Nobody wants to be stranded on account of an electrical malfunction, especially if you are miles from nowhere and unfortunately subject to unfavorable weather conditions. Fortunately, there are reliable multimeters that can pinpoint the erroneous zones and the other usual suspects, and with basic knowledge and the User Manual, you can get rolling again.
Presently, most newer automobiles use sophisticated technology and are dependent on other efficient electrical systems to power some important functions like regulating and keeping the battery optimally charged to maintain a continuous flow of electric volts to other critical operating functions like the electronic fuel injection systems, the sensors and the other subsidiary critical devices like the heater/air conditioner, music systems and the entire electrical wiring throughout the car that drives your headlights, wipers, and windows among several others.
With a plethora of multimeters available, how do you choose the best one for yourself? There is an awful amount of technical jargon involved in their description that complicates matters.
We have made it a lot simpler for you, thanks to our team of tech-wizards who have analyzed hundreds of multimeters and have identified the best by analyzing their important parameters like performance, price, versatility, accuracy, the software involved, the ease of operation, reliability build, display modes, customer reviews and other additional features.
Listed here is our reference guide to make it easier for you to get the best one for your specific requirements. Before we delve into the details, let’s take a look at our top picks.
- Editors Choice – TopDiag P-100 Pro 9-30V Car Circuit Tester “This device is pretty quick at troubleshooting electrical issues when working on a car or truck. I use it now whenever I work on my car and need to do some electrical work”
- The Runner-Up – Fluke T5-600 Current and Continuity Tester “Great meter for the money!!! I have one in each truck”
- The All-Rounder – Innova 3340 Professional Automotive Digital Multimeter “Great tool for testing voltages on projects such as car stereo installs”
- Beginners Choice – Kaiweets ST 600Y Multimeter Tester “Nice bright screen, easy to use, good audible feedback and appears accurate”
- Best Budget Multimeter – BSIDE Digital Multimeter Color LCD 3 Display “This meter looks good and has worked flawlessly. It is light weight and does everything I need it to do working around the house and on the electronic projects I do”
Table of Contents
The precision with which you can get to the heart of the matter with ease is a huge advantage of this P-100 Pro 9-30V Car Circuit Tester. Its Probe Tip can reach components that are not easily accessible and deliver an accurate reading of the different parameters that are analyzed intelligently, saving a considerable amount of time.
To start with, you can get all the basic readings of the DC Voltage (VDC), resistance in ohms, Current in Amps. details about the diodes (DIO) and their continuity functions displayed conveniently.
The 2.4 inch LCD screen (340*240 DPI) with TFT True color displays clear and distinct readings
Equipped with an Oscilloscope-OBD-2 mode that can display the curve diagrams of the components voltage, frequency, time and other parameters under examination with the Fault-Code (DTC) function to check the performances of the sensors.
The performance signals are quickly generated for all the electronic components in the vehicle, including the signals for the motors and the light systems when it is using either the multimeter or the Probe modes. In its Intelligent Muitimter mode, the AC circuit system, the trailer lights, important components can be verified accurately. This is over and above reading the voltage, resistance and diode continuities.
With its ability to locate short-circuits readily, it can adjust the voltage output between 5 to 100 mA to protect delicate components enabled by detecting a blown fuse or a circuit breaker. The Pro-100 has good online support using the ‘Firmware Update mode’ to get the latest upgrades. Six button Select function to switch between Voltage, Resistance, and Amp readings. Besides, all you have to do is press the ‘Left’ and ‘OK’ buttons together to get the latest updates. Besides, it can be connected to a laptop or computer with a USB cable to get the recent recommendations. A Portable carrying Case is provided for portability and safety.
|Parameters||Accuracy and Operating Ranges|
|VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT||AC/DC RANGE 9V-30V – 12V FOR CARS and 24V for TRUCKS.|
|CURRENT MEASUREMENT||5 to 100mA – But Continuous Consistent Current at 18A|
|RESISTANCE||0.1 Ohm to 200 kOhm|
|BATTERY TYPE||External Power supply. 12V to 24V|
|BEST TEMPERATURES||Operating 0-60 C or 32 to 140F|
Storage 40 to 70 C or -40 to 180F
|SIZE||10.63 x 7.09 x 3.35 inches|
|TOP FEATURES||Clear Diode parameters (DIO) for continuity. 6m extension cable. Auto-Circuit Breaker. Instantly detects ground contacts Multiple Language Online Support.|
- Good accuracy parameters are obtained with most functions.
- The Oscillope displays curve readings and Curve diagrams with a Fault Code system(DTC).
