It’s now a little over a year that I have started a joint venture with an old friend of mine Gareth running a repair shop. He is a skilled mechanic with 20 years of experience in repairing a fleet of vehicles and me a car enthusiast. So banking on Gareth’s experience and on my devotion for cars we decided to write a series of reviews about best OBD2 scanners on the market.
The first review will be on Autel AL519 Autolink scan tool, which Gareth suggested we buy for the shop.
What we were looking for was a Scan Tool which provided all the professional advance data readings on one side and didn’t cost us a fortune on the other, especially at a time that our business venture was just picking up. Therefore we looked for a scanner in the middle price range. Counting on Gareth’s experience and my own research we finally bought the Autel AL519Autolink.
After a day the package arrived at our workshop and its red color under a molded plastic cover caught my eye. As I ripped open the packaging the small size of the device was a surprise. It came with useful accessories such as a handy case, a long hookup OBD2 cable, a USB cord and a CD to download the software. Actually comparing with my old 509 Clone it did look much fancier. However as I skipped through the User Manual it was thin and sketchy.
Test run under heavy workload
During the past year that we have been using our red Autel-AL519 Gareth hooked it with nearly everything, including a 05 Subaru STI and 2013 Hyundai Genisis. Every time it linked up without a problem. To my surprise it worked fine on 2004 BMW X3 too. But it wasn’t all downhill, last month trying to link a 2002 Vet and a 2007 GMC pickup, we finally Gareth gave up. I rang the Autel support team and after several give and take communications they did admit that Autel AL519 had some problems linking with older GM vehicles. The support team even promised me that within a year’s time they are upgrading their software and this problem would be solved!!!
Regardless of the above hick ups it worked just fine on all the other cars we had in our repair shop. Some features were really outstanding, one being the original One-Click I/M Readiness key, the TFT color display and the built in speaker. The combination of both visual and audible capability for readiness verification was something special to show off to our visitors in the workshop.
However we did run into more problems too. We had a 06 Nissan quest and a 06 Eclipse in for repairs and I simply couldn’t plug Autel AL519 in them. This was despite the manufacturer’s manual that it is compatible with all 1996 to newer models. To add to this list I must mention the 2006 Grand Vitara and a 1998 Ford Explorer which it didn’t pair with.
How does it compete?
At a price of $78.98* it stands in the midst of medium caliber scan tools. As a fare judgment it really does provide quick data, compared to many other scanners in this range including my 509 Clone. Its fast data reading did save us a great deal of time in the workshop.
However the problem with the incompatibility with older models of GM vehicles was a set back to its credit as a reliable all round Scan Tool. It’s rather tedious to try and try to pair it with a certain model without any success.
During the past year I must say we did put our Autel AL519 under pressure and paired it with many different cars and I most cases it proved its reliability with flying colors. It was able to not just read the diagnostic codes but provided me and especially Gareth tips on how to fix the problems. Experienced showed that the first tip on the list on most cases proved to be the right cause. It also provided us with the “Freeze Data” readings on all aspects of the engine. Gareth usually reset the scanner to record Live Data readings in separate sessions each for few minutes. Later in the office we analyzed the data on our Windows PC.
The “Readiness” test was a feature which truly saved us a great deal of time. On one click it displayed the status of all monitors in the car.
However in this period some serious incompatibility problems did arise especially with older models. I must add that Gareth was also disappointed that he wasn’t able to read ABS (anti-lock brake system) and SRS (air bags) functions with our little red Autel.
At the end of the day, Autel AL519 AutoLink scan tool has all the features of both a basic and a professional Scan Tool. Therefore if you are looking for a midrange scanner this is the right choice. In brief it is a low cost, lightweight and an affordable Scan Tool useful both for do it yourself drivers and car technicians.
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