Those that are into fixing cars know they can act up just when you least expect it. Gone are the days when guesswork was used to analyze why the radio stopped working or why the air condition system in the car is blowing hot air.
For the do-it-yourself enthusiast, a good quality multimeter is an essential tool to make the right diagnoses of what is wrong with your automobile’s electrical system. The best automotive digital multimeter must have a proven track record of detecting vehicle problems as soon as it is connected.
What Can a Multimeter for Cars Allow You to Do?
Even a low-cost multimeter will be able to measure accurately the voltage as well as testing for anomalies in the electrical and wiring systems in your vehicle. I am yet to come across a professional mechanic that does not use one.
It is the ultimate auto diagnostic tool and can be used to discover issues with battery performance, air condition failure, and Direct current problems in any car. The modern multimeter will come with a digital display screen to show readout in real time.
Knowing how to read and understand what the readout means is the first step to identifying car problems and ways to fix them. A multimeter will allow you to detect broken wires and the effect it has on your car’s components.
More sophisticated multimeters are designed to read continuity, which is an essential part of analyzing the status of any car component that passes current. If you want to accurately analyze why your battery is always losing juice use a multimeter.
If you enjoy long trips on the road in your automobile, a digital multimeter is among the essential things you should bring along.
The Top 7 Multimeters
While there are dozens of multimeters in the marketplace keep in mind some have limitations as to what they can do. If you’re into fixing cars for a living it would behoove you to invest in one that can effectively detect electrical problems in all types of cars, including trucks and pickups.
The selection of the top seven multimeters was made possible with the help of my mechanic, who has been fixing cars for over twenty years. He showed me over a dozen multimeters and the design changes with the most recently released modern multimeter.
He suggested you get one with both auto and manual range. The auto range will work better on modern automobiles while the manual range will deliver better diagnoses results when dealing with older cars.
Here are the automotive multimeter brands he recommends you get, and all can be found online with affordable pricing.
1 – Fluke 88V 1000V Automotive Multimeter
Among all the well-known multimeter brands, the name Fluke is way respected by both professional mechanics and at home car repair enthusiasts. This is not the type of multimeter you can lend to your buddy for it is pricey and will be stolen if not properly watched. My mechanic uses the Fluke 88V 1000V Automotive Multimeter and I noticed he always puts it back inside a locked desk after each diagnosis, which made me ask why. He had one stolen and since then he adopted a do not leave alone style of handling it. The company behind this product has been around since 1948. This multimeter can be found online in three distinctive style specs with this one being the least expensive among this model. The digital automotive multimeter from Fluke can do so much, from allowing you to measure resistance, test the status of the DC/AC current, temperature checking, and many others. It comes with a generous limited lifetime warranty, which is the most generous in the automotive repair tools industry.
2 – Mastech MS8268 Series Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Multimeter
The digital multimeter from Fluke is probably too robust and pricey for the backyard mechanic, but the one from Mastech is priced right with some impressive features. My friendly mechanic confessed both can do almost the same diagnoses but he uses the Fluke unit for high-end automobiles and tough vehicle repair jobs. The Mastech MS8268 multimeter can be used in both auto and manual modes, plus it will emit a sound warning if the jacks are not installed the right way. Some of the included features use LED technology. The included backlit display technology means you can see the readouts even in total darkness. It is the right digital multimeter for a beginner mechanic, but you only get a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
3 – Innova 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter
While the Innova 3320 multimeter is missing a manual testing mode the included auto ranging is more than enough to diagnose most car problems. You can use this tool for reverse polarity protection. The battery check feature uses LED technology to let you know the remaining juice. It is capable of self-shut off after prolonged inactivity. You’ll like the inclusion of protective guards around the edges, which will help prolong the durability of the tool. Despite the low pricing, there are three languages you can choose for your readout. It is also UL certified and can be used hands-free due to the included wrist straps and built-in stand.
4 – DKMHA Auto / Manual Ranging Digital Multimeter
It is not uncommon to find auto mechanics with more than one digital multimeter. The super mechanics will usually have an expensive brand like Fluke and a cheaper brand like the DKMHA Auto / Manual Ranging Digital Multimeter. Whatever your current status as a repair enthusiast, this tool is just as good as the ones costing twelve times more. Just like a Ferrari will get you to the supermarket so would a dodge charger. It can be utilized in both auto and manual modes, and the included backlit technology uses an LCD screen to ensure you can read the outputted data even in total darkness. Most mechanics would tell you the fastest way to destroy any multimeter is to drop it on a concrete floor, which is why the added rubber holster is well appreciated by most of the current users. Regardless of the range mode, you’re using there is an overload protection to keep the unit functioning optimally.
5 – ESI 585K Deluxe Automotive DMM
The ESI 585K Deluxe Automotive DMM is made by Electronic Specialties and comes with more additional accessories than other brands with higher price tags. It is designed to give you up to forty-five test ranges plus fourteen test functions. Regardless of the type of ignition system, your vehicle is using this multimeter will pick up the revolutions per minute (RPM) and analyze it accurately. Apart from the tilt stand that is built-in, there is also a feature for fuse protection with dual settings and one to measure temperature settings. The included dual display technology is able to output the readings in both digital and bar graph formats. The inductive revolutions per minute have five position settings along with a sensitivity switch that is adjustable. The ESI 585K is a top 10 multimeter and would serve the needs of both professional and do-it-yourself mechanics.
6 – Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter
The Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeter at the time of writing this article cost less than twenty bucks but can be used to do so much. My mechanic friend confessed it is just as good as the brands costing more. His humorous analogy relates to purchasing an automobile; you can go to the supermarket in a Mercedes-Benz or a Chevrolet car, both would get you to your destination. So, you see, this multimeter would allow you to diagnose auto problems like a pro. It is capable of holding the data, which means it has a memory feature. Apart from the data digits been displayed in large fonts, there is also a backlit LCD technology feature to ensure you can see the outputted readings in both daylight and night conditions. It is the ideal multimeter you can also use at home and you get a one-year warranty to cover any factory defect during the length of the coverage.
7 – Amprobe AM-510 Commercial/Residential Multimeter
This is one of the best multimeters that comes with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certification. This certification from the non-regulatory agency is costly and takes a long time to acquire, which is why most manufacturers would charge a little more for the added expense. Professionals that utilize multimeters will tell you it is a sign that the product has undergone rigorous testing. It is also available for purchase in six other styles without the NIST certification. This particular model meets all applicable standards within the European Union.