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CREATOR C501 Review - Electriphobia

CREATOR C501 Review

Driving and maintaining a high-performance vehicle made by BMW or MINI requires regular monitoring of all systems, especially if that vehicle has integrated turbo, variable shift transmission or a sport exhaust system. Even the most minor malfunction can cause a cascade effect that results in major maintenance and repairs. DIY mechanics and shop technicians keep the best scanner on hand for diagnosis and troubleshooting, and even if you don’t work on your own BMW or MINI you want the ability to check for problems or potential problems on your own.


The Creator C501 is purpose built for use with BMW and MINI vehicles, and provides access to OBDII diagnostic trouble code (DTC) readings and coed resets if you maintain your vehicle yourself. For BMW/MINI drivers and enthusiasts, this scanner should be among your top choices for a home or shop OBDII scanner.

Quality of Build: 4/5

Value:  4/5

Ease of Use:  4/5

Pros

-ABS & SRS diagnostic support for BMW/MINI brand vehicles

-Real time scanning with graph or data metrics

-Record real time diagnostic scans

-Firmware and diagnostic database fully updatable via internet-connected Windows PC

-Compact size makes it easy to operate one handed

-Bright colors for easy location on your workbench

Cons

-No wireless connectivity for direct update/firmware upgrade

-Not compatible with non-BMW/MINI vehicles for OBDII scanning/diagnostics

-Connector cable is only 12 inches long, limiting usability from outside the vehicle

Look and Feel

The most important part of good scanner design is easy one-handed operation without compromising display size or readability. Balancing these two with a simple d-pad navigation system and soft keys, the C501 manages to accomplish both feats without a prohibitive price tag. The build of the device itself is also tough ABS plastic with textured surfaces, so even if you do manage to lose your grip it can take the usual drops and dings without becoming seriously damaged or unusable.

Connectivity

Both the OBDII dongle and a USB memory card reader for Windows PC connectivity are included in the box. The C501 can connect to and diagnose virtually any model of BMW or MINI built after 1986, and the database can be updated online when connected to a Windows PC. There is even a memory card slot for easy updating and storing/printing data stream and diagnostic reports.

Functionality

Here’s a quick rundown of the Creator C501’s capabilities:

-Full upgrade/updatable via Windows PC

-Compatible with all BMW/MINI vehicles 1986 and newer

-OBDII connectivity via integrated dongle

-Live diagnostic scanning and recording

-Stream telemetry performance date directly to the device

-Records, stores and prints reports via memory card and a Windows PC

Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: No

ABS/ESP: Yes

Engine Codes: Yes

Memory Card Support: Yes

Live Data Stream: Yes, with recording, replay and printing via PC

Smog Test: Yes

Wireless Keys Coding: No

ECU Reprogramming: No

Check Engine Light Reset: Yes 

Ease of Use

The menu system is like most OBDII scanners, and if you are used to using an OBDII diagnostic scan tool this shouldn’t present too steep a learning curve. They are programmed and manufactured in China, but their software team has done an excellent job designing a simple interface that doesn’t require much time playing with the software to get the information you want or need. 

Pros

Small size, bright display, easy to use software and USB memory card support make this a delight to use when diagnosing or  troubleshooting your contemporary or classic BMW or MINI. If you work exclusively on vehicles from these manufacturers, you would be hard-pressed to find a better pocket sized OBDII scan tool.

Cons

It only works with BMW, the screen is LCD not TFT (not as easy to read) and you have to pop the memory card out to update the database or firmware for the device. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it is built for specific use. If you tend to work on multiple make and model vehicles, this may not be the best choice for your needs.

FAQ

What makes and models are compatible with the Creator C508?

Only BMW and MINI vehicles 1986 and newer.

Can this device reset the airbag light?

Yes, but only on BMW/MINI vehicles.

Can it run on internal batteries?

It does not. The scan tool must be connected to power it on. You will need to snapshot data to view and print it on a windows PC.

Can it link/update on a Mac computer?

No, the software is not MacOS compatible.

What versions of Windows can I use to sync/update my Autel MaxiLink ML629?

Windows 7 and newer PCs are compatible with this device.

Can the Creator C501 program wireless car keys?
No, this feature is not available.

What’s involved in the device update process?
Install the free software on your Windows PC, connect the included memory card reader and run the update program.

Can you reset adaptive memory with this device?
No, this is a scan tool and does not have programming capabilities

Conclusion

BMW and MINI enthusiasts will love this device for its compact size, easy to use interface and PC connectivity. If you aren’t working on BMW or MINI vehicles though, this is not the OBDII scanner for you.