Starting the car was used to be very easy. All we needed was to simply place the key into the ignition, turn it, and then the starter would immediately make the car to life.

Those were the simple days, when cars were very simple, not so today.

Nowadays, everybody has a car, and it’s no wonder why – motor vehicles offer the best means of transportation. However, because of the ever-present need for cars and their constantly soaring prices, some “desperate” people have gone to lengths to make a profit by stealing them, which has spurred the need for additional and innovative means to prevent car theft.

One of these innovations involves the incorporation of a specialized microchip made of carbon-fiber. Implemented sometime in 1996, and now popular with most car manufacturers, it is an electronic fail-safe that ensures vehicles will not start, if the microchip is not detected. This is true, even if the key or similarly object is in the ignition.

While this fail-safe is very effective, it isn’t foolproof or perfect, especially if keys get lost. In most cases, the problem with lost keys and locked cars can be solved by simply contacting the services of a locksmith. However, because of modern security innovations, even if you do manage to open your vehicle with the help of a locksmith, your car may not be able to start-up for lack of the programmable car key microchip.

In such cases, typical locksmith services will not suffice, you will need a locksmith that offers car key programming.

While Automotive Security Manufacturers have brought a lot of key programming options to market, for locksmiths looking for features such as Transponder Cloning, Vehicle Diagnostics, ECU Decoding, and much more, finding the right solution for the right price can get confusing.

Today, we've taken the leg work out of device shopping by breaking down the features you'll find in the latest and greatest TOP 5 key programmers on the market.

NO.1 Autel MaxiIM IM608
Autel MaxiIM IM608 Automotive Locksmith Programming Tool
Autel IM608 Automotive Locksmith Programming Tool
4.6 / 5

One of the best key programmer for professionals, giving you complete control over key programming and IMMO systems.
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The MaxiIM IM608 is the most advanced and the unique all in one key programming and diagnostic tool that combines advanced key programming, all systems diagnostics, and advanced services in one Android based 10.1-inch touchscreen tablet.

It is equipped with XP400 key programmer and MaxiFlash ECU programmer to provide complete coverage of IMMO and programming functions. Together with the ability to quickly diagnose all modules of the majority of the makes and models on the market, IM608 provides you with all special functions.

It is the unprecedented key programming and diagnostic tool that you ever wanted.

ProsCons
Performs chip programming and ECU initializationDoesn’t support all functions on all vehicles
Allows IMMO programming and resetWon’t perform non-OBD system diagnostics
Full OBD2 diagnostics
8 reset functions
Stable connection with fast communication speed
Easy updates through Wi-Fi
Includes adapters for Honda and Kia ports
NO.2 TOPDON T-Ninja1000
TOPDON T-Ninja1000 Automotive Key Programming Tool
TOPDON T-Ninja1000 Automotive Key Programming Tool
4.3 / 5

Comes with the massive database online for lookup of the key programming guidance, being among the most useful key programmer on the market.
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The TOPDON T-Ninja1000 is a state-of-the-art vehicle key programmer that provides fast, easy, and intuitive programming via the smart user interface.

Software is driven by guided prompts, with the assistance of online key programming database covering related data for over 5000 most popular makes and models worldwide. Expertly engineered with high-quality components ensures you of high-security standards and outstanding performance.

Its customized operating system has been designed and developed in vehicle key programming.

ProsCons
Cost-effective; paid for itself in just one useNo diagnostic or service functions
Support most vehicles in North America, and some Japanese brands, and growing
Read Pin Code, All Keys Lost, Add and Erase Keys and more
Step-by-step guidance through a series of functions
Read Pin Code for most vehicles
Online Technical Assistance Center with a constantly updated database
Regular update
NO.3 Autel MaxiIM IM508
Autel IM508 Automotive Locksmith Programming Tool
Autel IM508 Automotive Locksmith Programming Tool
5 / 5

With an Expert Mode that gives experienced technicians the control they need.
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The MaxiIM IM508 (former Auro IM100) is a fast, easy-to-use, and ultraportable immobilizer and key programming device. The Android-based touchscreen tablet features powerful quad-core processor, intuitive design and straight-forward interface.

Equipped with the XP200 key programmer, IM508 is capable of providing extraordinary service functions for the immobilizer system. Together with the ability to quickly diagnose all modules of the majority of the makes and models on the market, IM508 provides you with superior special functions.

IM508 is the perfect solution for shops and technicians who demand affordable and powerful IMMO and diagnostic services.

ProsCons
Reset and code IMMOHigh cost
Supports key learning and ECU adaptationService and special functions not universally compatible
Can program keys even if all keys are lost
OE-level all-system diagnostics
Includes 1 year free update through Wi-Fi
Auto VIN scan saves time in diagnosis
NO. 4 XTOOL X100 Pad2 Pro
XTOOL X100 Pad2 Pro New Version With Special Functions
XTOOL X100 Pad2 Pro New Version With Special Functions
4.0 / 5

Supports reading and making new keys, remote learning, and IMMO reprogramming and reset. The biggest difference here is it supports these functions for more vehicles.
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The Xtool X100 Pad2 supports reading and making new keys, remote learning, and IMMO reprogramming and reset. The biggest difference from X100 is it supports these functions for more vehicles.

The X100 Pad2 has the same 8 service functions found on the X100 Pad. Its main improvement from a diagnostic standpoint is the inclusion of 4-system diagnosis. This means you can read codes from the ABS, SRS, and transmissions systems, not just the engine.

It includes a wider array of adapters, and its IMMO and service functions are supported on more manufacturers. This includes newer models, like the C-class and E-class Mercedes left behind by other versions of the device.

Not only is the X100 Pad2 easy to use, you can adjust it to satisfy your needs. It comes with a range of interactive interfaces, and can also give you detailed reminders of how to operate it. That makes it an easy device for anyone to navigate.

ProsCons
8 service functionsWon’t diagnose all engine modules
4-system diagnostECU programming compatibility is still limited
Wide vehicle compatibility
One-click oil reset
Easy to update through Wi-Fi
Personalized interface
NO. 5 Autel MP808K
Autel MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool, with Advanced IMMO Service
Autel MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool, with Advanced IMMO Service
4.6 / 5

Can effectively program key fobs for a wide range of vehicles.
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The Autel MP808K can effectively program key fobs for a wide range of vehicles. It also supports ECU coding. Having said that, though, it’s more a diagnostic scanner with key making abilities than it is a dedicated key programmer. Its IMMO functionality is a bit limited, and on some vehicles more than others.

Along with full OBD2 support, the MP808K can perform bi-directional tests of components. This is very useful for diagnosing mechanical issues and very helpful when it’s time to make repairs.

The capabilities of the MP808K go beyond any other scanner you’ll find at the price. It’s the best key programmer for all-in-one functionality. Among its 23 service functions are DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, transmission or throttle adaptation, and injector coding. While you won’t get all of these on all supported manufacturers, it’s still one of the best repair tools on the market.

ProsCons
Programs key fobs for most vehiclesIMMO functions aren’t as robust
23 service functionsService and key programming functions not supported on all vehicles
All 10 modes of OBD2 supported
Diagnoses all systems
Supports bi-directional control
User-friendly interface
Auto-VIN for quicker diagnostics
Final Thoughts

Most key programmers are pretty costly, but you can find a great deal if you look. The higher the cost, the more diagnostic and programming functions it will offer.

Vehicle compatibility also goes up with the price, which is important if you’re buying the best car key programmer for a professional garage. Getting the right one really comes down to knowing what you need.

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