accept less RFI suppression than that provided by original equipment ignition wires.

Recently, the same marketers have decided they need to claim their "low-resistance" spiral conductor wires are also EMI suppressed, and whereas consumers are able to overlook inadequate RFI suppression, the same can't be said about inadequate EMI suppression, because of its effect on the driveability of vehicles using computerized engine management systems. See our "A Brief Overview ..." document for more information.

Again, fortunately for performance parts marketers, it's surprising just how few people (experts included) ever associate EMI from ignition wires with driveability problems, and since very few people ever challenge such ridiculous claims as "300 times more powerful" sparks etc. etc., the same marketers see no reason why they can't also claim their "low-resistance" and "super conductor" etc. spiral conductor and "built-in capacitor" wires are EMI suppressed — when in fact none are!

Magnecor Race Wires are specifically designed and constructed to suppress EMI on high performance engines, using materials and production methods too costly for ignition wires destined for marketing through mass-merchandiser and most speed shop outlets. The EMI suppression is permanent, as no conductive coatings are used in Magnecor Race Wires. Do not be deceived by the claims made for so-called "super conductor" wires sold by most speed shops in the USA which have a heavy application of a conductive coating over the spiral windings — although these wires are made to imitate Magnecor KV85 (8.5mm) ignition wires in both size and color, neither the EMI suppression nor the heat resistance is anywhere near that of Magnecor Race Wires.

Magnecor Race Wires are used by race teams all over the world for the purpose of eliminating the problems caused by EMI from ignition wires interfering with on-board electronic equipment.

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4. Do I need ignition wires with a low electrical resistance ?

No. For a detailed answer to this important, and very frequently asked question, see: Truth About Ignition Wire Conductors.


4.1. (Related answer to question 4) I have seen an MSD demonstration stand which compares all the well known "performance" wires — it shows Magnecor KV85 wire’s resistance is higher than any other brand of wire on the stand !

The MSD demonstration stand (which MSD places in many speed shops and performance parts retailers) is designed to demonstrate that a MSD wire has a lower resistance than any other brand "performance wire." The issue of low resistance spiral wires is addressed in our document "The Truth About Ignition Wire Conductors." For more information about our competitors promoting features of their wires that are of no use to anyone but themselves, see our document "A Brief Overview of the Performance Aftermarket Ignition Wire Industry in the USA"

We are aware of the MSD demonstration stand, and we certainly appreciate the free promotion MSD gives to our product. We have sold many wire sets to knowledgeable technicians and race and performance street vehicle owners who were previously unaware that ignition wire capable of providing adequate suppression for race and modified engines was available — until they saw the MSD demonstration stand!

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5. How much extra horsepower can I expect when I fit Magnecor Race Wires ?

Professional race engine preparers do not use Magnecor Race Wires to increase engine horsepower — they use them to maintain full engine horsepower. Often, production vehicle owners comment that engine performance increased after they fitted Magnecor Race Wires, and most owners of modified vehicles find that horsepower increases during a dyno test — however, in reality, performance increases because the engine's potential power was previously restrained by:

(1) Failing conductors in original equipment ignition wires;
(2) Failing conductors in aftermarket carbon conductor and European and Japanese spiral conductor ignition wires;
(3) Failing resistor-connectors on German ignition wires;
(4) Aftermarket spiral "low-resistance" and "super conductor" ignition wires interfering with the engine's electronics;
(5) So-called "built-in capacitor" ignition wires inducing too much available current to ground straps and interfering with the engine's electronics.

Despite what is published in advertisements and some vested interest magazine articles, no spark plug wires will generate or "install" additional horsepower. However, a decrease in horsepower will occur if the wires' conductors fail to conduct the spark energy needed to fire spark plug gaps, or EMI emitted from spark plug wires causes the engine management computer to react abnormally, or so much spark energy is lost into the ground straps of so-called "built-in capacitor" wires that little is left to fire the spark plug gaps — see test in Circle Track Magazine (USA), May, 1996 issue. For these reasons, Magnecor Race Wires are used by many successful race teams and individuals all over the world to eliminate the risk of such events occurring.

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6. Are Magnecor Race Wires expensive ?

The price you pay for Magnecor Race Wires can seem reasonable or surprisingly inexpensive for owners replacing original equipment ignition wires. The design and complexity of engines fitted to new production vehicles in recent years has come to rival the engines that were once only available in expensive exotic cars. Reliability up to 50,000 miles can be expected, but the crunch comes when owners discover the cost of maintaining these vehicles also rivals the cost of maintaining an exotic car, and often the absurd price asked for OE replacement ignition wires (that can cost up to US$1,200) causes owners to search for replacement wires that not only cost less, but are of better quality than the original wires that have failed. The result has been owners of these vehicles have been purchasing Magnecor Race Wires, the only ignition wires available for these exotic engines other than the original equipment wires.

At the other end of the price scale, Magnecor Race Wires will appear expensive for owners who generally purchase inferior generic spiral conductor ignition wires distributed through mass-merchandisers and speed shops, after wires are branded, packaged and sold as part of a performance parts marketer's product line. For this reason, both our retailers and ourselves are often asked:

"Why are Magnecor KV85 Competition and R-100 Race Wire sets more expensive than some other brand performance wires?"

The reason is the design and construction of Magnecor Race Wires is entirely different to any other ignition wires on the market. These wires are manufactured exclusively by Magnecor specifically for racing without regard to the cost saving measures used by all other manufacturers who sell their wires through mass-merchandisers and speed shops.

Although Magnecor has been manufacturing progressive versions of its suppressed ignition wires for racing engines for over 31 years, it was not until the 1990's that owners of vehicles with electronically controlled engine management systems discovered that Magnecor Race Wires (because of the EMI suppression provided) improved ignition performance. Also helpful, was that Magnecor 8.5mm Race Wires would fit into the original 7or 8mm wire retainer/separators because of the flexibility of the aerospace grade silicone rubber jackets Magnecor uses for its Race Wires.

However, the popularity of Magnecor Race Wires amongst street vehicle owners never went unnoticed by our competitors in the performance aftermarket, and a few introduced oversized "performance" wire sets (some almost identical in appearance to Magnecor 8.5mm KV85 Competition wires) for even the computer controlled small capacity engines that require proper EMI suppression to run satisfactorily. Unfortunately, their wire sets all use the same low-grade ignition cable with the same conductor (that can't properly suppress EMI) they use for older engines that don't require EMI suppression, and their oversized stiff-jacket wires can't be satisfactorily fitted into the original 7mm retainer/separators — however, some are cheaper than Magnecor Race Wires!

What Magnecor does provide for the price you pay is ignition wires specifically designed and constructed to conduct the full energy output from both original equipment and high out racing ignition systems while providing full EMI and RFI suppression. Magnecor manufactures its own Race Wires, therefore quality is rigidly controlled.

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7. How long will Magnecor Race Wires last ?

The conductors used in all Magnecor ignition cables will outlast the life of the engine unless deliberately severed. The life of ignition wire assemblies relies entirely on the ability of the owner and/or installer to install the wires correctly (particularly on engines designed to make it impossible to easily reach spark plugs), and the need to attach the wires to spark plugs and distributor/coils which are in good working order. The care taken when removing the wires at times when spark plugs are removed and replaced can also affect the life of spark plug wires. Comprehensive fitting instructions are included with every set pack.

On multi-valve engines with spark plugs situated in deep un-drained holes, the life of wire assemblies is limited to that of the extended spark plug connectors fitted to the spark plug wires used on these engines. In turn, the life of the spark plug connectors relies entirely on the ability of the vehicle owner to keep excess moisture and engine oil out of the holes so as not to damage the connectors. 

The life of any ignition wire will be reduced if fitted too close to extreme heat sources which exceed the heat ratings of the wire assembly's insulating materials.

