If you’re a professional or amateur mechanic or just wrench on your car from time to time, you will need an automotive multimeter to help diagnose electrical issues. A multimeter helps detect potential malfunctions and electrical gremlins while pinpointing their causes. Multimeters measure voltage, current, and resistance and you can use them to test the strength or weakness of a car’s battery or check the strength of electrical connections, for example. Multimeters also come in handy around the house.
Automotive multimeters work by combining these electrical properties into one unit, then showing the measurements on its screen. Analog multimeters use a gauge while the digital multimeters display the readings numerically.
When buying an automotive multimeter, you will need first to figure out what type of a multimeter you want: digital or analog. Digital ones are more common now and are easier to use and read. Multimeters can be as cheap as $10 but can go all the way up to thousands for professional, laboratory-quality ones. You probably won’t need to spend that much on one, but we’d warn against buying a super cheap multimeter because it will have more limits on what it can be used for, it might not last that long, and its accuracy might not be watertight.
When looking for a multimeter, you’ll want to take note of its accuracy. A feature that helps ensure accurate readings is the ability to recalibrate a multimeter. You should pay attention to a multimeter’s fit and finish, materials, ease of use, safety, and the number of test functions it can perform.
Here are 10 of the best multimeters you can buy. We’ve picked ones with high user ratings or ones that are bestsellers.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
- 2. Innova 3340 Automotive Digital Multimeter (10 MegOhm/UL)
- 3. AstroAI Digital Multimeter with Ohm Volt Amp and Diode Voltage Tester Meter
- 4. Fluke 117 Electrician's True RMS Multimeter
- 5. Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
- 6. Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter
- 7. Fluke 77-IV Digital Multimeter
- 8. ESI 585K Deluxe Automotive DMM
- 9. REED Instruments R5001 Passive Component LCR Meter
- 10. Tacklife DM01M Advanced Digital Multimeter
Fluke is generally thought to be an industry leader in the multimeter space and we have featured many of its products on this list. The Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter, however, is an affordable option that will suit most of a hobbyist's automotive and household needs. It's designed for basic electrical tests and is small, lightweight and portable but still sturdy and designed to last.
1. Editor's Pick: Fluke 101 Basic Digital Multimeter
Fluke’s products are featured many times on this list, as the company is definitely an industry leader. It has products on both ends of the price spectrum, but its 101 Basic Digital Multimeter is a great product for most people’s automotive and household needs and at a price that fits in a reasonable budget. It’s designed for basic electrical tests, so if you’re a professional, you might want to look at a multimeter with more functionality and accessories.
Its accuracy is rated at 0.5%, 600V Cat III safety rated, and it’s small and lightweight enough for one-handed use and to fit in your tool bag. It requires 2 AAA batteries to use (batteries not included) and has automatic shutdown. Users loved this multimeter’s ease of use and reported accurate readings.
It’s important to note, however, that the screen isn’t backlit, so you will have to be working in a well-lit area to use it and it has no amp measurement.
2. Innova 3340 Automotive Digital Multimeter (10 MegOhm/UL)
Although this multimeter is tailored for the automotive market, it performs well on standard electrical measurements such as AC and DC voltage, DC amps, continuity, and resistance among others. It covers almost all the necessary basics of vehicle electronics, including alternator diodes, solenoids, wiring, switches, duty cycle and breaker points.
The moment you start this multimeter, it starts the record-keeping process immediately. This will be handy so you won’t need to perform unnecessary re-testing in case of an interruption. It has an auto-ranging feature that gauges the extent of your vehicle’s electrical issue to help pinpoint the problem.
The Innova 3340 is made to guard against any reverse polarity, minimizing any shock on your vehicle or any other electrical outlet. It runs on two AA batteries, comes with a pouch for storage, and has a one-year warranty.
You don’t need to be a very experienced mechanic to use the Innova 3340 as its streamlined procedures are easy to follow. However, ensure to read all the instructions carefully.
3. AstroAI Digital Multimeter with Ohm Volt Amp and Diode Voltage Tester Meter
This multimeter is engineered for accurate and secure troubleshooting for automotive and household electrical applications. It is user-friendly and its manufacturer highlights its operating safety. Apart from measuring voltage, current, and continuity, you can also use this multimeter to test your transistors and diodes.
The multimeter also comes with a kickstand, so you don’t have to hold it while you’re testing. It also features a low battery indicator, overload protection, and a buzzer. Its hold button lets you freeze the data being displayed.
Its digital display is quite large and has a backlit LCD to enable visibility even in areas with faint light. Its sampling speed goes up to two times per second and comes with one year warranty. This multimeter got great reviews on Amazon, 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 1,200 reviews and users report the company has good customer service.
