Do Spark Plug Wires Deteriorate? - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Do Spark Plug Wires Deteriorate?

as my bike is still fitted with the original NGK spark plug wires I'm wondering how long do they last

are they copper or silicon wires? and what can go wrong with them? can they be tested?

are there any advantages with these so called "premium" wires and "performance" wires? or is it just snake oil

has anyone replaced their wires due to ignition problems with like for like and that has resolved ignition issues?

I know little about spark plug wires, or ignition systems in general. have replaced ignition wires heaps of times in old cars and the like, but have wondered if there really was any need.

please educate me on this matter with your experience

2007 Tuxedo T100.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 09:10 PM
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Due to heat cycling and exposure to ozone, the insulating quality of the wires breaks down over time.

Superior or Premium wires may last a little longer.

Modern autos dispense with plug wires all together and go with direct individual coil ignition and remove the traditional plug wire completely from the equation.

Older repair shops may have a plug wire tester.

A simple test is to start up your bike in a darkened place, and spray a mist of water around the plug wires. If you can see an arcing or sparking, the insulation of the wires has broken down and the wires need to be replaced. If the insulation has deteriorated enough, you may not even need the water mist to see arcing.

If no arcing occurs, new wires are not required.

Uber wires have a marginal effect, and may be a waste of money.

Cheers,

RD

'13 T100, Corbin Smuggler, D&D 2-2, Ohlins 36PL shocks, Andreani cartridges/Ohlins springs, BC AEK, O2 and SAI delete, DNA Pods, TTP Remote Tune, NH "M" Bars, roller bearing headset, NH fork brace, Maund Lucas FEK, MAS Alu Fr. Fender, misc farkle.

Last edited by xtypeinct; 01-17-2014 at 09:15 PM.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 10:44 PM
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The NGK leads should last for years, due to the insulation being a plastic rather than the old rubber coating, weather would have little effect. Heat will not cause insulation breakdown in a 'rotting away' sense but may cause hardening and cracking over time. The carrier material on our bikes from the factory is copper. Carbon is used instead on some leads to make them resistive, to eliminate RFI but the Bonnie's plug caps contain the resistors which should be 5k/ohms.

Premium/performance leads often have a softer, more flexible insulation layer but usually the carrier is still copper, so although they may last a little longer they are no more efficient than ordinary leads, so can be a waste of money. The weak points where arcing occurs most easily are the joints where the lead screws into the coil, and also where it enters the plug cap. Waterproof boots over these joints is essential, as is keeping the leads clean - oil or dirt can assist the conduction of high voltage on the outside of the lead.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
The NGK leads should last for years, due to the insulation being a plastic rather than the old rubber coating, weather would have little effect. Heat will not cause insulation breakdown in a 'rotting away' sense but may cause hardening and cracking over time. The carrier material on our bikes from the factory is copper. Carbon is used instead on some leads to make them resistive, to eliminate RFI but the Bonnie's plug caps contain the resistors which should be 5k/ohms.

Premium/performance leads often have a softer, more flexible insulation layer but usually the carrier is still copper, so although they may last a little longer they are no more efficient than ordinary leads, so can be a waste of money. The weak points where arcing occurs most easily are the joints where the lead screws into the coil, and also where it enters the plug cap. Waterproof boots over these joints is essential, as is keeping the leads clean - oil or dirt can assist the conduction of high voltage on the outside of the lead.
Good post,10/10.

Plasma.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 01:56 PM
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The plug caps can sometimes fail as well. I had to replace them on the '01 that we used to have.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plasma View Post
Good post,10/10.

Plasma.
x2. learnt more from that post than reading info on the NGK website and many other sites

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 09:57 PM
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Actually the cores are rarely copper. The cores are either aluminium strands or crushed carbon coated fiberglass. 99% of wires are the crushed carbon over fiberglass it keeps down RFI which they have to do my law. Performance wires are usually aluminium stranded.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 07:27 AM
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The original wires on my '01 were copper core. Have not had the '10 or '13 apart to check.

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2010 Triumph Bonneville T100 Black 159,920 miles. RIP
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 10:27 AM
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I've had bikes run better cold after a wire change, and I've had them run worse. It can affect things. They do make copper core wires, And I think they are superior to the other types. You will probably pay more.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 05:27 PM
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My 01 original wires were fine after 70,000 plus miles. The only reason i changed them was an intermittent miss that turned out to be the coil.
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