On most Chrysler 2.2 and 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engines where the original design of the distributor uses ignition wire terminals as internal arcing points, the life of the wires is limited to that of the terminals.

Specific problems which affect spark plug wire life on certain vehicles are discussed in our technical bulletins.

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8. What are the most common problems with ignition wires ?

Common causes of ignition wire failure that are eliminated by using Magnecor ignition wires are:

* Carbon conductors wearing out and burning back in original equipment and aftermarket wires;
* Spiral conductors burning back from pin-type terminations in European and Japanese original equipment and aftermarket wires;
* Spiral conductors burning back from core-crimp (also know as "dual crimp") terminals not properly terminated;
* Resistor-connectors burning out in German original equipment and aftermarket wires;
* Insulation jacket breakdown under braided metal sleeves fitted to so-called "built-in capacitor" wires.

Additional common causes of ignition wire failure that include Magnecor ignition wires are:

IGNITION WIRES NOT PROPERLY FITTED:
No proper engagement of the spark plug, distributor, and coil terminals
— the most common installation problem. This problem is not always immediately noticeable when using Magnecor Race Wires, because the high capacity conductors do not reduce spark energy like carbon conductors. In most cases, if an engine misfire does become noticeable, and the ignition wires are determined to be the cause, the problem can be simply solved by ensuring connectors are properly engaged. Often, by looking into the spark plug end, a black substance will appear on a normally shiny terminal if it has not been engaging the spark plug top properly for some time, and a white substance (from arcing) will appear on the inside of the boot/connector if the boot/connector is about to fall off the spark plug. Fitting instructions are always included in Magnecor ignition wire set packages, together with additional instructions for engines with a history of ignition wire failures due to the difficulty of installation, other causes including moisture accumulating in deep spark plug holes and spark plug problems.

IGNITION WIRES NOT REMOVED PROPERLY :
Any ignition wire can be damaged if care is not taken when removing it from a spark plug or distributor/coil. The most common damage to an ignition wire occurs when the ignition cable is wrenched out of a spark plug terminal locked onto a spark plug top. Generally, it's in the best interest of every ignition wire manufacturer to make every effort to ensure the terminals are crimped onto the cable as tightly as possible. Magnecor wires even come with a variety of terminals that are designed for specific applications to help overcome the problem of terminals locking onto spark plug tops, but all too often, someone still  manages to wrench the cable from a terminal locked onto a spark plug top.

Keep in mind, the longer the spark plug wires have been attached to the spark plugs, the more careful you will have to be when removing them.

Experienced auto technicians rarely damage spark plug wires during the removal process, but the DIY'ers regularly damage wires because of inexperience and lack of know-how, particularly if they have never removed wires from spark plugs before. The first thing to remember is that unless it's an emergency, NEVER REMOVE IGNITION WIRES UNTIL THE ENGINE IS COLD, as hot spark plug tops will expand and lock into the terminals inside the wires' spark plug connectors. Always try to pull a wire's spark plug connector straight off the spark plug, and not at an angle, as the connector's metal terminal can bite into, and lock onto the spark plug top, particularly if the spark plug has a soft metal top. Do not rock rubber boot and terminal combinations to free the terminal from the spark plug top, as the mouth of the metal terminal inside the boot can be spread if enough force is used, and thereafter, the terminal will be loose on the spark plug top. On engines with extended spark plug connectors to reach spark plugs down deep holes, always remove the wire's cable from retaining/separator clips before pulling on the spark plug connector, as failing to do so can cause the connector to be angled over when being pulled from the spark plug. The same care should be taken when removing distributor/coil connectors. NEVER PULL ON THE WIRE'S CABLE.

SPARK PLUG CAUSED PROBLEMS:
Combustion gases leaking past spark plug gaskets and spark plug porcelain seals (and cracks) can cause wire boots and connectors to pop of spark plugs. Also, the opposite can occur if, over time, a small amount of corrosive combustion gas continues to leak from around the very top of a spark plug porcelain to cause a
galvanic action, which binds the spark plug wire's metal terminal to the spark plug top, and if enough force is used, the cable can be wrenched out of the terminal in an endeavor to remove the spark plug boot/connector. Small size spark plugs are prone to this problem in turbocharged and supercharged engines. 

IMPORTANT: It is good practice to let any engine cool before spark plug boot/connectors are pulled off the spark plugs, as often, when engine is hot, certain spark plug tops will expand more than the stainless steel terminals inside the boot/connectors. Whenever a spark plug top expands (and locks) inside a terminal, any attempt to forcefully remove the wire connector from the spark plug will usually result in the cable being wrenched out of the terminal, with the terminal remaining locked to the spark plug top. Unfortunately, silicone rubber will never be as strong as stainless steel.

MOISTURE AND OTHER PROBLEMS WITH DEEP SET SPARK PLUGS:
Extended multi-part plastic spark plug connectors used mostly on Japanese engine ignition wires can be terminally damaged by arcing over the plastic extension tube of any connector whenever moisture accumulates in the spark plug hole. This style of connectors can also be pulled apart if pulled to one side and brute force is used to remove them. A surprising number of owners and installers attempt to remove extended connectors from the spark plugs without first unclipping the wires from retainer/dividers, a practice which inevitably causes connectors to be pulled up at an angle. 

Some spark plugs have oversized soft metal tops that work well with the loose-fitting light gauge terminals used on some Japanese original equipment wires, but care needs to be taken when removing Magnecor Race Wires with heavy duty stainless steel terminals (needed for high-output race ignitions) that can be locked onto soft spark plug tops if connectors are not pulled straight up, and deep scouring of the spark plug top occurs. Also, some extended connectors contain an original style terminal which can be unlocked inside the plastic tube if a connector is twisted (for removal) in an attempt to free a terminal locked onto a spark plug top. Again, always wait until engine cools before removing spark plug connectors.

Excessive oil from leaking valve cover draining into spark plug holes and filling up to the bottom seals of extended multi-part plastic spark plug connectors can cause the bottom seals to un-glue themselves from the plastic extension tubes when the connectors are removed. The only real cure for this problem is to replace the leaking valve cover gaskets. Generally, if there is no crazed arcing tracks over the plastic extension tubes, the oil-soaked connectors can be re-used if you are able to re-glue (with RTV silicone adhesive) the detached seals to the end of the plastic extension tubes after the seals and tubes have been thoroughly cleaned with grease removing cleaner (do not soak them in a solvent), and as much as possible of the old RTV is removed. You can also send for new seals if the detached seals are too swollen. Alternatively, you can send the wires to Magnecor for new seals to be re-glued onto the extension tubes — please leave it to us to clean off the oil. Evidence of leaking oil is usually obvious on the spark plug connectors - as this picture demonstrates.

THE MISUSE OF SILICONE DI-ELECTRIC GREASE:
Too much silicone dielectric grease placed inside extended multi-part plastic spark plug connectors can cause them to pop off spark plugs or disconnect from the spark plug top without popping off the spark plug . This problem can also occur if too much grease is stuffed into flexible rubber boot connectors. Only occasionally will a flexible rubber boot connector completely pop off the spark plug, but if the terminal inside is swamped in dielectric (insulating) grease, it won't properly engage the spark plug top, and misfiring will occur. 

All too often, when wires are sent to us for evaluation (particularly on engines notorious for moisture accumulation in spark plug holes) we see far too much grease stuffed into the spark plug connectors. Always keep in mind that grease cannot be compressed, and there's no room in a spark plug connector for too much grease and the spark plug as well. Only a film of grease should to be applied at the mouth of a multi-part plastic connectors' bottom seal or at the base of the spark plug's insulator to help prevent moisture seepage. Unfortunately, the heat from the spark plug porcelain will eventually cause the grease to seep out of the seals, so it needs to be applied on a regular basis it your vehicle is driven in the rain for long periods of time or you live in an area (such as near the sea) where condensation accumulates all over the engine without it raining. 

