The Newest In Automotive Tools And Technologies

Sept. 4, 2018
A review of 2018/2019 vehicle security systems, cloning technology, programmers and tools

The technology in new cars is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Just a few years ago, built-in CD players replaced obsolete cassette players almost overnight. Yesterday, I saw an ad for a smartphone cradle that used a clever mount that fit into “that useless CD slot in the center of the dash.” Automotive lock and security systems are changing just as fast, and if you are an automotive locksmith, you have no choice but to keep up with these changes. Here are some of the new vehicles for 2018 / 2019, and just a few of the new tools and technologies that have become available for automotive locksmiths.

2018 / 2019 Vehicle Security Systems

Despite persistent rumors that GM plans to do away with keyed ignition locks in response to the ignition lock recalls, GM still does not even offer keyless ignition on 19 percent of their vehicles. Many other GM models only offer keyless ignition on the upper trim levels. As a result, we will continue to see quite a few keyed ignition locks on GM vehicles in the future.

Another change in the GM system, first started in the 2017 model year, is the requirement for a minimum of two keys or fobs in order for the system to operate. This means that in an “all keys lost” situation, you will have to make a minimum of two keys, or program two prox fobs, if you delete the old keys or fobs. And once again, contrary to the rumors from those who sell key codes and PINS, on-board programming is still an option on all domestically produced GM vehicles. In order to onboard program an additional key, the procedure is now essentially the same as it has been for Ford and Chrysler for years. To add a key with onboard programming, you will now have to start the process with two working keys inserted sequentially before inserting the new key. To add a prox-fob with onboard programming, you will need to insert two working prox-fobs into the programming slot (if equipped) before cycling the emergency key in the emergency lock. Once the system enters the programing mode, it will prompt you when to insert the new prox fob. On vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu, where keyed ignitions are no longer an option, the programming slot has been enlarged to accommodate two prox-fobs.

Of course, programming GM vehicles with a diagnostic tool is still faster and will allow you to add a key or prox without deleting the existing ones. A PIN number will be required if you are using a diagnostic tool, but several machines are already on the market that will “pull” the PIN from the vehicle computer, so that you do not need to deal with a code broker or dealership.

Ford is expanding the use of the HU-101 sidewinder style keys to more vehicles each year, and it looks like the days of the eight-cut H-75 keyway may be drawing slowly to a close. In addition, the use of the new 128-bit chip, which first appeared in 2013 on the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, is also increasing. (See the attached chart) New vehicles for 2018 and 2019 that use this key (some only as an “Emergency Key”) are the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, as well as the Lincoln Continental that got the 128-bit emergency key in 2017.

Hyundai has introduced a U.S. version of the Kona, which has long been one of its most popular world vehicles. The Kia sister vehicle to the Kona is called the Stonic. Knowing which key blank to use for Hyundai / Kia vehicles has always been a challenge, and it doesn’t look like it will get any simpler in the future. See the sidebar for an up to date listing of Hyundai/Kia blanks.

New Cloning Technology

As the complexity of keys increases, so does the challenge of cloning. Several manufacturers have recently introduced new machines or updates for old machines to address these issues. Below are some of the new and/or improved cloning systems.

Keyline (formerly Bianchi) – The Keyline 884 Decryptor Ultegra and the 884 Mini (Photo 1) share the same basic software and the following updates have been recently added for these machines.

  • TKM Xtreme Kit – The TKM Xtreme Kit (Photo 2) was the first in the world that allows the user to clone Megamos® Crypto (ID48) transponder car keys including Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo and more. Clone keys can be made with the standard Keyline TK100 heads or the new GKM transponders from Keyline. The GKM transponders are small format glass-encapsulated transponders that can be used in virtually any chipless key. They are also a great match for the “Universal” flip key products made by Key DIY and Xhorse. This allows the user to produce copies of VW, Audi, Volvo and other vehicles that are nearly identical to the OEM flip keys in appearance and operation.
  • EEPROM XTRA – The EEPROM XTRA kit (Photo 3) allows owners of the 884 Decryptor Ultegra or the 884 Mini to produce a clone of a missing key directly from an EEPROM file taken from the vehicle computer. (It requires that the owner have equipment to read or “pull” the EEPROM file directly from the vehicle.) It will work in conjunction with any EEPROM reader that can output a standard BIN file. With this tool, the proper knowledge, and your favorite EEPROM reader, you can now produce a working key for some of the most challenging vehicles on the road today in minutes.
  • Free 80-Bit Software Update – Keyline recently introduced a free software update for owners of the 884 Decryptor Ultegra and 884 Mini. This update allows the user to quickly clone 80-bit keys for Ford, Toyota, Kia and Hyundai using the standard Keyline TK100 heads as well as the new CKG carbon chips from Keyline. Note: This update replaces the older TKG update that was only for use on the Toyota “G” keys. Toyota “G” keys can now be cloned on either the TKG or the TK100 electronic heads. The TKG heads will be discontinued, but with this free update, users of the earlier system can now clone Toyota “G” keys on either the TKG heads that they already have or on the standard TK100 heads.

