Regular vehicle maintenance is an integral part of being a responsible driver — and you absolutely don’t have to wait for that “check engine” light to come on to start wondering if it is time for an engine inspection.
If you do bring your car into your local automotive shop, the team of mechanics there is likely to rely on one particular tool more heavily than you might have thought. Borescopes are remote viewing tools that are heavily used across multiple industries. Professionals that range from aerospace engineers to home inspectors and HVAC technicians love borescopes, but these “cameras at the end of flexible cables” are especially popular among auto mechanics.
What Are Borescopes Used for in the Automotive Maintenance Sector?
Borescopes are an excellent way to carry out engine inspections, as they allow mechanics to visualize the inside of an engine without ever having to take the engine block apart — saving both time and effort, while achieving the same or superior results. Inspecting the valves, cylinder heads, pistons, and crowns becomes easy with the help of a borescope. Your mechanic can even film the entire inspection with the appropriate software.
Engine inspections are not the only use an auto mechanic has for a borescope, though, as these viewing tools come in very handy in a wide range of situations. A vehicle’s water pump can be checked for leaks with a borescope. Radiators can be inspected to see if there are any restrictions, and a mechanic can easily visualize break pads and shoes with a borescope, too. If your vehicle has been making any strange noises, your mechanic will likely use a borescope to diagnose the problem — so they can get to work on fixing it more quickly.
The earliest version of the modern borescope was invented in the 1960s, but not long ago, high-quality borescopes still cost thousands of dollars. Thanks to the advent of high-resolution miniature cameras, though, the prices of borescopes have consistently been dropping over the last few years. This is great news for auto mechanics everywhere, who can now often use a borescope to carry out inspections rather than having to disassemble and reassemble various parts as they troubleshoot.
That certainly means that customers are likely to get their vehicles back sooner than they would have before the advent of the borescope. What does a borescope inspection of an engine — technically called a boroscopic engine inspection or, more broadly, non-destructive remote visual automotive inspection — cost, though?
What Do Boroscopic Engine Inspections Cost?
Whether you have a problem with your car or truck, you are interested in buying a used car and want to ensure that everything is in good working order, or you are simply trying your best to be a responsible driver by having regular maintenance work done, the cost of a vehicle inspection will vary greatly from one region to the next.
Generally speaking, the auto mechanic you are working with will not tell customers what tools they are using to carry out the inspection. Instead, they will simply perform the engine inspection. Car inspections in the United States typically cost anywhere from $100 to $250. During such inspections, your car mechanic will thoroughly inspect your engine — as well as the rest of your vehicle. In this day and age, they are likely to rely on a borescope for much of the process.
Customers should keep in mind that using a borescope saves the auto mechanic time, as it avoids the need to open up components that would need to be disassembled if they did not have access to a borescope. However, the borescope is merely a remote viewing instrument. The mechanic’s expertise remains a vital part of the inspection.
How Much Do the Borescopes Auto Mechanics Use Cost?
If you head over to Amazon right now, you will find an abundance of inexpensive borescopes (sometimes advertised as endoscopes, which are technically borescopes designed to be used in the medical field). Some of these borescopes are USB borescopes, which connect straight to most modern laptops, iPhones, or Android phones — and it is easy to find a decent borescope for less than $100. Many borescopes are even under $50.
These borescopes can help you visualize the inside of your HVAC system or crawl space. Some car mechanics rely on these inexpensive borescopes, as well. Most, however, prefer to invest in high-quality borescopes.
The Snake Scope Voyager, for instance, is a high-definition articulating borescope controlled with a joystick. This borescope has a working length of up to seven meters (nearly 23 feet), it is fully waterproof, and it has multiple different probes. Articulating borescopes have cameras that can be pivoted in any direction. This borescope costs $4,000.
The RIGEL two-way articulating borescope is another common choice for auto mechanics. This model is likewise waterproof and has an impressive working length of up to 10 meters, while allowing mechanics to zoom in and out. This model costs around $3,000.
Automotive mechanics use professional industrial borescopes to be able to do a faster and better job — without having to take on the risk of disassembling parts that can remain intact with the help of a borescope. Customers should keep in mind that these borescopes represent a significant investment. Therefore, although the labor cost may go down as a result of faster work, a portion of the cost of the borescope may trickle down to customers, too.
Although borescopes are fairly intuitive to use, the best auto mechanics will have had training and practice, as well.
Is the cost of a borescope inspection of an engine lower than the cost of a traditional engine inspection, which would require a mechanic to dissemble many parts? As a customer, you are indeed likely to benefit from this now ubiquitous tool, but you shouldn’t choose a boroscopic engine inspection over a traditional engine inspection because it is cheaper.
Rather, the main advantage of a boroscope in the automotive repair shop is that it is less invasive. Your mechanic will be able to diagnose any problem more quickly and, where relevant, get to work on repairing it faster.