It is important that only silicone dielectric grease is used for this purpose, as other greases can become conductive. Realistically, it's better not to use silicone grease at all in spark plug connectors unless you know there is a moisture problem with your engine.

If your engine develops a misfire after you have put grease into the spark plug connectors, remove the connectors and look into each connector's mouth. If any metal terminal inside a connector has grease in it, remove it as best you can with a cotton Q-Tip swab if you don't want to replace the wire. It is better not to attempt to wash it out with a solvent, unless you know for sure that the solvent won't harm the connector materials.

EXCESSIVE HEAT PROBLEMS:
Fitting spark plug boots too close to 1,500 degrees F (815 degrees C) plus headers (exhaust manifolds, extractors) and turbocharger plumbing is another problem encountered on modified production engines. Some header aftermarket designs make it impossible to fit spark plug wires without the spark plug boot touching the header. Currently, the best silicone rubber spark plug boots are limited to 600 degrees F (316 degrees C), and ceramic boots don't really help because they need to use rubber seals to prevent arcing. Various fiberglass covers can help, but in extreme situations where there is little or no airflow, the fiberglass can almost reach the temperature of the heat source, and for this reason, tight fitting fiberglass sleeves over the cable jacket are virtually useless for heat protection.

Recently, spark plug boots onto which a mildly reflective metallic coating is applied have been promoted as being able to withstand up to 1,000 degrees F (538 degrees C), and although this figure is an exaggeration, these boots will certainly tolerate more heat. The downside is the boot's coating is conductive, and during our evaluation of whether or not to use these boots on our wires, we discovered there will be times when the spark energy finds it easier to induce itself into the boot's coating (and ground out to the spark plug base) than to fire a spark plug with a wide gap (electrode gap deliberately widened or worn away) — causing the engine to misfire.

Our customers have reported that loose-fitting highly reflective coated fiberglass sleeves slid over spark plug boots can help in some cases. Thick loose fitting fire sleeve fitted over the spark plug wires are very effective on race engines, but generally it's bulk makes it impractical for use on a street engine (and unsightly on a well presented street car engine). By far the best solution for heat related problems with all engine wiring is to shield, wrap or coat the heat source itself, and to introduce more airflow around where the spark plug wires are located.

Most parts used to make Magnecor Race Wires are available as spare parts. Excessive-heat damaged boots can be replaced at our plant or ordered as separate items. Wherever possible, Magnecor Race Wire sets for certain engines will include modifications to original design of the spark plug wires to help overcome the problems caused by poor original wire and/or engine design.

BATTERY ACID can can attack ignition wires if it's allowed to remain on wires, boots and/or connectors. If, for any reason battery acid finds it way onto the ignition wires (usually as a result of a collision or battery removal or explosion), the wires should be immediately washed down with at water, preferably combined with baking soda (to kill the acid). Also, battery acid will attack skin and clothing.

SPARK PLUGS NEED REPLACING: 

Over the years, we have never ceased to be amazed how many people blame problems caused by spark plugs on the ignition wires. Ignition wires are nothing other than conductors of spark energy, and if the spark plug gaps are eroded or set too large, or a spark plug itself is defective for a variety of reasons, the energy conducted will be wasted. No spark plug lasts forever, and rarely, does any spark plug last as long as advertised, particularly if you want your engine to perform satisfactorily. Sometimes, spark plug problems can be disguised and postponed with stock wires, which provide suppression by reducing spark energy to the plugs, and sometimes spark plug problems can be made worse by Magnecor KV85 and R-100 Race wires designed to provide suppression without reducing spark energy from the coil (more so, with high-output ignitions). Unfortunately, all engines lose power if any or all spark plugs are not performing satisfactorily, no matter what ignition system or spark plug wires are used.

See also: sparks from ....

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9. Do I need an 8.5mm or a 10mm size wire if my original wires are just 7mm (or smaller) ?

If you don't intend to upgrade your vehicle's original ignition with a high-output ignition, you may not need larger size wires. Magnecor KV85 and R-100 Race Wires have been designed primarily for race engines that will be run with high-output ignition systems, and contain high-capacity 2.5mm conductors that require extra insulation when used with extreme-output ignition systems. Magnecor Race Wires will also be exposed to heat an unmodified production vehicle will never experience. However, the major advantage Magnecor Race Wires have over conventional 5mm, 7mm and 8mm wires is that neither the high-capacity conductor nor the insulating jacket will wear out during the life of the engine (unless severed).

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10. I like the flexibility of Magnecor Race Wires — is there a reason your wires are not stiff like other performance ignition wires — are any other wires as flexible?

This is a question we are continually asked by Honda and other Japanese-engine owners in particular who previously attempted to fit other brand oversize spark plug wires to their engines. The reason Magnecor Race Wires are so flexible is that the insulating jackets are made entirely of high-temperature aerospace silicone rubber, which by nature is strong and extremely flexible, and, unlike all other performance wires, can safely be installed into the original 7mm size spark plug wire retainers despite the larger 8.5mm (Magnecor KV85) cable size.

All other ignition wires use multi-layered insulating jackets to reduce manufacturing costs, and all performance wires use either a thin layer of low-grade silicone rubber or a silicone blend as the outer jacket (sleeve). No oversize performance wires other than Magnecor KV85 can be successfully installed into the original 7mm retainers without the risk of breaking the retainers — if at all!

A consumer's best indication as to the quality of a spark plug wire's insulating jacket is the stiffness of the cable used; the stiffer the cable — the poorer the materials used to make the outer "silicone" or blend jacket. Of course, at extra expense, poor quality spark plug wires can be covered with loose sleeves designed to protect against engine heat, and this is the reason so many of these products have become so popular..

However, poorly suppressed, low-resistance spiral conductor wires with more flexible low-quality silicone outer jackets have been developed in an attempt to imitate Magnecor Race Wires, appear in mass-merchandisers and speed shops.

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11. What gain, if any, will I get using 10mm size wires — compared to 8.5mm size wires ?

Our R-100 (10mm) cable has a thicker insulating jacket, designed for extreme heat situations or where extra insulation is needed for extreme-output ignition systems and where it's not easy to space the wires from one another and/or the engine. Our KV85 (8.5mm) and R-100 (10mm) cables both use the same conductors and provide the same spark energy output, and, as most street and modified production engines don't really need a cable size larger than 8.5mm, using our 10mm size cable is usually overkill (or for appearance). Please understand our 10mm cables, due to their large diameter and bulk, will take more room, and a little longer to fit and loom correctly.

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12. Which spark plugs should I use with Magnecor Race Wires ?

This is a difficult question to answer, and is in fact one of our most frequently asked questions, but in general you can use any spark plugs with Magnecor Race Wires. On a full race engine, spark plugs specifically designed for racing should be chosen. A decision as to which type and brand should be made only after investigating which spark plug is used by other competitors' racing engines and vehicles similar to yours. You might find it easier to get this information from spark plug suppliers, although experimentation will always be necessary.

On production vehicles used exclusively on the street in standard tune, often the vehicle manufacturer's original spark plugs are a good choice, except where a double platinum version is available — which is a better choice. Always use resistor spark plugs if the vehicle manufacturer specifies them, as the resistance is there to not only to help reduce RFI, but also to extend the life of spark plugs by reducing tip erosion.

Unless you know someone with an identical vehicle who can vouch for spark plugs that are heavily promoted and promise extra horsepower and fuel mileage, it's best to avoid them, as these spark plugs rarely fulfill the claims made — and always, you will be paying more in the price for the promotion that makes you think you need them than the cost to manufacture the actual spark plugs!

