As a professional mechanic or driver, a car key programming machine is a vital device to have. Some machines are used to generate new car keys, and others are more advanced and suitable for servicing and diagnosing different vehicle functions. With the many options in the market, you might get confused about the one to buy. Car key programming machines differ in functionality, and you need to know exactly what will work to meet your needs. We have chosen the best key programming machine for all cars with their highlighted features and a purchasing guide to make the process easy for you.
Top 3 Key Programming Machines
The Best Key Programming Machine for All Cars
1. Autel MaxiIM IM608 Key Programming
The Autel MaxiIM IM608 Key Programming machine is a multifunctional diagnostic tool with powerful functionalities. It is among the most advanced all-in-one car programming machines with an abundance of features enabling it to support different car models. Its most notable features are:
Active Test and ECU Coding: The tester sends commands in the ECU during an active test to drive the actuators. This test determines the parts and systems integrity by reading the data from the engine ECU or monitoring the actuators’ operation. These operations include switching between two operating states, switching a solenoid or relay. After replacing or repairing vehicle parts, Autel IM608 enables you to reprogram the adaptive data for some parts of the test car via ECU coding.
Advanced Key Programming and IMMO: This machine comes with an integrated XP400 car key programmer. This enables it to read or write on-board EEPROM data, read transponder data, and generate exclusive keys.
It also has an IMMO application that provides both expert and smart mode guiding the technicians to perform functions related to IMMO. Some of these functions include remote control add, remote control learning, key learning, and more.
OE-Level Diagnostic Scanner & 30+ Service: Autel MaxiIM IM608 provides you with more than thirty functions making it an extremely versatile car key programming tool. They include key fob coding, brake reset, BMS reset, Engine/ABS/SRS/SAS/DPF, oil reset, and many others. Its auto-scan function enables you to perform comprehensive scanning on all the ECUs in vehicles to locate faults in cars and retrieve DTCs.
Wireless J2534 VCI: This newest car key programmer by Autel comes with a Wireless J2534 VCI. It is specifically designed to offer you convenient PC communication on all modern vehicle diagnostic buses. With updated OEM software, you can use the J2534 programmer to program new ECUs, replace existing firmware or software in the ECU, and fix emission and drivability issues controlled by the software. However, the J2534 cannot do ECU programming with IM608.
- Advanced IMMO functions
- Wireless J2534 VCI
- Performs all system diagnostics
- Compatible with a large number of vehicles
- Fast diagnostics due to auto-VIN
- 8 megapixels built-in camera and flashlight
- Clear and easy-to-read touchscreen interface
- Has smart and expert modes for technicians
- A little bulky
2. Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO Auto Key Programmer
Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO is among the most advanced key programming tools. It is a combination of programming functions, powerful IMMO, and OE-level diagnostics, all in an Android-based touch screen tablet. The auto key programmer is an upgrade of the Autel MaxilM IM608 and therefore, performs all the functions we have discussed above. This key programming machine for all cars comes with an array of features, which include:
Automated and Guided Smart Mode: Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO Auto Key Programmer features an automated and guided smart mode that helps you perform key learning easily and effortlessly. It also has an Expert mode, which offers experienced technicians quick access to their desired professional functions.
Powerful and Stable Performance: Since Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO Auto Key Programmer is an upgrade of the Maxilm IM608, it is more powerful, and its performance is more stable. It supports all functions from the previous version, such as read/write Mercedes infrared key, read/write chips, and read/write keys, but in more advanced ways.
Advanced XP400: This diagnostic tool features an upgraded XP400 key programmer. This makes the Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO Auto Key Programmer powerful, too, since it combines programming functions and IMMO with OE-level diagnostics and other advanced service functions.
OE-Level Diagnostics: Autel MaxiIM IM608 PRO auto key Programming machines help in performing bi-directional tests on vehicle systems. This helps you to make a diagnosis of your vehicle during repairs easily.
- Large and clear 10-inch touchscreen
- Powerful IMMO functions
- It is Wi-Fi enabled
- Has advanced key learning
- Performs all systems diagnoses
- Supports bi-directional control
- No cons
3. Autel IM508 Advanced Key Fob Programming Tool
Autel IM508 is among the most ultraportable, easy-to-use, and fastest key programming machines and immobilizers for all cars. This tool was among the best key programmers in 2020. It is the ideal professional choice for diagnostic and IMMO services. Here are some of the features that make this advanced key fob programming machine outstanding:
XP200 Key Programmer: The XP200 Key Programmer feature enables the Autel IM508 Advanced Key Fob Programming Tool to perform IMMO ECU programming. It is specifically designed for reading Volkswagen’s key chip data and clones.
