Cloning Electronic Keys:

Nov. 1, 2007
Duplicating The Electronic Half of a Transponder Key

**To download Cloning Chart that accompanies this article, click here.**

Cloning is duplicating the electronic half of a transponder key. Every locksmith duplicates keys, so cloning is just a natural progression of the state of the art. If a customer presents a key, you do not insist on going to the customer's lock and fitting a key by origination; you simply duplicate the cuts onto a compatible key blank. The same thing applies with a transponder key; you duplicate the mechanical cuts and then duplicate the electronic “cuts.”

Cloning keys is advantageous over on-board programming as you do not need access to the vehicle or specific vehicle software, and your customer only needs one operating key. For those later model vehicles that can be on-board programmed, two keys are required.

How many of your customers come to you with two or more keys and purchase extras? Most locksmiths report that their customers have come to them only when they're down to their very last key. When the customer comes to you after it is too late for on-board programming, cloning can quickly, easily and profitably resolve the problem. Remember, the dealership requires the vehicle be left at their location for at least half a day, if not longer.

The number and applications of the automotive clonable transponder/electronic keys have increased significantly over the last several years. A major step was the introduction of the Texas Instrument fixed value electronic keys. Electronic keys are equipped with a circuit board that mimics transponders and are battery powered. Once the aftermarket manufacturers were able to resolve the cloning issues with the Texas Instruments encrypted transponders, a number of key blank manufacturers have introduced the TI encrypted electronic keys.

Locksmiths can now clone keys for approximately 75 percent of the transponder-based anti-theft system equipped vehicles. These include vehicles manufactured by Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln , Mazda, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac , Saturn, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The crypto value electronic keys require that the cloning machine be capable of determining the “ incode ” and calculating the corresponding “ outcode .” For some of the newer cloning machines including the Bianchi Repli -Code 7 TX, Kaba Ilco RW4 and Smart Clone + Crypto, the necessary electronics and/or software is built-in or preloaded. For existing cloning machines including the STRATTEC Quick-Code, Jet Smart Clone, Kaba Ilco RW2/3, and Bianchi Repli -Code 7, upgrade paths are available to make these machines capable of programming Crypto Value electronic keys. For more information, contact the specific machine manufacturer.

There are two types of electronic keys: those equipped with a fixed blade and those equipped with removable blade. Kaba - Ilco offers fixed-blade electronic keys for specific applications and removable blade electronic keys for different applications. At this time, the Kaba Ilco fixed blade electronic keys are only available as the H72-EK, the H84-EK and the Y160-EK. These electronic keys have the blade permanently attached to the shell that contains the circuit board. A weather resistant door enables access, removal and replacement of the circuit board and the battery. The Ilco electronic shell style keys are available complete and as a shell (without circuit board or battery). Note: The circuit board retains the code when the battery dies, is replaced or the board is put into a new shell. Contact Kaba Ilco for specific information regarding battery lifespan.

The Kaba Ilco removable blade electronic keys are comprised of the head and the blade. The weather-resistant head contains the circuit board and battery. To gain access to the battery or the circuit board, the head is removed from the blade. The blades are available separately and are interchangeable with the heads. The same circuit board is used in all the removable blade electronic keys.

The Bianchi, Jet and STRATTEC removable blade electronic keys utilize two circuit board-equipped heads. The circuit boards and the batteries are “potted.” This means that the head filled with an epoxy type of resin that seals the circuit board and battery, making it waterproof. The battery cannot be replaced, but has a lifespan of approximately seven years.

One removable blade electronic key head is designed for cloning fixed-value transponder keys. The fixed value head can be identified as Bianchi, having an embossed TK24 on one side of the head. Jet Hardware has the characters S.C. embossed on one side of the head.

The head designed for cloning crypto value transponder keys has the same overall shape as the head for the fixed value. The difference is the Bianchi crypto value head can be identified by an embossed TK30 on one side of the head. The Jet Hardware head has the characters SCH-2 embossed on one side of the head.

The fixed value electronic key head circuit board used by either Bianchi , Jet or STRATTEC, is designed to clone Ford, Lincoln, Lexus, Mercury, Mitsubishi and Toyota fixed-value transponder equipped keys. The crypto value electronic key head circuit board used by Bianchi, Jet or STRATTEC is designed to clone Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln, Lexus, Mazda, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota crypto value transponder equipped keys.

Note: A two-part fixed value removable head cannot be used to clone a crypto value transponder, nor vise versa.

The Bianchi, Jet, Kaba-Ilco or STRATTEC removable head electronic keys are serviceable. The removable head enables the electronic key head to be placed on any of the available blades. This permits replacement of the key blade, should it become worn or the owner wants to change the bitting combination of the locks. A third option is should the electronic key owner purchase a new vehicle that uses the same value, a new key blade can be cut to operate the mechanical locks and the head be cloned to operate this new vehicle. A locksmith needs to stock only a few of the key heads and one or more of each of the blades to be able to service all of the makes and models.

NOTE: Most of the electronic keys do not have a value programmed into the circuit board. Contact the specific electronic key manufacturer for more information.

Because of the number of vehicle models being equipped with transponder-based vehicle anti-theft systems, it is important to have up-to-date information from the key blank manufacturers. I strongly recommend obtaining application guides as well as visiting their web sites often to obtain the most up-to-date information.

I have not had the opportunity to completely test the compatibility between the four producers of electronic keys. However, once cloned, most electronic keys should emulate the respective transponder-equipped key. Therefore, if the respective transponder-equipped key can be identified by a transponder detecting, programming or cloning device, the cloned electronic key should also be able to be identified, cloned or programmed. Contact the specific cloning machine or electronic key manufacturer for compatibility information.

For more information, contact your local locksmith wholesaler or:

Bianchi USA, Inc., 31336 Industrial Parkway, #3, North Olmsted, OH 44070. Telephone: 800-891-2118. Fax: 216-803-0202. Website:

Jet Hardware Manufacturing Corp., 800 Hinsdale Street, Brooklyn, NY 11207. Telephone: 718-257-9600. Fax: 718-257-0973. Website:

Kaba Ilco Corp., 400 Jeffreys Road, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Telephone: 800-334-1381. Fax 252-446-4702. Web Site:

STRATTEC Security Corp., 3333 W. Good Hope Road, Milwaukee, WI 53208. Telephone: 877-251-8798. Web site: