Automotive systems can generate un-intentional radio frequency energy. The levels of these emissions must be below maximum values set by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for customer satisfaction and/or in order to meet governmental requirements. Due to the complexity of electromagnetic coupling mechanisms that can occur on a vehicle, many times it is difficult to measure and identify the noise source(s) without the use of an electromagnetic interference (EMI) receiver or spectrum analyzer (SA). An efficient and effective diagnostic solution can be to use a low-cost portable, battery powered RF detector with wide dynamic range as an alternative for automotive electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and design engineers to identify, locate, and resolve radio frequency (RF) noise problems. A practical circuit described here can be implemented easily with little RF design knowledge, or experience. Functional diagram and electrical circuit schematic details are illustrated and explained. A few possible EMI scenarios are examined and investigated with the use of a portable RF detector and results are compared to an EMI receiver, showing that this method can be and efficient alternative in the identification and resolution of automotive RFI conditions.