- The Probe-Tip can obtain readings from deeply embedded components.
- Reasonably pricedfor its varied functionality
- 6m Extention wire.
- A Manual copy is not provided, you have to rely on online support.
- Relatively new and its durability is a question mark.
After reviewing user feedback, the consensus was that it performed better than the more expensive ones. It is truly more than a value for money product. All the features provided worked efficiently, however being a new entrant, the durability is still to be determined.
There were compliments from some sources for the speed and accuracy with which they rectified their issues. Others enjoyed the experience of experimenting with the various functions. The only noticeable complaint was about the unavailability of a printed Manual
Fluke multimeters come with an admirable reputation; they have created a huge legacy over the last 2 to 3 decades. Many professionals believe that they have found the Holy Grail of Instruments when using Fluke products. Others vouch for their accuracy and build quality. Some manufacturers use them as a benchmark to calibrate their products.
The T5 600 is essentially a multipurpose device and can be used as a conventional multimeter as well as good for automobiles, boats, household appliances etc. It is a Current and more importantly a Continuity Tester that can detect breaks in a circuit.
Its fundamental usefulness lies in its versatility and ability to check Currents without breaking the circuit. This is made possible by its Open Jaw design that operates without coming in direct contact with the area being tested. It can also display the voltage up to 600V and the Resistance value up to 1000 Ohms.
All these functions are enabled by merely switching to the desired setting making it an extremely user-friendly multimeter
The important feature is that it automatically detects between both the AC and DC types of current.
The Slim Reach test probe is an optional accessory that meets the national electrical standards and can be fitted with additional test leads test clips and other probe attachments.
It can be used domestically for most household appliances and testing motors or compressors for their amperage. Being a versatile device, it can be used for automobiles, boats, among other equipment as well.
It is designed to operate under difficult conditions as it is rugged and compact. The Open Jaw design provides accurate readings without actually touching the area being tested.
The T5-600 can withstand a drop from a height of 10 ft. without damage, besides being water and dust resistant, it is a tough rugged multimeter. Its compact size enables single-handed use. The test leads can be fitted with test clips that come as a Fluke accessory adding to their functionality.
The Slim Reach test probe can be detached, enabling the test leads to be accommodated at the back of the device. This helps with its portability and when accompanied by the holster type belt clip (optional), its portability is enhanced further.
A useful auto-shut mechanism conserves its battery life
|Parameters||Accuracy and Operating Range|
|VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT||From 0-600 volts. Automatically detects AC or DC types. Accuracy: 1.5% -2 counts. LCD guaranteed on up to 30V.|
|CURRENT MEASUREMENT||Up to a Maximum of 100A, with an accuracy of +/- 3 counts. 50 -60 Hz.|
|RESISTANCE||0.1 Ohm to 1000 Ohms. with a continuity test.|
|BATTERY TYPE||2 Pencil size batteries with auto-shutoff. Lasts 200 hours with zinc chloride and 400 hours with alkaline types.|
|Operating -10C to 50C.|
Storage -30C to 60C
|SIZE||27.9 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm.|
|WEIGHT||0.36 kg or 0.79 lbs. height 15.24 cm.|
|TOP FEATURE||Continuity beeper at < 25 Ohms and > 400 Ohms. Jaw opening: maximum 0.5”.|
- It can operate efficiently at a maximum height of 2000 meters.
- Satisfies safety CAT III norms of .600V AC/DC(EN61010-1.
- Two (2) Year Warranty
- Calibration Cycle of 1 year.
- Heavy-duty test probes can be used up to 1000V. (one red and one black).
- TPI Slimreach Test Probes.
It checks circuits and connectivity without breaking the circuit.
- Strong Rugged Build and can withstand shocks from falling.
- The SlimReach probe is detachable to accommodate portability.
- Dust and Water Resistant.
- The current can be measured to a maximum of 100A.
- The limited scope of usability
From 3000+ reviews, a majority of 88% found it good. Fluke is a reputed and reliable brand and many like its accuracy, but most like its ease of use and readability functions.
Many felt that it is an outstanding multimeter and have great things to say about it. However, very few were dissatisfied for some reason or the other. It is these comments that must be taken note of.
One of them stated that it came without a Current reading function, while another stated that it only reads to the nearest volt and does not read the DC Current at all!
There are always exceptions or some malfunction, but all said and done it is a noteworthy multimeter.
When it comes to professional precision for automobiles, including test functions and accurate readings of critical parameters, that can be pin-pointed to perfection, few can match the Innova 3340.
Its multi-dimensional usability is noteworthy. It truly is an all-rounder in the true sense.
