An automotive Oscilloscope is a highly sensitive voltmeter. It is often used to troubleshoot inconsistencies or potential problems in a communication data stream, the ignition system, solenoids, sensors, and actuators among others.
In other words, oscilloscopes, in general, allow you to quickly locate any issue in your vehicle’s main systems. If you are looking to own the best automotive oscilloscope in the market, then you need to know a few important details about this device.
A good quality car oscilloscope would be easy to use and accurate in pointing you to where exactly to check in case your car is having some operational hitches.
However, on the other hand, most low-quality scopes may not offer the fine details that are essential in revealing the actual root of the issue, which means you’ll have to double-guess.
There’s a wide range in size, usability, and collection of these devices in the market that it can be extremely hard to tell what brand of vehicle oscilloscopes are the most reliable from those that are not.
We have put in lots of effort in doing extensive research on the topic to help you make a well-informed decision in this. Have you been on the hunt for a reliable guide to help you choose the most reliable oscilloscope, then you are reading the right post.
Top 5 Best Automotive Oscilloscope
After considering all the key factors that narrow to the most reliable oscilloscope and from our compare and contract research experience, we have managed to pick the 5 best scopes that the market has to offer. However, each product has the special strengths that make it unique from the rest, check them below:
Hantek 1008C uses the latest technology to help you scan your vehicle for any faults, improve on the existing features, and add or improve the security system. Thanks to its live video feature, you are able to watch online the diagnostics as they run and at a very high resolution of 12 bits. Not only that, but you can print or take a screenshot of the result, by pushing one button, for the sake of future references. Besides, you can save the data collected, thanks to its adequate memory.
Items included in the package are one programmable generator, one USB, one Auto-Probe, eight Alligator Clip Lies, one Compact Disk, and a certification card. You will not need to make any extra purchases, saving you time and money. The oscilloscope is a lightweight device that is convenient to carry around. This 8-channel oscilloscope runs diagnostics at a real-time speed of 2.4MSa/Sec. It can perform more than 20 functions including voltage, time, and cursors measurements plus simple arithmetic.
More importantly, it is designed to record waveforms for prolonged periods of time. The camshaft and crankshaft analog signals can also be observed using this device. In addition, it has different types of sensors including lambda, crankshaft, distributor, and throttle position sensors.
What We Like:
- It lightweight and easy to carry around
- Compatible with different software
- Powerful analytic tool
- You can print or screenshot the diagnostic report
- Multiple sensors
What Could Be Better:
- Not compatible with Windows 10
Whether you are the automobile fanatic who likes fixing their own cars or a professional mechanic in his/her area of expertise, this multipurpose oscilloscope is the scan tool you are looking for. Thanks to its full system diagnostic tool, you can scan all the systems in your car at the same time to detect any faults. Check your brakes, wiper, emission and fuel systems plus the ABS, transmission, engine, and SRS, to boost the performance of your car, help it save energy while at the same time reducing emissions.
Once you are logged into the Autel MaxiCOM MK808, there are several functions available including oil reset, EPB, BMS, TPMS, and injector. Its 7 inches touch screen makes this scan tool easy to use. You are able to quickly feed in data and receive an almost immediate response. This device allows you to retrieve specifications of vehicles that have been previously been tested, so you do not have to key in the data again. Its multilingual database that covers up 13 universally accepted languages, allows for the data to be interpreted by technicians from around the world.
Given that most scan tools are model specific, you may be worried that the MaxiCOM MK808 will not work on your vehicle. Note that this tool is able to do a basic scan of most vehicles released after 1996. You can also run advanced diagnostics on over 56 US, EU, and Asian brands. You are given a one-year warranty plus a one-year free online update.
What We Like:
- It is a multi-functional gadget
- Full system scan tool
- One year warranty
- Easy to use
- Multilingual database – up to 13 languages
What Could Be Better:
- May fail to work for some car brands
- Appears complex in function
The powerful full system scan tool combined with the ECU coding, helps you perform a much-needed diagnostic on your vehicle as part of regular servicing and maintenance. It supports up to 20 types of resetting functions including ABS, SAS, TPMS, transmission, engine and oil reset, just to mention a few. Even better, you get 5 years warranty plus a 2-year free update. One of the best features of this scan tool is that it can run diagnostics for over 150 brands of cars and almost 10,000 car models. Enquire from us in case you are not sure.
LAUNCH X431 V+ is fitted with a 7.1 inches LENOVO tablet featuring the 7.1 Android version, 1280*800 resolution, 7000 mAh battery that lasts for up to 8 hours and is rechargeable and a 48 GB storage. This allows you to perform your tests efficiently and quickly. The generated report is saved and sent to your email. You can also print it out or upload it, to seek solutions from more experienced people. The multilingual support system converts the data into more than 25 languages. Other amazing features include the remote and auto diagnosis systems.