It also enables reading and writing Freescale 9S12 MCUs, reading and writing on-board EEPROM data, and generating exclusive keys. When working with a diagnostic tool and PC with programmer software, the XP200 key programmer writes and reads key chip data more accurately and quickly.
Advanced IMMO and Key Programming: This Autel IM508 key programming machine offers you a variety of advanced IMMO functions. These functions include Key Learning, Key Generation, Read Pin/CS for all keys lost, and remote learning. Other functions you get are BMWCar CAS3/2 Key Learning, BenzCar FEM/BDC Key Learning, ECU Adaptation, and Coding/Refresh/Reset/Adaptation of IMMO ECU, among many other functions.
Works with XP400: The Autel IM508 key programming machine also works with XP400. When you connect Autel IM508 to an XP400 programmer, you get similar programming features and IMMO functions as the Autel IM608. This extends its capability of supporting IMMO functions such as Mercedes infrared key read and write BMW car CAS4 key learning and programming functions, IC card read and write, MC9S12 encryption chip read and write, remote frequency detects, and also supports PC connection.
Has Diverse Services Functions: The Autel IM508 immobilizer key programmer also acts as a professional diagnostic scanner, providing you with many useful service functions. They include TPMS sensors ID relearn, SAS calibration, reset parking brake pads after replacement, oil reset, and BMS. It also performs active tests for testing the functionality and integrity of individual components and systems.
OE- Level All Modules Diagnosis: The Autel IM508 scan tool performs quick diagnosis for all modules beyond 80 European, Asian, and US vehicle models and makes in the market. You can check the compatibility of your vehicle by sending the VIN to the manufacturer. This is the ideal automotive diagnostic tool for mechanics and technicians since it has complete capabilities for coding, matching, adaptation, ECU info, and live data.
- Has advanced key of expert mode programming
- Offers high-maintenance services
- It has an easy to use the touchscreen
- Wide and reliable internal memory
- Works on a wide variety of vehicles
- Compatible with XP400 programmer
- Have both smart and expert modes
- Not ideal for navigation testing
4. LAUNCH X431 V PRO Bi-Directional Scan Tool
LAUNCH X431 V PRO is another outstanding and best key programming machine for all cars in the USA offering the user more than 30 services. This Bi-Directional scan tool features key programming, a full system scanner, variant coding, full connector kits, and AutoAuth for FCA SGW. Here are more features you will get from this programming machine for all cars:
10000+ Vehicle Coverage: LAUNCH X431 V pro car key programming machine supports almost all vehicles in the world. It is compatible with over 10000 vehicles, including car models from America, Europe, Malaysia, Australia, Iran, Russia, Brazil, Asia, and India, among others. All this is made possible by the various services and functions this tool offers.
Full Bi-Directional: LAUNCH X431 V pro key programming tool features a full bi-directional control, more than 30 reset functions, initialization, reset, matching, adaptation, and actuation test. It also supports ABS bleed, injector coding, VIN identification, and ECU coding, among others. LAUNCH X431 V pro machine supports other advanced and deep maintenance functions like sunroof internalization, cluster reset, multimedia video reset, seat matching, headlight fitting, and air suspension matching. All this makes it the ideal tool for any professional mechanic.
Uses Native Language: If you want a key programming machine that will use your native language, then LAUNCH X431 V pro is the tool to have. This machine operates in 24 different languages giving you the freedom to choose your desired language. Some languages include Chinese Traditional Swedish, Serbian, Romanian, German, Spanish, English, Spanish, and others. You can, therefore, switch from one language to another and get your work done comfortably.
Powerful Hardware Configuration: The hardware part of the LAUNCH X431, V pro scan tool, is superb. It comes with a Lenovo branded tablet with a rear camera of 5.0MP pixels. Its 8-inch bright and clear touch screen gives you a great visual experience and enables you to dive deep into diagnostics. It works on the Android 7.1 system making its operation extremely smooth. The hardware is made with an anti-slip and anti-grease protective design. This scan tool comes with an awesome battery that runs for 10 hours non-stop.
- Its hardware configuration is powerful
- Uses different languages
- Provides more than 30 service functions
- Has an Auto VIN scan
- Suitable for almost all vehicles
- It is lightweight
- Instructions not available
5. LAUNCH X431 V+ 4.0 Diagnostic Scan Tool
LAUNCH X431 V+ scan tool is an upgraded version of LAUNCH X431 V Pro. It has more advanced functions compared to its predecessor. This key programming machine for all cars is the supreme version of 2021. It has guiding functions and wider vehicle coverage. Let us have a look at its distinctive features:
Guiding Functions: The LAUNCH X431 V+ scan tool is much more powerful, stronger, and faster than the previous version. This bi-directional tool has more advanced functions. The guiding functions are compatible with Seat, Skoda, Audi, and VW.
