Looking to buy an all-makes scan tool?

The MaxiDAS scan tool makes some bold claims but, how well does it perform?

Published:  24 October, 2012

Any garage in the market for a new mid-price scan tool is well served at the moment. Every month it seems like a new device becomes available with evermore compelling offers and features.

This is the case with the Autel MaxiDAS. Although the original version of this tool appeared a couple of years ago, it was only recently that the tool began to be officially imported into the UK. The current model, known as the DS708, makes the bold claim on the manufacturers website that it can 'recreate the functionality of OEM tools used by dealers', although this is not a claim that the importers would align themselves with. As this unit is pitched at the mid-market, we would be amazed if it really did emulate all of the functions of every dealer tool, but looking at the coverage list, it was not unreasonable for us to expect a reasonable amount of connectivity with most of the major brands.  To find out, we gave it to former Top Technician finalist Dave O'Neill for testing.

First impressions

At first glance, the MaxiDAS seems to be roughly in line with other multi make tools at a similar price. However, it does have one or two key distinctions that set it apart from the rest of the crowd. The first is its Wi-Fi capabilities, notably its ability to perform automatic Wi-Fi data logging. The second and perhaps key distinction is the manufacturer's claim that the tool can perform a deep scan on all vehicle electronic systems providing the vehicle is EOBD compliant. In fact, the claim is that it can work with all five EOBD2 protocols as well as all nine test modes.

The machine came well packaged with a number of cables and a nice sized case. All of the cables required are included in the pack, with connectors for BMW, Mercedes, Honda and others.

According to our tester, the instructions supplied with the machine are clearly a direct translation from the original. While he reported that they are not always grammatically perfect, they are certainly clear enough to follow.  Interestingly, although the machine is produced in the Far East the software is developed in the UK, so the on-screen text was clear and logical. Build quality also appeared to be good enough with armour protection on the sides. While our tester didn't try deliberately throwing it at the walls, it certainly seemed to be pretty robust. The display measures 480x800 pixels, which translates to about seven inches - which is not huge, but is certainly large enough for a tool of this type.

In use

As might be expected from a tool hailing from the Far East, Asian vehicles were very well catered for, and it did seem to work with most makes and models. O'Neill reported that the most in-depth coverage on the vehicles he tried it on was on a Civic Type R, while the only car that it just wouldn't shake hands with was an old Rover. The tool boasts something called 'Uni-Scan technology' which, in practical terms, means that the device can be connected to vehicles without the use of extra adaptors or 'keys'.

Like most of the current generation of scan tools, the Maxi Das will capture and analyse live data and then display it in a choice of graph or chart form. Storing pages for later reference is also easy enough. We didn't try it but the maker says it is straightforward to connect the device to a wireless printer in case you wish to present your customer with a hard copy of the data.

Actually using the tool and navigating the menus was simple enough as it uses the embedded platform Windows CE, which also means that the tool supports touch screen operation. A built-in browser means you can also surf the web on it if you really want to, though the function has been designed in order that the Maxi Das be easier to update.

The biggest bugbear that our tester had with this tool was the lack of an internal battery. It can be run off the mains so, at least it won't reset while the engine is being cranked, but we found that having a mains cable trailing was inconvenient and rather took away from the tool's wire-free capabilities.

Price

With a price of around £1,200 which includes two years' warranty and phone support from Equip Express as well as one year of updates, the MaxiDAS is competitively priced for a tool of this type.

Verdict

Aside from the issue with the battery and a few direct translations, there is no doubt you are getting a lot of machine for the money with the MaxiDAS. It seems attitudes towards Chinese-made products are changing, just as they did with items from Japan thirty years ago.

Whether or not the MaxiDAS really is a replacement for a dealer tool is debateable. However, you get a lot of equipment for the money, so we suggest that you take a look if you are in the market for a tool of this type.

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