What We Like:
- User friendly
- Multilingual system – more than 25 languages
- Wide car coverage
- 5-year warranty
- Powerful, quick and efficient scan tool
What Could Be Better:
- User manual not included
- Not all cars are compatible
This is the latest addition to the MaxiSys series. It is more advanced and better. It is fitted with a Bluetooth MaxiVCI system that allows car owners and professional mechanics to remotely access and perform diagnostics on the car, so long as they are within the OE coverage area. The Auto-Vin technology provides you with vehicle specifications such as year, make, model and brand at the touch of a button. You can perform up to 21 service functions with this powerful scan tool.
MaxiSys MS906BT comes with an advanced ECU coding system that enables you to link with the test vehicle through a VCI device, to diagnose, code or service your vehicle. Note that ECU coding is not compatible with all brands. The 9 unique OBD adapters that are included in the package, combined with the device’s OBD2 capabilities, provides full coverage of all OBDII vehicles, but not OBDI vehicles. You get to enjoy a 12-month warranty plus we 12 months of free updates.
Thanks to the constant updates, this scanner is growing stronger and better every day, improving its coverage and abilities. It weighs 19.15 pounds, which is quite heavy for the regular-sized man to keep carrying around.
What We Like:
- Multi functional
- Remote control via Bluetooth
- One-year warranty
- Auto-Vin technology
- Constant improvements
What Could Be Better:
- Not compatible with all vehicles
With a weight of 15.5 pounds, this is one of the heaviest scan tool available on the market, making it quite an inconvenience to carry it around. It appears to the most advanced diagnostic tool of the Autel Brand with its unique key programming and all-system diagnostic tool. It is fitted with a 10.1 inches android tablet with a 64GB storage capacity and an 8MP rear camera with flashlight and autofocus. Its latest Auto-Vin technology allows the scan tool to identify the vehicle based on its brand, make, model, and year.
Link the vehicle to the scan tool before commencing diagnosis. The IMMO application on the diagnostic tool needs to connect to the test vehicle’s IMMO control system. For IMMO to run its operations effectively, you will need to connect the table to the test vehicle via MaxiFlash. Once a secure connection is established, you can run IMMO functions including key and remote control learning. The Auto-Scan system conducts thorough scanning of all the ECUs to trace faults and recover DTCs.
The diagnostics feature allows you to recover ECU information, view and erase DTCs and watch live data. It can also access the vehicle’s ECU to scan several control systems of the vehicle. The wide Bluetooth coverage of up to 70m means you can work freely around your work area. You get to enjoy a one-year warranty.
What We Like:
- It uses advanced technology for compressive diagnosis
- You are given a one-year warranty
- Wide Bluetooth range
- Auto-Scan diagnostics
- It is user friendly
What Could Be Better:
- Can only be used within US soil
- Not compatible with all vehicles
Key things to Consider When Choosing the Right Automotive Oscilloscope
The first thing to be conscious of if you are looking forward to owning an automotive oscilloscope is defining how exactly you intend to use it. We have different brands, quality, and sizes of this device; some are better used under the hood, others on a bench and others at a client’s site if you are a mobile mechanic.
Again, these diversities are just part in a list of factors that do dictate the type of device you choose. For more information on that, below are some of the factors that should help you narrow down to the automotive oscilloscope that best meets your need.
Analog vs. Digital Storage Oscilloscope
There are two major categories of scopes, analog which is the old type model. Now, despite being as effective as basically required,non-digital scopes have limited functionality. The second category as you can already tell is called the digital storage oscilloscope. Technically this is the improved version of the oscilloscopes technology.
Digital scopes are replacing the analog and constitute most of the latest gadgets in the market. Experts across the board find the new gadgets better in terms of improved functionality and ease of use, and accuracy in detecting signal faults.
How Many Channels Suite Your Need
The other key feature to look into, which also affects functionality is the number of channels the product has. This can vary from a single channel up to ten channels, all of them with different unique uses. From the general point of view, a single channel oscilloscope can do most of the basic tests for people who want to do a quick signal check.
However, for ideal readings from say, crankshaft/camshaft association, checking voltage outage from sensors, thermistor, and examining throttle position, a two-channel scope going up would work prettier.
Technically, the more channels the device has, the more precise the details it gives. For instance, if you are facing a crank no start issue and want to diagnose the ignition system into details, you will find oscilloscopes that have four channels going up to ten more helpful.
Ease of Use
For detailed results, you will have to be able to do some set-ups to help target certain parameters that you want to check with your scope. As such, always pick the device that provides ease of use without forcing you to constantly refer to the manual guide. Some brands of oscilloscopes have tried to simplify this with a single automatic touch setup from previously memorized configurations.
