Is your check engine light on? Or do you smell an odd fume after a fresh gasoline refill in your vehicle? You might think that this is just the result of an aging automobile, but that’s not the case. Chances are your car needs an evaporative emissions system replacement.
With that said, the entire system is an expensive investment and may be quite harsh on your wallet. So, it is important to confirm that a vapor leak is a problem you’re facing.
This is where our review comes into play! Automotive smoke detectors are just the thing you need to diagnose a faulty check engine code or any gas leak for that matter in case of a damaged evaporation system. Make sure you give this article a read before you move on to make the purchase!
- Why Best Automotive Smoke Machine Needed
- Comparison table of 10 Best Automotive Smoke Machine
- Our 10 Picks of Best Automotive Smoke Detectors
- 1. Autool Car Fuel leak detector (SDT206)
- 2. Stinger Smoke leak detector Pro 2
- 3. Mrcartool Automotive Fuel leak detector
- 4. Autoline Pro Smoke Detection system
- 5. Smoke-Tek Smoke machine for automotive leaks
- 6. AUTOOL 1 Automotive Fuel leakage detector (SDT206-NEW)
- 7. REDLINE EASY INTAKE LEAK DETECTOR
- 8. LISLE COMBUSTION LEAK DETECTOR
- 9. AUTOOL AUTOMOTIVE FUEL LEAK DETECTOR (SDT-202)
- 10. TESTO REGRIGERANT LEAK DETECTOR
- Things to consider when buying the best Automotive smoke machine:
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Best Automotive Smoke Machine Needed
The internet is filled with DIY tutorials on how to make your own automotive smoke machine at home, and many people do fall prey to click baiters. But beware! The truth of the matter is that delicate error code diagnoses such as these should be made with none other than properly manufactured equipment.
Anything even vaguely inferior would amplify your concerns rather than address them. Since we’ve established that buying an Automotive Smoke machine is the only way to go, why not opt for the best available option out there?
I will shed light on the 10 best Automotive smoke machines in the market that will help you decide which one suits your needs the most!
The comparison table below lists the main specifications of all the products in the compilation.
Comparison table of 10 Best Automotive Smoke Machine
Our 10 Picks of Best Automotive Smoke Detectors
The list below contains a description and detailed analysis drawn from the experience of all the best automotive smoke machines up for grabs. The analysis contains pros, cons as well as a bottom line for the final ruling.
Without further delay, let’s move on to the survey of all the top 10 picks we have for the best automotive smoke machines!
1. Autool Car Fuel leak detector (SDT206)
Opening up with the autonomous Autool detector, this one is among the finest leak detectors out there, and the reasons are as follows:
You’ll have to buy an air compressor in addition to the detector in most cases to be able to test your ride for leakages, but the Autool SDT206 already has that feature built-in. So right off the bat, you’re saving some extra bucks!
There’s also an instant smoke generation feature wired into the mechanism, which means you won’t have to wait for the device to warm up before you start to see the smoke.
One of the biggest hassles with the automotive smoke machines is heating of the merchandise. With the self-protective system installed in the device, I love that you don’t have to worry about the constant switching on and off during diagnosis. The system takes care of the load for you.
I’m not, however, a fan of the piping that’s installed over the main unit. Although it says a 4-inch diameter on the box, the actual dimension in the packaging was no more than 3.2 inches.
There wasn’t any smoke fluid in the box either, so you will have to purchase it ahead of time to get it going.
This unit was one of our top contenders on the list for the best automotive smoke machine in 2020. I’d prescribe this to anyone who has durability and accuracy on their Wishlist!
Read Also: Top 10 Portable Solar Panels for RV Review
2. Stinger Smoke leak detector Pro 2
This is my personal favorite from the list, and I would recommend this as the elite pick for anyone who wishes to own an Automotive smoke machine!
The 18-foot reach of the hose from the battery to any point on the vehicle to be tested is truly one of its kind. The diameter is also wider than most Smoke Machines out there.
Saving you from consistent payments to refill the machine with smoke fluid is this mineral water-consuming beast! Yes, you read it right. It does not require any smoke fluid whatsoever! It’s designed to run on the commonly available mineral oil, saving you tons of extra cash down the road.
I will, however, critique on the power cord permanently attached to the reservoir. It would’ve been so much better if the cord was detachable so you wouldn’t have to unscrew the reservoir every time you had to add the oil.
