The best automotive oscilloscope will allow you to read voltage changes from automotive components. This tool is helpful for troubleshooting problems and a necessary tool for many vehicle repairs.
You can find automotive oscilloscopes at every price point. The most significant difference between them will be the precision of their measurements and the range of data manipulation options. Let’s look at the ten best options on the market to better understand the features they offer.
Table of Contents
Best automotive oscilloscope
|Editor's Picks||Product||Our Rating|
|Best Overall||Siglent SDS1202X-E||9.5/10|
|Runner Up||Hantek 1008C||9.5/10|
|Best Budget Buy||Quimat Q15001||8.5/10|
|Best Value||Rigol DS1054Z||8.5/10|
1. Siglent SDS1202X-E 2 Channels Digital Oscilloscope
Let’s start with the best automotive oscilloscope for mechanics and professionals: the Siglet SDS1202X-E Digital Automotive Oscilloscope. Its sophisticated display and broad functionality make it a versatile, thorough device capable of measuring any vehicle component.
The Siglent SDS1202X-E has both a high waveform capture rate and a high sampling rate. These two rates allow it to detect voltage fluctuations other oscilloscopes might miss and help see unusual events. A true measurement of all sample points gives the Siglent SDS1202X-E spot-on accuracy.
Interpreting data is easier with the Siglent SDS1202X-E, as well. The history function saves waveforms in multiple memory segments with timestamps so you can isolate and compare specific readings. A full-color display with 256-intensity grading shows the frequency of trace readings, letting you see where readings happen most often at a glance.
The only issue some users have with the Siglent SDS1202X-E is that the interface isn’t the most intuitively designed. Navigating the menus can take a bit of practice. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, though, the Siglent SDS1202X-E gives you more information than your average handheld automotive oscilloscope.
- Easy to zoom and change view
- High sampling rate captures more signal information
- History function records and plays latest triggered events
- Color display with color temperature trace
- Fast refresh rate shows frequency of traces
- Can detect irregular and low-probability events
- Higher cost
- Menus are a bit confusing at first
The Siglent SDS1202X-E has all the features you need for accurate automotive testing, with a full-color temperature graded display for easy data interpretation.
2. Hantek 1008C USB PC-based Diagnostic Oscilloscope
For those who need the best automotive oscilloscope with many channels, the Hantek 1008C is a great option. It’s a PC-based oscilloscope with a programmable waveform generator, ideal for most home automotive applications.
The functions of the Hantek 1008C are what set it apart from other automotive oscilloscopes. Along with the waveform generator, it has a built-in FFT function and basic mathematic functions, too. It also comes with 20 automatic measurements and auto cursor tracking functions.
Compatibility is the only major drawback of the Hantek 1008C. The included software can only be installed on Windows 8 or 10 PCs. Since the product is discontinued, it’s also no longer being updated. If this isn’t an issue for you, however, it’s undoubtedly the lowest per-channel cost you’ll find in an automotive oscilloscope.
- 8 channels
- Programmable wave generator
- Automatic cursor tracking and measurements
- Store, record, and playback dynamic waveforms
- Software is easy to install and use
- Needs PC to operate (Windows 8 or 10)
- Not usable for all automotive functions
The Hantek 1008C is the best PC based automotive oscilloscope for buyers who need multiple channels, though its limited software compatibility may be an issue for some users.
3. Quimat Q15001 Digital Oscilloscope with Power Supply
If your budget is limited, the Quimat Q15001 Digital Automotive Oscilloscope has basic functionality for the lowest price. A low sample rate limits its accuracy, but it gets the job done for basic applications.
The streamlined design of the Quimat Q15001 has an advantage from a usability standpoint, too. Operating this oscilloscope is quick and easy, and it’s sized to fit into your pocket. The casing is well-built and durable, also.
- Most affordable option
- Easily portable
- Straightforward design
- Has 3 trigger modes
- Reliable and durable construction
- Low sample rate and memory depth
- One channel
While its functions and accuracy are limited, the Quimat Q15001 is the best automotive oscilloscope you’ll find for less than fifty bucks.
4. Rigol DS1054Z 4 Channels Digital Automotive Oscilloscopes
The Rigol DS1054Z Digital Automotive Oscilloscope is the best digital automotive oscilloscope on the list for professional-level diagnostics. It has the wide waveform capture rate, deep memory, and full-color display you need for a thorough, accurate analysis.
The Rigol DS1054Z is surprisingly easy to use, considering how many features it offers. A large 7” display with high pixel resolution lets it show readings from all four channels on the screen at once, speeding your diagnosis and makes it easier to find inconsistencies between circuits.
