Feeler Gauge Versus Automotive Diagnostic Scanners: Choosing The Right Tool For Engine Troubleshooting

Are you tired of playing detective with your car's engine troubles?

The frustration of not knowing what's causing that annoying check engine light can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

But fear not, because in the world of engine troubleshooting, there are two mighty tools that can come to your rescue: the trusty feeler gauge and the advanced automotive diagnostic scanner.

These tools can help you unravel the mysteries under the hood and get your engine purring like a contented kitten once again.

So, buckle up and join us on this journey as we explore the battle between the feeler gauge and the automotive diagnostic scanner, and help you choose the right tool to conquer your engine woes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feeler gauges are used to measure various parameters such as clearance, diameter, depth, thickness, and runout.
  • Automotive diagnostic scanners interface with a car's on-board computer or diagnostic system to identify or troubleshoot problems.
  • Feeler gauges are low cost and useful for accurately establishing the size of the clearance or gap between two mating machine elements or surfaces.
  • Diagnostic scanners are the most important tool when diagnosing a fuel pump.
  • Feeler gauges are not very accurate and rely on personal inspection using eye and touch.


Dimensional measurement, also known as dimensional inspection or dimensional metrology, is the process of measuring the distances between different features on a part. It is a specialized field that encompasses a broad range of applications in various industries.

In engine troubleshooting, dimensional measurement plays a crucial role in providing an accurate assessment of damage and ensuring that engine components and clearances meet manufacturer's specifications.

It is also used in manufacturing to compare objects from the production line to CAD models, engineering drawings, and specifications.

Feeler Gauges

Advantages and Limitations

Feeler gauges are low-cost tools that are used to measure gaps and clearances between two surfaces. They are more accurate than other types of tools, making them ideal for use with iridium spark plugs and other plugs containing precious metals.

Feeler gauges are commonly used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, oil & gas, and general industrial machining.

However, they are not very accurate and rely on personal inspection using eye and touch.

Feeler gauges are not recommended for high RPM machinery.


Feeler gauges have various applications in engine troubleshooting. They can be used to set the valve clearance between the rocker arms and the valve stem in automotive applications. Feeler gauges are also used to measure the gap between the center and ground electrodes of a spark plug.

Additionally, they can help diagnose engine issues related to gaps and clearances, such as excessive wear and friction, reduced engine performance, and valve train noise.

Automotive Diagnostic Scanners

Advantages and Limitations

Automotive diagnostic scanners interface with a car's on-board computer or diagnostic system to identify or troubleshoot problems. They are the most important tool when diagnosing fuel pump-related problems.

Diagnostic scanners can provide more detailed information about the vehicle's systems compared to generic scan tools.

However, they can be expensive to purchase and may not be able to detect all problems with a vehicle.

Features and Capabilities

Automotive diagnostic scanners have several key features and capabilities. They can read engine fault codes, provide troubleshooting information, clear diagnostic trouble codes, record live data, and access enhanced OEM codes that are manufacturer-specific.

Some scanners are compatible with both OBD1 and OBD2 systems, allowing them to diagnose a wider range of vehicles and systems.

Using Feeler Gauges and Automotive Diagnostic Scanners Together

Feeler gauges and automotive diagnostic scanners can be used together for more accurate engine troubleshooting. Feeler gauges are used to measure gaps and clearances between two parts, while diagnostic scanners can read and interpret diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) stored in the vehicle's computer system.

By combining the information from both tools, mechanics can identify and fix problems more quickly and efficiently.

Choosing the Right Tool

When choosing between a feeler gauge and an automotive diagnostic scanner for engine troubleshooting, several factors should be considered. Feeler gauges are useful for accurately measuring small gaps and clearances, while automotive diagnostic scanners provide a more comprehensive and detailed view of a vehicle's performance.

The choice between the two tools will depend on the specific needs of the user and the complexity of the engine problem.

Closing remarks and recommendations

Hey there, fellow gearheads! Today, we've been diving deep into the world of engine troubleshooting, specifically the eternal battle between feeler gauges and automotive diagnostic scanners. It's been a wild ride, and I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have. But before we wrap things up, let's take a moment to ponder the bigger picture.

We all know that engines are complex beasts, with a million and one things that can go wrong. And when trouble strikes, we want to be armed with the right tools to tackle the challenge head-on. That's where the age-old debate between feeler gauges and diagnostic scanners comes into play. Both have their merits, but which one truly reigns supreme?

On one hand, feeler gauges are like the trusty old friend that's always been by your side. They allow you to get up close and personal with your engine, measuring tiny gaps and clearances with precision. It's a hands-on approach that can be incredibly satisfying, like solving a puzzle piece by piece. Plus, feeler gauges are often more affordable and readily available, making them a popular choice among DIY enthusiasts.

On the other hand, automotive diagnostic scanners are the tech-savvy cousin who always has the latest gadgets. These nifty devices can tap into your engine's computer system, giving you access to a wealth of information at the touch of a button. They can diagnose complex issues in a flash, saving you time and effort. But, they often come with a hefty price tag and require some technical know-how to operate effectively.

So, which should you choose? Well, my friends, the answer isn't as clear-cut as we might hope. It ultimately depends on your level of expertise, your budget, and your personal preferences. Some of us thrive on the tactile experience of using feeler gauges, while others revel in the convenience and efficiency of diagnostic scanners.

In the end, what matters most is that we have the tools we need to keep our engines running smoothly. Whether you're a feeler gauge aficionado or a diagnostic scanner devotee, the goal remains the same: to troubleshoot and fix engine issues with confidence and precision.

So, next time you find yourself knee-deep in engine troubles, take a moment to consider which tool will serve you best. Embrace the wonders of technology or revel in the simplicity of the tried-and-true. There's no right or wrong answer, just the pursuit of automotive excellence.

Keep tinkering, my friends, and may your engines always purr like a contented kitten.

Looking for a feeler gauge?

Choosing a feeler gauge can be very difficult if you know nothing about them.

So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you:

The best feeler gauge and how to choose one for you

Links and references

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