After fitting a high-output ignition most people are tempted to widen spark plug gaps, and although the latest aftermarket ignition systems can easily cope with the extra voltage necessary to jump the larger gap, often the smaller diameter spark plugs used in most recent street engines will cause an engine misfire (usually at high RPM) after a few miles because the spark tends to track down the coating formed from combustion on the center electrode insulator in preference to crossing the widened spark plug gap. Also, wider-gap spark plugs will wear out prematurely. Owners of some modified street cars have found differences in acceleration response by altering spark plug gaps, but generally, if Magnecor Race Wires are used, the best response will be attained with a standard gap. Again, experimentation is always necessary.

VERY IMPORTANT — PLEASE NOTE:
Because of the huge variety of different brand spark plugs currently available, care needs to taken to ensure the spark plugs you use to replace worn out plugs are identical in proportion. This is particularly important if your engine uses multi-part extension type spark plug connectors with top seals that need to fit flush with the valve cover. You need to ensure that the height of each spark plug from the gasket seal to the top of the spark plug is identical to the original factory spark plugs, if you think the height of the plugs you are about to fit are different to that of the originals, please contact us before ordering. We have seen spark plugs, sold as aftermarket replacement and/or performance plugs, that can be up to 5mm taller (top seals will be pushed up) and 5mm or more shorter (spark plug wires may not properly engage spark plugs).

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13. Why is it so difficult to find Magnecor ignition wires in my area ?

Although progressive versions of Magnecor KV85 and R-100 Race Wires are used extensively in racing all over the world, and have been available for over 31 years, it was not until the 1990's that our Race Wires became popular with unmodified street vehicle owners.

Generally, vehicle manufacturers and their dealers, as well as auto part stores and their trade installer customers, regard ignition wires as profitable consumable service items (like spark plugs, oil filters etc.), and therefore they are not inclined to stock or install items like Magnecor ignition wires that will not bring repeat business while their consumer customers own a vehicle on which Magnecor ignition wires were installed. Cost is also important, and usually the only brands stocked are those that offer the lowest price (to the store). In the U.S. auto parts aftermarket, sets with wire lengths that fit more than one engine are also popular to reduce the inventory the store needs to carry (which, these days is a staggering financial burden), and although these sets do at least help customers find something to fit their engine, it's unlikely that any of these set will be a good fit.

The majority of US speed shops stock only whatever is the cheapest in the flashiest package. Usually, speed shops prefer to stock universal wire sets that contain unfinished spark plug and coil wires that need to be cut, booted and terminated to eliminate the hassle of looking for wires to sell to customers needing non-stock sizes and to prevent the loss of sales because their usual suppliers do not make wire sets for a huge number of engines. Also they want to reduce inventory they need to carry. Almost all ignition wires stocked by US speed shops are part of a line of performance parts that predominately come from marketers such as Accel, Crane, Ford Motorsport, Holley, Jacobs, Mallory, Moroso, MSD, Taylor, etc. and most are generic spiral conductor wires dressed up in various forms and colors that are cheaply constructed to keep the cost of such wires competitive, and appealing to most speed shops who seem unconcerned about quality and proper suppression.

Unfortunately, Magnecor's policy of only supplying well fitting, top-performing, long-lasting ignition wires only appeals to parts stores, speed shops and new car dealers who specialize in stocking quality performance parts and employ well trained knowledgeable staff who are more familiar with what's best for their customers than what's the most profitable for themselves. Fortunately, the number customer-oriented outlets is growing to cater for consumers who are becoming more knowledgeable and therefore more quality conscious.

A ready-to-install Magnecor Race Wire set is available for almost every stock engine ever made, as well as for the hundreds of modified and race engines for which Magnecor has recorded specifications over the last 31 years. Magnecor can quickly make any wire set to suit a customer's specifications (at no extra cost).

CAUTION — UNIVERSAL WIRE SETS (any brand including Magnecor):

Although many experienced installers are able to successfully cut, strip, terminate and boot Magnecor Race Wires (which can be bought as universal sets) using our professional heavy duty crimping tool, we do not recommend that you attempt to do so unless it's an absolute emergency, particularly if you are using our 10mm diameter cable. As anyone who has done this job will tell you — it's not easy to terminate any brand or diameter unfinished spark plug wires, even using the flimsy closing tools and crimping pliers that are available from speed shops. Nothing is more time consuming and frustrating than constantly re-terminating spark plug wires on engines designed to make spark plug wires impossible to reach.

FINALLY:

As vehicles that use spark plug wires get older and older, an ever-increasing number of outlets will not carry much, if any, inventory. If you can't find a Magnecor wires in your area, you can buy directly from the factory in the U.S.A. These days, most stores in the USA don't stock any brand spark plugs wire sets. If you are not in the USA, y
ou might be able buy directly from our overseas importing distributors in some countries. You could contact us for guidance.

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14. Why are sparks jumping from boots and cable jacket ?

Occasionally we are contacted by both installers and vehicle owners who tell us that an engine on which they have installed Magnecor ignition wires is misfiring, and they see sparks coming from the boots or cable jacket. In almost every instance the problem is caused by improper installation of the wires and/or bad termination of universal wires. Also, a failed or excessively gapped spark plug, a cracked or condensation-laden (inside) distributor cap or a cracked ignition coil tower can cause arcing that seems to come from the ignition wires. Sometimes, a silicone rubber spark plug, distributor or coil boot is cut by something sharp (usually during installation). Any of these problems causes spark energy to find it easier to induce itself to the outside of the cable jacket and/or boots, as well as arcing over the inside of moist distributor caps and coil towers in preference to jumping the spark plug gap. Also, the distributor cap and/or coil could have been damaged (cracked or burnt) by failed conductors in the previous ignition wires burning back inside the cable insulating jackets or by failed solid resistor connectors used on European ignition wires.

Often, on some Chrysler vehicles, the ignition coil has been changed by the previous owner to a non-Chrysler coil, and unless we are made aware of this situation, the coil lead we supply in sets will only properly fit a Chrysler coil. It's possible to loosely fit conventional coil leads into Chrysler coils, and forcibly fit Chrysler coil leads to conventional coils — however in most cases arcing will occur! This is only a problem on certain Chrysler vehicles sold in USA from 1978-1991

The first step needed to solve an arcing problem is to ensure the terminals inside the spark plug and distributor boots are properly engaged. Damage can occur if the engine has run long periods with wires not properly connected, although in most instances when using Magnecor Race Wires the damage at the spark plug end is usually confined to the spark plug top if the ignition wires incorporate one piece rubber type spark plug boots. Always check for cuts in any silicone rubber boot.

On certain engines (mostly of Japanese origin), using ignition wires that include multi-part hard plastic extension type spark plug connectors, the all-too-common problem of moisture from condensation accumulating in un-drained spark plug holes can terminally damage spark plug connectors because arcing will occur over the wet plastic extension tubes and bottom seals. Sometimes, if excess moisture is allowed to fill up spark plug holes, arcing will occur even if one piece silicone rubber boots are substituted for the original multi-part hard plastic extension type connectors. Owners of these cars (the Ford Taurus SHO, recent Ford Escort GT and Mazda Miata engines being the most prone) should be aware that washing down the motor can also contribute to this serious problem, as the top covers of the spark plug connectors (which appear to be used to keep water and dirt out) have air vents. Also, the vents cause condensation from the air (particularly in areas by the sea) to accumulate inside the spark plug holes even if you don't wash your engine or drive your car in the rain. The best cure for this problem is to carefully remove the spark plug connectors and remove all moisture from the spark plug holes with either compressed air (wear eye protection), a shop vacuum or by absorbent paper towels if your car has traveled through a wet season, you wash down the motor regularly or live in an area where condensation noticeably accumulates over the engine (usually during the night as a hot engine cools down). At the same time it's a good idea to check if oil (usually from leaking valve covers) is also present, as the presence of oil will make a bad situation even worse. Photographs indicating what you may see if you have moisture or oil in the spark plug holes can be seen in some of our Technical Bulletins.

