Aftermarket spark plug wires for 2.4L

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by kmatheson, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. kmatheson

    kmatheson Guest

    I just found out that the spark plugs and wires need to be changed on
    my 1998 Dodge Stratus with a 2.4L engine.

    Are there any aftermarket brands that are any good, or should I just
    get them from a dealer?

    NAPA sells several different brands at varying prices. The most
    expensive set is made by Bell.

    Thanks for any opinions on this.

    Kirk Matheson
    kmatheson, Jan 20, 2007
  2. kmatheson

    philthy Guest

    standart brand is good and carries a lifetime warranty that the dealer
    parts don't offer
    philthy, Jan 20, 2007
  3. kmatheson

    KWS Guest

    High voltage wire is high voltage wire. The only variable is
    "resistance" wire vs. straight copper. I think just about all spark plug
    wire now has controlled resistance. It's probably cheaper than stranded
    copper anyway.

    You get all sorts of marketing hype regarding color, insulator
    thickness, etc. Go for price; if there are any subtle differences, you
    won't be able to tell and your Dodge won't care.

    KWS, Jan 20, 2007
  4. kmatheson

    Bill Putney Guest

    Not really. There's also MSW (magnetic supppression wire) which is
    coiled solid wire. It is the best of all worlds - it relies on
    inductance rather than d.c. resistance to provide EMI/RFI suppression,
    yet has the high punch (low d.c. resistance) capability of solid
    (straight) wire conductor. And it is infinitely more durable than
    "resistance" (powder carbon) core wires - I avoid that stuff like the

    Probably everything uses silicone insulation this day and time, but you
    may sacrifice quality of that if you go bottom of the barrel for low price.

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Jan 21, 2007
  5. kmatheson

    BF Guest

    If one were looking for this wire, what marketing buzz words would one
    expect to see on the packaging? Would "MSW" be it or are there others as
    BF, Jan 21, 2007
  6. kmatheson

    Bill Putney Guest

    I think there will be "MSW" prominently mentioned on the packaging.
    Also you will typically see descriptive terms like "spiral wound solid
    core", and maybe a cutaway construction view on the back clearly showing
    the spiral core winding (like a long spring). I know the parts stores
    like Advance used to carry the Accel brand - probably still do. Accel
    makes both resistor core and MSW - make sure you get the latter.
    Available in your choice of colors - black, red, yellow, blue. Very
    high quality silicone insulation.

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Jan 21, 2007
  7. kmatheson

    RapidRonnie Guest

    A couple of companies make various plug wire products that are
    available on a roll, and the boots and ends and a crimper to put them
    on. MSW or stainless cannot be soldered. Copper can. I like to buy the
    roll product and terminate my own, but no retailer around me has it.
    RapidRonnie, Jan 21, 2007
  8. kmatheson

    BF Guest

    Thanks Bill, I'll file that info away.
    RapidRonnie, try farm tractor or truck supply houses for copper core wire.
    BF, Jan 21, 2007
  9. kmatheson

    KWS Guest

    From an electrical perspective: This makes sense. Of course, MSW
    should reduce any radiated static that affects radio fidelity and would
    have lower DC resistance, as you have noted. My understanding, however,
    is that the average driver would be hard pressed to discern any
    performance difference using resistance wire, stranded copper wire or MSW.

    And it is infinitely more durable than
    I don't understand why durability of resistance wire is an issue. My
    experience with failed spark plug wire is that a dielectric problem
    develops someplace, not a problem of continuity.
    My '90 Miata and all Miatas are "tough" on spark plug wires. I suspect
    that it is directly related to the amplitude of the pulsed high voltage
    applied to the wires. They have a track record of failing every 30K to
    50K miles or so. I have close to 200K miles on this car and have gone
    through several sets of wires. Sometimes I get to plan ahead, but
    usually I need to buy whatever is handy at the time when they fail. OEM,
    el cheapos....whatever...there is no difference in how long they last.
    For the reasons stated, my experience with various "grades" of spark
    plug wires make sense.

    The only place I would advise caution is that some of the wire sets I
    have bought were "universal" in nature. This means that the lengths
    would, in some cases, be too long. It's probably more of an appearance
    issue than anything else. You can shorten the wires, but this is not
    advised for those who have no skill or experience making (or re-making)
    electrical connections.

    This is sort of a hot button for me as I really hate to see people being
    spoon fed marketing hype that takes advantage of them.