The heating element is durable and doesn’t wear out, but it comes at the cost of producing a mildly distasteful odor that I would certainly wish had a cover-up, but it doesn’t.
A negative is disguised within the positive for this unit, which mathematically would mean a cancellation on both sides! If you have a screwdriver, the other con shouldn’t be a problem, and this leaves you with all the pros to enjoin upon!
For both homeowners and workshop workers alike, this package strikes a great deal, so don’t miss out and get yours today!
3. Mrcartool Automotive Fuel leak detector
The Mrcartool leak detector is another runner-up for one of the better, if not, the best fuel leak detectors in the contemporary market. Here’s why we decided it deserved a spot on our list!
Just like the Stinger pro 2, this product also saves you the hassle of having to invest in the smoke fluid. It runs on baby oil! This makes the Mrcartool T110 practically free to use forever!
The T110 is one of the only two issues on our list that has multiple modes for leak detection. Namely, air mode and smoke mode. This sets the seal on recognizing faulty evaporation systems earlier.
I’ve noticed a really offsetting glitch in the design, though. It works great on the first use, but there was no smoke output on the second use. Upon removing the case, it was discovered that taking off the output hose rotated the connection so much as to pinch and cut the smoke flow. Pushing on the locking nut solves the issue, but it’s still a mentionable flaw.
There isn’t an oil level indicator on the detector either, which at the given price, should be practically a given inclusion. However, instructions are clear on when and how much oil to inject before using.
If you can afford to turn a blind eye to these cons, haste yourself into grabbing this one! It’s not every day you’ll find a Smoke Detector that runs on every-day use household items!
Read Also: 12 Best Portable Car Battery Charger Review
4. Autoline Pro Smoke Detection system
Among the front line of the best automotive smoke machines, we have another solid pick for you! The Autoline Pro Smoke detection system. Here’s why this is another great pick!
First things first, you will be delighted to see the kit as soon as it arrives. It was packaged in an extremely professional manner allowing for compact storage of all the components.
This package comes with a specially manufactured smoke fluid that will last for 100+ tests. You can still use the traditional mineral oil to run it, but it’s only more effective on the machines I have mentioned earlier. It’s recommended you use the fluid included in the bundle.
I really admire the thought put into the designing of this machine. There’s none other out there that’s easier to use than this one. Simple, sleek, and effective.
A very safe 1psi air regulator is also included, which will prevent your system from blowing up and will keep all the red flags in check if you’re using the machine more consistently than average.
However, I’m not quite sold on the quick air connector fitting. It would’ve been great if it allowed for the use of a hand pump instead.
The EVAP port adapter is also not a part of the package, so you’ll have to use the multi-size tip for detection.
I’ve already mentioned the remedy for the EVAP port adapter. For the quick air fitting, you can use the attachment from any air compressor, and you’ll be good to go! This is a good pick for someone who runs a workshop since consistent utilization is not a problem for this device!
5. Smoke-Tek Smoke machine for automotive leaks
Who wants to rush to the mechanic when you know a simple leak detection test can end-up costing you a couple of hundred bucks? Met the DIY beast, Smoke-TEK, by Sturks Autos, LLC.
At first glance, you might not be impressed by what you’re looking at when you see this machine at your doorstep, but it’s a highly trivialized underdog!
It does everything as advertised at only a fraction of the cost of all the other smoke machines. You can use it to trace minor or major leakages.
Be certain that this machine will catch all the leaks provided you’re up for the labor that’s involved in running it. You will have to ask someone to blow the smoke through while you check for leaks.
This is because this machine does not come with the hoses needed to hook up the machine with the vac port. It’s also recommended that you perform the test at night with a flashlight so you can catch all the leaks since the smoke thickness is not really a strong suit for this device.
Make sure you don’t use this machine for more than three minutes at a time as it will heat up but will cool-down in just one minute so you’ll be good to go again!
I doubt that anyone who owns a workshop would want to invest in this machine, but it’s the perfect choice for anyone who wishes to check their Automotive Smoke Leakages at home.
Make sure you look at online videos and the instruction manual to guide you through its operations!
Read Also: 10 Best Ignition Coil Review
6. AUTOOL 1 Automotive Fuel leakage detector (SDT206-NEW)
Presenting you with another AUTOOL rendition. This is the newer version of the same AUTOOL device I have reviewed above with some noteworthy additions and new features. Let’s get started!