Another problem we encounter from time to time is arcing from multi-part hard plastic extension type spark plug connectors when original screw-on metal spark plug tops (nuts) are replaced by taller tops that keep the bottom connector seals too far above the normal sealing position. Although these taller tops are included in Bosch spark plug boxes presumably to allow the spark plug to be used on a multitude of engines on which taller plugs were originally used, these taller tops are often used to help solve the problem of the spark plug connectors vibrating or shaking loose on engines which have a balance or mount problem. If your spark plug connectors are continually coming loose, please advise us at the time you order a Magnecor wire set, as usually we can supply you with modified connectors which can decrease the number of times the connectors vibrate or shake loose — although more care will have to be taken when detaching the connectors from the spark plugs in the future.

Also, please read this important note about spark plug heights!

If you are experiencing a problem, and you think the wires have not been properly connected for many miles, you should examine the spark plug tops for burning — as to simply re-fit the ignition wires to the damaged spark plug top could cause the terminal inside the spark plug boot to either lock onto a rough burnt surface or be so loose on a burnt-away top that no proper contact will be made.

Whenever either, or both, an ignition wire's spark plug end and distributor end metal terminals are not properly engaged the spark energy needs to jump an additional gap on its way to the spark plug gap inside the pressurized combustion chamber. Because spark energy always finds the path of least resistance, that path may be an induced path outside the cable jacket situated near a grounding point or from the inside of a loose boot in preference to jumping the spark plug gap under pressure plus the additional gap created by the loose connector.

The potential of spark energy being induced from the conductor inside any or all spark plug wires to the outside of the insulating jacket or boots (and sometimes into an adjacent wire) is the reason why it's so important to space all spark plug wires from one another and away from both metal surfaces and coolant hoses, particularly if your engine is race or modified engine that will generate high combustion chamber pressures, and/or will be using fuels that are difficult to fire, and also if a spark plug fails. It never ceases to amaze even the experts how readily the spark from an automobile ignition system can find an unusual path of least resistance — particularly when it wants to jump a 25mm or more free air gap in preference to firing a failed or excessively gapped spark plug inside the pressure of a combustion chamber! Here is an example of a spark plug that has failed due to excessive gaps.

If Magnecor Race Wires are used on an unmodified production street engine with a stock ignition, the importance of spacing spark plug wires is less important. Generally our KV85 Competition wires (8.5mm cable size) will fit into the original equipment wire holder/separators because the silicone rubber jacket is extremely flexible and tear resistant.

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15. After I fitted Magnecor wires, my engine runs worse than it did before !

The usual causes for this problem are as follows:

(1) The wires have not been correctly fitted — see FAQ's: "What are the most common problems with with ignition wires?" and "Why are sparks jumping from the boots and cable jacket?" Also make sure the wires have been fitted to the engine in the correct cylinder firing sequence.

(2) Often, DIY's just replace ignition wires in an endeavor to rectify an engine miss, only to discover the problem is not solved because other ignition components are contributing to the problem, or are causing the problem. When Magnecor Race Wires are installed on an engine with deteriorated ignition components, an engine miss can seem worse, because the full coil output current conducted by Magnecor wires, via the distributor, to the spark plugs tends to find every weakness in a deteriorated ignition system that wasn't so apparent when coil output was absorbed (and wasted) in the original carbon conductor or resistor-connector type ignition wires.

Each time you replace ignition wires, it's important you at least closely inspect the distributor cap and rotor, as well as the ignition coil tower (or coil pack towers on a DIS) for condensation accumulation, cracks and burning. If the distributor cap and rotor have run in excess of 50,000 miles (80,000 Km), replacement should be considered. Spark plugs also should be inspected and re-gapped if necessary. Unless spark plugs are the double platinum type, it's wise to replace any that have run in excess of 30,000 miles (50,000 Km). All turbocharged or supercharged engines are hard on spark plugs, and even a relatively new spark plug can develop cracks in the porcelain insulator, allowing combustion gas to escape inside a wire's boot or connector, and arcing can occur down a spark plug's porcelain and ground out from under the wire's boot or connector seal. Always look for dark colored gas leaks and cracks on the outside of the spark plugs' porcelain.

(3) When an engine runs rougher after replacing a multitude of ignition system components including ignition wires (usually installed last of all), DIY's often conclude the wires must be the cause. If Magnecor ignition wires are installed correctly, it's almost impossible for the wires (by themselves) to cause the engine to run roughly. Rough engine running problems do occur when ignition points, electronic modules, pickup coils, rotors, and distributor caps are not properly installed or damaged, or wiring to these components is disturbed or damaged. Also, vacuum tubing and wiring associated with timing devices connected to the distributor and other engine management components can also be disturbed or damaged and cause the engine to run roughly. If this problem does occur, every component should be checked, keeping in mind that improper installation can terminally damage electronic components.

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16. Performance wires always interfere with my radio — are Magnecor Race Wires any better? I currently have radio interference, how do I identify interference coming from ignition wires?

Magnecor Race Wires, if properly fitted, will provide excellent RFI suppression indefinitely for virtually all vehicles in which the original carbon conductor ignition wires provided adequate suppression. In severe cases, such as those experienced by mobile ham radio operators, where carbon conductor ignition wires (original and/or aftermarket) provide RFI suppression only for a short time before replacement is again needed, we recommend the use of our CN Series Race Wires, the only ignition wires capable of indefinitely suppressing severe RFI without reducing spark current! 

The majority of original equipment and aftermarket carbon conductor (suppression) wires will provide adequate RFI suppression until the wire conductors' limited suppression life is exceeded. Unfortunately, for mobile ham radio operators in particular, the effective RFI suppression life of most carbon conductor ignition wires is less than that required by anyone listening only to signals received on commercial AM and FM broadcast bands.

No spiral conductor "pro" etc. ignition wires sold in mass-merchandisers and speed shops will provide adequate (if any) RFI suppression for Ham radios, TV and sensitive sound equipment. Most provide token RFI suppression by coating the spiral conductor with a conductive latex or silicone compound, which, like a carbon conductor, is only effective for a limited time — see: Truth About Ignition Wire Conductors.

A guide to identifying radio-interference noises caused by ignition wires:
Often, we are asked to describe how broadcast band noise can be identified as coming from ignition wires. Although it's hard to describe in words:

On the AM band, noise coming from spark plug wires is usually heard as a sharp "clacking" noise (from speakers) at idle that increases with engine speed to a "ZZZZ" sound at higher rpm. A faulty coil wire will always create a "ZZZZ" noise, even at idle. With a faulty or inadequately grounded antenna lead, or a heavily corroded antenna body the same sounds will be heard, even with good wires, because the antenna can't adequately pick up the radio signal.

On the FM band, if you hear a ticking noise that increases with engine speed, it's more than likely that somewhere in the ignition system a spark is jumping to ground, or a spark is jumping a large gap inside a carbon conductor wire with the conductor burning back from the metal terminal. Loose or badly fitted spark plug and coil wires, wires burnt through from header or turbocharger plumbing heat, ignition coil or coil packs with cracks in towers or bodies, cracks in distributor caps and failed or excessively worn or gapped spark plugs (causing sparks to come out of spark plug boots and connectors) all can create open sparks that can be heard on the FM band.

It is important to note that our CN Series Race Wires will not always solve extreme RFI problems caused by radio set and/or antenna shielding, grounding and positioning problems. The same goes for problems caused by other ignition components and failing or excessively gapped spark plugs fitted into aluminum cylinder heads. Sometimes, using extremely high resistance carbon conductor wires or in-line resistors can hide extreme RFI problems, however, the resulting weaker spark will affect engine performance and fuel economy. Generally, if our CN Series Race Wires are not able to provide sufficient suppression, the underlying cause of the problem will have to be rectified, as these wires are designed to provide the maximum allowable suppression before loss of spark energy occurs.

