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Any of you guys using thermal imagers yet?

If so, did it drastically cut down on time spent on diagnosis, thus enabling you to flag more hours per day?

Do you feel the cost was justifiable? To be more specific, did it really make diagnosis that much easier, and/or did it enable you to flag enough additional hours, so that the purchase price seemed reasonable?

I’ve been reading up on them, and it seems like it would make diagnosis easier and more efficient, particularly on those no-fault code vehicles, which are very common, as we know all too well.

I just looked on the snap-on website, so I already know they don’t go for pocket change. I picked that website, because that’s who comes by our shop. We’re small enough, so that’s all we get. No mac, matco or cornwell.

Interestingly enough, the tool vendor has never had one on the truck. So it wasn’t because of him, that I was interested, and read up on it. It was in one of the trade magazines I read. And they weren’t pushing a particular brand, nor did they even mention any brand names at all. I felt it was a pretty objective review. So nobody’s been pushing me to buy, in case anybody’s wondering.

Our tool vendor’s not a very good salesman, in my opinion. Several months back, I bought a video inspection scope. He was really pushing the cheaper model, even after I expressed interest in the model which was one step above. I stuck to my guns and bought the one I had expressed interest in, and couldn’t be happier. Some of the other guys have the less expensive model, and I don’t mean to brag, but mine simply works better, and has definitely made work easier.

I feel I should have bought one years ago. I’m wondering if the thermal imager is also one of those tools you buy and then say “I can’t believe I didn’t buy that years ago”

Yeah, I bought the Snap-on after debating between that one and a Flir4 (I think). Frankly I think I could have gotten a Flir for less that would have been as good as a Snap-on, but I’m a tried and true Snap-on addict.

Shoot a pic of underhood F150 and you’ll diagnose a plugged up heater core by the difference in temps of the heater hoses. You’ll be able to see a restricted condenser in seconds. Use it for anything you’d use your Raytek for. Dragging brakes, cylinder misfires, rear defroster grids, etc.

I’ve heard of people using it to chase electrical draws and find voltage drops but I haven’t had the pleasure of that yet.

It’s not something I can’t live without and for the first couple of months I had to keep reminding myself I had it, but the longer I have it the more uses I find for it. You can learn a lot about a system by looking at heat signatures.

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Thanks for your comments. I did appreciate the examples you mentioned. And I’ll keep reading up on the technology, and the various brands and models out there for awhile longer, before making a decision.

Anyone who uses a thermal imager diagnosing automobiles can appreciate a trick used by an old friend who was an aircraft mechanic long ago. To find a missfire on 18 cylinder engines he spit on the exhaust ports immediately after shutdown.

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If you want an affordable entry to try out, this one isn’t very expensive, and you can image your house for heat loss and insulation defects too.

Which one . . . clicking on that link gave me options from about $250 - $2000

Well clearly the $250 on that goes with your smart phone. I saw it on “This Old House”. Its kinda neat.

Can you look for ghosts in the offtime?

Here’s one :ghost:

An extraordinary transparent car is set to fetch as much as $475,000 when it goes up for auction.
The motor, dubbed the ‘Ghost Car’, is a Pontiac Deluxe Six which, bizarrely, has been covered in the see-through material Plexiglas.
Built in 1939 by General Motors and chemical company Rohm and Haas at a cost of $25,000, it was the first transparent full-sized car to be made in America

Have had the Snap On thermal imager for about a year now and love it. Not sure it’s made its money back, but is that really the reason we buy cool tools? Another cool thing to use it on is checking alignment.

Can you please elaborate on that?

Really neat. I never thought about using a thermal imager for working on autos. I might have to buy one of the phone types. I might be terrified to see just how leaky my 100 year old house really is. Might cause me more stress if I actually was able to see it.

Too bad thermal imaging scopes are not this cheap yet.

Maybe looking at temperature across the tread after a drive?

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That’s what I was thinking . . . but you would need some kind of references, no?

A car with known good alignment, versus one that’s wearing the tires unevenly?

Perhaps you could help identify a camber problem, using the thermal imager?

I would assume to wear evenly, tire treads would have similar resistance/friction, so should be evenly-heated?

I had under 1 degree off the spec on my Pathfinder when I bought it, still front tires were essentially ruined by uneven wear, which I would assume will show as overheating on the areas worn more aggressively

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I was a bit confused by the topic until I realized it was a diagnostic tool. I used thermal imagers (infrared) from 1977 to 1983 as a military Aerial Sensor Specialist. Yes. I was an A.S.S… I often used infrared imaging.