You might have been anticipating the 2nd issue on our list that has dual modes for smoke detection since I brought the feature up in the MRCARTOOL review. This is that 2nd issue.
This addition upgrades an already competitive device to provide you with an even better leak detection technique for your fuel pipe, air intake system, or cooling tank.
To top it off, this issue includes a content gauge as well, which wasn’t included in the original AUTOOL SDT-206. These are the major two additions to the previous version of this machine.
However, they haven’t upgraded the pipe length even in this version, so the limited reach to every possible point of leakage on the vehicle remains a concern to be addressed.
I should probably mention that the main unit doesn’t look exactly the way it’s advertised. The difference between the pamphlet and the packaging received was a near shock. It might not be an issue for most people, but I despise false advertising, so I thought I should bring it up.
This product is a choice pick for someone looking for accurate smoke detection. Even though it’s falsely advertised in terms of looks, it will still look great in your workshop if that’s what you need it for. Make the purchase if you’ve been skeptical about this device so far!
7. REDLINE EASY INTAKE LEAK DETECTOR
This is a slightly different product than the ones I have reviewed so far, but it still falls under the category of an automotive smoke machine, so here are my thoughts!
The REDLINE easy intake leak detector is just the thing that might be missing from your smoke machine.
It is basically an inflatable bladder that injects smoke into your engine to check for leaks. If you’re having trouble recognizing where the leak is coming from in your engine, make this purchase! You won’t regret it.
It will boost a good smoke job from your machine to an easier and more productive performance. The investment and size might not seem to go hand in hand, but its definitely going to be worth your while in the long run!
This is your go-to item if you haven’t been able to catch that gnarly leak lurking around under your fuel take. Buy this only if your smoke machine has not been able to identify the leaks in the first place!
8. LISLE COMBUSTION LEAK DETECTOR
Like I said at the start, the DIY click baiters are not to be fallen prey to, but if you’re still convinced that there is a cheaper, easier method for conducting a smoke leak test out there, then you’re right!
Say hello to the LISLE Combustion leak detector. This device uses a unique technique that allows you to detect leakages in your radiator by a change in the color of a fluid! YES! It’s that simple!
Bad head gaskets, cracked blocks, or warped heads, you name it! The LISLE fluid will help you decide whether to scrap your vehicle or to repair and keep it.
You must be on the lookout for the radiator to be properly sealed when conducting the test as the vacuum pump will suck the fluid when the vehicle is running, and you don’t want any of it spilling over the coolant.
This is an option that is bound to interest you if you’re looking to conduct a test while having to spend as little as a dinner’s worth of money. Give this a shot if you’re a DIY enthusiast!
Read Also: 8 Best RV Sewer Hose Support Review
9. AUTOOL AUTOMOTIVE FUEL LEAK DETECTOR (SDT-202)
Once again, we arrive at an AUTOOL machine. Let’s see what’s different in this machine from the other two we have discussed so far!
SDT-202 is the earliest AUTOOL model on our list. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that it has fewer features than the standard SDT-206.
It comes with the EVAP adapters as well and has compact easy to carry design that you can hand on the hinge of your hood at home or in the workshop.
It does, however, lack the features included in its predecessors such as flowmeter, content gauge, etc. They weren’t a big deal when this model came out, but since buyers nowadays are really careful about choosing the right fit for their needs, I feel like the differences in the sale are going to be massive.
As older devices slowly get pushed outside the market, there’s a higher chance that you might be able to strike a good deal with the sellers on this one! Go for it and let us know how it goes!
10. TESTO REGRIGERANT LEAK DETECTOR
This handheld coolant leak detector is the last product on our list! You might be wondering what’s a refrigerant detector doing on an Automotive Smoke Machine list? The device’s performance brought it here. Here’s why I loved it:
The testo cooling agent can detect all the common cooling agent leaks that you would expect from a refrigerant such as CFCs, HFCs, and FCs. This is a must-have for you if you’re a refrigerant technician.
It can detect even the tiniest of leaks due to high sensitivity detectors mounted on the tip. It’s ready to use as soon as you turn it on, you have to set the settings to a particular coolant before you start sniffing around for leaks!
It does have an automatic zero setting built-in, which means if you’re in a room that’s already filled with the leaked gas, this device will still detect the point of leakage by analyzing pressure from the source.