WARNING about metal shielded and so-called "Built-in Capacitor" ignition wires:
Although using a grounded metal shielding over the entire length of each ignition wire will certainly provide RFI suppression, and this style of wire is still used on low-revving piston driven aircraft engines (unless an electronic ignition conversion has been added), it is common knowledge (from experience) amongst automotive electrical engineers that it's unwise to use ignition wires fitted with grounded metal shielding over ignition cable jackets on a high-revving automobile engine
— as the problems caused by any style of ignition wires which need to be grounded have proven to be so great, that using them should be avoided at all costs!

This type of ignition wire forces the cable jacket to become an unsuitable dielectric for a crude capacitor (effect) between the conductor and the grounded braiding. While the wires function normally when first fitted, the cable jacket under the metal shielding soon breaks down as a dielectric, and progressively more and more spark energy is induced from the conductor (through the cable jacket) into the grounded shielding, causing the ignition coil to needlessly output excess energy to fire both the spark plug gaps and the additional energy being lost in the grounded metal shielding. This situation leads to engine power loss, and eventually to ignition system overload failures as the insulating ability of the cable jacket (under the metal shielding) breaks down.

Ignition wires promoted as having "built-in capacitors" are nothing more than solid wire or spiral conductor wires over which grounded metal shielding is fitted to only part of the wires' insulating jacket. These wires have all the disadvantages of wires with grounded metal shielding over the entire length of each ignition wire — without being able to properly suppress either RFI or EMI!

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17. Why are Magnecor ignition wires for German and some other European vehicles so different ?

We are often asked why the ignition wires we make for German and certain other European vehicles are different to the original wires. The reason is that a great number of German and other European engines are fitted with ignition wires that consist of separate solid plastic (some with metal shields or coated with silicone rubber) spark plug and distributor connectors screwed into solid copper-conductor ignition wire. These connectors contain encapsulated resistors to provide suppression, and it is these costly (to replace) resistor connectors that cause this style of ignition wires to fail.

Magnecor Race Wires for German other European engines completely eliminate the need for resistor-connectors, and owners will notice a difference in engine response with Magnecor Race Wires. Although we are always pleased to hear our wires made such a difference, particularly on Porsche, BMW and Volkswagen engines, we must admit it's not necessarily all because Magnecor Race Wires increased the engine's response and efficiency, as it's more likely some of the improvement emanated from the elimination of the original style of ignition wires that reduced the spark energy available to the spark plugs to provide suppression.

Occasionally, consumers who have their German vehicle's regular maintenance performed by the dealer are advised their Magnecor ignition wires don't have the same resistance as the original wires, and sometimes the dealer justifies the re-installation of the ridiculously expensive limited-life original style resistor-connector ignition wires with this statement. Be assured that Magnecor ignition wires do provide the resistance needed by the ignition system — and without a reduction in spark energy! Magnecor has sold tens of thousands or more wire sets over the last 31 years to replace resistor-connector style ignition wires on BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen and other European vehicles.

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18. Which ignition system should I fit to get extra horsepower ?

The following information is derived from the opinions and experiences of the thousands of Magnecor customers with whom we discussed ignition systems over the years. Magnecor does not manufacture anything other than ignition wires, but it's important for Magnecor to investigate, evaluate and test the ignition systems with which Magnecor Race Wires will be used on all sorts of engines and under all sorts of extreme or otherwise conditions.

There has been a huge increase in aftermarket products which can improve the ignition performance of race and street engines modified to increase horsepower, and although the basic ignition systems providing the spark energy are essentially the same (inductive, CDI and magneto) as ever, the electronic control of such systems to further benefit engine performance and reliability has been significantly improved.

Like better ignition wires, improving an engine's ignition system is a means to an end. A high-output ignition system will rarely increase engine horsepower by itself, and any noticeable increase is usually the result of the new system reviving horsepower lost by a failing original ignition system. However, if an engine is modified to gain additional horsepower, little will be gained unless a high-output ignition system and ignition wires capable of delivering the additional spark energy (without effecting other engine components) are installed to enable the engine to take advantage of the modifications.

Original equipment inductive ignition systems with distributors and direct ignition systems (DIS), that eliminate the distributor by controlling the ignition with a computer, are designed to output spark energy moderately in excess of what is needed to fire spark plug gaps under normal operating conditions and to control timing and spark duration to improve the engine's ability to control exhaust emissions, as well as ensuring the engine is not overstressed during the vehicle's warranty period. Ignition systems fitted to production vehicles are not designed to encourage consumers to modify the engines to gain extra RPM and horsepower.

The following is aimed at providing general information for individuals who are considering replacing their production vehicles' original ignition system with one of the many higher-output systems available in the performance aftermarket:

Although original equipment ignition systems fitted to most recent production vehicles will provide adequate spark energy if no modifications to gain additional horsepower are made to the engine, we are not aware that any of these ignitions is suitable for a race engine or a highly modified production engine used on the street. In some instances, an original ignition system, as an integral part of the electronic engine management system, can thwart a power increase expected from mechanical modifications and/or a chip replacement.

Generally, aftermarket high-output ignition systems are designed to enable a production engine to reach higher RPM, and provide the spark energy that will be needed to fire an engine that will be combusting different fuels at a greater rate than a production engine. In choosing a high-output ignition systems to use on your modified production vehicle it's important you investigate what works on your vehicle, taking into account its engine type, year model and the purpose for which you modified the engine.

Fitting any of any high-output ignition systems available in the USA to most production engines older than about 1986 is usually not difficult, and generally, any capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) system such as those available from Accel, Crane, Holley, Jacobs, Mallory, MSD and others in the USA will prove to be ideal. CDI ignitions create sparks that are compressed (and intensified) into shorter duration and are specifically designed to produce the extra spark energy needed by race and modified street engines that will reach a higher RPM than standard production engines, and use fuels more difficult to fire than pump gasoline (petrol). Most CDI ignitions incorporate multi-spark circuits to enable the engine to run smoother under 3,000 RPM.

Unfortunately, with late model production vehicles sold in countries where emission control laws are enforced, finding a suitable high-output ignition will be more challenging, and any attempt to fit just any aftermarket high-out ignition system to these vehicles, without a thorough investigation as to its suitability, could drastically effect the driveability of the vehicle on the street. Unless you know someone who has been successful in fitting a particular type and brand high-output ignition system to a vehicle identical to yours, you first need to contact the ignition system manufacturer to confirm whether or not they have a ready-to-fit system (with precise fitting instructions) that can replace the original ignition on your particular vehicle without upsetting the whole engine management system. No doubt, someone knowledgeable who works on vehicles similar to yours will also know what's best from experience.

From what we have observed and tested, a high-output inductive ignition system is more appropriate than a CDI ignition system for most late model production engines (modified or not) because this type of ignition provides the longer duration spark needed by these engines. Basic high-output inductive ignition systems are available in the aftermarket currently from at least Accel, Crane, Electroair (aircraft engines), Holley, MSD, and a menu driven high-output direct ignition system is available from Electromotive.

Often, on vehicles used exclusively on the street, replacing a tired ignition coil with a more modern higher-output coil from Accel, Crane, Holley, Jacobs, Mallory, Moroso, MSD, Nology, and others can improve ignition performance, particularly under load and at higher RPM. Again, it's important that you confirm, in particular, that the primary side of the higher-output coil will be compatible with the vehicle's original ignition controller (e.g. primary resistance is not substantially lower than the original coil primary), to prevent overloading and failure of the ignition controller.

