MSD Coil Packs Provide Improved Ignition Capability For Late-Model Engines


MSD Coil Packs Provide Improved Ignition Capability For Late-Model Engines


“Back in my day, we had to fire eight cylinders for every two revolutions of the crankshaft,” explained the old, canister style coil next to the distributor. “These new coils only have to fire once – they have it so easy!”

At least, that’s probably what an old, distributor-triggered coil would say about the modern coil packs used on late model engines. Their reasoning is correct as with a coil for every cylinder, each one only has to fire once per revolution of the camshaft. This is actually just one of the benefits of coil-per-cylinder ignitions as the extra the extra time between firings (known as dwell) allows each coil to build back up to full voltage strength for the next firing. Single coil ignitions have always had issues with recovery at high rpm.

1987 Buick Regal

Coil-on-plug ignitions aren't a recent phenomenon. Performance cars like the Buick Grand National had COP-style ignition systems.

Coil-on-plug technology is nothing new and has been on many vehicles since the mid ‘80s such as the turbocharged Buick Grand National. Since the introduction of the LS, Mod Motor, and modern Hemi, everything has been based on coil-per-cylinder ignition systems. With many of these vehicles getting up there in miles and years, replacement coils should be considered and in many cases are needed. If you’re going to replace a coil, it’s best to go with a replacement from a company than knows how to build a coil from the inside out – such as MSD.

MSD has designed coils for vintage hot rods to 330 mph top fuel dragsters, so they know a thing or two when it comes to coil windings, turns ratios, and inductance and resistance values. Even though modern engines have coils that come in different shapes and sizes, such as Ford’s coil-on-plug design or a coil-near-plug like the LS engine, every coil is built and based on the same electronic principles – which leaves room for improvements, even for stock replacements.

MSD LS Coils

MSD’s LS Coils are designed to bolt-in place of the factory units and accept the original wiring harness with the ability to produce a higher voltage spark. Not only are these ideal to replace older coils with high miles, but they’re an important upgrade to handle higher horsepower or boosted applications.

In short, there are still ways to improve upon a new coil’s efficiency and performance to match the needs of your modern power plant. Keep in mind that OEM coils are designed to be adequate at best, not to mention low cost to manufacture. In the performance world, “adequate” is not an accepted term. This is exactly why MSD has invested in the research and development of coils for a growing number of late model engines and applications.

MSD’s Colin Kinser explained that even with the stock replacement coils, there is room for improvement. “MSD specs out the internals of each coil, plus uses improved materials for the housings of their replacement coils. We have the LS enthusiast handled as well as the Ford Coyote and Mod Motor platform plus we have bolt-in coils available for late model Hemis, 4.0L Jeeps, the Ford EcoBoost, and even go back to the dual and 4-tower coil packs first used with distributor-less setups”

How Does an Ignition Coil Work?

Every coil features two sets of windings; a primary and a secondary with an iron or steel core. Battery voltage is applied to the primary windings which creates a magnetic field. When this flow is stopped (triggered by the ECU) the voltage is induced into the secondary windings stepping up the output voltage considerably which is sent to the spark plug to ignite the fuel mixture.


MSD also offers a complete conversion kit to replace the distributor and single coil to a coil-per-cylinder system. Being able to control the timing of each cylinder is a benefit plus there is no distributor phasing, rotors or obnoxious plug wires to deal with

These primary windings are generally hundreds of windings while the secondary set is made up of thousands. When comparing the two, it is called the turn ratio with an example being 100:1 (100 secondary to one primary). The important part to note here is that by altering the turns ratio, the spark profile of the coil is also changed. Also, by using better material, the resistance of each set of windings will be altered which also affects spark output.

“MSD engineers are able to specify improved internal materials as well as the turns ratio of their coils to produce a coil with improved performance,” Kinser said. “For factory applications at lower rpm and cruising speed there is not as much call for a hotter spark, but when you add in a little more compression, rpm and fuel, having a coil that is built better from the inside out is important.”

MSD 82576

All of MSD’s replacement coil packs accept the factory wiring harness to make installation a breeze and keep the OEM controls happy and functioning to specifications.

It’s not just the internals of a coil that make a difference, you also need to consider the external materials used. MSD’s coils are injection molded for durability and offer improved spark isolation to lock in the high voltage and to withstand the harsh on-engine environment. They are also designed as a direct bolt-in and accept the factory style connector to ease installation. In fact, most of MSD’s replacement coil packs carry a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order number or are considered a bolt-in replacement and legal for use when in accordance with the manufacturer’s application.

Your late model engine may not have a distributor, but a replacement coil that has been designed from the inside-out to handle higher rpm, boost or increased power is still an integral part of your car’s performance equation – and MSD has you covered.

Ford Focus lineup 2017

MSD offers a set of new coils to tune up your 2.0 and 2.3L Ford EcoBoost. The coils feature encased windings in an injection molded housing that bolts directly in place of the original coils


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