Still, on the same, some brands have a special adjustable knob that automatically detects changes in trigger level, position, time-base speed, and vertical sensitivity. The point here is, to be able to save on time and eliminate hustle. So be sure to hunt for an automotive oscilloscope that is easy to use.
What amount of signal frequency do you expect would be during the tests? Once you are conversant with the bandwidth range, the general advice is that your scope’s front-end amplifier should have a much superior capacity to accommodate the signal passing through it.
That is, search out to get the bandwidth specifications about the product you intent to consider. The universal advice on that again is, you require a five times bandwidth capacity to successfully and accurately measure most signals in a car.
Does the Oscilloscope Brand Allow Range Extensions?
You can easily identify a good scope option by looking at what the manufacturer offers as additional product accessories. With more choices of probes and input ranges provided by a brand, you will be able to increase the usability of the application gadget by increasing the input ranges.
That allows you to be able to perform higher current and voltage diagnoses in car parts such as the injectors, and the two levels of ignition – both the secondary and primary ignition with guaranteed and more accurate outcomes.
Consider Functionality Triggering
To be able to have full control of the signal, go with an automotive oscilloscope with functional triggering. With this type, you will be able to practically view the signals as well as be able to set broader boundaries on the monitoring scream if you want to achieve a better response.
How we Picked the Best Automotive Oscilloscope
It has not been a walk in the park to research and trims down to the list of these best car oscilloscopes we’ve given here. Just to mention I compared and contrasted different brands of the scopes, and the five we have featured here are definitely the best picks. The key points we’ve considered, which also most experts approve of are things such as:
- The actual application or what you’ll be using the scope for – in this case, we narrowed to automotive oscilloscopes only.
- The minimum and maximum breadths of signal suited for automotive-related tasks.
- The number of signals you are most likely to use the device to get
- Frequency range and what suits your needs, basically the highest signal you should measure.
- Whether you need to view the signals on time domain or frequency domain
- The type of signal whether single-shot or repetitive and so on.
That is, you have to be super specific to pick a device that mostly works best for vehicles and not something general. From either of the above options that we have listed, you can rest assured you will have the best automotive oscilloscope currently available in the market. Below are other important factors to know about these devices that were really helpful to us in helping to compare and validating car oscilloscope, to be precise.
All You Need to Know About the Automotive Oscilloscope
Not all oscilloscopes are equal, the purpose maters
In the actual sense, oscilloscopes are not only used for car diagnosis, but these gadgets are also extensively used in other crucial fields such as in medicine, telecommunication and in research engineering.
Certain features will influence the purpose you intend to use the scope on i.e. whether on a mechanical bench, below the car or at a clients’ place.
For instance, the number of channels you choose with an oscilloscope dictates what it can do for you and the things you want to measure. So if you want various signals to be displayed you want a scope with more multiple channels. For quick diagnosis meant just to confirm the manifestation of a signal and that it falls within a range a single-channel signal is enough.
To test correlating amplitudes from engine parts like the crankshaft or from sensors, coil waveforms, injectors and, sensor output and watching the voltage in a thermistor, a good option will be choosing an oscilloscope with more than one conduit.
Oscilloscopes with four channels going up to ten are best if your intent to have a simultaneous view of wavelengths from major inputs and outputs on the same display. A perfect example here is when you are analyzing an ignition issue related to the crank.
Most car technicians prefer dealing with a scope they can fully operate and control to help them get the information they want. As such, I have analyzed each of these scopes against other competing product and I can tell they are better off. Well of cause among the five there is that which I found best when it comes to being user-friendly which is #1- The Rigol DS1054Z Oscilloscope. The reason being, it has an automatic option that can set up the scope so that it becomes instantly usable.
Next in line on what you must know about oscilloscopes and why we’ve listed the above options is the sampling rate. In a simple definition, when talking of the sampling rate, this points to the number of times an oscilloscope does sample or picks up the circuit per second.
Most brands of car diagnosis scopes come with two distinct sampling modes (or rate as most people understand). These include real-time sampling and repetitive samples, best referred to as equivalent-time sampling. For automotive use only, what you need is the real-time sampling option because the latter is not recommended.
As such a much reasonable choice (that you will get with all the scopes we’ve listed above,) is a device with 20 Million sr/s, which is what is ideal for all diagnostic applications.
It is good to admit that first, the market is filled if not littered with different choices of oscilloscopes one can choose. However, the truth is, it is not wise to depend on mere adverts that hit your screen every time you go online, or even a five-second commercial on your TV to decide on a professional item like a car oscilloscope. The reason being, there is a lot to look for in such a complex device.
The good thing is that we have done the hard part; researching, analyzing and comparing to get the best scope that would suit your automotive-related use. You’d save a lot of time choosing from fewer options, like the five above; or simply go with best car oscilloscope that we would boldly recommend -“theRigol DS1054Z Automotive Oscilloscope.