Autel are one of the most reputable manufacturers of diagnostic scanners around today. They make loads of scan tools, for hundreds of different vehicle makes and models. However, this vast range of products can sometimes be a bit overwhelming for the first time buyer. Here, we’re going to help you sort through the sheer amount of choice, and find the best scan tool for you and your workshop.
There are a few things you have to take into consideration whenever you’re buying a new diagnostic tool. We’ll go through a few of them, so you can start to make informed choices about what kind of tool is right for you.
Considerations when choosing an Autel scanner
As we’ve already said, Autel are one of the best scan tool companies around, so you are bound to be satisfied if you buy any of their products. They have a fantastic customer service team, their scanners are well constructed, and they have a brilliant warranty scheme. Having said that, like any product, some scanners will be better suited to a certain use than others. Therefore, it’s always worth considering a few things before dropping any hard earned cash on a diagnostic tool.
The first, and perhaps most important consideration to make, is what kind of vehicles you’ll be wanting to use your new scanner with. If you’re going to be scanning heavy goods vehicles, there is no point buying a tool that is designed for a Ford Fiesta.
To work out which scanner is best for you, make sure you know which vehicle protocols you need the scanner to be compatible with. For example, cars and small vehicles that were built in 1996 or later are usually OBD2 compatible. If you want to work with these kinds of vehicles, then you’ll need an OBD2 scan tool. Conversely, cars built in 1995 or earlier, are OBD1 compatible, and will require a separate tool altogether. It is possible to buy a scanner that is OBD2 and OBD1 compatible – so definitely look into this if you suspect you might be working on old and new cars regularly.
The next thing to consider is the functionality that you will need from your scanner. The best scanners have a huge number of features that can really assist a mechanic during servicing and repairs. They also have some very advanced features, such as ECU coding, which can actually be used to re-programme parts of the vehicle CPU. However, not everyone will use these advanced features, so make sure to think about what you need. There’s no point spending extra on some bonus features that you are never going to use.
Although some of the features such as ECU coding won’t be required by everyone, there are definitely a few bits of functionality that are absolutely essential in a great vehicle scanner that mechanics always look out for when buying a new one. A good example of this is live data. Live data reports on a vehicle’s status in real time, which can help a mechanic easily locate vehicle problems. Live data is probably the most important feature on a vehicle scanner, and is something that modern mechanics and vehicle technicians swear by.
Another feature that any good scanner will have is being able to read and clear error codes. This is a classic diagnostic tool function, which recognises error codes coming from a vehicle’s systems, and lets the user know what they mean and where they have originated from. This is another essential tool for vehicle repairs, and can save tons of time on every single job. Equally as important is error code clearing, which removes the offending trouble codes after you have completed all the necessary repairs. You don’t want to be handing a vehicle back to a customer, with error codes still showing.
Design and software
The final factor we recommend that you take into account when buying a new Autel scanner is its design and software capabilities. You will be using your scan tool everyday, so it’s very important that you like the design and you can use it comfortably. There’s nothing worse than getting frustrated during a job because the scan tool isn’t working properly.
There are many different shapes and sizes of scan tools. Some are small and ultra-portable, whilst others are designed to stay in the workshop, and are often much larger in footprint. It’s definitely worth considering where you are going to be using the tool the most so that you can maximise a device’s effectiveness.
The software that underpins a scan tool also varies between tools. Some of Autel’s tablet style scanners use an Android operating system, which is well known to be fast, reliable and regularly updated. However, Autel’s own software which runs on its smaller devices is also very effective and powerful. To be honest, all Autel devices have great software, so you probably don’t need to worry about this factor anyway.
Top 3 Autel scanners
Now that we’ve gone over some of the main things to look out for in a scan tool, here are 3 different Autel scanners at varying price points. We highly recommend all of them.
Autel AutoLink AL319
The Autel AutoLink AL319 is a small yet powerful scan tool, that is compatible with nearly all OBD2 compliant vehicles. This is an affordable scan tool that doesn’t sacrifice om functionality. It can read and clear codes, turn off the check engine light and can be configured into a variety of languages.
Autel MaxiLink ML619
A slightly more advanced option is the MaxiLink ML619. This is another OBD2 scanner, that can do all the things you’d expect of a basic scan tool. However, this scanner also has some advanced functions that separate it out from its competitors.
Autel MaxiSys Pro MS908
Our final recommendation is this tablet style device. The MS908 is one of the most technically advanced scanners that Autel offers and it can do anything you’d ever want from a diagnostic tool. From ECU coding to running emissions checks, this device can do it all!
If you want more information about the best Autel scanners on the market today, then check out the 10 Best Autel Scanners for DIY & Pro Review 2020. Here you’ll find some in depth reviews of the 3 scanners we recommended, as well as 7 other fantastic options.