Automotive oscilloscopes

A PicoScope (sometimes known as a labscope) turns your laptop or desktop PC into a powerful diagnostic tool. Think of it as the X-ray machine of diagnostics, letting you see the changing signals inside wires. You can purchase a PicoScope on its own, but most people purchase one of our award winning Automotive Diagnostics Kits. These money-saving kits contain everything you need – just add a PC.

PicoScope Oscilloscope Kits

2 channel automotive oscilloscope

The Pico Automotive Diagnostics Kits work with your PC to measure and test virtually all of the electrical and electronic components and circuits in any modern vehicle including:

  • Ignition (primary and secondary)
  • Injectors and fuel pumps
  • Starter and charging circuits
  • Batteries, alternators and starter motors
  • Lambda, airflow, ABS and MAP sensors
  • Electronic throttle control
  • CAN bus, LIN bus and FlexRay

Find out why PicoScope is like no other oscilloscope with features and benefits that make it the world's leading choice for vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket garages alike.

scan tool or oscilloscope

Scan tool or scope?

We are often asked "Should I buy a scan tool or a scope". The short answer is that you need both. A scan tool can often point you in the right direction, perhaps indicating a misfire on a specific cylinder but too often the less experienced technician then ends replacing several parts before the problem is solved. Oscilloscopes should be used:

  • To eliminate guesswork and test individual components before they are replaced. This avoids "parts darts" where more and more parts are replaced until the fault goes away.
  • To find intermittent wiring and connector faults.
  • When a vehicle has a problem but no code has been set or when multiple / misleading codes have been set
  • As the best way to find charging and starting problems.
  • To find problems with actuators such as motors and injectors that are not monitored by the ECU.
  • To identify mechanical problems such as compression and slipped / incorrectly fitted timing belts.

For the technician oscilloscopes lead to faster, more efficient diagnostics and a better understanding of how vehicle systems work. For the workshop using a PicoScope encourages a "fix it right" culture by reducing the number of parts changed on guesswork. The net result is improved customer satisfaction, increased repeat business and increased profits.

deep memory oscilloscope

Open your eyes with PicoScope software

PicoScope 6 is the most advanced automotive oscilloscope software available to date. With award-winning features and intuitive design, this software is designed to make sure you get to the heart of the problem, fast.

Features such as auto setup, tutorials and the guided tests quickly get new users up to speed. Advanced features such as maths channels, waveform buffers, advanced triggers and reference waveforms ensure the experienced user will not run out of power.  

The modern user interface is easy to use. There are no old-fashioned knobs and dials. We leave the space free for what matters: your waveforms displayed in crisp, clear high resolution.

PicoScope software has now firmly established itself as the industry standard so the time you invest in improving your diagnostic skills will benefit you for the rest of your career. Regular updates to our software include new features and new tests, and are free for the life of the product.

More information on the PicoScope software >>

Automotive Oscilloscope

PicoScope: future-proof

The recently introduced two-channel PicoScope 4225 and four-channel PicoScope 4425 are our 5th generation of automotive PC oscilloscopes. They are 5x faster and have 8x more memory than the previous generation, ensuring they are powerful enough for the next generation of vehicles with new technologies such as CAN FD.  

Other innovations include new floating inputs for non-grounded measurements, higher input ranges and ConnectDetect to ensure you have a good connection. The new PicoScopes are also now USB 3.0 connected and powered.

When you purchase any diagnostic tool you not only spend money but you also spend time learning how best to use it. We protect that investment in two ways. First, we develop hardware and software that is easy to use for those starting out with oscilloscopes yet has the power and features demanded by experienced users. Second, we do not compromise on quality or specifications - expect the PicoScope you buy today to still be an essential part of your diagnostic tool box 10 years from now. 

More information on the PicoScope hardware >>

PicoScope guided automotive tests

PicoScope guided tests

Built into the software are over 150 guided tests ranging from simple injector tests through to more complex topics such as CAN bus testing.