Ilco – Ilco recently introduced the “M-Box” along with the companion “M-Snoop.” (Photo 4) These tools are add-on hardware that adds the capability of cloning Megamos® ID48 equipped transponder keys for Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, and more.  A recent update for the M-Box system adds the capability to clone transponder keys equipped with the Texas Instruments® 80 bit transponder for Ford, Hyundai, and Kia.

The M-Box is compatible with existing Ilco/Silca cloning devices while the unique M-Snoop allows for capture of original key data without the need to cut a new key. The M-Box can connect to Wi-Fi or use a wired internet connection. According to Ilco, the M-Box, in conjunction with the existing Ilco cloning devices, brings total cloning capability to approximately 95 percent of transponder key equipped vehicles in North America today.

New Programmers

Smart Pro from Advanced Diagnostics – The Smart Pro (Photo 5) was introduced with great fanfare in 2017 and began shipping late last year. Your favorite distributor probably has them in stock by now. Advanced Diagnostics is now a part of the Kaba/Ilco group, and the Smart Pro is available from all Ilco distributors. The early problems with the Wi-Fi connection have now been solved and the machine is fast becoming a favorite among automotive locksmiths. Here are some of the features of the new Smart Pro:

  • Hybrid software solution allows you to operate on a Pay-As-You-Go basis (Tokens), Use an Unlimited Token Plan, and/or Purchase Software a la carte for token-free usage.
  • Integrated security - no dongles or smartcard required (if you are trading in an earlier AD machine and own a Smart Dongle, you can trade it in as well for free tokens.)
  • Compatible with the Smart Aerial and VW Force Ignition tool
  • Free 6 months unlimited use
  • Updates for software modules can be done individually via Wi-Fi or USB connection to a PC
  • The “Info Quest” vehicle database is integrated into the device and covers over 5000 vehicles
  • Icon based touch screen user interface intuitive vehicle menu search
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Multiple language support
  • Internal battery with 2 hours stand-alone use and/or battery backup in the event of a power disruption
  • EOBD read & clear faults (manufacturer  dependent)

Autek IKEY820 Programmer – The Autek IKEY820 (Photo 6) is a great entry-level machine or supplemental programmer. The operation is intuitive and the coverage is excellent. Updates are free and there are no tokens. This machine is certainly not a replacement for the big name programmers, but for the beginner or the experienced automotive locksmith, it offers wide range of coverage at an affordable price. Here are some of the features that I have found the most useful:

  • Pulls PIN codes for many vehicles including: Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, GM, Nissan, Mazda
  • Bypasses the 10-minute delay on many Ford products
  • Includes adaptors for “oddball” systems such as the old Nissan plug and the old Hyundai/Kia engine compartment connection for programming remotes
  • The small size and the included case make it easy and safe to store in the truck
  • Reads and clears DTCs for many models

Updates and additional information can be found at

Abrites Vehicle Diagnostic Interface (AVDI) - The base unit of the Abrites system is the AVDI diagnostic interface (Photo 7). This is a PC-Windows based system with general diagnostic functions such as displaying/clearing DTCs, live data display, actuator tests and basic coding/configuration functions. The Abrites system is fast becoming the “Gold Standard” of programming systems offering coverage for a huge range of vehicles and watercraft. Vehicle brands covered by the base unit include: Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, BMW, Mini, Porsche, Opel, Vauxhall, Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Mercedes, Smart, Maybach, Renault, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, Fiat, Alfa, Lancia, Peugeot, Citroen, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ford, Mazda, Volvo, and Daihatsu. The base package includes the Pass-Through (SAE J2534) with compatible driver that will allow usage of many third party systems such as: Hyundai/Kia (GDS, GDS2), Tech2Win, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, BMW, Mini, Volvo, SkiDoo, SeaDoo, CanAm, Fiat Examiner, Toyota, Honda, VW/Audi and more. Additionally, the “VCI emulator” is included, which allows the AVDI to emulate different interface units. Dozens of add-on modules and connectors are also available for specific applications such as motorcycles and Jet-Skis. Initial purchase of the AVDI interface includes one year software updates of the basic diagnostic suite, tools and our online services and one year free email support.

New Tools

New Lishi Decoders – The Lishi line of picks and decoders is constantly being expanded and improved. Recently, Lishi introduced the YH35R decoder (Photo 8). This is a “Direct Decoder” and does not require picking the lock in order to decode it. The YH35R will work on wide range of Yamaha motorcycles and ATVs manufactured from 1993 and up that use the X248/YM63R keyway and the A7001 – A8500 code series. Look for more motorcycle decoders from Lishi in the coming months. Lishi also recently released a new direct-read decoder for the B106 keyway (Photo 9). This reader should simplify the process of making keys to many GM vehicles that use the B106 Z-Keyway. This includes many Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles. This reader works on the non-warded locks only. For more information:

The Key Tool from Xhorse – The “VVDI Key Tool” from Xhorse (Photo 10) is hard to classify because it performs so many different functions that previously required several different tools. It is a hand-held cloner, remote tester / programmer / cloner, transponder reader / writer, transceiver ring detector / tester, and it will unlock most Toyota/Lexus Smart (prox) keys.