4 Reviews


What is Autel?

Autel is a researcher, developer, and manufacturer of automotive intelligent diagnostics, detection, and analysis systems according to their official description. Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, Autel sells products to over 50 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia. The company’s product portfolio encompasses diagnostic tools, Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), ADAS calibration devices, key programmers, battery servicing tools, and radar sensors. We will be focusing on their range of consumer and enthusiast-grade automotive diagnostic tools in this article. 

Autel offers a broad range of automotive diagnostic tools for professional-level workshop users, as well as consumer and enthusiast-grade devices. Their range of consumer and enthusiast devices is extremely broad, with 27 devices on offer. Autel offers two Bluetooth OBD scanners, namely the AP200 and AP200C models that directly plug into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and communicate with a smart device of your choice via Bluetooth. If you’re wondering whether your vehicle has an OBD-II port, fear not. If it’s manufactured after 1996, there’s a definite chance that it does.

Apart from the AP200 and AP200C, Autel also offers a broad array of wired devices across their AutoLink and MaxiLink lineups, which are dedicated OBD scanners that plug into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and offer a hand-held device with either a touchscreen control interface, or regular screen with buttons, as well as color-coded LEDs, in-build speakers, and the capability to connect to a PC and print out reports on demand.

How do you use Autel OBD Scanners?

Firstly, you should decide which Autel OBD scanner fits your need, as we mentioned there are 27 devices on offer. Two of these devices are OBD scanners that unobtrusively plug into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and communicate with a smart device of your choice such as your smartphone or tab via a Bluetooth connection, controlled via an app such as the MaxiAP200, which is available for Android as well as Apple iOS. These kinds of devices offer several advantages in that you could keep the pocket-sized adapter plugged in and monitor driving parameters in real-time or store it in the glove box when not in use. 

However, if you’re looking for a bit more functionality and specialized features, check out Autel’s range of AutoLink and MaxiLink OBD scanners. These are devices that use a dedicated cable to directly plug into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and come with their own screen and control interface. The advantage of these is that they are stand-alone solutions that can work independently of any smart device. Of course, they are a little larger and include a cable as well, but these hand-held devices can still be stored in a suitably sized storage cubby in your vehicle.

Finding the OBD-II port on your vehicle for the first time can be a challenge. It will be located inside the cabin, within a few feet of the steering wheel. Common areas include directly underneath the steering column (it may be pointing downwards, so get your head into the footwell and look around with the help of a torch), in the glove box or center console box, behind a trim piece or somewhere on the lower dash area. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will typically display the location of the OBD-II port, or a Google search will provide the answer. Simply plug in the wireless device or the cable from the wired device, switch your vehicle on and you are ready to diagnose.

If this is your first time using a diagnostic device such as an Autel OBD scanner, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the principles of automotive diagnosis, as well as what to watch out for, and most importantly, which settings to leave alone until you are more competent and knowledgeable on the subject.

Which cars work with Autel OBD scanners?

Autel claims that their OBD scanners work on all US, Asian and European vehicles with an OBD-II port that have been manufactured on, or after 1996. So you can find the usual North American manufacturer groups (The Big Three) such as General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis North America, as well as most European brands such as those under the Stellantis umbrella plus Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and more. In terms of Japanese manufacturers, we saw Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Subaru amongst the list of names. There are even some Chinese manufacturers such as BYD, BAIC, Geely, Great Wall, SAIC MG and Maxus listed. Autel’s website contains a Vehicle Coverage section where you can select your preferred Autel product as well as your vehicle make and model and find out if it’s covered before you make a purchase.

Hybrid vehicles are not expressly mentioned on the Autel website, however, they are listed under their specific models, and user reviews have mentioned that the readers worked on models such as the Toyota Prius, however it was mentioned that there were no hybrid-specific functions such as checking the condition of the individual battery packs or cells.

We did some research on user reviews and found that whilst Autel’s scanners worked well on mainstream brands and models, they did have some difficulties with lesser-known brands or special edition models when accessing manufacturer-specific codes of lesser-critical systems. Therefore, it’s best to do some research beforehand and ensure that your chosen Autel product will seamlessly work with your car before making a purchase, or at the very least will fulfill your most important diagnosis requirements.

Some of Autel’s products also allow you to save data for multiple vehicles, which is useful if you have more than one car and plan to use the OBD scanner across them all. There’s also the Autel AL529HD and ML529HD which claim to work with heavy-duty vehicles utilizing the SAE-J1939 and SAE-J1708 protocols which are of interest to the self-employed who drive commercial vehicles as part of their job and wish to perform self-diagnosis.

Which Autel Scanner is best?

This is a very subjective question, as the definition of ‘best’ may vary widely for users. However, let us try to answer the question as best we can.

It all boils down to your preference. Do you want an OBD scanner that can be quickly and easily plugged into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and stored in the glove box when not in use? Would you like to monitor real-time parameters whilst driving? Are you more comfortable with using mobile apps than a dedicated device? If these are your criteria, then it’s the Maxi AP200 or AP200C for you, which are Autel’s Bluetooth offerings that connect to a smart device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Are you looking for a cheap and simple dedicated device simply for periodically checking that all is well in your vehicle’s onboard computer systems? Extra features don’t really matter? Then, Autel’s basic offerings such as the AL319, AL329, and ML319 will fit the bill, with their clear and easy-to-read screens and buttons for control.

