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Counterfeit Product Alert: How To Identify A Real MSD 6AL Ignition VS A Fake

Counterfeit Product Alert: How To Identify A Real MSD 6AL Ignition VS A Fake

Being the number one selling aftermarket ignition in history is both a good thing and a curse sometimes. The good is pretty obvious, but with sales of jillions of MSD 6AL boxes also comes access to them and the ability to copy them pretty easily. We aren’t sure why people can’t just spend time making money legitimately like the rest of us, but whatever. MSD just posted this on their Facebook page today and we found it interesting that this problem continues for so many U.S. Manufacturers.

If you find counterfeit hot rod parts, please inform the authorities or the company that builds the authentic parts. Counterfeits cost our economy more than $250 BILLION dollars per year according to most expert opinion. That’s a crap load of money folks, and enough that it makes a real impact on our economy. Clearly all those aren’t car parts, but even a small percentage of the total counterfeit pie is a large chunk of change, so keep your eyes open and report counterfeit parts. Here is some great info from MSD on their experience with counterfeiters and how to spot the fakes.

Originally posted on thecounterfeitreport.com by MSD.

MSD: 6AL Ignitions

MSD Ignition has recently received MSD 6AL ignition units to be repaired that were counterfeit.

The striking detail to which these units match real 6ALs warranted a further examination into the problem. The two counterfeit MSD units that were returned to MSD ignition are very difficult to identify from an external inspection. To the untrained eye, it would be nearly impossible to identify it as a counterfeit.

The labels, color, shape, wiring colors, housing design and cylinder select cover are all near perfect copies. Externally, the largest difference is the quality of the wires, protective sleeves, and connection terminals used.

Another clue is that both counterfeits used the same serial number – 682013.

The counterfeit boxes are inferior in these respects to the real MSD units. Other small clues as to the counterfeit include using the wrong style mounting screws and reversing connection outlets on the side of the box. On MSD’s real 6AL boxes all terminals, such as the rev limiter module holder and the cylinder select cover, use Torx style screws. The counterfeits use Phillips headed screws to hold
these mounts.

Second, one end of the MSD housing holds the wire outlets for the Mag-Pickups and Tach Outputs. When looking at the right side of the real MSD box, the Mag pickup wires are on the left with the tach output to the right. The counterfeit boxes have the tach output on the left with the Mag input on the right.

Once the units are opened, the differences are obvious. MSD’s printed circuit board (pcb) and other internals are neat and identical from one unit to the next. The fake boards have a “BK” marking on them, which is believed to be linked to the board maker. The first unit received has a blue pcb where MSD’s are green. The second unit is covered in a hard, black potting material but chips in the potting show the board to be blue as well.

The components and layout of both counterfeit units are similar to each other but are not like any recent MSD unit.

Although these units have been caught by the experts at MSD Ignition, there is no doubt that other units are in the hands of the public. Counterfeit 6AL boxes that reach the level of replication detail such as these examples could easily be passed as an authentic MSD Ignition product to the public.

For more information on MSD Products for your vehicle, vist MSDPerformance.com

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9 thoughts on “Counterfeit Product Alert: How To Identify A Real MSD 6AL Ignition VS A Fake

  1. Thom Taylor

    All of this info and much more about fakes can be found in the latest issue of HOT ROD [Nov. ’13], including this info and these specific photos. Chad, how about giving HOT ROD some cred on this one?

  2. ed

    China makes them for MSD? now china makes MSD for china
    that’s the brakes
    not right at all. but can you trust china with your products. no morals in Chinese manufacturing.

    1. CTX-SLPR

      I’m pretty sure the MSD labeled stuff is still US made, the StreetFire line however I do think is China made.

      1. Matt Cramer

        Yep, although I think some of the cheaper MSD coils are made in China, the ignition boxes and distributors are made in the USA.

        The Street Fire line has a lot of Chinese stuff in it. A lot of MSD’s designs had the patents expire long ago, if they even patented it, so cloning an older MSD 6AL in China is totally legal as long as you are totally up front about it – changing the name, labeling it as made in China, etc. So MSD figured that if Chinese knockoffs were inevitable, they might as well get a cut of the money.

  3. Brendon

    The only problem with articles like this are that this shows the counterfitter exactly where their shortcomings are and which details to look out for.

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