Let’s face it: Diagnosing electric problems is a pain, to say the least. You can get far with a test light and your trusty digital multimeter, but you still might end up just throwing parts at the problem until it’s fixed. Or you can throw some money at a Power Probe to even further diagnose electric problems.
Designed specifically for diagnosing automotive electrical systems, the basic Power Probe 3 operates on 12- and 24-volt systems. That means if you’re working on updated classics, muscle cars or have a relatively modern project car, you’re on-board. If you’re working on more modern 48-volt systems, there’s a model for you, too. The Power Probe can handle most of the diagnostic work of your DMM, like continuity and voltage testing. For checking resistance, you’ll have to break out your DMM or opt for the newer, more expensive Power Probe 4.
You might still be wondering how this is any different than a limited multimeter. Well, you can use the Power Probe 3 to send power to circuits and parts to see what’s really happening. For example, instead of just replacing a window switch because your window isn’t going up and down, you can send power directly to the switch and the motor to make sure there isn’t a broken wire from the body harness causing your problems. Or even worse, if it’s just a blown fuse that you missed causing your headache, the Power Probe can send power to that part and save you some trouble.
If you send power to a dead short, the internal circuit breaker will trip on the Power Probe 3, protecting the part and the tool. Then, you can easily reset the breaker and go back to swearing at the engineer that designed your electrical system.
The Power Probe 3 starts around $65, but you can spend more on a model with a case. You can also double down and buy the latest and greatest Power Probe 4 for around $190. You can check it out in action above.
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