Time To Trade-in your Transponder Programmer?

Jan. 31, 2011

An automotive locksmith to compete really needs to have just about all of the most up-to-date equipment available in order to service customers. That’s easily said, but not always financially possible or practical.

We have written about the different programming equipment available since the introduction of the Kent-Moore VATS Interrogator in the 1985 and the TCL-1, the first North American multiple vehicle transponder programming device that was introduced in 2002. Over the years, VATS interrogators and programming devices have come and gone, been upgraded and new companies products have come to the market.

Today, multiple vehicle transponder programming devices are available from a number of different companies. Each device has its own unique characteristics and advantages including the number of vehicles that can be programmed and what the device can do in order to program a particular vehicle. For example, read P.I.N.’s and/or Web inCodes.

Over time, these new devices can be obsoleted as new vehicle technologies are being introduced or devices are no longer able to perform the required functions. When a programming device becomes obsolete, no new software will be made available, limiting the operational capabilities.

At these times, there are several questions that should be answered before a decision is made regarding buying a new device. To complicate the issues, the answers will be different depending upon the programming needs, the number of devices owned and the financial health of the locksmith who owns the device.

The basic questions that should be answered are:

  • Do you own additional multiple vehicle programming devices?
  • Are one or more of the devices using current technology?
  • How many employees program vehicles outside of the shop?
  • When did the programming device become obsolete?
  • Is the device software up-to-date?
  • What vehicle models will the device program?
  • What vehicle models cannot be programmed?
  • Is there a trade-in program for my device for a new device I want to purchase?
  • Will the trade-in program provide you with a new device that includes all of your current software capabilities?

As an example to further discuss the issues, I will use the Code Seeker Programming Device. The Code Seeker was introduced in 2004 and continues to be used but is limited by hardware that does not accept the newer software programs that are offered on the Pro tools.

The original software that came with the Code Seeker includes programming capabilities for some models of the following vehicle years and makes:

Acura/Honda 1997-06

Audi/Volkswagen 2000-04

Cadillac Catera 1997-01

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep 1998-06

Eagle 1998

Ford/Mercury 1996-06

GMC Yukon 2006

Infiniti 1997-04

Jaguar 2000-04

Lincoln 1997-06

Mazda 1998-05

Mitsubishi 2000-06

Nissan 1999-04

Plymouth 2000-03

Porsche Boxster 1997-04

Toyota 1998-06

The following list is the software that is available for the Code Seeker:

BMW Mini

Cadillac Catera PIN Read

Chrysler CAN 2, 3, 4 & 5

Chrysler FOBIK

Chrysler SKIM/CAN PIN Reader

Ford PATS 5

Ford Advanced

GM USA Basic (Non-CAN)

Honda CAN



Jaguar USA


Kia/Hyundai PIN Code Bypass

Mazda PIN Code Conversion

Mazda PROX

Mitsubishi CAN & PROX

Nissan/Infiniti CAN & PROX

Pontiac GTO

Saab USA

Subaru USA

Toyota CAN

  • Not everyone will have purchased all of the software updates. However, with the software currently programmed to the Code Seeker, what percentage of the vehicles in your area can you program?
  • Is it financially practical to update the software, use the device as it is or just purchase a new device?
  • Are the vehicles that cannot be programmed, able to be programmed using a different multiple vehicle programming device?
  • How often is the Code Seeker used to a program vehicle?
  • Can the work you have justify a new programming device?