If you’re looking for a bit more functionality, models such as the AL619, AL629, ML619, and ML629 come into play with their larger and more comprehensive feature set as well as the ability to connect to a PC and print out reports. They can show display live as well as historical data, construct graphical representations of data and some come with color-coded LEDs and a built-in speaker for audio-visual alerts.

What kinds of problems can an Autel OBD Scanner read?

Even the most basic of Autel’s offerings can read out and report problems in the critical on-board systems of the vehicle under analysis, such as the emissions control system, powertrain, body control module, braking system, and steering system. These are considered the basic functionality set for any OBD scanner. Check out the specifications for the particular Autel product you are interested in, as the range of generic and manufacturer-specific codes that can be read varies across products.

As you move up the Autel product ladder, you will find that more systems can be read, if your vehicle has them. For example, the climate control system, infotainment system, lighting system, seat control system, and active safety systems if present can be read and errors detected. You may also be able to customize certain aspects or ‘code’ within these systems, adjusting parameters such as how many times the indicator lights blink when you indicate to pass, the duration of the headlamp remaining illuminated after the vehicle is switched off, and many more. The entire function set depends on the individual vehicle.

In addition to reading out and displaying problems or error codes, you can also reset these error codes once you have identified and fixed the underlying fault. This activity should only be undertaken once you are sure that the error has been fixed properly, as some error codes may be indicative of deeper, underlying issues and a more in-depth diagnosis may be required.

How much does it cost?

We did an online search and found that the Autel Maxi AP200 and AP200C vary widely in price depending on the retailer. Prices varied between US$60 and US$100 which is quite a significant price gulf, although the higher-priced variants were claimed to be the “latest 2021” or “newest 2022” versions, whilst the lower-priced ones carried no such tags.

We also found that the Autel MaxiAP200 app, whilst free to download does contain some in-app purchases for added functionality that can run you between $1 to $40 depending on what you purchase. This was reflected in user reviews as well, so be sure to bear this in mind as well if you’re going for the wireless solution. The pricing plus in-app purchases place Autel towards the upper end of the spectrum of Bluetooth OBD scanner offerings available on the market, and there are plenty of more pocket-friendly alternatives that offer similar functionality.

 On the other hand, Autel’s wired solutions are surprisingly affordable. At the time of writing, Walmart has the Autel AL319 for just under $35, the AL329 is available at $40 and the AL539 at $90, amongst their professional-grade offerings which can cost three and even four figures. This shows that if you don’t mind the cabled nature and additional device to carry around, one of Autel’s dedicated OBD scanners may be the better value proposition. When you climb up the AutoLink and MaxiLink ladder, the Autel AL629 costs $180, and the ML629 costs $127 at Walmart, which is once again quite a value-added proposition for these relatively higher-end consumer or enthusiast-grade OBD scanners.

Where can I buy an Autel device?

Whilst Autel doesn’t have their own online store, they do have a ‘Where To Buy’ section on their website where you can view all their authorized resellers across North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific, as well as online. Selecting North America presents you with seven retailers including Advance Auto Parts, Autozone, Carquest Auto Parts, NAPA, O’Reilly, ProQuip, and Walmart. If you’re the kind who likes to visit a brick-and-mortar store and physically check out what you’re buying, there’s a good chance that one of these names has a store nearby.

If you’re the kind who likes to shop online, you can also buy these products from the online stores of the named retailers such as Walmart, as well as on Amazon, however, we did find one or two listings that were subsequently marked by users as not being genuine Autel devices, so exercise some caution in this regard.

Autel reviews

Autel’s reviews for its Bluetooth OBD scanners are average at around three stars out of five. The main reason for this is cited as connectivity issues between the smart device and the OBD scanner, as well as the relatively high total price once the in-app purchases are factored in. Some users reported issues with using Android 12 devices, although these were subsequently corrected.

Autel’s wired devices enjoy ratings of around four to four and a half out of five, with users praising their hand-held nature and feature set for the price. One niggle pointed out by users was that the screen could be a little larger, however, this was offset by the intuitive button-controlled interface, as well as the ability to connect the higher-end devices to a PC and obtain reports for maintaining vehicle records.


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Latest Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5
July 19, 2022

“My Autel MaxiAP AP200!!! Everyone should have one to keep in glove/tool box. Seriously, I’ve found that Autel provides the best value and most comprehensive selection of OB2 device options for every vehicle, need and budget! I’ve purchased several myself.

Rated 1 out of 5
July 19, 2022

It’s had a bug for awhile that’s taking a long time to fix. I can’t access the app to do anything. It gives the option to save vehicle information, but it doesn’t save it. So I have to enter a lot of options for the same vehicle everytime. Including specific RPO codes. It gets very tedious. It doesn’t read or have certain features it advertises as well.

Rated 3 out of 5
July 19, 2022

The app is a little tricky to set up but support was really awesome and I was up within 1 business day. Fast forward a year later I had to delete the app and download the newer version. It then had me add another diag asia app and then a vci firmware update. After that everything worked perfect. For 50 bucks you cant complain just be patient and reach out to those that have figured it out like on fb groups.

Rated 0 out of 5
July 19, 2022

Very low typical chinese quality. The app doesn’t even work at all, countless nonsense errors and even it sometimes connected to vci it doesn’t actually connect and not 1 bit of car data displayed.



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