MSD 6AL Issues

I am encountering a no-start situation with my MSD 6AL. Motor is 363ci with 4x Weber 48IDA. MSD Distributor and Blaster 2 coil.

Car has been running fine and recently wouldn't start. Repeated cranking drove the battery down until it would need to be recharged to try again. Seemingly randomly it would start and once running runs great.

Today was another no-start day and I observed with the key on (but not cranking) the red LED on the MSD box is blinking rapidly and continuously. There is no description of this anywhere that I have come across in MSD troubleshooting guides and when I called them the tech told me the light "is not a diagnostic light". I am showing 14 volts on the battery so doesn't seem to be a result of undervoltage. Could it be a bad coil? What would cause an MSD unit to flash continuously like that with key on but not yet cranking?

I replaced the MSD with a brand new one today and same issue. I do notice that my battery seems to die pretty quickly -- after a minute or two of intermittent start attempts it is below 12 volts and jump starting allows the car to fire right up. Battery is less than year old Optima Red Top (9002-002) rated at 800CCA. Should I replace the battery and coil next? Could the distributor itself be bad? This is all strange because the car has been running perfectly fine from an ignition perspective until this no-start/blinking LED issue began and replacing the MSD didn't change that. Also, since jumpstarting lets it fire up every time, the battery seems suspect but why would the battery show 14 volts and be bad? I am only checking it with a multimeter and don't have a way of doing so under load.

Appreciate any thoughts!!
 

Neil

Supporter
MSD does not seem to have a very good reputation for reliability. I suggest a Crane HI-6 capacitive discharge ignition.
 
MSD Blaster II coils are well known to fail. Better replace that with another brand.
Bosch Blue coils are best.

Never had issues with the MSD6AL controller.

I must have had six Blaster II fails, some within a month others within a year.
Have four cars running MSD6AL & BTM
 
How old is the battery, I had a similar problem, my battery was showing 13.2 volts,would turn the engine once the died, battery still showing 12.4, changed it and every thing was fine. It’s not only voltage it’s the amps as well.
 

Mike Pass

Supporter
Check the voltage at the MSD box. Had an issue a few years ago on a friend's 40 with poor starting when it had been fine for years. The voltage at the MSD box was only 9- 10 volts but 13 volts at the battery The problem was the battery isolation switch and some corroded wiring. The MSD boxes don't seem to like it if they don't get a good voltage feed and play up. Some thick fresh wiring and a new switch fixed the problem.
Cheers
Mike
 
Put the battery isolation on the negative side of the battery !
Frank, the thing is, those FIA masters switches need to be on the positive side to pass scutineering and to shut down the engine & total system incase of emergency.

You're abosutely right, they have less issues on the negative side.

For all, Beware of those cheap Rally Design FIA switches, have a failure out of the box at the moment (today).
 
MSD Blaster II coils are well known to fail. Better replace that with another brand.
Bosch Blue coils are best.

Never had issues with the MSD6AL controller.

I must have had six Blaster II fails, some within a month others within a year.
Have four cars running MSD6AL & BTM
Thanks, JP! I followed the MSD troubleshooting guide and it showed the Blaster 2
had failed. Interestingly, another MSD rep I got on the phone told me to “stay away from the canister type coils”. Wondering why the hell even make them! It barely ran 10 times. I ordered the MSD 8252 blue coil, but now wondering if I should just give up on the brand.
 
How old is the battery, I had a similar problem, my battery was showing 13.2 volts,would turn the engine once the died, battery still showing 12.4, changed it and every thing was fine. It’s not only voltage it’s the amps as well.
Battery is was about two years old and has been on a smart charger the whole time as I was still building the car. I’ve got a new one in there now but it didn’t make a difference. Could it be a bad alternator that is sucking the load soon as I turn the key on? I’ve also got driving lights that come on with key on and can’t be switched off. Perhaps they draw too much current a strong for the MSD to start the car? He would think with a brand new battery it should be able to start with the lights on. It does seem the Blaster 2 coil may be bad (if I followed their troubleshooting correctly) so waiting to see what the new one will do.
 

