Auto Know It is reader supported. When you buy something through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
With every passing year today’s vehicles are becoming more and more complicated. Adding features such as lane assist, adaptive cruise control, and even the ability to parallel park has made wiring much more important.
A bad wire or faulty component will keep all of these great safety features from working and can be difficult to repair. It has become more important to have good service information as well as the proper diagnostic tools to repair these systems correctly.
The multimeter, which you may also see referred to as a DMM (Digital Multimeter), DVOM (Digital Volt Ohmmeter) is one of the most versatile tools that you can own. It is capable of testing voltage, resistance, and current. Some more expensive models will also be able to test things like frequency, diodes, and even duty cycle.
There is no doubt that you need to add a multimeter to your toolbox, but which automotive multimeter should you buy?
This guide is not going to list 15 different multimeters just to get you to click on our page. We use our years of diagnostic experience in the industry to find you the right multimeter for your specific use.
You will find them below rated in three different categories. Do it yourself, Daily, and Professional use.
Things To Consider When Choosing the Best Automotive Multimeter
Features and Benefits of Automotive Multimeters
What are the important features that you look for when buying an automotive multimeter that fits your needs?
We have created a list of some of the features that you should look for when buying a multimeter.
Basic Electrical Test Functions
Most automotive multimeters on the market will have the ability to test voltage. Some however stop there. If you are buying a multimeter, we recommend you look for a unit that is at least able to complete the most basic electrical tests. Voltage, Resistance, and Amperage are the minimum tests that the multimeter should be able to complete.
Amperage Test Functions
When testing amperage (current) the current flow of the circuit passes through the multimeter. This requires the multimeter to be equipped with a fused circuit to prevent internal damage. Meters can come with 2 internally fused circuits. Low current flow, 400mA and high current flow of 10 amps.
Some tests can be performed using the 400mA selection but are limited. We suggest a unit that has fuse protection for both 400 mA as well as 10 amps. If however the meter only has one selection, make sure it is a 10 amp fused protection.
Diode Test Procedure
The diode test procedure is usually equipped on higher end multimeters (DMM). It has the ability to test a diode that is removed from a circuit board. This is not a test procedure that is used often but becomes very important if you are trying to diagnose a faulty alternator for example.
The rectifier in an alternator uses diodes as part of the conversion of ac to dc voltage. If you do not have this test on your multimeter, you will not be able to complete the test. If you never plan on rebuilding an alternator this is a feature that you would have limited use for when repairing vehicles.
HZ and Duty Cycle
This is another test setting that is important when testing automotive circuits. It gives you the ability to test wheel speeds sensors and also engine control module outputs. Many automotive actuators are controlled using Pulse Width Modulation which is measured in duty cycle. Having this setting allows the ability to test these computer outputs, resulting in a much more capable tool.
There is nothing worse than buying a tool and than dropping it shortly after. Having a good quality rubberized case will ensure that your new investment does not get thrown in the garbage the first time it falls. Trust me, it will fall.
All multimeters need a way to select the range that you are testing. For example, testing millivolts or volts requires the display to change what it is displaying. Some meters do this with a rotary dial that selects the range. Other meters will have an auto ranging feature that automatically selects the range that you require when testing.
This feature can be more frustrating than it is useful. However, for people that are new to electrical diagnosis it can take away some of the frustration of not knowing which range to select.
The Best Automotive Multimeters – Detailed Review!
|Product Name||Rating||Best Features||Price|
|Fluke FLUKE-88-5 88V 1000V Automotive Multimeter||5/5||Auto-ranging|
Peak Min/Max mode to record
Fully featured with diode test
|Klein Tools MM600 Multimeter||4/5||Auto-ranging|
Frequency, Diode, HZ tests
Very affordable price for the features
|AstroAI Multimeter 2000 Counts Digital Multimeter||2.5/5||Affordable|
Can be bought with lead kit
Simple manual ranging
1. Fluke FLUKE-88-5 88V
- Brand: Fluke
- Part Number: Fluke-88-5 88V
- Drop Proof Case: Yes, rubberized case
- Ranging: Manual and auto-ranging
- Easy to Use
- Professional performance
- Excellent for the professional or do-it-yourselfer
- Manual and auto-ranging
- One of most common used meters in the automotive industry by professionals
- Some test procedures are hard to learn
We are going to start with what some consider one of the best meters in history. Fluke makes many different meters for various industries around the world. Fluke is considered one of the best manufacturers of electrical test equipment and they do not disappoint with the Fluke 88V.
