Picking Plug Wires

Plug Wires

High-quality performance Spark plug wires serve two purposes: they simply carry spark energy to the plugs and minimize voltage interference. If the resistance of the plug wire is excessively high, the spark energy reaching the spark plug will be reduced, resulting in poor performance and potential spark plug fouling. If the resistance is too low, it can interfere with other electronics such as fuel injection computers, automobile audio, or GPS systems, and it can even generate crossfire between the spark plug wires. Crossfire occurs when the resistance of the plug wire is too low or the plug wire is damaged, allowing the spark energy to jump to an adjacent plug wire and burn the wrong spark plug at the wrong moment.

The best street spark plug wires will have a spiral-wrapped core that is adequately insulated to defend against RFI (radio frequency interference) while also offering a strong fit at the distributor cap and spark plug. Solid core wires may be used in racing with shielded electronics, but with today’s contemporary performance spark plug wire architecture, they are quickly being phased out in favor of spiral core wires with suppression capabilities.

A good wire loom/retainer will go a long way toward protecting your investment in performance spark plug wire.

Using high-quality spark plug wires that are properly routed and secured by a well-designed spark plug wire loom kit can help you get the most out of your ignition system. It’s also a good idea to inspect your secondary ignition system (spark plug wires, cap and rotor, plugs, and ignition coil) regularly for signs of crossfire, abrasion, wear, and heat damage, and other issues. Quality ignition components work together to generate the most powerful spark to ignite your combustion chamber’s air/fuel mixture. It’s just as crucial to use the right performance spark plug as it is to use the right plug wire.

A Heli-Core wire (one with a spirally coiled core and conductive layer), like most aftermarket performance wires, will be one of the better upgrades above stock wires. MSD Street-Fire wires are a popular choice that is typically used on normal street and strip applications. MSD also sells 8.5mm Super Conductor Wire, which is suggested for use with any ignition control box modification. It has a helically coiled conductor around a specific center core that is meant to suppress Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI). The Super Conductor wire will have resistance as low as 40-50 ohms per foot, but a factory set can have resistance as high as 1,500 ohms per foot or more, with resistance increasing significantly as they wear/age. MSD wire products are, of course, only one of several brands. Accel, Moroso, PerTronix, and Taylor are some of the other performance spark plug wire brands that are available in universal cut-to-fit or pre-cut ready-to-install wires. We also provide performance spark plug wire choices for the popular GM LS engine family, such as direct replacement and exchange wire kits.

Are spark plug wires interchangeable?

Yes and no, in a nutshell. You may get pre-cut and terminated wire sets for almost any engine family ever produced. However, these sets are normally established by the original application. A small block Chevy 350 spark plug wire routing in a first-generation Camaro will differ from a small block Chevy 350 in a C10 truck in terms of wire lengths, coil positions, and so on. These pre-made kits are quick and easy to use, making them an excellent choice for these unique applications. We have pre-made wire sets for all of the popular muscle vehicles, trucks, and even some newer muscle cars.

When you drop that small block Chevy into a 1929 Ford pickup truck with the ignition coil mounted inside the cowl, for example, things might become a bit dicey. That is when a universal wire set comes in handy. The universal wire set is ended at the spark plug end, allowing you to route the wires as you see fit before terminating the end at the distributor cap for a super clean installation and no excess wire length to worry with. These kits are frequently supplied with both HEI and socket style terminals and boots, making them truly universal regardless of the distributor cap, however, this is not always the case. So, make sure you know what type of distributor cap you have and order your universal wire set accordingly. You can even buy bulk and individual wires for special applications, such as concealing a coil. To complete universal sets, you’ll need a high-quality spark plug wire stripper and crimper, but the results are well worth the expense.