Tool Review: VO Scope Sound Stik

The VOscope SS-1000 is also known as the Sound Stik, a device for detecting sound in a tightly focused area. It can be used to detect air/vacuum leaks, electrical noise, bearing or friction noise, leaking door/window seals and fluid noises. The heart of the tool is a handheld receiver/amplifier about the size of a cordless telephone. The kit also includes a contact rod, extension tube, high-fidelity earbuds and a SoniPod transmitter. The receiver is powered by a standard 9V battery that provides about 15 hours of service.

The Review

The tool was tested for us by Hal Lewis, owner of H&R Auto Service, in Kennett Square, PA. When Hal first received the Sound Stik, he had a suitable test subject right there on his lot. A customer’s car had water leaking in around the moonroof, and the dealer techs were unable to find the exact location of the leak.

Hal turned on the transmitter, put it on the driver’s seat and closed the car up tight. He mounted the extension tube onto the receiver, inserted the earbuds, turned on the receiver, adjusted the volume and began moving the tube over the moonroof seal. In less than 10 seconds he clearly heard the transmitter’s chirping noise at both front corners of the moonroof. Adjusting the seal in those areas cured the leak.

He had a similar experience with a leaking door seal on a vehicle that was hit and repaired. The door had been replaced, but the seal is part of the body and did not appear damaged. “Using this tool, we found the leak and proved that the seal needed to be replaced too.”

Hal says the Sound Stik “works just like a stethoscope, only better.” When fitted with the contact rod, the tool is basically an electronic stethoscope, but the other accessories increase its usefulness. Hal says he probably won’t give up his old stethoscope but believes the younger guys will prefer the Sound Stik. He also believes the tool is most valuable to a body shop. “Every body shop should have this.”

Hal didn’t bother reading the instructions because the tool is so intuitive, but the instructions do include some useful tips. The tool comes in a fold-open storage bag that secures each piece in place.

Hal said the Sound Stik would also be handy for people who change windshields, and maybe even for insurance adjusters too.

Hal never had occasion to use the contact rod, but as noted earlier, it works just like his old stethoscope. The only improvement Hal suggested was “it would be nice if it had a recording feature” or the ability to connect it to some other data-collection device.