LAST UPDATED: May 2nd, 2020
Whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, choosing an oscilloscope can get very nerve-wracking. Everyone wants the best oscilloscope for automotive works, no doubt.
These signals displaying devices are meant to let us know exactly how computer modules, sensors, or ignition systems function. Often times they’re used to diagnose these circuits as well. Being very similar to a voltmeter, the oscilloscopes display a graphical chart of how the waves in a circuit are flowing.
If you’ve used one before, you’ll know how different modern PC-based automotive ones are from the older styles. That’s why, to let you know about all the nitty-gritty details of automotive oscilloscopes and help you choose one for yourself, we’ve put together this list of the best 8. So to get things into gear, let’s take a look at our list.
Top Automotive Oscilloscope Comparison 2020
Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Automotive Oscilloscope Reviews 2020
Gone are the days of using old analog oscilloscopes. For anyone looking to deal with a weak frequency or tweak with automotive gadgets, it’s better to choose a digital one. And looking at some reviews can surely help you up your buying game.
Autel MaxiIM IM608
This is one of the most advanced and up-to-date devices for automotive use in the market today. Features included in this device are BMW FEM, BDC key Learning, and ECU adaptation that makes it perfect for your drive. This tool comes with an XP400 key programmer, and that provides services in advanced forms.
In fact, with this, you’re going to get a lot more than you asked for. It combines advanced services of key programming and all systems diagnostics that are very much like OEM tools. So you get the best of both worlds.
Given how easy it is to navigate and its several dynamic features, it’s no wonder that this item has received 5-star ratings on almost every site rating oscilloscopes.
Now, let’s get to the package, shall we? With this item, you’ll receive a key programmer, cables and cords, and MaxiFlash JVCI along with an AC/DC adapter. All of this will come in a carry case to put everything in place.
You can use this for high-speed, low speed, or middle speed according to your wish.One of the most attractive factors of this product is its 8-megapixel rear camera that’s built-in with autofocus and flashlight.
But don’t go off on your horses just yet. It’s got an open-source Android operating system suitable for all the multi-taskers out there.
Now, let’s put the spotlight on this incredible machine from Rigol. This benchtop style machine is the perfect pick for those looking for a safe bet. Quite justly, it’s been the most popular one in stores ever since its launch. If you’re looking for something on the budget but still get all the amazing services, this one’s for you.
Not only does this device allow you to capture signals accurately and efficiently, but its multifunctional features also allow you to do a lot more. Since this device has four different channels, you get to measure and compare the readings very easily.
It also makes things more accurate and maintains consistency in performance. And if you’re worried about getting a display that’s unreadable in daylight, rest assured because that’s not going to happen for this one.
The epic 7-inch surface display with an ultra-vision on this device is sure to let you read your data, no matter when or where you are.
What’s more amazing is that it has an expandable memory from 12 to 24 mpts. That means you can store ample amounts of data and record for longer periods of time. You can capture waveforms that are up to 30,000 wfms/s with a real-time sample rate of 1 G Sa/s. So, you can rest assured that speed won’t be an issue.
Related Guide: audio Oscilloscope buying guide
Siglent Technologies SDS1202X-E
As is the case with many of Siglent’s other products, this device here is exceptionally well made. Not only in terms of features but also in case of build and price point – this is a catch.
You’ll be getting this in a grey color weighing 5.51 pounds. It’s got a display of 7 inch TFT LCD (800 x 480) that can give temperature displays in color. And if that doesn’t impress you, don’t worry. There’s more in the bag.
Since the display is made with SPO technology, it provides faster refresh rates and intensity grades readings based on brightness. You’ll be getting hardware-based zoom-in features that let you focus on the specific area of interest minutely. The record length for this oscilloscope is 14 Mpts.
Its waveform capture rate is 400,000wfms/s. One thing we often hear our fellow hobbyists complaining about is that most of the scopes available in stores don’t allow a history check. This means you can’t go back and check triggered frequencies or readings.
But that’s not a problem with this one. The History function, along with the segmented memory acquisition feature, makes sure you get to playback and time stamp waveforms to your liking.
There’s a standard Serial Bus Decoding function in this machine that displays bus protocol information in a neat table form. Finally, the real-time sampling rate of this is 1 GSa per second, making it pretty standard for a nonprofessional.
Siglent Technologies SDS1052DL
If you want something affordable and decent enough for homework or hobbies, you can get this one from Siglent. It’ll cost you something a bit more than two hundred dollars and give readings like a charm. Also, it’s very intuitive and user-friendly.
As this product has a two-channel setup, it’s quite accurate in measuring and allows scope for comparison. Its maximum real-time sample rate is 500 MS/s, and the recording length is 32 Kpts. So you can easily acquire detailed waveforms.
