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Going to be used for car maintenance/restoration work and around the house repairs.

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Very offtopic - suggest migration to – Rory Alsop Aug 23 '11 at 11:17
I'm asking what multimeter features are relevant to auto maintenance... how is that offtopic at all? – Jeff Swensen Aug 23 '11 at 13:12
Hmmm - I guess I see your point, however the whole point of a multimeter is it does everything the hobbyist should need. Will add an answer with some specifics. – Rory Alsop Aug 23 '11 at 14:26
Ummm... Don't most multimeters do the same things? (Volts AC/DC, Amp, Ohm, Conductance, and sometimes Continuity). – Tester101 Aug 23 '11 at 16:26
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Core functionality of a multimeter:

Measures Voltage - the majority will cope here, as you typically are only dealing with 0 - 12 volts across most areas. You aren't going to need it to measure high tension things such as spark plugs, as you can check them using far simpler methods (such as a spark from engine block to removed spark plug)

Measures Current - currents in automotive circuits and audio circuits can be very high, so check your multimeter has a very high internal resistance and high current capability.

Measures Resistance - you'll probably find the most useful part of this is an audible continuity checker for checking cables deep in the bowels of your car

Frequency - less common on multimeters, but can be useful when working out speed/timing issues

Also make sure it is water resistant, and ideally comes in a rubber housing (as per @CodeBlend - Fluke are generally a robust and accurate brand to go for)

Anything more, and you're likely to need a computer with adapter and software to look at your ECU.

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Perfect, thanks. – Jeff Swensen Aug 23 '11 at 16:40
I like to have a digital and an analog on hand. Digital is more precise, but analog lets you see trends/changes better. – Brian Knoblauch Aug 23 '11 at 20:55

I know a couple of bits and pieces but not enough to recomend, here is a forum with some people that sound like they know thier stuf;

I hear Fluke meters are the business. But for 90% of people just go and drop $50 or something at a decent tool store.

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Given the choice between a 5 year old fluke off eBay and a new cheap unbranded DMM with the same features, I would take the fluke every time. They stay in calibration for decades and can take some serious abuse. Few other DMMs will survive being thrown around a workshop as well as your average fluke. – Mark Booth Sep 7 '11 at 17:39

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