Autel vs Stand Alone J-Box

Cory from Madison Technician Posted   Latest  

Hey guys first post here. I'm looking at getting a setup for programming. is it worth having a stand alone j box, I was looking into a drew product. or is it a better idea to look into a autel unit with a j box? my programming needs are mostly domestics. Thanks ahead of time for your input!


Dustin from Lakeland



I would recommend a drew tech cardaq m mega, you need a lsid on newer Ford's and gm is pretty straight forward, it's oe approved for techstream as well as BMW and VW. The mega aspect makes it factory approved to do 2018 and up chrysler as well 

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Albin from Leavenworth



A J-box will not fill all your programming needs, although it does cover it quite well, especially on domestic vehicles. I can't give you a report on the Autell product, although I do have two of their scan tools. I do own and use a Drew-tech J-box, which is a very quality product. By far, the Drew-Tech tech support is second to none. It is not if you are going to have problems and need help, it is when it will happen.

The Drew-Tech products also come with the "technicians toolbox" which is also a great place to get help.

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Geoff from Lahaina



An argument can be made for either. If you are new to programming, and want HELP when something doesn't work, get something from DrewTech. They have top-notch customer support. If you want a new scan tool anyway, and are confident in your abilities to conquer all Windows issues big and small, get the Autel.

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Andre from Homebush



I have been using Drewtech Cardaig-2 and can recommend it. Support is topshelf considering I am in Sydney, Australia.

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Mike from Fond du Lac



Hey Cory, I went with the Autel Elite in a similar situation. I wanted a J-box and also needed a scan tool. Something can be said about getting both for a decent price. The support isn't as forthcoming with the Autel vs the others but you have the internet and forums like this at your disposal. 

I think the Elite offers the best bang for your buck but if you plan on hitting programming hard, multiple per week, you may consider getting OE tooling. 

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Michael from Clinton


Mobile Technician

Hi Cory,

In the early days most manufactures would list the J-2534 tools that had been validated with their reprogramming software. If you use an approved box then the OEM would help you troubleshoot the problem. If you used an unimproved box, you were on your own. At that time the Drewtech products seemed to be listed on every OEM site. This practice seems to have gone by the wayside. J2534 is a standard. If your device adheres to the standard and the OEM adheres to the standard it would not matter who's product you use. Unfortunately the OEMs do not always follow it perfectly. The Drew Box works as the OEM pass-through for GM, Honda, Audi/VW, Toyota and possibly others. From 2018 forward all OEMs are supposed to write their software for J-2534. For Chrysler, the J-2534 software mainly only addresses Engine and Transmission. Many operations needed in module replacement are only found in the factory tool. An LSID is required for immobilizer functions for Chrysler and Ford. The Autel Scan tools have decent coverage for Toyota, Honda and Nissan Immobilizer. Having a spare J-2534 box is not a bad idea. So I would recommend a Drewtech device along with an Autel tool that includes the J-2534 Device. Also realize you may be able to do most updates with the J-2534 tool, however, module replacement may require a genuine factory tool and an LSID to complete the task. It is not as easy as the tool truck salesmen make it. I have shops all the time that want to save all the money they are paying me only to find out you have to be able to keep the software current and make changes to JAVA and Adobe software at the whims of the OEM. In the end it is just cheaper and easier to call in "The Guy" The only winner is the guy that sold them the J-2534 tool and won't take it back.

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Bob from East Longmeadow



It's like that quote that I have seen posted from time to time. Programing is easy, until it isn't, Or something like that. 

Most of the time it's pretty quick and easy but that one stubborn job can ruin your day.

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