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While normally used for finding and diagnosing issues within human beings, stethoscopes are also excellent tools for seeking out engine troubles. It’s easy to tell when an engine is making weird noises, but discovering exactly where they come from can shave time from the diagnosis and repair process. You can also avoid silly mistakes like replacing your alternator when it’s an idler pulley making that infernal squeal (nice move on my buddy’s part). Examination with a stethoscope can reveal valve train noises or spun bearing locations in toasted motors, and an old engine builder I worked with refused to sign off on an engine assembly until he’d gotten it running on the stand and listened to a laundry list of critical areas with his ‘scope.

Even if the uses are limited, stethoscopes are cheap, and while specialized mechanics’ stethoscopes are available, the standard kind works fine. If you have a community college or university with a medical school in the area, their bookstore will usually have good offerings, but as usual, Amazon has a wide selection and good prices (from $4 to over $100) that almost make a good stethoscope a cheap-ass tool.

Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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9 Responses to Use A Stethoscope To Diagnose Engine Problems

  1. russ says:

    I used these alot many years ago checking bearing problems. Mine has both the medical type and straight rod. A good tool for the service kit. I still have one but I saw these at HF. I don’t know how good they are but you can get them for under $10 there.

  2. NotPau says:

    I’ve used a broomstick, a length of rubber hose, and pvc pipe, along with a sethoscope. It always helps when you find where that ticking, scraping, knocking sound is coming from. But use with extreme high awareness as there is alot things moving and spining under the hood. Aloha.

  3. Charlie says:

    Long-shaft screwdrivers work pretty good, too…

  4. Kurt says:

    The mechanics version works very well, much better than the screwdriver or broomstick tricks (tried those too). The long rod is handy for getting behind pulleys, such as alternator or power steering pump, and the earpieces block out outside noise pretty well. I haven’t seen a type with a medical style flat attachment – I suppose there would be places where it might be useful, but if it costs a lot more than the 10 or 20 bucks for the standard model I would just stick with those.

  5. jerry says:

    The one HF has works pretty good. Comes with a screw on extension to reach “way down there”. HF’s # is 41966-0VGA and it costs about 6 bucks.

  6. bob says:

    I think I used to own one distributed by Lisle, or maybe not.

  7. Tim B. says:

    I’d vouch for the HF one… for the price, very handy tool to have around. I’ve even used it to help diagnose computer HDD problems…! And for $6 (or if you wait a few weeks for their next ad, in most cases, about $2), the HF one can’t hardly be beat for cost vs function.

  8. Fritz Gorbach says:

    Think I got the HF one for 2 bucks on sale, and stuck it in the work truck a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t used it yet. Seems to be exactly the same as the one from the auto store(performance tool?maybe), but I think that was only about six or eight bucks a couple of years ago. I ran across the street from a job and bought it when I could hear a bearing squealing but couldn’t tell which one. I don’t use it much, but at about ten bucks for the two of em, they’re handy sometimes.
    Boss at work bought an electronic one last year with b ig noise canceling headphone, and a long probe and all, but I dont think we’ve used it yet. If it’s not in the truck, i’m prob not going back to get it, ya know.
    Snap on and other companies also sell one with four wireless probes and a headset, and you can switch between probes and mount them anywhere. Looks pretty cool for test drives and stuff.

  9. Jeff says:

    I normally use a length of 1×2 spruce. Works really well.

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