Specialty Tools Make the Locksmith’s Job Easier

Nov. 1, 2010
Here’s a first look at some of the newest tools for the automotive locksmith.

Sometimes I wonder if other trades have as many specialty tools as automotive locksmiths. It seems like every time that you turn around there are a dozen new tools out there that you either can’t live without, or would make my life a lot easier. Since the automotive industry is changing so rapidly, I guess new specialty tools are just the price of admission to work in such a lucrative field. I probably should consider myself lucky; a friend of mine specializes in automotive electronics and he spends thousands of dollars each year staying up to date!

Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the new tools that are now on the market for automotive locksmiths.

GM Flip-Key Tools

The new side-milled GM lock system, known as the “Flip-Key” system, made its debut on the 2010 Camaro, but it has rapidly spread to most of the new GM vehicles. So far, it is also in use on the Chevrolet Equinox, Cruze, and Volt, Buick Lacrosse, Allure and Regal, GMC Terrain and the Cadillac SRX. In a few years this may well be the “standard” GM lock system. The system is manufactured by Strattec and they have already introduced two new specialty tools for servicing these new locks.

Most of the new flip-key door locks incorporate a clutch that will allow the lock to “free-wheel” if too much force is applied. The clutch consists of a rubber buffer and a pin that locks the cylinder into place. The end of the pin is also attached to the lock pawl. If someone attempts to “force rotate” the door lock, the pin is compressed into the rubber pad, which releases the cylinder to turn. At the same time, the pin disengages the lock pawl so that the lock can rotate without unlocking the door.

Assembling the door lock can be tricky because you have to hold several parts in place as you drive in the roll-pin that secures the lock pawl to the lock plug. In addition, the lock pawl can be installed in two different ways, only one of which is correct.

The Free-Wheeling Door Lock Fixture, Strattec Part # 7017698, makes the job easy. All you have to do is to slide the various components into place in the fixture and then clamp the whole thing in a vise. Then you can drive the roll-pin into place easily in the correct position without having to hold all of the parts together. The tool is made in such a way that if you have assembled the lock incorrectly, the hole for the roll-pin will not be accessible.

The new “Flip-Keys” from GM are very similar to other “switchblade” keys that have been in use for quite some time. When the button on the fob is depressed, the key blade snaps out and into position. After using the key, the button can be pressed again and the key can be folded back into the fob. The key blade itself can be replaced without having to buy a new fob. This is important because the blades are designed to break off if too much pressure is applied to the key. This is a safety feature to help prevent injuries in a collision. It is also a nuisance if the owner tries to use the key to pry on something like a can of paint. Replacement blades are available from Strattec in a package of five blades and five roll-pins (P/N 5915037).

To help in changing out the blade, Strattec also provides the “Flip-Key Fixture.” part number 7017699. This tool will safely hold the key fob and blade in the correct position for you to drive the roll-pin into or out of position. This pretty much eliminates the possibility of damaging the key fob while changing the blade. This fixture will work on any of the current crop of GM Flip-Key fobs as well as the fob that was used on the Saturn Astra.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Strattec,
telephone 414-247-3333, web site

“GM High-Security Locks” DVD

The latest DVD from Tech-Train and Lockmasters (Part Number 590DVD) covers not just the new GM Flip-Key system, but also the earlier high-security systems used on the Pontiac GTO, Pontiac G8, and Saturn Astra. The DVD covers lock disassembly, reassembly, and key generation for each system. It also features an interactive menu that will allow the viewer to jump directly to the portion of the video that he or she is interested in.

For more information, contact Lockmasters, telephone 800-654-0637, web site www.lockmasters.com.

