Multimeter recommendations

Hi all,
Anyone have any recommendations on a good DC multimeter for general vehicle use?

I'm looking for something:
  • reliable (ie. I don't want to be wondering whether or not the readings are accurate)
  • durable enough to handle storage in the vehicle and cold temps (consistently below 0 Celsius all winter, occasionally down into the minus-twenty range)
  • functional enough to handle all major forms of vehicle power troubleshooting, both roadside and in the shop
  • as expensive as needed to address the three points above, but as affordable as necessary
I am comfortable dealing with electrical and wiring troubleshooting and have enough knowledge to do so safely, but I do not have enough experience with multimeters to assess which features are worth paying for or where the break-over in price point between "Princess Auto/Harbor Freight" and "Snap-On-for-everything" is

Bonus points for any recommendations that are easily sourced in Canada (ie. amazon.CA or Canadian Tire)
 

Superduty

Adventurer
Fluke 179 is what I have. Use a lithium battery in it for long term reliability in car. Oh wait you are in very cold temps....not sure if lithium or alkaline are better for you.

Fluke 117 is a cheaper option.

Fluke is considered an excellent choice for multi meters.
 

J!m

Active member
I agree with Fluke. I would never buy a meter from Snap-On, that’s not their core competence. Fluke makes meters.

Best cold weather batteries were silver oxide in my old Canon F-1. I have no idea if you can buy 9V silver oxide...
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
Fluke is the only DVOM I use.

Fluke 88, Fluke 189. The 88 actually saved my life 3 times (at least).
 

krick3tt

Adventurer
Just looked up Fluke on Amazon. Pricey little things, perhaps they are for the top grade professionals. If you have that kind of bucks and are really good at tracking down electrical issues perhaps they would be really good.
 

J!m

Active member
Tailor the features to your needs. I have an old Fluke 10 that was cheap but accurate. The beeper for continuity died, but otherwise it’s perfect after 20 or so years.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
A Fluke doesn't have to break the bank. One of the best deals going are on surplus Fluke model 77. They aren't super high end to start with, not being true RMS, but they are more than sufficiently accurate and are staples in engineering and tech school labs. Seems every place I work buys them by the dozen for general purpose use, too. As a result plenty nice enough examples go for for about $50 on eBay.
 

BritKLR

Kapitis Indagatoris
I have a simple Craftsman 34-82141 (on Amazon) 8 function/20 ranges in the side pocket of my toolroll, in every vehicle I have. Less then $20.00, tough and has done everything I've needed it for. Just remember to carry an extra battery for when you forget to turn it off...
 

Charles R

Adventurer
I have a fluke 88. But my "go to" tool for any automotive electrical troubleshooting is a 'Power Probe'. (That's the band name)

I personally have a PP2, and a fellow tech has a 3(or 4) with the voltage display. Once you understand the basics of what it does, it's AMAZINGLY useful.

To sum it up.. The power probe 2 I have can instantly display if I have +12v OR ground. But it also can SUPPLY +12v or ground to the circuit or component I'm troubleshooting at a touch of a switch. If you have a basic clue to what you're doing, it really speeds up the diag process.
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
I have an old Craftsman that I like for casual use, but in real cold weather I have to warm it up before I can read the display. Not sure if this is an issue with any other brands. FWIW
 

J!m

Active member
Didn’t think of that, but yeah, if it’s really cold the liquid crystal display won’t be liquid and therefore won’t display... even if the battery is good.

I guess it should ideally be kept above freezing if you plan to use it, and I’d just put new batteries in right before a trip. Fluke batteries are not easy to change because the entire case is the cover for security and durability. No cheesy door for the battery.
 

4xdog

Explorer
I probably have six or eight multimeters around here, both my own and especially from my EE brother's estate.

A near 40-year old Fluke 75 is still my best and favorite. But to be honest, some of the *very* economical more recent ones from my brother's stuff work perfectly well. I wouldn't hesitate to get a $20-30 meter and call it done.

Note well Verkstad's comments about test lead quality. The flexibilty, durability, and convenience of the leads -- especially the probe ends -- is a much bigger deal than the multimeter itself.
 

Hummelator

Adventurer
I have a Flir CM82 (I think). It was $350+. I love it but it’s way overkill for my needs ( work mainly)
Fluke is the benchmark in the industry. A cheap meter ($40-$80) would suffice for anything to might need to diagnose on the trail and in the shop. Multimeters is definitely one of those areas where’s you get what you pay for.
 
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