The leak detection is identified by an audible sound alarm incorporated in the device. You can easily identify leaks for the refrigerant in your vehicle too.
Although this product is not exactly what the list pertains to, it’s a must-have if you want a carry around detector in your pocket! It can be extremely handy for a mechanic or a refrigerant technician!
Read Also: 12 Best Obd2 Scanner With Live Data Review
Things to consider when buying the best Automotive smoke machine:
With an ever-increasing demand for vehicles and an even greater number of them on the road, engine durability is tested in a true sense of its word.
Automotive Smoke Machine purchases have started to grow exponentially in sales, and here’s what you need to keep in mind to know what’s the best available option out there for you.
Keep in mind the following main factors before you go out in search of an Automotive Smoke Machine.
A good smoke machine may come with a premium quality smoke fluid that lasts for about 100 uses, but make sure it’s included in your package if the advertisement says so. I would still recommend machines that require instantly available oil (baby or mineral).
The diameter of Hose:
This is a key factor in determining what’s the right smoke machine for you. Compare your faulty pipeline diameter with the smoke machine you’re about to purchase and make sure that its at least as wide, if not, more than the line you wish to check.
Maximum time of consistent usage:
From 3 minutes to 15 minutes, different machines offer different extensions of time for continuous usage.
If you’re a workshop owner, the 15 min heat-up time might still not be enough for you, and if you’re a homeowner, even a 3-min window might be enough for you to detect the leak. Invest according to the suspected damages.
Operation and Usage
The overall operation of a smoke machine is simple. You might need some additional tools, or you might not depend on the product you’ve bought. The installation guides and online resources will help the web.
Make sure to give them a glance before you try it on your own. Some machine owners may even void the warranty if an unexperienced individual operates and damages the equipment, so keep that in mind.
Read Also: 10 Best Air Hose Reels Review
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve tried to elaborate upon as much information regarding the products as I could, but there is a high chance that you might still have a question in mind. No need to be concerned, I have listed out 10 of the most frequently asked questions along with their answers below.
1. What does an automotive smoke machine do?
The Automotive Smoke Machine detects and identifies the points of leakages on different pipes and evaporation systems on your vehicles using a specific oil to produce smoke to detect the leak.
2. What Causes an evaporation system failure?
Reasons for an EVAP system failure can range from a damaged radiator or a fuel tank to simply an old vehicle that has bid it time.
3. What oil do you use in a smoke machine?
This depends on the machine that you have bought. Most machines will run on mineral or baby oil, but some manufacturers prefer and provide their own smoke fluid that lasts for a longer duration.
4. Should I make a smoke machine at home?
No, it is not recommended. You should opt for an Automotive Smoke Machine Instead.
5. How do I diagnose a damaged evaporation system?
The check engine light is a good place to start when it comes to diagnosing a damaged evaporation system. A handy tool worth your while you’ll want to pick up is a fault code scanner. Using this tool, you can get what is referred to as a trouble code that tells you which of the pipes need attention.
6. What other systems can the smoke machine be used to detect the leaks in?
Smoke Machines can be used to detect leaks in any systems that contain air such as Carburetors, Vacuum systems, injectors seals, etc.
7. Can I replace the tester’s solution with basic mineral oil?
No, it is not recommended. Although It might work for you temporarily, it’s likely that doing so will cause damage to both the test and the smoke machine in the long run.
8. Why is only nitrogen gas recommended for testing EVAP systems?
This is because nitrogen is not combustible and is safer to work within a workshop and near a radiator. It has less than 1 % oxygen, so there’s not a chance of ignition.
9. What kind of leaks does an automotive smoke machine diagnose?
An automotive smoke machine diagnoses all kinds of leakages in your vehicle’s system that have air passing through them, such as disconnected vacuum lines, leaking gaskets, cracked fittings, etc.
10. Can I use a smoke machine to find AC leaks?
No, AC leaks are too small to be diagnosed with smoke. They are usually diagnosed with trace dyes or trace gas analyzers.
This list was made after conducting proper research. Hopefully, you will be able to make the right call regarding the best automotive smoke machine. As mentioned above, make sure that all the features are in accordance with your needs.
You don’t want to get a machine with too many specs compared to your needs, if a simple fluid purchase does the job for you, then go for it. Don’t feel pressured to invest in just one machine. Best of luck with your purchase!
Was this article helpful? Let us know in the comment section down below!