Tool Review: Snap-on Diagnostic Thermal Imager

April 14, 2017
The reviewer appreciates the ability to employ the tool’s infrared technology to check for problems just about anywhere on a vehicle.

The Snap-on Diagnostic Thermal Imager, No. EETH300, uses infrared technology to make heat “visible” and reveal problems anywhere on a vehicle, such as brakes, heaters, A/C, engine performance, electrical and bearings. This technology includes detailed thermal images made up of 4,800 distinct temperature zones, an exclusive database of guided tests, automotive applications and reference images to help interpret results and automatic scaling to show the temperature of everything in the image. This tool can show the source of heat to track faults, such as bearing wear, friction, brake heat, misfires, electrical impedance and coolant blockage. The thermal image reveals heat sources, shows extreme temperatures up to 840 degrees F and has the ability to save and store images.

The review

It did not take Barry Hoyland long to see the value in employing the Snap-on Diagnostic Thermal Imager, No. EETH300, and its infrared technology to detect various problems on a vehicle.

The owner of Vehicle Service Solutions of California says he appreciates the thermal imager’s ability to be used on nearly every automotive system. According to Hoyland, the tool also provides a ton of value as a means to build a database of useful information for future diagnoses.

“If you grab it and just start testing things to form a baseline, then you’ll be able to compare future readings to that baseline and start seeing the true value of the tool,” says Hoyland.

One useful application for the EETH300, Hoyland says, is for testing whether or not a vehicle’s shocks and struts are working properly

“If functioning properly, a shock and strut will gain heat as you drive the vehicle,” he explains. “So, if you have a baseline of what the temperature should be and take it out for a drive, you can see through infrared on whether the temperature is changing properly and if the interval valving of the strut or shock is functioning properly.”

According to Hoyland, another specific application the tool would be useful for is addressing a parasitic drain on an electrical circuit.

“I think this would be a quick-grab tool where they can isolate which circuit has current flowing through it,” he says.

Diagnosing A/C issues, testing brake functionality, determining whether or not a bearing is overheating and dealing with a battery drain are other applications Hoyland cites where it would be beneficial to utilize the Snap-on tool.

“If you have a battery drain in the system, and you put the infrared imager on the fuse panel, you can see actually which fuse is generating current because of the heat signature of that one fuse,” he explains “So you’d be able to see where a certain circuit is active.”

Hoyland says there are a number of features he appreciates about the EETH300. He points to the fact that it’s rechargeable as being a major plus. In addition, he likes that the tool allows for the ability of images to be captured on a mini secure digital (SD) card and uploaded to a computer, making it easy for images to be shared with customers. He also notes that the tool arrived in a plastic form box complete with instructions, a quick-reference chart and a USB charger/plug-in adapter.

“I would suggest providing a carrying pouch or some sort of belt clip so the tool is a little more protected and easier to carry,” he adds.

Overall, Hoyland appreciates the performance and versatility offered by the Snap-on Tools Diagnostic Thermal Imager, No. EETH300, as well as its database of guided tests, automotive applications and reference images.

“It’s (a tool that) adds value the longer you use it,” he says.

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