The only disappointing thing about the Rigol DS1054Z is that the advertised price is a bit deceptive. Many of the features are only available on a 30-day trial basis without a paid upgrade. Considering its price is already on the high side for an oscilloscope for automotive troubleshooting, this puts it out of many hobbyists’ budget.
- 4 channels
- Easy to read color display
- Simultaneously view readings from all channels
- User-friendly and intuitive
- Display offers multi-level intensity grading
- Deeper memory with UltraVision technology
- More expensive option
- Some functions require paid upgrade
The feature-rich Rigol DS1054AZ is the best automotive oscilloscope for professionals, though the high cost and paid upgrades put it out of most DIY-ers’ price range.
5. LIUMY Professional LED Portable Oscilloscope
The LIUMY Professional Handheld Automotive Oscilloscope is a multi-function tool that can handle all your automotive diagnostic needs. It includes multimeter functions such as testing the capacitance, resistance, and frequency of components.
Like an oscilloscope, this LIUMY model is good, if not exceptional. The screen is easy to read but lacks the color and detail of other models. It also has a relatively low sample rate and only one channel, limiting its professional use.
For the hobbyists, though, the LIUMY Professional Handheld Automotive Oscilloscope is a convenient all-in-one tool. It’s compact, easy to use, and a relatively good value.
- Easy to read backlit display
- Functions as a multimeter as well as an oscilloscope
- Compact design
- Good value and versatility
- Auto shutoff feature saves battery life
- Included manual is difficult to read
- Low sample rate and bandwidth
The LIUMY Professional Automotive Oscilloscope can also function as a multimeter, giving you convenient multi-tool capability in one affordable package.
6. YEAPOOK 5MHz Handheld Mini Digital Oscilloscope
The YEAPOOK 2050H Handheld Digital Automotive Oscilloscope has a streamlined design that makes it one of the most portable handheld oscilloscopes on the market. While it’s missing some features a professional needs, it’s an excellent option for DIY automotive testing.
One reason the YEAPOOK 2050H is a great choice for hobbyists is that it’s easy to use, even if you’re not an expert. Navigating the interface is easy as soon as you take it out of the box. While the screen is on the small side, the resolution is high enough to make the waveforms readable.
The capture rate of this YEAPOOK oscilloscope is on the low side, the main drawback, especially if you need to diagnose intermittent issues. Having said that, it’s a good unit for the price, with the basic functions you need for automotive diagnosis.
- Ultra-portable design
- Records and plays back waveforms
- 3 trigger modes for easy waveform capture
- Interface is easy to navigate
- Very affordable
- Screen somewhat small and hard to read
- Only 1 channel
- Relatively low sample rate and memory
The portability of the YEAPOOK 2050H is impressive, though its limited channels and features make it less versatile.
7. YEAPOOK 100mhz Handheld Professional Oscilloscope
Another option from YEAPOOK is that it has a bit more oomph in their 100MHz Handheld Digital Automotive Oscilloscope. Though it’s a bit pricier, it’s still comparatively affordable and has a similarly portable build.
The YEAPOOK 5012H has a higher sample rate and larger memory than the 2050H above and for not much more money. It also has an improved display, with color temperature sensitivity for seeing traces.
Like the YEAPOOK 2050H, the YEAPOOK 5012H is easy to use with an intuitive interface. Saving and viewing waveforms is as simple as taking readings. It’s energy-efficient, too, with a long battery life that can last for up to 8 hours of continuous use.
While you can spend more for more features, the YEAPOOK 5012H can conduct basic automotive diagnosis without a problem. Its solid build and user-friendly design are the reason it’s the best automotive oscilloscope for DIY-ers.
- Compact and portable
- Higher sample rate than comparably priced oscilloscopes
- Color temperature sensitive screen
- 3 trigger modes
- Long battery life
- Easy to use
- Relatively small display
- Only one channel
The YEAPOOK 5012H is the best automotive oscilloscope for home mechanics who want the best value for their money.
8. SainSmart DSO212 Black Portable Mini Oscilloscope
We love the design of the SainSmart DS0212 Handheld Automotive Oscilloscope. The screen is relatively large and easy to read, considering its compact size.
Unfortunately, the inner workings of the SainSmart DS0212 aren’t as impressive. Its sample rate and bandwidth are among the lowest on the list. Though its display is color sensitive, this limits its use and accuracy.
The SainSmart DS0212 does offer two channels, as well as easy connectivity to a PC to download waveform data. If you don’t need high precision from your measurements, this SainSmart automotive oscilloscope is a convenient option, but it’s not the best choice for everyone.
- Detailed color-sensitive screen
- Compact enough to carry in your pocket
- Connects to Windows computer to download data
- 2-channel operation
- Quick, simple set-up and navigation
- Low sample rate and bandwidth
The SainSmart DS0212 is a super-portable automotive oscilloscope with an impressively detailed display, though the low sample rate is a concern for some buyers.
