Borescopes are specialized tools used to inspect and examine confined spaces. Many manufacturers make borescopes designed specifically to view a car’s internal parts. If you are interested in purchasing one of these specialized tools, you may get overwhelmed by the large number of borescopes on the market. Of course, we all want the best return on our investment regardless of our specific activity. The best borescopes or inspection cameras have become a must-have tool for automotive manufacturers and professional aftermarket maintenance professionals. This portable inspection camera is an ideal and must-have tool for mechanics and car enthusiasts, as it’ll give a clear view of the hard-to-see engine or body parts without hours of disassembling or tearing apart a well-built system.
This guide will go through the best automotive borescopes available and also discuss the criteria used in selecting the right one.
Borescopes can be simply described as a tiny camera at the end of a flexible wand that can be moved into places that would be unreachable with normal efforts – short of tearing the whole thing apart and looking inside, removing covers, panels, or other inaccessible parts.
Whether you’re trying to find the source of an oil leak, locating a lost nut, or confirming the health of piston heads or valves, the applications for this micro camera are nearly limitless for automotive inspections.
Borescopes are used to identify problems inside an automotive engine for cost-effective repair and maintenance. Of course, as you shop around, there are many borescope options to consider. As an automotive professional, you know how important it is for your tool to meet and perform in more than one singular application.
How to Choose an Automotive Borescope
Automotive borescopes are essentially endoscopes used in the inspection of internal components. Many auto mechanics keep a borescope on hand to check for internal damage or defects in your car engine. We may have heard of a colonoscopy where the doctor will use a flexible probe with a camera at the end to view and diagnose the condition of the patient. Well, you can say that a borescope is a ‘colonoscopy’ for engines! The same features and functions are used by medical professionals to diagnose and address life-threatening issues in the human body which is the same technology that you will use to diagnose engine life issues in your vehicle.
To perform their job correctly, automotive borescopes need to be small, flexible, portable and provide high-resolution photographs and videos.
The size of the probe on the borescope is important, as it needs to be large enough to facilitate a camera but narrow enough to fit into a confined space. For example, Diesel engines have very small tubes and can accommodate only borescopes that are 6mm or less in diameter.
The most popular diameter borescope wand is a 6mm. This diameter will easily enter a spark plug hole and allow you to view the entire piston head and cylinder walls. An engine borescope with articulation will allow you to steer or maneuver the probe tip to view the cylinder walls and if you have a bore scope that offers 180 degrees of articulation or a side view tip, you will be able to inspect the cylinder valve at the same time.
The ability to perform borescope automotive cylinder, cylinder wall, and valve inspections without having to invest in the arduous labor of tearing the engine down could save you not only hours of work but your customer hundreds of dollars.
Camera resolution is another important factor when choosing a borescope. The camera on your borescope probe should be a high resolution if you wish to see fine details in the images and videos it is capturing. Most of the automotive maintenance borescopes will offer a CMOS image sensor.
What gets challenging with camera resolution is that some manufacturers will refer to pixel count, whereas others will refer to JPEG or other resolution image quality. Well, with all that scientific jargon put aside, let’s be honest; you want to be able to see clearly in the inspection area to make a good decision on your next steps. Period. We get that. We recommend that at minimum your borescope supplier provides you with sample images of a similar inspection that you are going to perform. If they are not willing to do that, then you should ask for a demo of their product to make sure that the image quality is what you require to make a good business decision.
A good automotive borescope will feature an LCD screen that allows you to view images and videos through the camera in real time. You should ensure that the LCD screen on your choice of borescope is large enough to meet your needs, without sacrificing the device’s portability.
In most cases, the digital screen will be at least 3 inches. Of course, this is just like your TV at home. The measurement is taken from corner to corner. A 3-inch borescope screen may be acceptable for your application but at this time 5 inches and larger are becoming the industry standard.
Many videoscope screens are available with touch screens. We have been accustomed to our cell phones with touch screens and easy push-and-click features. Borescopes and videoscopes have been aggressively trying to keep up with this feature and familiarity.
Battery life is also incredibly important for borescopes. Recharging the battery on these devices can take a while, so it’s best to go for a model with long battery life.
