Home : Product Reviews : Electrical : MSD 6-OFFROAD IGNITION CONTROL


MSD 6 Off Road Ignition System 
In the endless search for more off-road power from your 4×4, you will eventually have to consider an ignition upgrade. While we all know about the benefits of a bigger cam, a better carburetor, or fuel injection, there’s only one way to burn the fuel, more spark. MSD has designed an ignition control box specifically for heavy-duty off road use. The MSD 6-Offroad Ignition Control is a capacitive discharge, multiple spark ignition which means that every spark is at full power no matter what rpm you’re at. Below 3,000 rpm the MSD produces multiple sparks rather than just a single spark. This spark lasts for 20 degrees of crankshaft rotation whether there is two sparks or six. This ensures complete combustion of the fuel mixture producing quicker throttle response and more power. At speeds over 3,000 rpm the 6-Offroad produces a single spark, but that spark is also sustained for a full 20 degrees of crankshaft rotation ensuring a full and complete fuel burn.

To handle the abuse of the off road elements, the MSD 6-Offroad is completely potted with an epoxy compound called ResTech. This material completely encases the unit creating a water and vibration proof ignition. Weathertight connectors are used throughout and provide a positive lock and a watertight seal against the elements.

MSD 6 Off Road Ignition System Along with the MSD 6-offroad ignition, another 4×4-targeted ignition product is the MSD Blaster high vibration coil. This is the ultimate in off-road coils; it features windings completely encased in epoxy making it impossible for vibration to affect performance. The primary terminals are made from brass, and spaced far apart to eliminate spark arc-over. The MSD blaster vibration coil can be mounted in any position and can be used with a standard canister mount.

With all of these great products now in our hands we decided to test them on one of the most vulnerable of all ignitions, the AMC Jeep 258 ignition. While very dependable in stock form, the Jeep ignition cannot deliver enough spark to compliment other engine upgrades. Our test Jeep engine has an upgraded cam, a custom head and free flow exhaust. The test motor has less than 10k, but has always had an irregular idle and a very slight low end miss.

After the installation and first test-drive, it was evident that our previous problems where gone. The new ignition not only improved the idle; it also quickened the throttle response and cured the low-end miss. While definitely not a hot-rod, the little Jeep engine now has great throttle response and seamless power. The combination of the Off-road ignition and High vibration coil are sure to be the ultimate combination for years of high performance, dependable off-road use. 


MSD 6 unit The MSD 6-Offroad is designed to be used with almost every off-road vehicle, no matter what the displacement or number of cylinders. Because of this, there are a number of configurations available for installation. In our case we called the Technical support line for MSD and all of our questions were quickly and expertly answered. First find a suitable location to mount the ignition box. We chose the top of the passenger side fender. Next was to locate a 12-volt switched source to connect to the small red wire from the MSD box. In our case, the original, red coil positive wire was the easiest to use. The small white wire from the MSD box should be connected to the original, green coil negative (ground) wire. The orange and black coil trigger wires are then connected to the coil positive and negative posts. The large black and red wires coming from the opposite side of the MSD box are connected to the negative and positive battery posts. With all this done, our battery reconnected, and all of the wires routed, we fired it up for the test. Wow, it fired right up, and idled smooth as glass. All that was left was to turn it off, check all the connections, and take it for a quick test-drive and we are done. Whoops, it won’t turn off?! Well we pulled the negative battery wire and it turned off. A quick look at the instruction manual, trouble-shooting section, explained that in some older GM applications, you must install the small resistor included in the kit, on the brown wire leading to the alternator. (Jeep CJ’s with the six-cylinder engine use a GM style alternator) This is necessary, because a small amount of current flows back through this wire after the ignition is turned off. Because the MSD unit stores high energy to be converted to spark energy, it only takes a small amount of input current to keep it running. We installed the resistor in line on the brown wire according to the instructions, and gave it another try. Perfect, it starts on one short crank, idles great, and turns off!

MSD 6 unit Note 1: We originally installed the MSD Off-Road ignition with our stock coil, this proved to be a big mistake. The first coil didn’t produce enough spark energy to work with the new ignition, but did make enough to work with the stock set-up. So off to the Auto Parts store we went for a replacement coil, here’s where the fun began! The second coil lasted two short days and then was fried. After an hour of trouble shooting the entire system we realized that it had indeed ruined the brand new coil! A quick call to the MSD tech support line and we were told that in some cases the stock coil couldn’t handle the increased spark energy produced by the MSD ignition. The Technician suggested that we use the MSD Blaster Off-road coil. Great! It sure would have saved a lot of trouble if that were written somewhere. We have had the Blaster coil in the Jeep for about a month and have had absolutely no problems. So, you can try the MSD 6-offroad Ignition with your stock coil and hope that your luck was better than ours, or buy the MSD coil with the Ignition Unit and save yourself a lot of hassle and worry.

Note 2: Due to the hundreds of possible applications for the MSD 6-offroad Ignition Unit, it is impossible for MSD to cover all the possible installations in one manual. For this reason, they have the technical support line open Mon-Fri 8-5 MST. Before you make a big mistake with your installation, call them and they will give you all the information you need. We were extremely impressed with the helpfulness and knowledge of the Technical support staff.



Tony’s Twist Tip
wire twisting tip Have you ever wondered how the stereo shops twist wires together so neatly? You didn’t think that they do this by hand did you? Well, here’s a quick way to get some wires twisted together quickly and neatly. Simply take your wires and secure them in a vice or something stable that you can pull on. Next, install your wires into the chuck of a drill and tighten. Finally, twist away! Just be sure not to twist the wires too much that it damages the metal core of the wire. The ends of the wires will twist more than the center so be sure that you have a few extra inches of wire that you can clip off if you need to. Approximately 1 to 2 twists per inch should be your maximum.

Description Notes Rating
Ease of Install There were some glitches to the instructions that made the installation longer than expected. Aside from that, the installation was pretty simple.
Ease of Use N/A N/A
Performance Improved both idle and throttle response as advertised.
Durability Too soon to tell, but looks to be durable enough to with stand off-road abuse.
Appearance A great addition to the engine compartment.
Driveability Definitely improved the idle and off-idle throttle response.
Comfort N/A N/A
Price in comparison to related products Its only competition is only slightly higher in price.
Was it worth it? Definately!
Tools Required This will differ with every vehicle, but a soldering gun, a drill, a set of wrenches and a set of wire strippers will be needed for every install.
Editors Notes As I said in the final comments section, It’s your choice if you want to use your stock coil, but I wouldn’t recommend it…JC

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