Never be fooled by any device that is fitted between the ignition coil and the distributor, and/or distributor and the spark plugs (in place of ignition wires) for which claims of increased power, multiple sparks, and better fuel economy are made. Like "capacitor" wires, many of these devices have come and gone over the last 50 years, and usually consists of a sealed container in which the spark is forced to jump an additional gap on its way to the spark plug — thus increasing the coil output voltage! Also, like "capacitor" wires, these devices can produce sparks which (when cleverly demonstrated) are usually perceived by the human eye as being "more-powerful." The only "increase" a gullible consumer can expect from any of these devices is an undesirable increase in load on their vehicle's ignition system!

If you own an older vehicle that has a distributor points type ignition, by far the best investment you can make is an electronic ignition system which eliminates the distributor points. Distributor points have a rubbing block which wears down, causing the engine timing to change and engine performance to deteriorate. Electronic ignitions which eliminate distributor points are possibly the best thing that's happened to improve ignition performance. Not only is the nuisance and expense of continually replacing and adjusting distributor points eliminated, engines fitted with pointless ignitions will maintain perfect ignition timing!

In the USA, a good supplier of kits to convert points distributors to an electronic system is RML in Daytona Beach, Florida. These people specialize in bolt-on conversion kits for Alfa Romeo, and they can supply kits for other older vehicles with points ignition.

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19. (Question received from the UK) I see Nology advertise "Plasma Leads" that increase horsepower — can Magnecor Race Wires do the same?

"Plasma leads" are just another name for Nology "HotWires" sold in the USA. The claims by Nology are addressed in our document The Truth About Ignition Wires Conductors

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20. I need suppressed wires for my top fuel drag engine. I currently use solid wire conductor ignition wires because the huge spark energy this engine needs burns out every other style of wires I try. Will Magnecor Race Wires work in this situation?

We are asked this question regularly by people who build and tune huge 5,000 + horsepower top fuel V8 drag engines and use, in particular, MSD and Mallory magneto ignitions to produce the spark energy to successfully fire these engines. Naturally, after we hear what these powerful ignitions have done to other wires, we become as concerned as our customers about the ability of our Race Wires to fulfill the task of both providing suppression and conducting the huge spark energy needed to fire these engines.

Over the years we have supplied both our KV85 and R-100 Race Wires to 5,000 + horsepower top fuel drag engine builders needing suppressed wires to run with extreme output ignition systems, particularly since many engines now run many sensitive electronic components (for ignition, engine management and data collection). Our Race Wires have been developed and are specifically constructed for this purpose — however, problems can occur if these wires are improperly fitted, or improperly terminated if an installer is terminating their own wires without suitable equipment.

Naturally, we are always concerned about the costly events that could follow either bad installation or bad termination of our wires, and for this reason we only suggest to race engine builders they try our Race Wires in their application to see if they make a difference. We may be over-cautious in our approach to this question, as there’s never been an incident (to our knowledge) when properly fitted and terminated Magnecor Race Wires did not provide the EMI and RFI suppression needed or conduct the full output from an extreme output ignition system used on a top fuel drag engine. Thousands of Magnecor Race Wires are currently used on successful drag engines worldwide.

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21. How do I stop wires popping off spark plugs (and distributor caps and ignition coils)?

Although this problem is not common, it is an irritation for owners of the vehicles concerned. From our experience, after working with vehicle owners to solve this problem, we offer the following suggestions as to why this problem occurs:

Boots or connectors not fully pushed on (and/or metal terminals inside not engaging):

The most common cause. If you are fitting wires to an engine where it is almost impossible to easily reach the spark plugs or distributor and/or ignition coil/s, it is advisable to check the wires after the vehicle has run a few miles to ensure that boots and terminals are properly engaging and not just hanging there. An engine misfire will usually develop before boots or connectors actually pop off spark plugs (see specific instructions in Magnecor wire set boxes).

Our best advice is not to rush the job. Before removing and re-fitting the wires, remove all engine components that need to be removed to properly access the wires. Installers often try to avoid removing other engine parts to access ignition wires, only to end up having to do the job over again because the wires can't really be fitted correctly without removing other engine components.

Terminals inside flexible style spark plug boots have been spread by rocking boots from side-to-side to remove
:
A common cause after the removal and replacement of spark plug boots to reach spark plugs, although boots don't always completely pop off spark plugs. Unfortunately, all flexible silicone spark plug boots have a tendency to bond to the spark plug porcelain, and combined with terminals inside locking onto assorted size, shape and material spark plug tops (nuts, ferrules), it is sometimes almost impossible to easily remove the wires from difficult-to-reach spark plugs. The best approach seems to be carefully twisting the boot (with fingers as low as possible on the outside of the boot) and pulling the boot straight up and off the spark plug. Forcefully rocking on a boot to break the seal and disengage the terminal inside will inevitably spread the opening in the terminal and cause it to fit too loosely on the spark plug top when boot is re-fitted to the spark plug. Whenever possible, remove spark plug boots when engine is cold, as spark plug tops expand into the terminals to lock even tighter when spark plugs are hot (or warm on some engines). With care, a spread terminal opening can sometimes be gently brought back into shape with long-nosed pliers. If the terminal mouth is too badly spread, the spring clip around the terminal (which has a punched dimple that drops into the middle of narrow section of the spark plug top) can be dislodged. If, after the terminal mouth has been brought back into shape the terminal won't noticeably click onto spark plug, it is very likely the spring clip has been dislodged, and replacing the terminal will be necessary.

If you are using Magnecor wires on a race engine, and are removing and replacing the spark plug wires regularly, you should take into account that you are putting many years of wear on the spark plug terminals in a short period of time (on most street-driven cars spark plug wires are removed, at best, only once a year). Unlike other spark plug wires used for racing, Magnecor wires can last many years on the same engine — therefore, you need to take special care to avoid damaging or deforming the spark plug terminals, which by the nature of their design and construction are small and easy to damage or deform if enough force is used. All Magnecor spark plug terminals are made from heavy gauge stainless steel and can usually withstand more abuse than normal terminals, but again, if enough force is used, any spark plug terminal can be damaged or deformed. If you do badly damage a terminal, we can usually repair the wire for you. Also, terminals can be purchased as spare parts from Magnecor. Also, some brand spark plugs tops that have had wires removed and replaced many times will score badly and create a loose connection.

Spark plug connectors too full of silicone grease:


A common cause on engines (particularly those of Japanese origin) which suffer the problem of moisture accumulating in spark plug holes. In the interests of water-proofing the spark plug connectors, well-meaning installers fill an extended spark plug connector with too much silicone dielectric grease, which can prevent the terminal inside from ever locking onto the spark plug top. Drivability problems caused by water in the spark plug holes can be cured (after water is removed) by applying a smear of silicone grease inside the connector bottom seals, or onto the base of the spark plug insulator. This will help prevent arcing when the moisture again accumulates — however, drivability problems will not be cured if a connector’s terminal cannot connect over a spark plug top because too much silicone grease is stuffed into the connector. Remember, grease can't be compressed, and if too much of it is stuffed into a connector, the metal terminal inside will never be able to grip the spark plug top and the connector will never connect properly to the spark plug. Too much grease stuffed into flexible rubber spark plug connectors will cause the same problem, but usually the connector will only slide up on the spark plug, causing the engine to misfire.

Distributor and/or ignition coil problems:


Spark plug and coil wires can also pop off or out of distributor or ignition coil towers. The usual causes are similar to those that affect the spark plug ends of the wires including, in particular, stuffing too much silicone grease into the wire/s distributor and/or coil boots. In fact, we advise installers never to apply silicone dielectric grease inside a distributor or coil boot. If you need to insulate a distributor cap or ignition coil you should apply the silicone grease to the outside of the boot (where the boot meets the distributor cap or ignition coil) — distributor cap and ignition coil towers are tapered, and too much lubrication inside can cause boots to work their way up and off the towers on vehicles that experience considerable vibration.