Wider Vehicle Coverage: The LAUNCH X431 V+ key coding machine covers more vehicles than the V Pro version. It supports AutoAuth SGW and FCA, making it compatible with Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Dodge, and Fiat after 2017. This scan tool is also compatible with HD modules enabling it to be compatible with both 24V diesel heavy-duty trucks and gasoline vehicles, which is not the case with the previous version.
Advanced OE-Level Diagnostic Features: This tool comes with more advanced OE-Level functions. It offers you a variety of functions, making it awesomely versatile. The functions include Flash hidden functions, online calibration, customization, offline coding, a modification for BMW, parameterization, variant coding for Benz, and guided functions. Its online coding feature is compatible with Seat, Porsche, Audi, VW, and BMW. It has a setting and changeover to cancel the ABS driving test, unlock the engine after the collision, and AdBlue reset for Benz and other brands.
More than 30 Reset services: The LAUNCH X431 V+ scan tool has above 30 reset services. It provides you with IMMO, SCN coding, ECU coding, key programming, and Auto VIN detection for all car systems, which helps with major repair and maintenance tasks. This tool gives you solutions for issues on fault codes, power loss, fuel efficiency, drivability, and durability on mechanical parts. Some of the other reset services include matching, injector coding, ABS bleeding, adaptation, oil reset service, steering angle calibration, and more to meet your requirements fully.
Full System Diagnosis: The LAUNCH X431 V+ scan tool provides a full system diagnosis for almost all vehicle models in the world. This scanner can perform active test & service functions, retrieve ECU version information, view live data, and erase or read codes for all car systems, including SAS, TPMS, BMS, IMMO, BCM, SRS, ABS, TCM, ECM, light system, fuel system and A/C system covering up to 20,000 vehicle models across the world. The tool is WIFI enables, and you can update the LAUNCH X431 V+ to the latest version freely and easily.
Bi-Directional Scan Tool: This bi-directional car key programming software performs an active test fast diagnostics, and you can use it in 24 different languages. The variety of languages used in the tool makes it easy for anyone to use the tool in their most preferred language, thus beating the language barrier question. It also features acute solenoids or actuators for active testing. It sends commands to different components and systems to test your vehicle’s work status without using its controls.
- Faster, Stronger, and More Powerful
- Long-lasting 7000mAh rechargeable battery
- Has a storage capacity of 32GB
- It supports remote diagnostics
- The large touchscreen of 10 inches
- It gives diagnostic feedback
- Keeps data stream record or playback
- A little bulky
6. Autel Maxisys MS906BT Diagnostic Scanner
Autel Maxisys MS906BT is the latest edition of the Maxisys product line and one of the best car key programmers in 2021. This diagnostic scanner tool has vehicle coverage of more than 80 vehicles made from Europe, Asia, and America. Let us now discuss features that make this key programmer stand out:
Advanced ECU Coding Capability: The Autel Maxisys MS906BT professional auto scanner features an advanced ECU coding function. This feature allows you to come up with data links to the electronic control system of the vehicle being tested through the VCI device for car coding, Service, and diagnosis. You can also perform other services such as functional tests or retrieve vehicle diagnostic information like live data, event codes, and trouble codes. Technicians can also perform ECU coding for different vehicle control systems like the ABS, transmission, and engine.
Key Fob Programming/ IMMO Keys: The Autel Maxisys MS906BT vehicle diagnostic tool has key fob programming or IMMO keys. This feature enables you to key relearn, clear information of lost keys, and perform remote programming or key fob to add new keys. Performing key buttons enables you to test key functions, thus preventing your vehicle from being stolen. It is crucial to note that the IMMO keys function is mainly for cars with low-grade anti-theft systems. It is, therefore, not intended for VW, BMW, Benz, AUDI, and the like.
Bi-Directional Control: This automotive diagnostic tool offers you different functions, which include actuation tests, active tests, and functional tests. Maxisys MS906BT has a bi-directional capability. This helps you perform active tests to determine the integrity of vehicle parts and systems like a roof, door, window, and roof. It is all performed by reading the UCU data or monitoring the operation of actuators like a relay or switching a solenoid.
Read and Clear Codes on Available Modules: Autel Maxisys MS906BT is a professional scan tool and upgraded version of Autel MS906. It features a wireless MaxiVCI enabling home mechanics and professionals to access and diagnose available vehicle modules remotely. The vehicle modules include but are not limited to RADIO, SCCM, TPM, BCM, PDM, EPS, ECM, and PCM. This Autel diagnostic scan tool has a complete capability for codes. It can read and clear codes on all subsystems and systems. It can also show you all live PID data on multiple sensors in both text and graph.