Coming in 6.2 inches of height and length of 12.7 inches, this product is not very big or bulky. The bandwidth for this oscilloscope ranges from 50 to 150 MHz. Its display is a 7-inch TFT-LCD color display that provides clear output.
And as for memory depth, its 32 Kpts memory makes sure you can do your experiment without worrying too much about space.
A fun thing about this scope is that there’s a playback function for when you want to rewatch the recorded stream of waves. If you’re the curious type who likes tweaking with all the home gadgets just for the sake of it, you can use this for inspecting circuits and diagnosing automotive.
Including 32 types of auto measurements and a five parameter display with pass/fail function, this is no doubt one of the best of its kind.
While searching for the right oscilloscope, there are several criteria you probably have in mind. Quality, stability, durability, size, and multidimensional features – this one tick off all the boxes.
Coming with the software called Ultrascope, this is truly a unique device. Given its price and service, you’ll soon realize why it’s said to be one of the best out there.
As for the features, this has wave parameters of 20 kinds and 10-time parameters along with 10 voltages. So you can do auto measuring with it without worries. You’ll find that this product has three different types of cursors available.
Those include the manual, track, and auto modes of a cursor. Since the Ultrascope software is really stable, it can give clean readings, no doubt.
Weighing 7.8 pounds and containing two analog channels of measuring, this item is not at all the smallest. Its real-time sampling rate in two different channels is different. One is 500 MS per second, while the other is 1 GS per second.
By now you’re probably wondering about the memory. Well, for this scope, you’ll be getting a memory depth of 16K and 8K points. And as for the display, it has a QVGA display with 64K color. An LCD backlit display comes with the package.
If you’re looking for something that gets the job done, is priced fairly, and you don’t mind the noise, this one might be the one for you.
This Hantek automotive oscilloscope is truly a gem hiding in a shell. It’s got the features of a top-notch machine with the build of a classic scope. After you get this, you’ll get a USB cable for connecting to a computer, the manual, and probes along with adjustments with the entire package.
It’s a tabletop-style machine that means it’s not handheld. There’s usually no fan noise either. It’s going to take just about a second or two to boot up. Coming to the basic features, the memory depth of this device is 40K, and bandwidth is 70MHz. It has a time accuracy of 50 ppm (positive-negative) and many trigger modes.
The trigger modes include line selectable video, pulse width, overtime, slop, and edge. For all of you math nerds out there, this has got four math functions including FFTs standard. You can do real-time analysis with your PC using this item as well.
Moreover, the display is LCD color with a 7-inch TFT and a resolution of 800*480. With this, you can do X-Y displays of both horizontal and vertical axes according to your liking. If you want to run this in Windows 7, you’ll need to download the drivers first.
When you get this device, the first thing you should do is replace the capacitor. If you are looking to get this scope, there’s a good chance that you’re already experienced with electronics and using scopes.
You’ll find that this is very easy to control even without the connection to a PC. The GUI is very intuitive and user-friendly. But it’s worth mentioning that you might face troubles with the PC control software.
Launch X431 PROS
Do you want a bi-directional tool? Featuring bidirectional control, this machine offers you what normal snap-scanners do. You can troubleshoot your car quickly using this oscilloscope from Launch. It’s perfect for both pros and amateurs. This tool is equipped with the best hardware out there.
It has Android 7.1 OS and a Lenovo display tablet along with an HD touch screen that’s colored. What more can you ask for? It even has Bluetooth. You can command an actuator to perform specific tests to diagnose different parts of your drive.
Moreover, it weighs just a bit more than 7 pounds and comes with unique features like anti-theft matching, remote diagnosis, actuation test, tooth learning, and many more. It’s a perfect fit for several popular vehicle models ranging from America to Europe and Asia.
Even Aussie cars like the Au-Ford and Holden can be diagnosed using this scope. A great thing that shows the efficiency of this device is that it doesn’t come with a hard copy of the manual. Rather, the tablet included with it has the manual built-in.
And if you’re looking for something that speaks in your native tongue, this tool has it covered too. From Dutch to Arabic and Greek, this scope gives multilingual support. It’s portable, handy, and wireless. You can update the Wi-Fi software to share the diagnostic report to your email. Simply put, it’s the ultimate smart scope.
Autel MaxiSys MS906BT
Compared to the previous versions of the same company, this one has some great unique functions. With 21 service functions and bidirectional control / active tests, this is a high-end scope for sure. So, if budget isn’t an issue with you, go ahead and pick this one. It’s well worth the money.
This is an advanced version of a similar scope launched previously. For this tool, they’ve improved upon some things and added advanced ECU coding capability, which is compatible with add-ons.
