Tom's Guide Verdict
The rare OBD-II automotive diagnostic scanner that has a multimeter electrical tester to track down an intermittent fault or check a light bulb, the Autel AutoLink AL539 does double duty.
Includes electrical multimeter
Battery needs to be recharged
Can't use electrical meter and OBD-II scanner at same time
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Size: 6.7 x 3.6 x 1.4 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Live Data: Yes
Display type and size: Color,2.8 inches
Number of keys: 8
Warranty: 1 year
The Autel AutoLink AL539 OBD-II automotive diagnostic scanner goes beyond the ability to interrogate a car's vital functions by including a built-in electrical multimeter to track down an intermittent short circuit or to check if a fuse is burned out.
The AL539's $75 price tag and pull-out stand separate it from other scanners and place it on our list of the best OBD-II scanners. The one drawback is that you can’t use its diagnostic functions and its multimeter at the same time.
Read on for the rest of our Autel AutoLink AL539 review.
Autel AutoLink AL539 Pricing and availability
The Autel AutoLink AL539 offers more than the typical OBD-II scanner by including an electrical multimeter for a total price of $75. Autel makes other models that run the gamut of diagnostic capabilities, ranging from the $17 MS300, which covers the low end, to the $5,000 MaxiSys Ultra Scanner for professional mechanics.
Autel AutoLink AL539 Design
Despite the fact that the Autel AutoLink AL539 combines a fully functional electrical multimeter with a competent OBD-II scanner, the device is not huge or unwieldy. It weighs 10.6 ounces and measures 6.7 x 3.6 x 1.4 inches, leaving plenty of room in your toolbox. These dimensions put it between the larger and heavier Innova CarScan Inspector 5310 scanner and the smaller and lighter SeekOne SK860.
As one of the most ruggedly designed OBD-II scanners, the black-and-red AL539 has a ribbed, soft rubber edging designed to stand up to shop abuse. It comes with a padded case that's big enough to hold the scanner, its OBD-II cable and an included set of multimeter test leads. The scanner's pull-out leg is unique in letting the AL539 sit vertically on a fender or on a nearby bench for hands-free viewing.
The Autel AutoLink AL539's 2.8-inch color screen is on a par with the Innova CarScan 5310 and SeekOne SK860, but is smaller than the 3-inch display on the Bosch OBD1300. The AL539's software is icon-based and visually oriented.
Its home screen provides access to the most frequently used items, such as Diagnostics, Ready Test and fault-code lookup, as well as the ability to review stored data and print it. The Settings section has options to configure the scanner the way you want it. In addition, there's an icon for firing up the electrical tester.
The Autel's eight-key interface is rudimentary but easy to master. You press the center of the four-way control to activate the selection.
Autel AutoLink AL539 Performance
The AL539 lacks the ability to directly read the make, model and year data from the car's computer. It can, however, show the car's vehicle identification number (VIN).
The scanner worked well with both my cars, a 2014 Audi A4 AllRoad and a 2016 Infiniti Q50. It quickly detected a fault that I had deliberately introduced (a disconnected oil-temperature sensor) and then allowed me to turn off the Check Engine light.
When connected to the car's computers, the Autel AutoLink AL539 can show live data, such as the engine speed and the coolant temperature, to help you figure out hard-to-diagnose problems. It also tests the cylinder pressure, charging system and starter.
The device's ReadyTest feature is a pre-inspection series of tests that shows a green check mark when everything is OK, or a yellow exclamation mark or red octagon when something requires attention. If it's green, then that's a good indicator the car will pass inspection.
The Autel AutoLink AL539 sets itself apart from the crowd with a digital multimeter, but you can't use that function and the OBD-II scanner at the same time. You also have to charge the Autel's internal battery to power the multimeter.
The packaging includes a USB charging cable but no AC adapter. Still, the AL539 is the rare OBD-II scanner that can not only check AC and DC voltage but the continuity of a light bulb and current flow.
Autel AutoLink AL539 Setup
After I plugged the AL539 into my vehicle's OBD-II port, it took about 10 seconds for it to link with the car's computer and start showing data. Its 58-inch cable is long enough to reach the engine bay from the passenger cabin, and it also worked well with an extension cord.
There are ports on the scanner's body for the OBD-II cable and multimeter test leads as well as a 5-volt input for charging the AL539's battery. The device has a mini-USB plug for connecting to a PC to get firmware updates.
The Autel Autolink AL539 comes with a one-year warranty, far short of the lifetime updates promised by the SeekOne SK860. The included instruction booklet has the basics of operating the Autel, but you should expect to spend some time trying out the AL539.
Autel AutoLink AL539 Verdict
While it can help tell you if a fuse is burned out or the battery is at its correct voltage, the Autel AutoLink AL539's multimeter requires pre-charging its battery and can't be used with the OBD-II scanner at the same time. Yet because it can do two different things, the AL539 can both help keep your car running and save some space in your toolbox.
Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.