With hundreds of automotive multimeters in stores, picking the best can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a particular brand in mind. If you are in such a state, this post has evaluated the top multimeters you would want to consider.
Before selecting the recommended multimeters, I tested seven highly-purchased units and then settled on Klein Tools MM300, Fluke 107, and Tempo Communications MM200 as the most suitable.
Selecting and Testing the Best Automotive Digital Multimeters
I am an automotive electrician who has been running a busy garage for many years. In this period, I have tried out multimeters from reputable brands like Fluke Corporation, Klein Tools, Extech, and Innova to troubleshoot various electrical components. So, I can tell a good multimeter after a few use sessions.
To compile this roundup, I selected seven multimeters with excellent buyer reviews on Amazon. Then, I used each to test alternators, starters, batteries, cigarette lighters, spark plugs, fuse boxes, wiring, lighting, and infotainment systems of various vehicles under service.
After a series of tests, I settled on three of the best. They have a higher safety rating, reasonable precision, durable construction, large-size backlit display, excellent battery life, and plenty of ergonomic features.
Klein Tools MM300 stood as the number one unit on the list. It has a CAT III 600V safety rating, durable construction that can withstand up to 3.3foot drops, and 98% accuracy. It can troubleshoot most of the primary electrical variables.
Here is a comprehensive overview of the three winners in this roundup.
Klein Tools MM300 Multimeter
Klein Tools is a trusted brand in manufacturing low-cost, professional-grade multimeters that are rugged, accurate, ergonomic, and multipurpose. The company’s multimeter, Klein Tools MM300 unit, is not an exception. It has excellent accuracy, an ergonomic design, a super rugged body, and good battery life. Some reasons why this unit ranked top on this list include:
Super Rugged Construction
Klein Tools MM300 boasts sturdy plastic construction that can survive occasional one-meter drops. The multimeter comes in a silicone case to absorb the impact from drops and minimize the chances of slipping. I could firmly hold onto the multimeter even when my hands were soiled with oil. Klein Tools MM300’s probe cables flex smoothly to endure the physical stress resulting from bending. What is more? The multimeter has a one-year warranty that covers manufacturing defects.
With an accuracy of 98%, the readings from this multimeter were close to the expected true values. This accuracy was enough to spot common issues like incomplete circuits, power leakages, faulty fuses, battery health, and identify hot wires. Though the accuracy is within acceptable limits, the multimeter would not be ideal for fault-finding issues in a vehicle’s infotainment system, solenoid, and relays. You will need a highly accurate multimeter to troubleshoot such parts, and then, make informed decisions regarding servicing.
This best automotive multimeter has plenty of features that expedite troubleshooting. It has a flip-up stand to free up your hands and a backlit display that makes screen reading easy. Furthermore, this multimeter has a data hold button to record values on the screen and a large selection knob that rotates smoothly to let you measure different electrical parameters. Though easy to use, you will have to set the corresponding range manually, an issue that would challenge people with basic knowledge of motor vehicle electronics.
This multimeter is highly versatile. I used it to measure basic electrical parameters, including capacitance, resistance, voltage, current, battery test, and diodes. It measures a voltage of up 600V, a resistance of 2 milliohms, and a current of 10 amperes. As well, this multimeter can measure a capacitance of 1000 microfarads. With this multimeter, you will troubleshoot a car’s entire electronic system without the need for other tools. It does not measure temperature, duty cycle, and frequency, a capability found in other multimeters.
- Rugged construction
- Easy to read display
- Hands-free operation
- Less costly
- CAT III safety rating
- Manual ranging
- It does not measure frequency and duty cycle
Fluke 107 Digital Multimeter
The Fluke 107 multimeter stands out due to its ultra-compact size, which can fit on your palm comfortably. Despite the size, this multimeter is as powerful and versatile as the large-sized automotive multimeters. Other great features that ranked Fluke 107 on top of the seven multimeters tested include:
Of the seven automotive multimeters tested, I got the most accurate values from Fluke 107. In most cases, the values generated from troubleshooting matched or deviated from the expected real value by a mere +-0.05. The high precision is a great option for fault-finding issues in vital electrical parts like the infotainment system, battery, lights, and starter motors. You will need accurate values to service these vital parts correctly.
Compact, Ergonomic Design
The Fluke 107 multimeter is small and lighter than most of the multimeters I have used in my ten-year career as an automotive electrician. It fitted in my petite palms comfortably, allowing me to operate it with just a single hand.
Besides the compact size, this multimeter has several features that simplified my troubleshooting experience. It has an inbuilt magnetic hanger to attach it onto metallic surfaces and a data hold button to record current values on the screen.
Its selection button rotates effortlessly to let you flip between different modes quickly. Being an auto-ranging multimeter, you will not have to master the true values of each electrical system.
Like any typical multimeter, Fluke Corporation designed this model to help electricians troubleshoot all crucial aspects of electronics. It measures a voltage of 600, a resistance of 40 milliamps, and a current of 10 amperes. This multimeter can also measure a capacitance of 1000 microfarad, a frequency of 100 kilohertz, duty cycle, and diodes.