Framon SD2 Key Machine

This high security key machine is the first machine of its kind that will duplicate and originate side-milled keys using a mechanical system. The machine does not use a computer in any way to cut these new keys from code. Instead, the X and Y axis movements of the vise are controlled by two “Code Rods” located below the carriage. Different sets of code rods allow the user to cut different types of keys from code. The machine is shipped with rod sets for the Honda and VW / Porsche / Audi side-milled systems. The mechanical nature of the machine makes this the lowest priced code machine available for side-milled keys. Additional rod sets being introduced on an ongoing basis. Currently, rod sets are available for the following side-milled systems:

  • BMW 4-Track
  • GM Flip-Key / Saturn Astra
  • Hyundai / Kia
  • Infiniti Q45 4-Track
  • Mercedes 4-Track
  • Saab 2-Track
  • Subaru 4-Track
  • Toyota / Lexus

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Framon, telephone 989-354-5623, web site www.framon.com.

Silca RW4Plus Cloner with Snoop

Having the ability to “clone” a transponder key can make your life a lot easier. The trouble is that it can also make a car thief’s life easier as well. All you need is a brief access to the key, and with the proper cloning equipment, you can make an unlimited number of keys in a matter of minutes.

Naturally, this is not what the manufacturers had in mind when they designed all of these fancy anti-theft systems, and that is why cloning technology is constantly changing. Every time a new cloning procedure comes on the market, the manufacturers try to come up with a new system that can’t be cloned.

The latest battle in this ongoing war has been fought over the so called “Circle Plus” keys that use the Philips 2 encrypted transponders. Only a few months ago, these keys were not cloneable, but now all of the cloning tool manufacturers are introducing new machines to clone them.

The Silca RW4Plus now includes a unique gadget called a “Snoop,” that gives it an edge over the competition – at least for now. The “Snoop” is a small electronic device that attaches to the head of a key. When the key is inserted into the ignition and turned to the “ON” position, it reads and analyses the data that is exchanged between the key and the car. Armed with this information, a locksmith can then make a clone key that will operate the car in a matter of moments. Right now, the Snoop is used primarily for the Circle Plus system, but may be used on other systems in the future. Systems for cloning the Circle Plus keys from other manufacturers that do not have a device like the Snoop may require several cloning attempts before a working clone key is generated.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Kaba Ilco, telephone 800-334-1391, web site www.kaba-ilco.com.

KeylessRide Hotwire

The Hotwire system makes use of what is known as “Pass-Through” programming. The software for the programming resides on a laptop, and then the Hotwire box connects your laptop to the vehicle. This makes for a very versatile and easily updated system. As a general rule, only one cable is required for most applications and the Hotwire unit can take the place of several different tools. It can program transponder keys, program remotes, bypass and / or retrieve certain vehicle PIN numbers, and allow you to send and receive incodes and outcodes.

The folks at Keyless Ride have recently introduced two new software packages that are sure to be of interest to many automotive locksmiths. The “Ford 10-minute Bypass” package allows you to bypass that annoying 10-minute wait on most Ford vehicles. The “Mazda outcode / incode bypass” package promises to produce the correct incode for 95% of the new Mazda CAN vehicles in two minutes or less.

You can purchase the Hotwire system from Keyless Ride in three different ways:

The MyHotwire option includes the Hotwire device and all cables, access to all software (currently 24 packages) for one year, access to any new software introduced for one year, a year of tech support and either a laptop or a bypass dongle. You can also opt for several subscription rates that provide different levels of access for a monthly fee.

One of the great features of the Hotwire subscription option over similar token-based systems is that you are charged per vehicle, rather than per operation. This means that if you don’t get the car programmed on the first try, it doesn’t cost you extra to keep on trying until you are successful.

You can also get the basic Hotwire hardware and software in an “A-LA-CARTE” program. After that you can add software packages as you need them. Discounts apply when ordering multiple software packages beginning with three additional packages.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or KeylessRide, telephone 877-619-3136, web site www.keylessride.com/locksmiths.

