A Brief Overview of the Performance Aftermarket Ignition Wire Industry in the USA

The following has been prepared by the staff at Magnecor and is purely Magnecor's perspective of the market in the USA for its specialized ignition wires. We hope the following will also provide readers with a general overview of the USA performance parts aftermarket for ignition wires, and answer some of the questions we are continually asked by consumers, installers and re-sellers each and every working day (also see our FAQ page).

This Technical Information Web Site contains material which no doubt appears to be overly critical of some Magnecor's competitors, and the claims they make for their ignition wires. We at Magnecor hope consumers (and our competitors) will understand that if our competitors did not make claims which, at best, are exaggerations of fact and, at worst, are designed to cash-in on the naiveté of a surprising number of consumers, magazine editors and automobile service industry members (who should know better), there would be no reason for us to devote such an abnormal amount of time each and every day to answering these questions.

We should also add, as a result of the amount of time we have devoted to discussing subjects which include: "Are your wires the same as .......... (brand) low-resistance wires I bought from a speed shop?" --"How do your wires compare with Nology?"-- "What horsepower gain can I expect if I fit your wires?" -- we are in a position to pass on information we have received from disappointed and disillusioned users of our competitors' products for which dubious and ridiculous claims are continually published. We are also avid collectors of both working and failed ignition wires we use for testing and analyzing as to why our competitors' wires rarely fulfill claims published in their advertisements and promotional material. Of course, the gathering of all this information and material helps us develop superior products which perform properly and offer a long service life.

The aftermarket automotive and motorcycle ignition components industry has always been renowned for the abnormal number of marketers making non-factual, or gimmicky, or just plain absurd claims for the products they sell. During the last 50 years, it's amazing just how many marketers of "capacitor" wires and wires incorporating an assortment of magic boxes (for which claims of more horsepower and fuel economy are made) keep finding so many unwary consumers during the time they remain in business.

Long established companies marketing reliable, efficient and powerful ignition systems have also become surprisingly reckless with claims for the generic ignition wires they include in their product line. For whatever reason, most ignition system marketers in the USA are obsessed with the notion that a "low-resistance" ignition wire line (with the marketer's name printed onto low-grade generic ignition cable) needs to be included as part of any ignition "package" sold through mass-merchandisers and speed shop outlets.

Because of the fierce competition amongst aftermarket ignition system marketers selling branded generic "low-resistance" ignition wire lines through mass-merchandisers and speed shops, every marketer needs to find a reason (factual or otherwise) why their ignition wires are better than similar (and sometimes identical) wires offered by their competitors. For owners of vehicles fitted with high-tech aftermarket electronic components, improved quality and adequate suppression is important, but no marketer sees justification in improving their ignition wire line without either exposing themselves to a financial loss, or jeopardizing their relationship with mass-merchandisers and some speed shops because to do so (and remain profitable) the wholesale price of their ignition wires would rise substantially above those offered by their competitors.

The quality and performance of aftermarket ignition wires (including wires sold as replacement parts sold through dealerships) in the USA is, to a large extent, driven by mass-merchandisers and some speed shops who insist on buying the lowest price (which usually means cheaply-constructed) products which are also heavily promoted. No doubt they reason if the product is cheap enough, and if it's pre-sold by the marketer's promotion, additional profits will be made by eliminating the need to employ and train the sales staff that consumers expect to be available to assist and advise them. The issue of quality appears to be of little consequence. These days, almost no mass-merchandiser carries any inventory of spark plug wires, and generally, they just fill the need of the customer with whatever is the most profitable.

The reason ignition wires with "low-resistance" spiral conductors proliferate the performance aftermarket is that these wires are cheap to manufacture and are easy to sell because "low-resistance" conductors are falsely promoted by marketers as being able to produce more powerful sparks. A classic example at one time was a Ford Motorsport wire set (consisting of cheaply-made generic "low-resistance" wires marked "Ford Motorsport") for a V8 Mustang selling for as low as $42 at speed shops, while Ford's original equipment Motorcraft carbon conductor wire set for the same Mustang was selling for $84 at a Ford dealership!

This situation makes one suspect that either the original limited-life Motorcraft carbon conductor wire set is grossly overpriced, or that the Ford Motorsport "low-resistance" conductor wire set is very cheaply constructed. Unfortunately, at the time for US consumers, either suspicion was correct few, if any production vehicle owners in the USA would disagree that genuine spare parts are anything other than overpriced and Ford Motorsport wire sets, like all other brands of generic "low-resistance" conductor wires still proliferating the performance aftermarket, are cheaply constructed to compete with other similar or identical wire sets offered by other marketers.

Our competitors' policy of selling cheap "low-resistance" conductor wires in the performance aftermarket is by no means unrealistic, as millions of engines are still out there which are not electronically managed as well as older vehicles with none of the electronic on-board equipment effected by EMI that Magnecor Race Wires are designed to suppress. Heat problems suffered by wires with insulating jackets vastly inferior to the jackets used on Magnecor Race Wires can generally be overcome by fitting additional sleeves (which can cost as much, if not more, than the wire set itself) over the spark plug wires.