9. Hantek HT6022BE 20 MHz USB PC-Based Oscilloscope
Another PC-based oscilloscope from Hantek that’s worth checking out is the HT6022BE. It’s a compact oscilloscope that comes with everything you need to start using it. Since it’s a newer model than the Hantek 1008C above, it has wider compatibility and more frequent software updates.
Overall, the Hantek HT6022BE is a very user-friendly PC-based oscilloscope. Everything you need to use is included in the box. Software installation and set-up are quick, painless processes, and the software itself is intuitive to navigate.
While the Hantek HT6022BE is compatible with a broader range of Windows operating systems, it still can’t be used on Apple-based computers. This is its only issue from a design standpoint. The casing of the Hantek HT6022BE is made of durable aluminum with high heat resistance, perfect for automotive applications.
Compared to more expensive automotive oscilloscopes, the Hantek 6022BE has a relatively low sample rate. Still, it gives you everything you need for the majority of automotive applications. It’s a great buy if you’re looking for a user-friendly PC-based oscilloscope.
- Slim and compact design
- Durable anodized aluminum housing
- Includes FFT and mathematic functions
- Easy to install and use
- Real-time sampling
- Not compatible with iOS devices
- Relatively low waveform capture rate and sample rate
The Hantek 6022BE is a compact and modern PC-based oscilloscope designed to work well with any Windows operating system. Though the capture rate is on the low side, the build quality and functions make up for this lack.
10. PicoScope 2204A 10 MHz PC Based Oscilloscope with 2 Channels
Finally, here’s another great PC-based automotive oscilloscope, and we’ve arguably saved the best for last. The PicoScope 2204A PC-based Automotive Oscilloscope connects to a computer via USB. By eliminating the screen, the PicoScope 2204A is both more compact than other options and very affordable for the features it offers.
The software you’ll need for this Pico automotive oscilloscope comes included. While it’s relatively easy to use, this extra step does make it less user-friendly. It also requires a Windows-based PC, so Apple users will need to look elsewhere.
The PicoScope 2204A offers the same features as professional automotive oscilloscopes that cost twice as much or more. Those features include serial bus decoding and advanced digital triggering. It has a built-in arbitrary waveform generator, and you can import and edit waveforms for specific uses.
- Compact, streamlined design
- High waveform capture rate
- Includes serial decoding and mask limit testing
- Free software upgrades
- Good value for the features offered
- Allows importing and editing of waveforms
- No built-in display
- Limited software compatibility (requires Windows 7, 8, XP, or Vista)
The PicoScope 2204A is a compact automotive oscilloscope that offers professional features at a great value for Windows PC owners.
What Is An Automotive Oscilloscope?
An automotive oscilloscope is a tool for diagnosing sensors and circuits. The power from these components can often change too quickly for a digital multimeter to measure them effectively. An oscilloscope can detect issues with electronic components even before diagnostic trouble codes trigger.
When signals enter the oscilloscope through the probe, the device graphs the signal based on its rate of change over time, giving a more accurate picture of the components’ performance than multimeters. It’s also crucial for detecting intermittent issues other diagnostic tools miss.
There are many kinds of oscilloscopes out there for other applications, including manufacturing or scientific purposes. An automotive oscilloscope includes the pre-set data and capacity you need for auto components.
How To Use An Oscilloscope
- Identify the controls on the oscilloscope. Make sure you know how to change the horizontal and vertical increments of the grid and that it’s set to the correct range for the component you’re measuring.
- Turn on the oscilloscope. When nothing is plugged in, you should see a flat line, indicating no voltage change. If there is input when nothing is connected to the probe, disconnect and reconnect it. If the screen is blank (no flat line), make sure you’re on the correct input. Also, check the zoom; you may be tightly focused on a blank area of the screen.
- Connect the probe to the component or circuit you want to measure. The flat line should turn into some kind of waveform.
- Adjust the horizontal and vertical divisions until the waveform oscillates only within the screen’s confines and is large enough to discern changes. If the waveform seems unstable and challenging to see, adjust the trigger level.
- You should now be able to determine how the component is functioning. The trickiest part of using an automotive oscilloscope is learning how to set the controls for various situations and components. If you’re having difficulty reading the circuit, connect the oscilloscope to a functioning circuit, which may be easier to graph and tell you what settings work best.
Generally, the more you pay, the more features and accuracy you’ll get from an automotive oscilloscope. Consider your needs before you buy. Most home mechanics don’t need the more extensive features offered by more expensive models.
All 10 of the automotive oscilloscopes above are reliable and convenient ways to test your engine components. We hope the reviews above have helped you find the right one for your garage!