There are handheld automotive multimeters and then there are handheld automotive multimeters and the fifth-gen 88 is the best in the business. A modern version of the now defunct original 88 Series, the Fluke 88V today is just as profound as it was years ago, with superb functionality, impressive ruggedness and high levels of accuracy and reliability.
Along with standard measurement functions, such as 1000V and 20A capability, the 88V has a raft of functions and modes to help trouble-shoot issues on both conventional and hybrid vehicles. These include RPM, pulse width measurements, peak Min/Max mode and a low pass filter. Along with its being tailored for repair yards, it is equally great for the DIY layman, being simple to use.
- Large, 4 ½-digit backlit display with analog bar graph
- Can measure 1000V AC/DC
- 0.1% basic DC voltage accuracy
- Measures 20A current
- Measures frequency and capacitance
- Auto and manual ranging
- Measures temperature
- Pulse width measurements (millisecond)
- RPM measurements
- Min/Max and Peak Min/Max recordings
- Relative mode
- Auto hold feature
- Input jack alert
- 10MΩ input impedance
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Size: 7.9″ (201mm) x 3.86″ (98mm) x 2″ (52mm)
- Weight: 22oz (625g)
- Protective rubber boot
- 9V battery
- Test leads
Optional: alligator clips, longer leads, magnetic hanger, temperature probe.
Complete Review of the Fluke 88V
Along with good voltage and current measuring ranges, it also has a fairly wide capacitance range (good for electronics), together with frequency, resistance to 50MΩ, and conductance. Continuity measurements are fast and precise, as is the auto-ranging feature.
Though it defaults on auto range, it can also measure in manual mode, with selectable ranges for quicker response time. Of its current-measuring capacity, it can handle 10A continuous in both AC and DC ranges – 20A for a 30-second burst. This is beneficial for auto engineers, who typically require greater amperage scope.
The only drawback of the Fluke 88V over its legendary sister, the 87V, is that it is an Average RMS responder. That is, it doesn’t have True RMS-capability, so you can’t measure non-linear AC voltage and current signals accurately. This is no big deal in the automotive world as most work is DC.
The 10MΩ input impedance is good for testing electronic circuitry, with less potential to damage or scupper sensitive equipment and resistance values. Other pluses include a pretty generous temperature measuring range and the auto -hold, which is ideal for automatically picking up higher values and freezing them.
Auto measuring modes
• Pulse width measurements to check the health of injectors
• RPM measurements (optional inductive pickup probe)
• Min/Max record to measure changing voltage/current, such as when performing a battery charge test
• Peak Min/Max to pick up transients to 250μs
MAX RANGE: BEST ACCURACY / BEST RESOLUTION
DC voltage – to 1000V: ±(0.1% +1) / 0.01mV
AC voltage – to 1000V: ±(0.5% +2) / 0.01mV
DC current – to 10A (max: 20A for 30s): ±(0.4% +2) / 0.001mA
AC current – to 10A (max: 20A for 30s): ±(1.2% +2) / 0.001mA
Capacitance – to 9,999µF: ±(1% +2) / 0.01nF
Resistance – to 50MΩ: ±(0.4% +1) / 0.1Ω
Frequency – to 200kHz: ±(0.005% +1) / 0.01Hz
Duty cycle – to 99.9%: 2% per kHz +0.1% / 0.1 %
Temperature – -328°F / -200°C to 1994°F / 1090°C: ±1%
Conductance – to 60nS: ±(1%+10) / 0.01nS
Note: accuracy/resolution is best only, not for full range.
Counts: ±(0.1%+1): where ‘+1’ = +1 count / digit.
Aside from the IP67-rated 28II, the 88V is among Fluke’s most durable test meters. Along with the 87V, they are produced with industry in mind and, more specifically in the case of the 88, for the pounding they take in the garage. The case is built to withstand years of abuse and is protected by a toughened rubber holster.
The interior is equally durable, with a tongue & groove arrangement inside the case to help protect from water ingress and explosions. The dial selector, buttons, jack input sockets and circuit board are also well designed. In addition is an access door for the battery.
The display is 4 ½ digits, or 20000-count, meaning it will display 19.999Ω before moving across to 20.00Ω. Digits are large and the analog-style bar graph picks up very slight differences in a rapidly changing signal. The Fluke 88V also has a two-stage white backlight, which is very useful when you are buried beneath a vehicle.
Performance and Function
As an 80-Series Fluke multimeter, it is right up there representing the best of their range. It is a quick performer, especially adept in the responsiveness of its auto-ranging and continuity checker. Speed and accuracy are assured and it also boasts a pretty good battery life, at 400 hours of nominal usage. Auto power-off and sleep modes help preserve the battery.
Compared with many cheaper multimeter brands, which often go over the top with functions and features – such that the dial selector ends up being cluttered – the 88V, despite all the functionality, is relatively simple. There are seven range positions, some of which include extra button-controlled features – such as DC voltage / RPM and millivolts / temperature.
The safety rating is excellent. When it says it can accommodate 1000V at CATIII and 600V at CATIV, you can bet on it being a legitimate specification. With the category 4 rating, it can safely measure the supply and load side of three phase systems. It also has surge protection in the 8kV range.
High quality, high rupture capacity (HRC) fuses protect the amperage circuits, at 11A and 440mA, which are both rated 1000V to earth. The PCB comes with excellent input protection too. In addition is a jack input alert feature should you turn the dial to the wrong range.
Mechanically, the case is among the strongest in the industry. It is ANSI drop-tested and is further protected by a rubber banding. The jack input module also has its own gasket.
Who is it Best Suited To?
In the Fluke 88V review, we see that it is best for electricians involved in industrial work, as well as automotive technicians. However, it is good for professionals as well as entry-level trainees due to its user-friendly interface. If you’re into electronics, you will also benefit as it has wide capacitance and micro-amps ranges.
Pros and Cons
Fluke 88V PROS
- Good automotive functionality
- RPM and pulse width measurements
- Reliable, accurate and fast
- CATIV rated
- Hi resolution screen
- Two-stage backlight
- Micro-amps range
- Good battery life
- Separate battery compartment
- Lifetime warranty
- Quite bulky
88V vs 87V DIFFERENCES
The main difference between the two is that the 88V does not come with True-RMS AC capability and is slightly less accurate when measuring voltage, current and resistance. Instead, it has an RPM mode and also defaults to DC on the current ranges. It also defaults to manual ranging on the DC 60V range and the 6V range on AC.
See comparisons on the Fluke site.
For automotive or general purpose electrics, the Fluke 88V is hard to beat. It doesn’t have the accuracy of the 87V and is without True RMS, so the 87 would be a better pick for electronics work. But with the RPM checker and DC defaults, it is ideal for the workshop and its rugged build will handle most environments for years.
The ‘A’ version (88V/A) denotes the automotive accessory combination kit, which includes many extras. You can either order the standalone meter or the complete kit.
V/A Automotive KIT
- 1.5m long leads: heat proof test leads, perfect for under the hood
- Alligator clips: good for battery connections
- Inductive RPM pick-up probe: clips over the leads
- Magnetic hanger: for hanging the meter virtually anywhere
- Temperature probe: Type-K thermocouple
- Insulation penetrating clip
- Case: strong box that holds the compete kit