It has become a very profitable ritual at a huge number of service shops to replace endless numbers of expensive electronic components on older vehicles with ignition wires to solve all sorts of engine running problems simply solved (usually as the last resort) by using ignition wires that properly suppress EMI.

In the last 15 years, performance market ignition wire "improvements" by our competitors have amounted mostly to nothing other than copying Magnecor Race Wires' innovations of larger cable sizes and color (particularly in the USA and Australia), at the same time cutting manufacturing costs by using inferior materials and conductors. The need for EMI suppression on vehicles using electronic ignition and fuel delivery systems are simply addressed by our competitors by including words in advertisements and promotional material which suggest there is EMI suppression. Unfortunately, the claims that "low-resistance," "super conductor" and "built-in capacitor" wires are EMI suppressed are as factual as other claims made 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. etc. etc.

"EMI SUPPRESSION" CLAIMS BY OUR COMPETITORS

Unfortunately, the term "EMI suppression," which was first introduced by Magnecor in 1989 to describe a major function of our KV85 and R-100 Race Wires which, at that time, had been re-engineered to overcome emerging EMI problems caused by the use of aftermarket "low-resistance" wires on electronically managed engines and vehicles that contain sensitive on-board electronic equipment, has now become a meaningless buzzword to include with other claims (few, if any of which are factual) our competitors make for their ignition wires in advertisements and other promotional material.

Admittedly, Magnecor has benefited from the heavy promotion and ridiculous claims made for ignition wires by our competitors in the aftermarket industry, and Magnecor Race Wires (products which until about 25 years ago were sold almost exclusively to racers all over the world) have become extremely popular with production vehicle owners who use their vehicles exclusively on the street mainly because those owners have been made aware by our competitors that good ignition wires are important to a vehicle's performance although their products rarely match the hype.

However, despite what you see in promotional material, consumers should be aware that ignition wires are only conductors, and by themselves can't generate or "install" additional engine horsepower or better fuel mileage. Like good tires (tyres) on a road vehicle, which are needed to ensure that full engine power is transferred to the road surface without adversely effecting the vehicle's handling good ignition wires are needed to conduct full ignition coil energy to the spark plugs without interfering with a vehicle's electronic engine management system. If either the vehicle's tires or ignition wires are poorly designed and/or deteriorated the potential overall performance and fuel economy of the vehicle is no longer available to the driver. This situation is even more important these days, as most of the vehicles using ignition wires are now 25 years old, and it's those high mileage vehicles that get the most benefit from good ignition wires.

MAGNECOR'S APPROACH TO THE IGNITION WIRE MARKET

Magnecor does not delude itself that the cost of manufacturing our Race Wires will always be far in excess of what most performance aftermarket resellers want to pay. Nor do we have any intention to compromise either the performance or the quality of our products to pander to resellers who base their decisions as to which parts to stock on the premise that consumers only want cheap and/or heavily promoted products. For this reason Magnecor products are only available from retailers who stock and sell quality merchandise and who are more concerned about their customers needs than they are about making additional profits from heavily promoted inferior merchandise onto which extra margins can be loaded.

Magnecor products are also popular with technicians who take pride in providing their customers with the best possible workmanship and spare parts that will benefit their customers most. Many repair shops do not fit Magnecor Race Wires to their customers' street vehicles because it is unlikely customers will ever need to replace the wires while they own their vehicles although a huge number of the same repair shop owners and employees will happily buy Magnecor wires for their own vehicles.

Although Magnecor Race Wires have always been primarily designed and manufactured for use on competition engines which require wires with high-capacity EMI suppressed conductors (which will not deteriorate with use or interfere with on-board electronic equipment, including engine management systems) and heat-resistant insulating jackets which are far superior to all other ignition wires currently proliferating the performance aftermarket, Magnecor Race Wires can be used on exhaust emission controlled street vehicles to improve and maintain ignition performance, even if a high-output ignition system is not fitted.

Also, Magnecor Race Wires are available for almost every engine ever made. Unless the customer requests a universal (unfinished) wire set, all Magnecor Race Wire sets or individual wires are supplied ready-to-install to eliminate the problems and inconvenience associated with stripping, terminating and booting the unfinished wire sets which most mass-merchandisers and speed shops prefer to stock.

OVERSEAS VISITORS, PLEASE NOTE:

If you are outside of the USA, please understand that claims you see in advertisements or other promotional material by ignition component marketers in the USA are not necessarily factual, as advertising standards and enforcement of truth in advertising in the USA are different to those in other countries. In addition, most magazines who promote such products in editorial are under little pressure to check the factual nature of what they publish.

Most consumers in the USA are aware they can't expect the authorities to immediately protect them against every deceptive trade practice and therefore they have conditioned themselves to be skeptical of all claims by marketers that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, marketers who rely on dubious and false claims to sell their products always seem to take advantage of an ever-increasing number of unwary and less skeptical US consumers each year, and it's these consumers who keep them in business. Fortunately, marketers who rely on heavy promotion to market their dubious products to a vast number of consumers do cause US authorities to act. For an example of US Federal Trade Commission action see: Splitfire.

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