DML FAQ : HOWTO : MSD 8.5mm SuperConductor Wires Install
This page documents the install of my MSD 8.5mm SuperConductor wires. The truck is a 1996 Dodge Dakota V8. Installation on other model years may (but probably won't) be different.
There are a few of reasons to upgrade your wires. A better quality wire will have less resistance, allowing the spark to travel through it more easily. A good wire will also help to prevent inductive crossfire (the spark jumping from one wire to another). Finally, an aftermarket wire set really helps to dress up the engine bay a bit.
From what I've heard, the best wires you can buy are Magnecor. (They're expensive, of course.) At the time I bought my wires, I didn't know about Magnecor, but these wires are better than my stock ones, so I can live with 'em. They seem to be a good compromise between price and quality.
Don't expect much of a performance increase with this mod. If anything, it might help the truck to start easier and run smoother. Some people have claimed a gas mileage increase, but I didn't notice one with my truck. This mod is more of a "preventative maintenance" type of mod. If you're going to upgrade your coil, ignition, etc. it makes sense to upgrade the wires too. Also, racers might want them just for the peace of mind that every spark is getting to where it is supposed to.
Cost: This will vary widely, depending on what wires you get and where you get them. I'd guess anywhere from $30-$150. I paid $65.95 for these MSD 8.5mm SuperConductor wires from Summit. If you're in the market for a set of wires, you might want to check out the Dakota Parts Resource. (also a part of the DML Home Page)
Note: Prior to playing with the wires, it would probably be a good idea to disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent possible damage to the PCM (computer).
In Figure 1 at left are the SuperConductor wires (part number 32189) and in the clear plastic package are a set of MSD wire markers which come with an installation tool. (I actually bought 2 of these, so I could put 2 markers on each wire, one near the distributor and the other near the plug boot.
Figure 2 at the right shows what my engine bay looked like before the install, with the stock 7mm wires. (or is it 7.5mm?)
In Figure 3 at the left, I've lined up the MSD wires, from longest to shortest. You can also see the white wire markers on the 2 orange installation tools more clearly than the one in the package in Figure 1.
Next, I removed the stock wires. Obviously, it is very important to connect each wire to the proper post on the distributor cap. If you have a Factory Service Manual, there's a diagram in there to show you what wires go where. Or, you can do what I did: as you take each wire off, mark each the distributor cap with the appropriate wire marker as seen in Figure 4 to the left and Figure 5to the right.
As I removed the stock plug wires, I laid them out on the ground, and placed the wire marker for the cylinder it came from on the ground next to it. (Figure 6)
Next, I mixed and matched the MSD wires to the stock wires, until each MSD wire was paired up with a stock wire which was about the same length.(Figure 7)
Once the wires were paired up, I could install them. I put the markers on the wires as I picked them up. After connecting the plug end to the spark plug, I connected it to the appropriate place on the distributor cap. (Moving the marker from the distributor cap post to the distributor end of the wire in the process.) Figure 8 at the left shows how the install tool works; you just put one end over the wire, and push the marker off the end and onto the wire. No sweat.Figure 9to the right shows the wires all installed on the distributor cap. The MSD boots are bigger than the stock boots, so its a tight squeeze, but with a little experimenting, they all fit. If you're using the wire markers to mark the distributor cap posts, you'll want to be careful as you install the plug wires, or you'll knock them off. The hardest part about this install was when I knocked one of the wire markers off the distributor and spent half an hour trying to fish the stupid thing off the top of the tranny. %*@#%#!! ;-)
Figure 10 to the left and Figure 11to the right show what the installed wires look like. In these pictures, I'm still using the stock wire loom, but I replaced that shortly afterwards for a Mr. Gasket wire loom. I wasn't comfortable with the stock loom; the wires were a tight squeeze, and I was afraid they'd pop out and get burned on the exhaust manifolds. As soon as I get a chance, I'll take some pics and include them on this page. The part number of the loom is 9880, and I got it for $8.99 at my local Parts America.