Some performance aftermarket distributor caps do not have a chamfer at top of the brass inserts into which the wires’ terminals will fit, so care needs to be taken to avoid the wire’s brass distributor terminals being caught on top edges of the inserts and becoming distorted (and too loose in the insert) if terminals are forcibly fitted. Usually, if a brass terminal does become distorted, bending it back to its original shape (compare with an un-distorted terminal on another wire) is all that’s required.

Exhaust gas is blowing through a spark plug gasket (gaskets are used on some spark plugs to seal between the plug and the cylinder head) or through the body of the spark plug:

A surprisingly common problem on vehicles using extended spark plug connectors to reach spark plugs in deep holes. The only cure is to replace the spark plug gaskets each time the plugs are removed and re-fitted, particularly if the vehicle manufacturer recommends replacing the gaskets. If you remove and replace your spark plugs regularly (for example, on a race engine) then you should pay particular attention to the condition of the spark plug gaskets. Also, spark plugs themselves have been known to leak around where the porcelain body seals into the metal base. Dark colored marks left by leaking exhaust gases on the porcelain will indicate this problem — the only cure is to replace the spark plugs.

In each case, above, the pressure of the exhaust gases can force the spark plug boot or spark plug connector off the spark plugs.

Engine vibration, G-Force and torque twist:


Engine vibration or shaking, if excessive, can cause ignition wires to disconnect, particularly if wires are stretched to fit onto spark plugs or into or over coil towers. Always make sure Magnecor Race Wires (the R-100 10mm version in particular, because of the extra weight) are properly loomed up and supported so that wires cannot swing and/or strike against nearby engine, body or suspension components, which can cause wires to be loosened or pulled from spark plugs, distributor cap and/or ignition coil/s during high G-Force cornering or braking. This is primarily due to the pure silicone construction of the jackets of Magnecor's 8.5mm and 10mm cables, which are much more flexible than other cables, and do not get stiff over time.

On Mazda rotary engines (in particular), allow enough slack to prevent the torque twist of the engine disconnecting wires from ignition coils.

Spark plugs are too short or too high:


An all-too-common problem with owners of Japanese origin engines fitting non-original spark plugs that too short or too high compared with the original plugs. Engines that use wires with extended spark plug connectors need to be fitted with spark plugs that are the same height as the original spark plugs to enable both the terminals inside the connectors to properly engage spark plug tops, and properly position seals that cover the spark plug holes. Always compare different brand spark plug heights with original spark plugs before fitting them to the engine.

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22. Do I need to clean my wires? If so, what should I use?

Magnecor wires last much longer than any other wires, and for this reason the wires will, in time, become coated (usually in patches) with assorted and unsightly waste materials that originate from roadways, oil fumes, waste coolant, road dust, mud, deteriorating engine belts and tires (particularly on engines that are exposed, such as a drag car). Some of this material will contain carbon, and in certain circumstances become conductive. An excessive layer of carbon deposits could cause sparks to be induced into it and grounded if spark plug gaps are wide, and misfiring and other driveability problems could occur. This is an unusual occurrence, but it can happen on much-worked-upon engines that have been fitted with the same Magnecor wires for an extended period of time — so if you notice black deposits on your wires, you should clean them.

To clean wires; Use a mild solvent, even alcohol will work, but make sure any flammable solvent you use is completely evaporated before you crank the engine. Common solvents will not damage the silicone itself, but a solvent that is too strong may remove the printing (ink) from the cable which identifies the cable's conductor (if you are unsure, you should experiment with a small patch first). Avoid using a water-based cleaner (unless you ensure the wires are completely dry before use) since a layer of water is also conductive. Do not use any sort of abrasive or corrosive cleaner, which could damage the both the wires and other engine parts around the wires.

If fitted correctly, and not damaged or exposed to conditions beyond ratings for the wires, Magnecor Race Wires will last indefinitely, however like any other part on your engine, they should be cared for correctly.

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23. Your web site and advertising seem negative, why are you so critical of your competitors ?

To fully understand the answer, you should also read the "truth" and "overview" documents on this site.

Due to the nature of the spark plug wire industry we have no choice but to promote our products the way we do. In an ideal world we would do nothing other than inform consumers of the features we incorporate in our wires, and the reason why we incorporated such features to enable them to decide whether or not Magnecor wires are suitable for their application. Our web site is primarily designed to provide technical information and advice to racers and street car owners who use our wires.

Before our web site, the staff at Magnecor spent an inordinate amount of time on the telephone explaining to consumers that what our competitors choose to say about the capabilities of their wires in their advertising is not necessarily true, and the too-good-to-be-true performance gains promised by some promoters are nothing more than distortions of fact. Some of our competitors invent and promote features for their wires that are of no value to anyone other than themselves and, often, after reading our competitors' advertising, consumers are concerned that Magnecor wires don't have the features, or provide the phenomenal gains our competitors offer. To save all concerned time and money, we use our web site to assure consumers our wires will perform as well, if not better than any other ignition wires on the market.

Unfortunately, being able to cash-in on deceptive claims for ignition wires is assisted by some popular performance-oriented magazines publishing articles that support their advertisers' product claims without making any effort to investigate whether or not there's merit in the claims made. These publications are mainly concerned with filling advertising space and do not want to offend their advertisers.

Hopefully, the above explains why we need to promote our products in a way that may seem offensive, paranoid or arrogant to some people (particularly if you are outside the USA, where this method of promotion is less common).

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24. I see some brands advertising that their wires resist 1,200 degree F temperatures. Is this possible ?

Generic wires can be fitted with braided fiberglass sleeving (used elsewhere for abrasion resistance). Although braided fiberglass sleeves can reach 1,200 degrees F without destroying itself, the same can’t be said about the cable inside the sleeve

Unfortunately, in extreme situations where there is little or no airflow, braided fiberglass sleeve can almost reach the temperature of the heat source and cook the cable inside, and for this reason, tight fitting braided fiberglass sleeve fitted over the cable jacket is virtually useless for heat protection.

For heat problems, our customers have reported that loose-fitting reflective coated fiberglass sleeves slid over spark plug boots can help in some cases. Thick loose-fitting "fire sleeves" fitted over the spark plug wires are very effective on race engines, but generally it's bulk makes it impractical for use on a street engine (and unsightly on a well presented street car engine). By far the best solution for heat related problems with all engine wiring is to shield, wrap or coat the heat source itself, and to introduce more airflow around where the spark plug wires are located.

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25. I want to use your KV85 Competition wires on my late model unmodified street car. Can I damage stock ignition components if I use these wires? I have heard that wires used for race engines can do that.

Both Magnecor KV85 Competition and R-100 Race Wires can be used with standard ignition systems. All late model vehicles sold in the USA require ignition wires properly suppressed for EMI so as not to interfere with exhaust emission control devices. Race vehicles fitted with sensitive electronic equipment also need EMI suppressed wires, and Magnecor specifically manufactures its Race Wires wires for this purpose. 

Original Equipment carbon conductor wires suppress EMI by resistance (which reduces spark current) and will prematurely fail if used with a race ignition. Magnecor Race Wires are designed to conduct full output of a racing ignition and provide EMI suppression for both race and stock engines. 

Generally, only very low-resistance conductor and solid copper or stainless steel core performance wires damage stock ignitions (and some high-output ignitions), and other performance wires will not provide proper EMI for an electronically controlled street engine, causing the engine to run erratically. So-called "capacitor" wires and dress-up wires using grounded braided metal shields over the ignition cable will destroy stock ignition systems, as this style of wires can break down and overload the ignition system if not changed regularly.

03/2017

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