The Trainer #139: Ignition waveform analysis using the DSO

July 17, 2023
Many of you have written to ask for a more detailed tutorial on using the Autel scope as a diagnostic tool. This is the third in a 3-part series!

Today’s technologically advanced vehicle powertrains bring huge rewards to us as consumers. Compared to previous vehicles, they have remarkable fuel economy, abundant power output, and significantly reduced tailpipe emissions. But access to components for testing hasn’t gotten any easier, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When facing driveability faults, it’s the symptoms felt by the consumers that drive what we are usually addressing as technicians. But a major factor in today’s vehicle powertrain analysis is what we face under the hood. There is little room to conduct the testing we’ve grown to trust in pursuit of the symptom exhibited. This means carrying out those same tests can be extremely time-consuming. Of course, if the test is justified, it’s worth the investment of time to conduct the test. But it may not be prudent to commit to that test first because of the amount of time that is needed to be invested.  

However, there is an alternative approach, a test that offers great preliminary driveability data about what is happening inside the combustion chamber. Even more significant is that this test can be applied to almost any vehicle with a spark ignition internal combustion engine. This type of testing is known as Ignition waveform analysis. 

In this edition of “The Trainer,” I will show you how to use the Autel DSO and related accessories to acquire and analyze these ignition waveforms. Even if you don’t own an Autel scope, these techniques apply to whichever scope you have.

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