4. Fluke 117 Electrician's True RMS Multimeter
This multimeter is an Amazon’s Choice and gets a strong backing from our editors, too. It has a well put together design that makes it easy to use quickly and comfortably. It is small and compact, making it easy to operate it with just one hand.
It’s well-built with top-notch circuit soldering and input overload protection. It can easily auto-detect AC or DC voltage without having to require a second tool. Its ability to measure frequency, capacitance, and frequency accurately makes it a powerful tool to have. It’s also backlit, has a function that helps prevent false readings due to ghost voltage, and it CAT III 600V safety rated. It’s also unique because it has non-contact voltage detection. It has a three-year warranty and runs on one AAA battery, which is included.
5. Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter
This multimeter has a dual display resolution of 20,000 counts, enabling you to read minimal readings. It has a very high ability to take both frequency and voltage readings on adjustable speed motor drives. It has peak Max/Min to capture any intermittents and even has a built-in thermometer.
Fluke 87-V is one of the few multimeters with a lifetime warranty. Although this multimeter is popular with experienced professionals, it is straightforward enough to use for an amateur. It has a 6,000 count display and updates 4 times a second.
Fluke 87-V is made in the USA. Additionally, it has a 2-level backlight that increases its visibility. DC accuracy is rated at 0.05%.
6. Mastech MS8268 Digital AC/DC Auto/Manual Range Digital Multimeter
This multimeter has good category ratings of between 600 and 1000V. It has an LED and an audible warning if incorrect banana jacks are used relative to what setting it’s in. There’s an auto-off feature that can be disabled and a blue backlit LED screen. It also has a data hold feature that enables you to freeze the display while comparing the stored readings.
Mastech MS8268 has maximum AC voltage of up to 750V, frequency to 200KHz, and current of 10A. Its capacitance range is quite slim, however.
The dial selector has 11 positions and a centrally located OFF button. It runs on 3 AAA batteries that aren’t included and has a one-year warranty.
7. Fluke 77-IV Digital Multimeter
Fluke 77-IV is the latest edition of the Fluke 70 Series, and it comes with a variety of useful features and options. With it, you will effectively measure frequency, resistance, voltage and more. It can also be used for troubleshooting not related to automotive tasks, although it is CAT III safety rated.
Just like other meters made by Fluke, it has a sturdy design with a 6,000-count clear screen and an auto/manual option. It has a large, backlit display and it rated at 0.3% accuracy.
Fluke 77-IV has a data hold option that allows you to store your last reading. However, it does not have internal memory and it can only store the latest reading. It is lightweight and compact so it can easily fit in your toolkit. You can also buy an optional magnetic hanger for using it hands-free.
Users report that this easy-to-use multimeter is a big improvement over the one it replaces, with faster operation and a lot of extra features you might never even use.
8. ESI 585K Deluxe Automotive DMM
Although this is not one of the most popular brands, this multimeter has some great features. It has 45 test ranges, 14 test functions, dual fuse protection, a built-in stand, auto-ranging, and an audible beep for continuity tests. It’s also able to read temperatures. As a bonus, it comes with a few accessories and a zippered storage pouch. It runs on a 9V battery, which is also included.
Although it’s not a true RMS like some Fluke products, users report that it works just as well is packed with useful features. The build quality is good, the multimeter feels robust, and it’s reliable and accurate. Users also report that the company’s customer service is excellent.
9. REED Instruments R5001 Passive Component LCR Meter
This multimeter measures capacitance, resistance, and inductance. It has plus/minus 1.5% error and has an auto-ranging for both AC and DE resistance measurement. Its testing frequency is 10kHz and a 100kHz in output frequency. It has high sensitivity, its screen is very responsive, and the probes are high quality.
It is a digital multimeter weighing 1.26 pounds and runs on batteries, which are included. It features an easy-to-read backlit display, a built-in stand, and can hold data. Some users report that they are not able to calibrate the unit but that it feels sturdy, is easy to read and responsive.
10. Tacklife DM01M Advanced Digital Multimeter
Are you considering a cheap multimeter that will simplify your test work with minimal mistakes? Tacklife DM01M stands out with its TRMS 6000 counts that does away with any need to select test ranges due to its full-range accurate measurement. You will hear a sound and a light any time the LED sensor goes below 40 ohms resistance. The red LED light will light up once the resistance falls somewhere between 40 and 60 ohms.
It has a large LCD that has a backlight, it doubles as a flashlight, and also has a built-in stand. It has an automatic power off and will shut itself off 15 minutes before it is out of charge. It has double fuses with overload protection, data hold, buzzer alarms, and is covered by a 24-month warranty. It runs on four AA batteries, which are included. Users report that it works great despite its low price, but that the thermistor wasn’t accurate.
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