When you select a guided test all settings are configured for you and an example waveform is loaded. Diagrams and photos then show you which leads and accessories you need, how to connect to the vehicle and perform the test.

Once the test has been completed there is guidance on understanding the waveform, how the component works and typical faults / fixes.

As vehicle technology changes we continue to add more tests through free software updates. 

More information on the guided tests >>

Automotive waveform library

Cam vs crank waveforms from the library

Waveform library

The library enables you to share and back up your waveforms online and also search a global database of waveforms uploaded by PicoScope users from around the world.

The powerful search options let you find “known good” waveforms from vehicles identical to the one you are working on. Not sure if you have a slipped timing belt? There are hundreds of cam vs crank waveforms to compare against. Not sure if the cranking current is too high? Download a waveform to compare.

More information on the Waveform library >>

Cylinder balance / misfire detect

PicoDiagnostics

With a simple connection to the battery, PicoDiagnostics software quickly performs the following tests:

  • Compression test. Crank the engine to quickly display the relative compression of each cylinder.
  • Cylinder balance / misfire detect. Compares the power output of each cylinder and highlights misfires.
  • Battery test. Displays CCA, measures state of charge and voltage drop during starting. Gives an overall Pass / Fail.
  • Starter motor test.  Checks starter coil resistance and voltage drop across cables.
  • Alternator test.  Measures charging voltage and current. Checks for excessive diode ripple.

More information on PicoDiagnostics >>

Automotive pressure sensor

WPS500X pressure sensor kit (optional)

Adding the WPS500X to your PicoScope opens up a new world of diagnostics by turning pressure readings into waveforms. In-cylinder waveforms show valve and timing issues, mechanical failures, blown gaskets and blocked catalytic converters. 

Most pressure sensors can only measure over a limited range (so you need different ones for different tasks). The WPS500X has three ranges in one sensor so it is flexible enough to work right around the vehicle - fuel pressure, transmission pressure, intake vacuum and even pulses from the exhaust.

Supplied as a complete kit with hoses (compression, fuel, vacuum, bleed) and adaptors (exhaust, M10/M12/M14 plugs and universal).

More information on the WPS500X pressure sensor >>

Noise and vibration (NVH) diagnostic kit

Noise and vibration kit (optional)

Improvements in damping and sound insulation in modern vehicles mean that vibrations and noise that would previously be ignored (by turning up the radio) are now diagnostic headaches.  Many hours can be spent and parts swapped in tracking down customer complaints.

The NVH kit works with your PicoScope to quickly identify the source of the problem. If the customer complaint is noise, use the microphone; if it’s a vibration, use the accelerometer. Sophisticated software quickly pinpoints the source of the problem.

The kit can be enhanced with accessories to also allow on-vehicle driveline balancing.

More information on the NVH kit >>

Getting started - help all the way

Many technicians know that they should be using oscilloscopes but are worried they will be too difficult to use.  If you are confident using multimeters and scan tools, you will have no problem learning to use a PicoScope.

The manual guides you step by step through installing the PicoScope and making your first measurement of battery voltage and from there the guided tests take over, showing you how to test the common components on vehicles.  Next we offer a huge range of free resources to help you get the most out of your PicoScope including online training, videos and case studies. There is also a great community of users who share knowledge, waveforms and advice as well as helping us by suggesting software improvements.  

Many of our customers tell us how owning a PicoScope has helped them understand how a modern vehicle really works and over time has opened new career opportunities as they become respected experts in diagnostics.

Buying a PicoScope is unlike dealing with some other companies who lose interest as soon as they have your money. At Pico we stand behind our products and offer free lifetime technical support by phone and online. Software updates are also free - your PicoScope keeps getting better with no subscriptions or ongoing fees to pay. It is no surprise that PicoScopes are chosen by more vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket customers than any other oscilloscope.