Its special ability to pinpoint the source of the malfunctioning zone or component is commendable. All engine problems are identified including the alternator diodes, sensors, the Duty cycle, solenoids, breaker points, the ‘head to toe’ wiring in an automobile including the switches and fuses. You name it, the Innova 3340 will detect it.
The auto-range function is efficient and beneficial as an added feature.
The 3340 relieves your car’s electrical circuit by checking the Impedance present up to a level of 10 Mega Ohms.
Other specific measurements that need to be checked for optimum performance, include the RPM, Dwell Frequency, the Duty Cycle, Temperature and Pulse Width of the car. The Innova 3340 can be used to check the alternator performance as well.
An impressive 15 Amps can be checked for device testing purposes. Its ease of operating is a huge asset; even an unskilled person can operate it efficiently.
With its heavy padded rounded corners, it stays protected from falls which are a common occurrence while working on different areas of the automobile.
All the relevant data received after analysis can be saved and retrieved later for reference.
It is also equipped with an auto-shutoff mechanism when an overload occurs. This is a useful safety function. Additionally, it is accompanied by a Temperature Probe and Inductive RPM clamp.
Importantly, a carry case is provided for its protection and easy portability.
|Parameters||Operating Accuracy/ Range|
|VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT||From 400 to 600V +- <0.1 +/- 0.85% to 5%.-10v to 40V and AC from 400V to 600V +/- 1.2V to 8V.|
|CURRENT MEASUREMENT||In DC from 40mA to 400mA + 1.5% to 5%. DC amps to a maximum of 15A for component testing with an accuracy of 1.2% to 8% @ 400V to 600V|
|RESISTANCE||From 40 Ohms to 400 Ohms.|
|BATTERY TYPE||2 AA size batteries with auto-shutoff after 10 minutes.|
|Operating -50*C to 400*C with +/ 1.5% or -58*F to 752*F.|
Storage -30c to 60C -22F to140F.
|SIZE||6.8” x 3.6”x1.7’|
|WEIGHT||9 ounces or 255 g.|
|TOP FEATURE||It can test alternator Diodes and Solenoids simultaneously.|
- The 3340 can measure the Dwell, Frequency, RPM, Temperature, Breaker points, Pulse Width and Duty Cycle and Solenoids
- RPM levels between 0 to 10,000 Rpm
- CAT II rated and UL certified
- Simple to operate for all skill levels
- Can be used to perform a host of functions; Engine problems, circuit breaks, alternator diodes and performance
- Good auto-range function
- It includes a temperature probe and RPM clamp
- Carry case and User Manual + User Guide
- It cannot handle heavy electrical loads as it is rated CAT 2
- You cannot get a reading in milli-ohms accuracy
- You get accurate readings for a 3.7V battery, with both the 9V and 12V may show a slighter higher reading
Considering 7000 + customers worldwide ratings, the consensus is 88% like its overall performance.
Here are a few comments from people who have rated it lower:
- Some felt that the beeping sound is low and cannot be easily heard over the engine roar; the testing clamps slip out of your hand as they do not grip well;
- Others felt that the display was faint from certain angles; the repair costs are high; the load test meter is not appropriate.
- When the meter was sent back for a replacement, the response was quick and spontaneous suggesting good after-sales service.
- It is good for basics, but cannot get to the professional levels and has a limited scope of testing accuracy.
- A 77-year-old veteran felt that this was the best he had ever used including the top-end expensive and so-called professional ones.
The Kaiweets ST 600Y is an extremely easy multimeter to use. It readily converts to a mobile-type mode for a more friendly version, enhancing its usability further. The large LCD screen displays readings with good clarity. Besides, with the reduction in buttons, a layman can operate it effectively.
Multi-Functional: The ST 600Y is equipped with a smart mode that automatically detects the precise settings for the task at hand. It switches to the type of Current in use, from AC to DC and presents the corresponding Volts or Resistance in Ohms reading accordingly. In addition, the related Duty cycle, capacitance, temperature, frequency, continuity of the diodes, and a wire on-off mode are measured.
You can measure a maximum voltage of 600V, 10A of current and a resistance of 60 Ohms. effectively.
To use it as a smartphone, all you have to do is replace the gear knob with 2 buttons, and to add to its usability it can be held upright as the jack is positioned in the front.
A green light flashes to indicate the exact nature of Probe ports that must be utilized and accordingly the related jack is inserted to start the procedure.
This device is well insulated to prevent an accidental shock and strong enough to protect itself from a fall. Besides, it is dust-resistant.
The large screen is LED-lit and possesses a high contrast resolution, making working in the dark a lot easier.