Randy V

Moderator-Admin
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Was your Blaster-2 coil mounted in the Vertical position with the tower pointing UP?
 
Was your Blaster-2 coil mounted in the Vertical position with the tower pointing UP?
In my case, all pointing up as per MSD instructions.
If you google Blaster 2 failure there's enough to read about it.

And as Pasha said: MSD rep I got on the phone told me to “stay away from the canister type coils”
 
As it seems the famous Bosch Blue coils (3.3 Ohm canister style) (Bosch 0221 119 027) are becoming scarce as production stopped.
Beru ZS172 (8191600402) is a direct replacement for the Bosch Blue coil and has the same spec.

The Bosch Blue coils are one of the best coils to work with a MSD 6 series and last very long.
 

Randy V

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In my case, all pointing up as per MSD instructions.
If you google Blaster 2 failure there's enough to read about it.

And as Pasha said: MSD rep I got on the phone told me to “stay away from the canister type coils”

I've not had any troubles with the Blaster coils when mounted vertically (as recommended by any manufacturer of coils). I have had problems with MSD's Spark Boxes and Electronic distributors.. Once they overhauled them they worked just fine. So it would seem that they do, indeed, have a quality control problem in the plants where they're manufactured...
 

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Howard Jones

Supporter
I am using one of these on both my SLC and m GT40 with an older 6AL. The gt40 setup is more than 20 years old and the SLC is at least 10. No problems from either.


A couple of troubleshooting points. First, Check the ohms value of the connection from the MSD ground wire (at the box) to the battery negative post of the battery. You will need to install a jumper wire so that you can do this with the ground wire connected to the MSD box. You are making sure that the MSD box is being supplied a good ground. The reading should be zero ohms.

Second, put a volt meter on the +12VDC lead AT THE 6AL box. You may have to put in a temporary jumper to do so, note voltage with ign on but not cranking. Compare this voltage reading to the positive 12V post of the battery. They should both be the same within a tenth of a volt. Then check the voltage while cranking the starter at the MSD box. The voltage should hold up to at least 11 volts. The idea is to see what voltage is being applied to the box and only the box when the starter is loading down the battery. This is one reason MSD says to run a separate wire to the box from the battery.

If you get a significant voltage drop of more than 2-3 volts reduction ( less than 9-10 volts reading) while cranking then use a jumper wire directly from the battery + post to the +12 volt wire that supplies the 12Vs to the MSD box as close to the box as possible. If it starts now then work backward toward the battery in your circuitry.

If you have a master switch in the car. Now is the time to use a jumper cable lead to jumper it. Note: I completely agree with the above comments on cheapo master switches.

I have one of these in both cars. And yes, I too have had one of the cheapo Chinese ones fail.



Here is the troubleshooting video for MSD's 6AL's. Check out the coil verification section of the video towards the middle where you jumper the little plug if you have an MSD distributor that uses that plug to supply the trigger from the distributor.

 
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Bill Kearley

Supporter
My experience with Optima was poor, made out of country for quite a while now. I wont own another one. With the key turned to the on position ( eng. not running ) for 10 min or so check the temp of the coil and MSD box.
 
So now I have replaced the MSD6AL and Optima Battery and switched the Blaster 2 for an MSD 8252 coil which the MSD rep told me is the best street coil they make for the 6 series boxes. Still no spark. Will try Howard's troubleshooting procedure next.

Key on gets me a continuous rapid blinking red light on the MSD 6AL. The MSD tech says it's "not a diagnostic light" but surely that has to offer some clue? Has anybody out there seen that condition? Not sure how this all happened because the car was running fine and one day it wasn't. Less than 200 miles total on the build.

The only other electrical components I can think of are the dizzy and alternator and I'm not eager to remove the dizzy since timing was a huge pain! Would I learn anything from removing the small wire off the alternator? Could a bad voltage regulator on the alternator be sucking down current when I go to crank which prevents the MSD from working?
 
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