Introducing The Ilco TKO 2nd Generation Multi-Function Programming Tool

Using the Ilco TKO 2nd Generation Multi-Function Programming Tool, we erased and programmed the two Honda Civic keys in just a few minutes.


The TKO, an acronym for Transponder Key Originator, is Ilco’s second generation automotive programming tool for the locksmith market. The TKO replaces the SDD as the Ilco multi-function programmer. The TKO is designed to service vehicles equipped with transponder-based anti-theft systems and remote keyless entry (RKE). In addition to programming vehicles to accept transponder-equipped keys and remote keyless entry, the TKO is capable of reading and resetting a number of vehicles’ immobilizer error codes.

Note: Ilco will continue to support the SDD machine; however, they will no longer be sold. New software for the TKO will be backward-compatible to operate with the SDD machine.

The TKO is compact, approximately 8.5” by 6” by 2”, easily fitting into a small laptop computer bag. The 23 button controls surround the central LCD. There are five “F” keys on the left of the display: two rows of six buttons containing the numbers one through zero, the letters of the alphabet, and the asterisk/left arrow and pound sign/right arrow beneath the display. The left, right, up and down arrows as well as reverse and enter are on the right side of the display.

The TKO machine has been designed to be faster and more user friendly when connecting and programming. Only one included OBDII cable is necessary in order to communicate with the current vehicles equipped with engine immobilizer. When the OBDII cable is connected to the vehicle, the TKO circuitry determines the appropriate linkage in order to communicate. To accomplish this, all of the connection circuitry has been placed inside of the TKO programmer, eliminating the need for multiple cables, adapters, and even the router box. There is one optional cable for programming the three 1999 Nissan models that use the old style Nissan port cable.

The TKO is sold in one configuration at this time. All of the SDD updates including the 2006 software releases have been programmed into the TKO database. They include the:

  • Chrysler C.A.N.
  • Chrysler C.A.N. P.I.N. Bypass
  • Ford C.A.N.
  • Ford C.A.N. PATS IV
  • Subaru Key Programming
  • Toyota/Lexus R.K.E.
  • VW/Audi P.I.N. Read

As future software becomes available, the TKO can be updated via a PC and a serial cable.

The Ilco TKO is designed to program the vehicle’s onboard computer to accommodate adding or deleting transponder-equipped keys. The TKO can read and reset vehicle immobilizer error codes. And for some manufacturers and models, the TKO can be used to program remote keyless entry (key fobs).

For this article, we will program a 2001 Honda Civic. There are two options for programming the 2001 Honda Civic. They are: Add A Key, where at least one programmed key is available and Erase All Keys and program up to six keys. In addition to programming keys, the number of keys can be determined. The decision was made to Erase All Keys and to program the key they were given and one new key.

Note: Make sure the battery is fully charged prior to programming the vehicle.

The OBDII port in the 2001 Honda Civic four door is beneath and to the right of the steering column. No trim had to be removed in order to gain access to the OBDII port.

Step 1. Attach the cable to the TKO. Be sure to evenly tighten the two connection screws.

Step 2. Plug the cable into the OBDII port. The cable mounts in only one direction.

At this time, the TKO automatically powers up and goes through its startup cycle, ending at the MAIN MENU. There are a number of choices at this menu including IMMOBILIZER, REMOTE CONTROLS, PIN CODE READING, 7-4 PIN CONVERSION, SETUP, and DATA BASE. The up and down arrows move the arrow indicator.

Step 3. Press enter when the arrow indicator points towards IMMOBILIZER.

Step 4. Under the IMMOBILIZER MENU, press down arrow to HONDA USA. Press enter.

Under the HONDA USA, there are three choices for Accords including ULEV, and three choices for Civic on the first screen.

Step 5. Move the indicator arrow to the Civic 01-02. Press enter.

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