Excellent Build Quality
For the time I have been servicing motor vehicles, multimeters from Fluke seemed to be my favorite in terms of durability. Fluke 107 is not an exception. It is made from heavy-duty plastic used in the more expensive siblings. The plastic will take a heavy beating for a pretty long period. Nonetheless, this automotive digital multimeter lacks the standard rubber holster found in many heavy-duty multimeters. So, you will need to handle it carefully to minimize the chances of dropping it.
- Gives accurate values
- Easy to read screen
- Lightweight and palm-sized
- CAT III safety rating
- It lacks a rubber sleeve
- Quite costly
Digital Multimeter MM200 by Tempo Communications
Tempo Communications’ digital multimeter MM200 is a professional grade multimeter designed to simplify and expedite the process of troubleshooting various electrical parts. It is sturdy, accurate, and well-designed. After a thorough analysis in our garage, here are some of the great features I liked about this unit.
Tempo Communications MM200 is auto-ranging. That means it will set the corresponding range automatically. It will save you from having to master the true values of each electrical component, alongside saving the time you would have wasted keying in the corresponding range manually. With this feature, Tempo Communications MM200 would make a great investment for motor vehicle owners with basic knowledge of electronics and electricians who wish to bypass the process of setting the corresponding range manually.
Free Storage Case
Tempo Communications MM200 came with a custom-made storage case to hold the multimeter and test probes. The case will protect the multimeter from elements that accelerate wear and tear alongside letting you take your multimeter to wherever your job takes you. The case appeared well sewed and durable enough to grow old with the multimeter.
Designed for Convenience
The Tempo Communications MM200 multimeter is packed with features to enhance convenience. It has a data hold key that records current readings on display and a large selection knob that turns effortlessly. Its backlit display is large and bright enough to let you read values without straining.
On the downside, it lacks a kickstand or magnetic hanger to free up your hands when working. However, that should not be an issue since there are endless creative ways to free up your hands without relying on a stand or hanger.
With Tempo Communications MM200, you can troubleshoot up to 11 electrical parameters. You can use it to measure the voltage of 1000V, frequency of 1 megahertz, diodes, a current of 10 amperes, and resistance of 60 milliohms. I used to troubleshoot the batteries, starters, cigarette lighters, and other electrical parts of a vehicle under service, and the multimeter maintained its accuracy of 99.5%.
Excellent Build Quality
Like many best automotive digital multimeters, this unit from Tempo Communications MM200 comes equipped with a rubber sleeve to protect it against the impact of accidental falls. The plastic material used to construct the multimeter looks equally sturdy enough to outlast competitors. The test probes’ flexible cables can endure the physical stress occasioned by bending and twisting for a longer period.
Take Away—what is the Best Automotive Digital Multimeter?
The best automotive digital multimeter should be versatile enough to test basic electrical parameters like voltage, current, and resistance. Moreover, the multimeter should have at least 98% accuracy and a CAT III 600V safety rating. Other necessary features include a reasonably sized backlit screen, a data hold function, an ergonomic design, and rugged construction.
If you are yet to decide on a suitable brand, I recommend Klein Tools MM300 as the number one choice to buy. This budget price multimeter for cars has a durable construction, an intuitive design, 98% accuracy, and a CAT III safety rating. Nevertheless, if budget is not an issue, go for Fluke 107 or Tempo Communications MM200. These multimeters are accurate, rugged, portable, versatile, and ergonomic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose the best multimeter for cars?
There are several factors to consider when looking for the best multimeter for cars. One, a good unit should offer several years of years. Such multimeters are made of hard plastic, and they have a rubber sleeve for additional protection. Two, the best multimeter for cars should be versatile enough to let you measure all electrical parameters, including voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, diode, and continuity. Three, a good multimeter should handle low and high-power transients without issue. Probably, it should have a CAT III 600V safety rating.
Are cheap automotive multimeters worth it?
Price does not matter when looking for the best automotive digital multimeter. Then again, it would be prudent to steer clear of overly cheap multimeters. They could be made from cheap plastic that cannot stand the test of time. On the other hand, cheap automotive multimeters could have a low accuracy and safety rating. Using them will compromise your safety and convenience.
Where can I use a multimeter in vehicle servicing?
You can use an automotive multimeter to find issues in the spark plug, battery, alternator, cigarette lighter, ignition, infotainment system, starter, fuse box, lighting, wiring, motors, and more. Any functional automotive multimeter will help you spot leaks, assess the battery’s strength, and wiring issues in the entire electrical system. You’ll need this information to repair faulty issues.
Is an auto-ranging automotive multimeter better than a manual one?
Auto-ranging and manual ranging multimeters are equal in terms of performance and function. Nonetheless, an auto-ranging multimeter makes work more manageable by automatically selecting the corresponding range. That means, you will not have to master the true values of every component you wish to test, or waste your time setting the range manually.
How do you know if an automotive multimeter is durable?
Durable multimeters are made from a sturdy plastic material that can survive impact and exposure to elements for an extended period. However, since you can hardly tell a multimeter’s durability based on appearance, it would matter to shop around for a unit with a protective rubber sleeve to minimize the damage from drops or collisions. In addition to the rubber casing, the probe cables should flex and bend smoothly to minimize wear and tear from frequent bending and twisting.