Multimeter recommendations

theksmith

Explorer
Fluke is the de-facto standard for a quality meter, but there's really no need to spend that much to get a decent meter for typical home usage.

i've had an Innova 3340 for several years without any major issues. it has several helpful features for working on vehicles like PWM duty cycle, frequency, inductive clamp, and a temp probe. it goes for about $80 on Amazon.

my latest DMM is a Southwire Tools & Equipment 16040T. so far it's been excellent - i like that it's compact but with a large display, nice backlight, flashlight, max/min function, and for around $30 it's probably the cheapest meter from a well-known company that includes bluetooth connectivity (for logging).

if your getting a meter specifically for vehicle use, you might look at the Power Probe tools instead of a traditional DMM.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
I've got a Klein MM400 that autoranges and also helpfully has a thermometer - amazing how much stuff needs to be tested at a specific temperature when checking against specs, that's why the O2 sensor ended up in the fridge to get it to 20*C when it was 32*C outside...
 

pluton

Adventurer
When I got my Fluke 179 about 10 years ago, Fluke offered some cheaper models (under $200), but I stretched my budget a bit, and bought the lowest model that had the lifetime warranty. The 179 came with a connectable thermistor for temp readings, BTW.
 

dwh

Tail-End Charlie
Fluke is good. So is Klein or Amprobe.

I'd be looking for a multimeter that also has clamp on current measurement. Most multis can only do inline current and most won't do over 10a, which is never enough. Clamp should measure both AC and DC (many clamps are AC only). Also the current clamp should be able to do a sample and hold measurement on inrush current.

Here's a cheapo that has the right features:

https://www.amazon.com/BayEagleEyes-Multimeters-Capacitance-Temperature-Measurement/dp/B07J35TL62/ref=mp_s_a_1_21?ie=UTF8&qid=1549006125&sr=8-21&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=dc+current+clamp+meter+inrush&dpPl=1&dpID=51UdZbCVKeL&ref=plSrch
 

dwh

Tail-End Charlie
Or maybe not. The description says AC and DC, but the pics only say AC for the clamp.

So much for a quicky Amazon search. Buyer beware.
 

Rando

Explorer
Amprobe or UNI-T are fine for what you want to do and only ~$40. Automotive work isn't really a demanding application for a multimeter.
https://www.amazon.com/Amprobe-AM-510-Commercial-Residential-Non-Contact/dp/B007FZFTZO

Add lithium batteries for a longer shelf life in the cold, but with an LCD screen it may not work so well much below freezing. This is likely not a huge deal, warm it up in your coat or the car before taking a measurement.

If you actually want a meter that will work in the cold, then the Agilent/Keysight OLED meters are likely your best option. Warning, these are the creme de la creme of meters, and not cheap:
https://www.keysight.com/en/pdx-2882361-pn-U1273AX/handheld-digital-multimeter-4-digit-ip54-oled-display-40-oc?nid=-32044.1242729&cc=US&lc=eng
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
If you actually want a meter that will work in the cold, then the Agilent/Keysight OLED meters are likely your best option. Warning, these are the creme de la creme of meters, and not cheap:
https://www.keysight.com/en/pdx-2882361-pn-U1273AX/handheld-digital-multimeter-4-digit-ip54-oled-display-40-oc?nid=-32044.1242729&cc=US&lc=eng
Also, ironically, a very cheap meter would also have no issue with cold displays and being analog would be RMS, too. Durability isn't so good, so not great for field use or let bounce around in your truck. Many years ago some DMMs had LEDs, which would also work cold, but haven't seen even cheap ones for a while.

But I still find an analog meter useful, setting bias, etc. Like setting the throttle position sensor on my old 22R-E was a lot easier using one, you're looking at crossing points where the needle would trend up or down and then jump indicating the wiper stepped across a transition. My Fluke 87 has a bar that sort of mimics this, it's just more intuitive with a needle.

Extech 38073 - $15

https://kiesub.com/product/extech-38073-mini-analog-multimeter/

38073_mid.jpg
 

outback97

Adventurer
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...
If you have a Sears near you (sadly that's getting harder to come by) it looks like these are on sale for 1/2 price today:
https://www.sears.com/craftsman-8-function-18-range-digital-multimeter/p-03482141000P
 
While I do not disagree with the Fluke recommendations, for automotive use I have found a "Power Probe" more versatile. Most of my work is with aftermarket EFI systems and add on accessories. The worse job is the guy who tries to do the install himself rather than pay to have it done professionally. He gets upset when it doesn't work and ends up paying me more than if he had brought it to me to begin with. Goes from being flat rate to an hourly T&M rate.

Yes the "Power Probe is more expensive than a Fluke but a time saver one tool does it all.
https://www.powerprobe.com/the-hook/
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
I am a big fan of my fluke 115. I would suggest that any meter have a min/max recording function. This ability is invaluable when troubleshooting transient/intermittent issues, especially by yourself. This function has saved me hours tracking down high resistance connections in starter wiring, as well as random shorts/opens. I would also strongly suggest getting a set of test leads with insulated clips, and possible needle probes (backprobing etc).
https://amzn.to/2BpIMpx
https://amzn.to/2t002gd

Other good features are
automatic power off (no dead batteries when you need it!)
backlight (with button/switch)
Manual and auto range functions (push button as opposed to rotary position).
 

polishammer

New member
I have multiple Fluke DMMs including 87, 289 and 179 just to name few and never had a problem with any of them. Saying that, for a truck 99% of the time I use Klein CL2000 model. This model has been replaced with CL800 with better parameters. This Klein model is auto ranging, has AC/DC Amp clamp, measure your standard items plus capacity and temp, and has a build in small flash light which is helpfull.
I have had this one for years and it is my truck DMM sitting insude the truck most of the time. Never Left me stranded.

The main reason I like this clamp on meter is that i don't have to break the circuit to measure current draw. Perfect for parasitic draw test and for testing glowplugs on my old 6.5 diesel.

Suposedly the new model, CL800 is even more robust, although i do like build in magnets on my old unit.

Best thing is, you can have it for a fraction of the price of Fluke, and no, Klein is not made in China.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Klein-Tools-CL800-Digital-Clamp-Meter-with-AC-DC-Auto-Ranging/51774049?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227039610443&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=t&wl3=85441306250&wl4=pla-193468501250&wl5=9011040&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=51774049&wl13=&veh=sem&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlvSTwvGg4AIVF8DICh0gywxLEAQYASABEgJ8HPD_BwE
 
Last edited:
Top