The large LCD screen displays different colors to differentiate the readings from the functions. Additionally, it is equipped with an led light at the back and an indicator light on the top besides having 3 green lights for each of the ports.
Not many multimeters can match its appearance, ease of use and clarity along with accuracy.
|Parameters||Operating Accuracy/ Range|
|VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT||0.01mV accuracy between 0 to 600V.|
|CURRENT MEASUREMENT||The accuracy is .001mA and a maximum of 10A.|
|RESISTANCE||From accuracy is 1 Ohm/.001Hz, it measures up to 600 Ohms to 600 k Ohms.|
|BATTERY TYPE||4×1.5V AAA batteries.|
|Operating -50*C to 400*C with +/ 1.5% or -58*F to 752*F|
Storage -30c to 60C -22F to 140F
|TOP FEATURE||It is an efficient Voltmeter, Ohmmete multimeter.|
It can be used as a Mobile Phone.
- With a 3 year warranty, it is well covered by its dependable after-sales
- A backlight and a flashlight come very handily
- This Kaiweets 600 ST y can display up to 6000 counts
- The Anti-Burn feature is interesting; protected by a double ceramic fuse along with a thermistor protection circuit that prevents damage from high Voltages that is activated at all ranges
- Importantly, the ST 600Y conforms to the specifications of IEC 61010-I, CAT III 1000V, and the CAT IV 600V, besides the CE, and is RoHS certified
- Good Protection from various hazardous sources
- Excellent Safety standards
- Anti-Burn Feature
- The precision levels could improve.
From the reviews obtained worldwide, a massive 97% voted in the affirmative for it.
Most felt it was an excellent multimeter with numerous features and thoughtfully designed maintaining various usability and safety standards, besides being attractive.
One customer complained about a screw at the back for the battery compartment and a few are always exceptions to the rule.
This competitively priced multimeter packs a Punch! The large LCD color display with the numbers projected on a black background makes viewing a delight. The auto-mode makes it versatile and efficient to enable various checking parameters in voltage, frequency, resistance and the type of current. It is truly a budget-friendly device.
The high-resolution 3.2” screen displays 3 important functions in attractive colors that are highlighted, making it easy to read under any light conditions.
The BSIDE measures the voltage, frequency and shows the analog bar simultaneously.
The rechargeable 3.7 V battery is built-in, allowing it to be used anytime without the need to carry additional batteries.
Being equipped with a Smart Mode, the test efficiency is vastly improved and automatically chooses the required range for every parameter under analysis and offers 9999 counts display reading.
Designed compactly it can fit into your pocket with the provided carry case.
It can also be used as a Voltmeter, Capacitance in Ohms, Diode Duty Cycle and can be used as a tester for voltage readings.
|Parameters||Operating Accuracy/ Range|
|FREQUENCY MESUREMENT||10Hz/100Hz/1KHz ±(1.0%+5)|
|CURRENT MEASUREMENT||In DC mode, from 40mA to 400mA + 1.5% to 5%. DC amps to a maximum of 15A for component testing with an accuracy of 1.2% to 8% @ 400V to 600V|
|RESISTANCE||Resistance: 6Ω/60Ω/600Ω/6kΩ ±(1.2%+3)|
|BATTERY TYPE||3.7V (CR2032)*2 rechargeable batteries|
|Operating -50*C to 400*C with +/ 1.5% or -58*F to 752*F|
Storage -30c to 60C -22F to140F.
|TOP FEATURE||It can test alternator Diodes and Solenoids|
Provided with a V-Alert that permits testing without contact, including an alert for very high voltage or medium or low readings with a beep.
Stripe-styled screen LCD with beeping alarm.
The beeper sounds if the resistance is less than 30 Ohms, reminding the cable line to either connect or disconnect.
The Diode duty cycle is automatically identified.
- For its pure functionality and its affordable price.
- Decent accuracy standards.
- No test for Amperage.
Based on reviews from around the world, 88% voted in favor of it. There were relatively far fewer who found some fault or the other. One of the customers said it only reads voltage and not the resistance as claimed. Another complained that the test leads stopped functioning. Most however had good things to say about it.
As a recap here are our top picks for the best multimeter for cars in 2022.
- Editors Choice – TopDiag P-100 Pro 9-30V Car Circuit Tester
- The Runner-Up – Fluke T5-600 Current and Continuity Tester
- The All-Rounder – Innova 3340 Professional Automotive Digital Multimeter
- Beginner’s choice – Kaiweets ST 600Y Multimeter Tester
- Best Budget Multimeter BSIDE Color LCD 3 Display