    KWS, Jan 21, 2007
  10. kmatheson

    Bill Putney Guest

    Actually the Accel brand that I mentioned that many auto parts stores
    stock comes unterminated so that you can cut the 4 or 6, as the case may
    be, extra long wires that come in the kit to the correct lengths (using
    the old set as a template), and a crimping die is included in the kit
    for proper and reliable termination. Pretty much what you described,
    except the wires come pre-cut intentionally long rather than cutting off
    of a continuous roll.

    There are other very good brands of MSW that come more or less cut to
    the proper lengths and pre-terminated at the factory. Those are more
    from mail order sources as the local parts stores would have to stock
    too many kit set variations (though they probably have them available
    from their warehouses for overnight shipment).

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Jan 22, 2007
  11. kmatheson

    Bill Putney Guest

    They would get a hotter spark (higher current and energy due to
    insignificant resistive loss) with straight copper or MSW wire. If a
    system is marginal, the reistance wire may give problems whereas the
    others wouldn't. I'm thinking of high compression or turbo under heavy
    acceleration where the high cylinder pressure raises the threshold for

    However, resistance wire is definitely a limited life part. A good MSW
    set *will* absolutely last the life of the vehicle.
    Funny that you say that - you often see incorrectly advised on various
    internet forums that all you have to do to test an ignition wire is to
    measure the resistance of the wire for continuity. I am always quick to
    point out that that does not check for, as you point out, the much more
    common insulation failure mode. And most people don't understand the

    I don't know that there is much resistance wire from the factory in
    vehicles now, so people don't experience that failure (lack if
    continuity) much anymore. I know from experience years ago when powder
    core wires were the mainstream, they were a definite wearout item due to
    the core itself - and that's when I got into the MSW wire for that very
    reason. And they (powder core) were totally unforgiving of the wire
    being pulled or handled roughly (core gaps/breaks). I think the
    incorrect advise about only checking a wire for continuity is left over
    from the days when resistance wire was the common type of "wire" - and
    that was overwhelmingly the more common mode of failure.
    Hmmm - are you sure they aren't the powder core type? I would be
    willing to bet that if you started using a good grade of MSW wire, you
    would never have any more problems in that area. The good grades come
    with excellent insulation, and the core will never fail. They really
    shine on turbo-charged vehicles where insulation breakdown is more
    critical (due to higher cylinder pressure).
    Yep - that is true. The Accel kits I mnentioned are not pre-terminated.
    They come with a crimping die, and you cut the sure-to-be-long 4 or 6
    wires that come in the "universal" 4- or 6-cylinder kits to the exact
    length you want (typically using the old set as a guide - adjusting if
    old set was a poor fit), then crimp the ends on. Kind of the best of
    both worlds, IMO. I know they do it to cut down on different inventory
    part numbers, but it allows you to get the lengths right.
    Hopefully you don't consider what I posted to fall into that category.
    I think you would see the difference if you were to try some Accel or
    other good brand MSW's (unless the Miata takes some weird wire ends that
    the aftermarket doesn't fool with).

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Jan 22, 2007
  12. kmatheson

    kmatheson Guest

    I appreciate all the interesting discussion on this. What is happening,
    is that
    the spark is arcing from the plug tip, to the plug base. Does this mean
    that the boots
    are worn, and that is why I need to replace the plug wires?

    It seems like someone mentioned that some non-conductive lubricant
    could be put
    on the plugs to prevent arcing. The shop quoted me $65 for a new set of
    wires. NAPA
    has a set for $33.

    Thanks again,

    kmatheson, Jan 22, 2007
  13. kmatheson

    Bill Putney Guest

    By "plug tip" in this case, I assume you mean the end that the ignition
    wire plugs onto (rather than the center spark electrode, which is
    commonly referred to as the "tip").
    Absolutely you should be putting electrical grade silicone grease (also
    called dielctric grease) on the inside of the wire boot (ignition
    module/distributor end too) - that is assumed, and lack of it would
    certainly explain the problem you've been having. A light coating is
    all you need.

    The grease closes up the microsopic gaps between the plug ceramic OD and
    the boot ID - the high voltage only needs a microscopic air hole (gap)
    to punch thru to find a ground to arc to. Once it arcs (ionizes), a
    carbonized (conductive) surface is created in the pin hole, and it
    rapidly gets drastically worse from there. The grease prevents the
    beginning of that whole process. If the boot slides on the wire OD, it
    would not hurt to also slide it back, put a light coating of silicone
    grease on the wire OD in the area the boot surrounds it when in place,
    and then slide the boot back into place.

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Jan 22, 2007
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