I have used one of these multimeters for years and have seen many students do interesting things with them and they just keep working. Kind of reminds you of that old pickup truck you refuse to get rid of. The dependability of this meter is great and so are the features that it comes with.
The Fluke 88V comes with a manual/auto-ranging set up that is easy to use for users of all levels. The meter is capable of diode testing, frequency and duty cycle. It also has the ability to test temperature with a separate instrument that you need to purchase separately.
One of the features that really make this unit stand out is the Peak min/max mode. This mode can record the peak min/max values over time. It will then display what the values are after the test is performed. I have used this feature to help me find a parasitic draw issue that was otherwise impossible to find.
The only downfall of this meter is the price. Considering the abilities that it has however, I do not think it is over priced. The Fluke 88V finds its way in our Professional Use category and we recommend this meter to anyone who is looking for a great multimeter that they can use for a lifetime.
2. Klein Tools MM600 Multimeter, Digital Auto-Ranging
- Brand: Klein Tools
- Part Number: MM600
- Drop Proof Case: Rubberized case
- Ranging: Auto-ranging
- Auto-ranging meter
- Reliable performance
- Diode, frequency testing
- Designed to withstand 2 meter drop
- Short leads
- Auto selects to AC voltage
The Klein Tools MM600 is a full featured multimeter that is affordable and still has all the great features that you look for in a multimeter.
This meter features all of the basic electrical testing as well as all of the extras. Diode testing, HZ, and duty cycle are all included on this very affordable multimeter. The multimeter is an auto ranging meter that also has the capability to manually select the range that you prefer.
It comes with an excellent zip up carrying case as well as a temperature thermocouple. This gives the meter the ability to also read temperature.
This automotive multimeter is also designed to withstand a 2m drop. That is something that I would really like considering my history with tools. The only drawback of this meter is its relatively short leads. At 2 feet in length, the leads can find you really wanting them to be longer to properly test automotive electrical circuits.
This meter is an excellent meter for the professional with an entry level price. The Klein Tools MM600 is Professional Use and will make any user delighted with its excellent performance and ease of use.
3. AstroAI Multimeter 2000 Counts Digital Multimeter
- Brand: AstroAI
- Part Number:
- Drop Proof Case: Rubberized case
- Ranging: manual ranging
- Easy to Use
- Rubberized case
- Can be purchased with lead kits
- Simple manual ranging setup
- Leads can break down over time providing difficult readings
- 2x per second update can be slow to provide accurate readings
The AstroAi meter is a basic automotive multimeter that could find its home in everyone’s toolbox. The affordable price makes it something that anyone could purchase, even for a one time repair or diagnosis.
The price should not be the only reason this meter is great. The simple manual ranging setup allows for a simple set up. This allows for a quick, easy to use multimeter that can be used for quick voltage checks.
The meter has the ability to do the basic electrical tests. It has the ability to test voltage, resistance and amperage and is internally fused with both 10 amp and 500 mA fuses. This allows it to test current in circuits with up to 10 amps of current flow.
The only thing to watch when purchasing meters in this price range are the meter leads. Over time the meter leads tend to break down internally. When testing this can lead to getting inaccurate results, possibly leading to replacing unneeded parts.
The AstroAI multimeter sits firmly in our DIY Use category for its ability to perform basic test procedures at a very affordable price.
Finding the best automotive multimeter for your use can be difficult. We recommend matching your wants and needs with the ability of the multimeter. Once this is done worry about the budget that you have. It is better to save up for an excellent quality automotive DVOM than it is to rush out and buy one that you will not be happy with.