Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

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theholycow
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Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby theholycow » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:20 pm

1. Cheap multimeter: Just plain works. Often on sale for $2-3, I keep one in every vehicle, one in each tool kit, etc. It measures the usual stuff that cheap multimeters measure, plus up to 10 amps of current - great for tracking down unwanted current draw. As accurate as any other multimeter I've ever used. Includes battery, I've never needed to replace one but I opened it to see and it's a regular 9v battery. Display is crisp and clear.

2. Automotive multimeter with big display, inductive tachometer pickup, temperature probe, and dwell: Does everything it says it does. Big display is very easy to read. Auto shut-off is annoying when using it as a gauge while driving, but that's not really what it's made for.

3. Clamp-on inductive multimeter: I'm not equipped to say if it's accurate, but it seems so. Haven't used it much but I was glad I had it when I did use it.

4. Xenon timing light with advance: Bright enough to use in daylight, and even with a bright flashlight shining on the timing marks. Works as described. Advance knob is convenient; I can't imagine reading large levels of advance without it.

5. Mityvac MV-8000 vacuum pump/tester: Works as promised to test vacuum stuff. Haven't tried bleeding brakes.

I'm very happy with all of these tools.
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theholycow
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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby theholycow » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:18 pm

I forgot these:

High-pressure fuel pressure tester: Works great. Includes a variety of fittings.

Vacuum/pressure gauge: Again...works great, includes a variety of fittings. I'm currently using it as a vacuum gauge while driving.

Dial indicator: Seems to work well. Useless without accessories.

Magnetic multi-directional base for dial indicator: Not happy with this one. It never has the right position. The magnets, while very strong, just aren't strong enough.

6" digital caliper: Bought to replace eBay unit that I broke. Seems nearly identical. Works great.

The automotive and clamp-on multimeters include cases, but the rest of the tools could really use some kind of case. I especially worry about putting the fuel testers back in their styrofoam packing...gotta let them dry out 100% first else I expect to open the box next time and find napalm in it.

Except that magnetic base, none of these tools has failed or disappointed me in any way. These tools may not be as precise and accurate as good quality machinists' tools (for some, honestly, I just don't know), but for the entire lot I've paid less then any one of them would cost from a more reputable source, allowing me to get my jobs done effectively and conveniently when I otherwise would never have been able to do these things at all.

I'll also note that HF has a cheaper timing light and a cheaper vacuum pump, both of which get universally bad reviews...I didn't bother with them.
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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby Rope-Pusher » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:03 am

theholycow wrote:4. Xenon timing light with advance: Bright enough to use in daylight, and even with a bright flashlight shining on the timing marks. Works as described. Advance knob is convenient; I can't imagine reading large levels of advance without it.

Well, you measure the diameter of your harmonica balancer and you figure out the circumference and you mark off degrees on a piece of tape and you tape it to the OD of the balancer, starting from the mark that is put there for timing. So, how does the advance knob work - can you set it for an offset of 10 degrees of rotation and it makes the piece of tape for you?

I used to spend a long time thinking about how long the coil had to build voltage, but I don't dwell on it any more.
'08 Jeep Liberty 6-Speed MT - "Last of the Mohicans"

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theholycow
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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby theholycow » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:06 am

:lol: @dwell

Ok, I lied...I imagined that the way you'd do it without the knob is to measure degrees on the balancer and mark it. That would be inconvenient.

The knob on the light is easy. You set it for 10° and leave your existing mark at the original notch on the balancer; when you see 0 on the engine, you're at 10.

Or, working the other way around: To measure lots of advance, you again leave your existing mark, aim the light, and turn the knob until you see your mark at 0; read the knob and that's your advance. I'm not sure how you'd do this without the knob...different colored marks on the balancer?
1980 Buick LeSabre 4.1L 5MT

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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby Rope-Pusher » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:37 pm

theholycow wrote:
The knob on the light is easy. You set it for 10° and leave your existing mark at the original notch on the balancer; when you see 0 on the engine, you're at 10.

Or, working the other way around: To measure lots of advance, you again leave your existing mark, aim the light, and turn the knob until you see your mark at 0; read the knob and that's your advance. I'm not sure how you'd do this without the knob...different colored marks on the balancer?

Yeah, tape or colored marks would work, but twisting that knob sounds like the fecal opening of a feline.
'08 Jeep Liberty 6-Speed MT - "Last of the Mohicans"

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theholycow
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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby theholycow » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:54 pm

My RP-translator is malfunctioning, I can't tell what that means.

In other news, let me slightly downgrade my review of the automotive multimeter. It includes a thermocouple for temperature sensing, which I remembered after posting that review and decided I might want to try. The plug is very difficult to connect, and it's reading -40°F when it should read about +80°F.
1980 Buick LeSabre 4.1L 5MT

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Re: Diagnostic tools from Harbor Freight

Postby Rope-Pusher » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:14 am

"fecal opening of a feline"
theholycow wrote:My RP-translator is malfunctioning, I can't tell what that means.

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'08 Jeep Liberty 6-Speed MT - "Last of the Mohicans"


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