While those add-ons aren’t included in the package, it does help if you already have a digital inspection camera lying around. They do take replacements and refunds, so it’s a win-win situation even when you go ahead and spend your money on this.
The oscilloscope supports both wireless Bluetooth connection and USB traditional connection for transferring data. And the range for its Bluetooth is around 50 meters. So you can get the information on the powerful tablet without any physical cables hooked up.
Even though active tests aren’t a universal thing meant for all drives, you can get the test done on your car (if it’s suited) and determine the integrity of a system easily.
It comes with an Auto VIN scan and all systems diagnostics that are very convenient. But keep in mind that this product is not the lightest. It weighs almost 19 pounds.
The functions that are the most popular for this device are the oil reset, SAS calibration, TPMS relearn, and the DPF regeneration.
What to Look for in an Oscilloscope
While looking to purchase anything, be it a machine or any home equipment, there’s always a list of things to look for. Good automotive oscilloscopes are pretty hard to find, given the solid criteria list. The number of things you need to check before grabbing one is mentioned here.
Always check how many channels the tool has. The flexibility, as well as the accuracy of the channel, is very crucial to get your preferred results. The more input channels there are, the more you can compare and read.
Much like choosing a Wi-Fi, this is an important fact for choosing a scope. Always remember that the highest bandwidth isn’t always the best. Often times the noise gets increased along with the bandwidth since it detects a lot more than is needed.
Your desired width should be twice the maximum frequency of the signal being transmitted. For higher frequency, higher bandwidth is needed.
Rate of Sampling
This particular point determines how many lines and details of the waves can be recorded and stored by the device’s analyzer. The more points a wave has, the more accurately it can be displayed.
It’s quite like image resolution, the more pixels, the better and sharper image. If your chosen item has a sampling rate that’s five times more than the frequency input, it’s going to get the job done with no problem.
Ok, so even after you’ve got a scope with a great memory and amazing reading capacity, if you can’t navigate the graphs and zoom them in to check, the purpose is lost.
For evaluating what you found, you need to be able to zoom in and take a good look. So look out for good navigation features and proper zoom capacity. You need to be able to select the proper part of the axes to analyze, right?
The scope you need is one that has at least one probe (preferably two) to be of convenience for you. If probes are included in the set, you don’t have to go around looking for suitable ones to match your measuring intent.
In the case of probes, watch out for digital ones that are more suitable for parallel bus types. There’s a variation of probes today – handheld and portable to soldering ones.
This is a big word in the world of oscilloscopes. The triggering of the scope is everything that sets it apart from an average machine. You need to know what you’re looking for and what situations can trigger the device.
But what is triggering actually? It’s basically the starting point of signal acquisition for a certain event. There are both hardware and software triggers. Look for how much you can specify the trigger and its transition zone.
Connectivity and Operation
Does the product come with proper and supportive instructions? Is it easy to use? Since not everything can be known from a manual, and it’s difficult to operate a machine that’s not at all intuitive, look for ones that have basic user guidance built-in and straightforward menu options.
Also, look for whether or not a dashboard is possible as it lets you compile and evaluate tasks in a personalized interface. If you are getting a very pro-level scope or if you lack experience in working with scopes before, it’s good to get one that offers online interactive help.
Finally, look at the connectivity of the device. Does it have Bluetooth? Is it suitable for connecting to your Windows and PC? The factors like the programming interface, printer connection, and data transfer to MS Excel or Word is definitely something to keep in mind while buying one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have some of the most commonly asked queries regarding oscilloscopes:
A digital scope can measure a lot more than just waveforms. You can display the waveforms, analyze, and store them. They read frequencies, and they take simultaneous readings of different machines.
If you troubleshoot or work with electronics at high speed, you need to use one. Using these, it’s possible to figure out what’s wrong with a particular device and whether it is working correctly or not.
There are mainly two types – digital and analog oscilloscopes. But going more into depth, there’s a lot more – around five different types to be precise. You’ll find the cathode ray scopes, dual-trace, and mixed-signal scopes. There are DSO scopes that are more common nowadays.
Triggering an oscilloscope means having it pick up signals from a certain point in a certain circumstance. You can do this by using a switch in most cases.
Oscilloscopes for auto-use have triggers that are both internal and external inputs. Almost all scopes have an external triggering input, and you can choose how the triggering should take place.
The main elements of the device involved in reading are the cathodes and anodes present. There’s also a light-emitting layer and a point that detects waves. These machines contain a wheel cylinder that detects the brightness of the screen, and thus, the reading gets done.
Your car is an extension of yourself on the road, and quite naturally, it’s precious. So it deserves the best treatment. And for that, you’ll definitely need to get one of the best oscilloscopes for automotive to make sure it’s working like a breeze.