Similar to your cell phone or other mobile devices the borescope system will offer you a notification when the battery life is getting low or requires charging.
The Best Borescopes For Automotive Inspections
We looked through numerous borescopes available on the market and narrowed down our selection to these five choices.
USAF300J-6 Economy Videoscope
This engine borescope is a simple yet reliable borescope that is great for automotive inspections. It is equipped with a 3.5mm camera which is handy for inspecting narrow engine components. It also features adjustable six LED lights to improve visibility in dark confined spaces.
The camera resolution is 640 x 480, with a focal range of 5cm – 8cm. The device is powered by 4 AA batteries, which should last over 6 hours on a fresh set of batteries. This option eliminates downtime while the system is having to charge batteries.
Its probe is rated as water and oil resistant. This borescope is ideal for conducting inspections in harsh automotive environments.
In addition, the borescope system provides advanced features such as joystick articulation and an interchangeable side viewing tip. Taking pictures and videos just takes a push of a button.
This industrial endoscope comes with a massive 3.5-inch IPA screen. It uses anti-blur technology to ensure a clear picture from the camera.
The camera scope is 4.5 mm in diameter and includes a special COMS technology chip to ensure uninterrupted video in clear resolution. It also features a built-in side view camera that allows you to view at right angles with the touch of a button. If you don’t have the option for an articulating system, then this dual-camera car borescope may be the system for you.
This borescope is rated IP67 waterproof and is also corrosion-resistant. It can operate at water depths up to one meter for 60 minutes. The device comes packaged with a toolbox and an 8GB memory card.
USAF300-4.9 – 4.9mm Dual View
This industrial endoscope comes with a massive 3.5 inch IPA screen. It uses anti-blur technology to ensure a clear picture from the camera.
The camera scope is 4.5 mm in diameter, and includes a special COMS technology chip to ensure uninterrupted video in clear resolution. It also features a built in side view camera that allow you to view at right angles with the touch of a button. If you don’t have the option for an articulating system then this dual camera car borescope may be the system for you.
This borescope is rated IP67 waterproof and is also corrosion resistant. It can operate at water depths up to one meter for 60 minutes. The device comes packaged with a tool box and an 8GB memory card.
USAF300-5.5 – 5.5mm Hyperion Videoscope
This digital inspection camera features a 3.5-inch high-resolution full-color LCD. The screen has a 320 x 240 resolution, while its camera captures images and video with 640 x 480 resolution. Videos are recorded in AVI format and can be saved on a removable Micro SD card.
Users also have the option of directly streaming images or video to a separate display, such as a computer monitor.
This borescope runs on 4 AA batteries that can last up to 6 hours. This mechanic borescope also features an interchangeable side viewing tip that enables you to view an inspection area with a right-angle view. This is a threaded tip, and it is important to not use any tools to tighten it as the tip is designed to be hand tightened only. Also, do not use any Loctite or adhesives on the tip.
USAVS2-4-1500 4mm X 1500mm 2-Way Articulating Videoscope
This 3.9mm Digital Inspection Camera is an affordable borescope for those that have frequent requirements for such an inspection device. It comes with a 4.5-inch full-color LCD with a 640 x 480 resolution. The camera has a horizontal viewing angle of 67 degrees and is equipped with four adjustable white LED lights.
Its probe diameter is 3.9mm, which makes it useful for many automotive applications. Both the camera and cable are rated IP67 waterproof. However, its display is not waterproof.
Its flexible cable is 150cm in length; with 2-way articulation. This smaller diameter makes it more versatile than the larger 6- and 8-mm diameter videoscopes. The built-in lithium-ion battery will last several hours before recharging.
As you can see, there are plenty of automobile borescopes available on the market. Make sure to check the details for each of these models as they may not be suitable for all applications. A borescope can last for several years with the right usage and maintenance, so remember to pick a model that fits your present and future vehicular needs.
Some may refer to this as a cheap borescope but when you see the image quality and features you will argue.
If you would like a no charge hassle free trial of any of the systems mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Sales@USABorescopes.com or call 931-362-3304