man testing battery alternator amp current draw on a car with a multimeter
Jeff Smith used a multimeter to check an alternator’s health by taking voltage readings at the battery. Read how he did it here. (Image/Jeff Smith)

Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Electrical Multimeters.


testing the resistance of a spark plug boot cap for a vintage motoryccle
A while back, we used a multimeter to test resistance in a motorcycle spark plug boot. You can read about it here. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Many experienced wrench-turners recoil in fear over electrical troubleshooting, be it in the home or on a car. But with a little training and the right tools, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

Enter our friend, the multimeter (AKA a multi-tester).

Way better than a simple circuit test light, a multimeter can give you precise voltage readings, check for continuity, measure resistance in a circuit, and a lot more.

That makes a multimeter handy for tons of jobs, from starter motors and fuel pumps to dishwashers and hair dryers.

a multimeter next to pot of cool water to test resistance of an electrical temperature gauge sending unit
Here’s that same multimeter taking Ohm readings on an electrical temperature sending unit. Learn how we did the test in this story. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

But most importantly, you don’t have to be Michael Faraday to know how to use one. There are literally hours of training videos online, and you can probably learn the basics in a few minutes.

Given the versatility of a good multimeter, it’s a no-brainer for everyone’s toolbox.

Multimeters are really easy to use once you get the basics. That makes them a smart gift to give and receive. Better still, there’s a good chance you can find one for under 30 bucks.

Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.