30+ Service Function: Autel Maxisys MS906BT diagnostic scan tool provides you with 31 service functions. This function ranges from idle relearn, power balance, VGT turbo calibration, injector coding, trans adaptation, ABS bleed, suspension calibration, throttle reset, BMS, DPF regeneration, SAS, EPB, and oil reset. Other functions are ECU coding, crankshaft variation learn, matching, and many more. Service functions, however, do not work for all cars. You, therefore, need to confirm first if it works for your vehicle model.
- Read and clear codes on all systems
- Features IMMO key programming
- Includes non-standard OBD adapters
- Has bi-directional control
- The large battery capacity of 10,000mAh
- Broad vehicle coverage
- Updates are a bit expensive
Things to Consider Before Buying Key Programming Machine
There are some considerations you need to make before getting the best key programming machine for all cars. Key programmers are really many these days, and they come with different features. Here are crucial factors that will help you in getting the right key programming tool for your needs:
Among the first thing to look out for is how heavy the gadget is. Key programming gadgets are made in diverse sizes and shapes, and thus you need to choose one that is convenient for you. If you are using the car programmer from one location, the size may not matter so much. However, if you will be carrying it from one job site to another, you will need a key programming machine that is easy to carry around.
Another crucial thing to check in a key programming tool is its compatibility with other vehicles. How many vehicles can the programmer work for? The best key programming machine should be able to work for as many vehicles as possible. As a professional mechanic, you will be dealing with different vehicle models and makes. Therefore, you need a gadget that will help you in programming keys for all your customers irrespective of their vehicle model.
3. Service Functions
Most of the key programming tools these days come with a variety of other service functions. Apart from key programming, the machines can do various functions on the vehicle like car diagnostics. Some of the key functions you should look for in a key programming machine are EPB, SAS maintenance, TPMS relearn, oil reset, and DPF systems. Consider a car programming tool with many service functions, and you will be confident that it will help you to check your vehicle thoroughly.
Everyone wants to buy a tool that will serve them for a long time before getting back to the market. The best car key programming software for Windows should serve you for years before needing a replacement. The durability of key programming tools will depend on their quality and the materials used in manufacturing.
The best key programming machine should be made with heat-tolerant and water-resistant materials. This makes sure that you can use the tool anytime, irrespective of the weather conditions. Also, consider a tool made with a rigged design, for it will serve you for more years. The machine should also be simple and easy to maintain.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Program a Car Key Myself?
Yes, you can program a car key by yourself as long as you have the right car key programming tool. With the right machine, it will take around 15 to 30 minutes to program the key effectively. However, if you are not confident about the process, it is advisable to consult a professional.
What Do Locksmiths Use to Program Keys?
Most auto locksmiths these days use diagnostic tools to program car keys. This is among the most used tools today for car key programming since face automobile keys were made more complicated.
How Do Car Key Programmers Work?
Car key programming machines perform all the technical work for you when programming a new key. The programmer synchronizes the vehicle and the new key together with a small series of commands that differ on the machine you are using. To start using the machine, plug the programming too into the diagnostic port.
Install the available diagnostic to the tool. Choose the model of your vehicle from the user menu provided. Through the programming process, the pin code or password of the vehicle’s IMMO will be programmed into the new key. With the process finished, you can now use your new key comfortably.
How Many Keys Can Be Programmed To a Car?
The number of keys that can be programmed in a car differs from one manufacturer to the other. If you already have two car keys, some car manufacturers will allow you to program one more key on your own. Some, however, allow you to program up to 4 car keys.
How Much Does It Cost to Program a Key to a Car?
The cost of replacing a car key will vary depending on the type of keys you need. The cost can range from below $50 for basic car keys. The price of replacing and reprograming a smart key for luxury vehicles ranges from $220 to $500. You can cut down the cost if you do the programming by yourself.
Can You Get a Car Key Made With a VIN Number?
Yes, you can have a car key made using a VIN number. However, you will need to show proof that you own the vehicle in the locksmith service. Most present vehicles have become stricter to reduce car theft. In some modern vehicles, the vehicle must be there for the key to be cut. This prevents you from ordering a car key online.
How to Program a Car Key to Your Vehicle Quick and Easy YouTube
You can at times find yourself in a situation where you have locked your car keys in the vehicle or lost them. It is always recommended to have a second key for emergency purposes. The above is a review of the best key programming machines for all cars. These key programming tools are affordable and have outstanding features for both car owners and professional mechanics. They will serve for other diagnostic and programming functions on top of key programming. Always ensure you get a car key programming machine that is compatible with the model of your vehicle. If you are a mechanic, buy a key programming machine compatible with as many car models as possible.