Initial Impressions: Autel’s AutoLink AL629 Makes Figuring Out Vehicle Health Easy
One size might not fit all, but it covers most.
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Can you believe it: OBD II has been around in some capacity since 1994. That's the same year that Pulp Fiction debuted on the silver screen. And like that classic picture, OBD II codes have proven to be required reading for their own respective industry: automotive repair.
Having the ability to read OBD II codes gets easier and cheaper every year, and when you throw in the ability to keep an eye on your vehicle's vitals in general, as well as be clued in on emissions readiness, it makes for a knowledge-filled and well-prepared ownership experience.
A common name in vehicle diagnostics, Autel, recently sent me its AutoLink AL629 scan tool to test and review, which features such capability. So far, it seems like a well-rounded option for its minimum $169 asking price; here are my initial thoughts on using it as a go-to diagnostic tool.
It Comes With Its Own Carrying Case
That's right, it's own carrying case! This probably isn't impressive to most, as you can score any number of diagnostic scan tools for far less money, case or not. What I mean is, the AL629 better include one for fetching well over one-hundred bones.
Going further, the included cord appears to be of substantial quality and is a good length, as this means you can connect it to the driver's footwell port and run through its features from either the driver or passenger seat with ease. This also means you can enlist a buddy to help keep an eye on vitals, or even log data, while you can focus on driving around. It further plugs in from the top of the unit, which is common for diagnostic tools, but appreciated nonetheless.
It's a very lightweight yet substantial feeling unit, too. I also Iike that its big in my hand, with a simple array of big buttons, as it helps you understand immediately which buttons do what once you turn it on. But I'll save more on that for my longer-form review, I want to live with those buttons first.
The Autel also has some added bits of for grip and potentially better drop protection, though, it feels light inside and I'd like a little concerned about dropping one from a couple of feet, such as accidentally knocking it off a work bench if it's not in its padded carrying case.
Autel boasts that the AL629 pulls both generic and manufacturer-specific codes from the engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS (supplementary restraint system), as well as VIN, CIN, and CVN numbers. It also reads, stores, and plays back data coming from power control module, as well as every sensor that your car is willing to share.
Not only that, but it can also read and test emissions readiness monitors. Finally, you can plug it into a computer and print out data, as well as download free updates. Thanks to its substantial dimensions, its got a big, easy-to-read 2.8-inch LCD screen with 320x240 resolution. Again, not to get too far ahead of myself, but it's quite easy to read.
What Would You Like to Know?
I plan on trying out all of the Autel AutoLink AL629's features with both my 2002 Audi S4 and 2011 BMW 128i. Both manufacturers are known for playing better with very specific dealer-level software, which I have some experience with. So, it will be especially interesting to see how this unit stacks up; how much time and effort can you save by going with this universal unit over downloading INPA/ISTA for BMWs and/or VCDS for Audis?
With that, what else would you like to know about the AL629? Let me know below!