Bianchi 884 Decryptor Ultegra

Bianchi’s latest cloning device has several features that many of us will find useful. It only weighs two pounds, so it’s a very portable machine, and it can be powered by the cigarette lighter plug found in most vehicles. (The cigarette lighter adapter is not included with the machine, but can be purchased at most electronics stores.) This give you the option to take the device to the vehicle for cloning the Circle Plus (Philips Crypto transponder) keys, so you will only need to make one trip to the car. The 884 is a stand-alone device and only needs a computer for updates or for storing your customer database. It can clone the Texas Instruments fixed code and encrypted code keys and more. It works with the TK24, TK40, and TK60 chips with separate blades, and the one-piece cloneable key blanks.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Bianchi USA, telephone 800-891-2118, web site www.bianchi1770usa.com.

JMA TRS-5000 / TPX / TPH Cloner System

JMA is one of the largest key blank manufacturer in the world, with five different factories and nine distribution centers in different parts of the world. Here in the United States, the JMA name was relatively unknown until recently. Their TRS-5000 cloning machine made a big splash a while back when they released a new way of cloning keys for some of the most popular “Encrypted” transponder systems. The thing that set the JMA system apart from others was that the JMA key blanks do not require a battery and the heads of the keys are the same general size and shape as the keys that were being cloned. This coupled with the relative low price of the system and key blanks gives JMA an advantage.

JMA has recently introduced two new modules, and the key blanks to go with them, that greatly expand the capability of the TRS-5000 cloner. The first new module is the “TPX” module that allows the user to clone many encrypted Texas Instruments transponders used by Ford, Mazda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Lexus, and Toyota. These key blanks can be cloned onto the JMA TPX1 and TPX2 transponders in seconds. The second new module, the “TPH” module, adds the ability to clone the Philips 2 encrypted transponders, such as those used in the Circle Plus system on the JMA TPX3 keys.

On the JMA key blanks, the transponders are easily removable, and JMA sells key blanks with no transponders in them at a very reasonable price. This means that if I make a mistake while cutting the key, I can transfer the transponder from the screwed-up key into an empty blank. In addition, if a customer comes in with a broken key, I can remove the transponder, install it into a new key blank and cut the key to the customer’s bitting. No programming or cloning required.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or JMA, telephone 817-385-0515, web site www.jmausa.com.

Advanced Diagnostics T-Code Pro / MVP Pro

Advanced Diagnostics (AD) has recently introduced four new updates for the T-Code Pro and the MVP Pro. These new updates allow the user to program most of the new vehicles with ease.

  • ADS-166 – for the 08 Honda Accord (Pro only)
  • ADS-172 – for 2010 Ford – USA models (Pro only, requires “L” dongle and Ford PATS4 and PATS5 software)
  • ADS-173 – for 2010 Chrysler products (includes PIN read)

ADS-133 – Mazda CAN software – this is an updated version of software that AD has previously introduced that now bypasses the PIN number on Mazda CAN vehicles. The PIN bypass upgrade is free for those who already own the older version of the ADS-133 Mazda CAN software. (This software also requires the Advanced Diagnostics new Smart Card.)

For information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Advanced Diagnostics, telephone 650-876-2020, web site www.tcodeusa.com.

Silca TKO / SDD Software Updates

Silca has recently introduced four new update packages for their SDD / TKO machines. All of these updates are “backwards compatible” with the older SDD tool, so they will work on all versions of the Silca diagnostic tools.

  • Honda CAN software for many Honda and Acura vehicles from 2008 and up.
  • 2010 Ford CAN & Prox Applications (E-Series, Edge, Escape, Explorer, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, Fusion, F250 / F350, Mustang, Taurus, MKS, MKT, MKZ, Mariner, Milan, and Mountaineer)
  • Mitsubishi CAN Applications (Eclipse, Endeavor, & Galant 06 – 09, Lancer 08 – 09, Outlander 07 – 09)
  • Mazda CAN 2 Applications (2010 CX-7, CX-9, 3, 5, & 6)

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Kaba Ilco, telephone 800-334-1391, web site www.kaba-ilco.com.


If you’ve never used a Determinator, you’re working too hard. I grew up with impressioning, and I’ve taught it for years. In those years, I’ve met a lot of folks who had a hard time with it, but I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t impression a lock if there were only two cuts in it. And that is pretty much what the Determinators do for you. Without going into detail, the Determinator will normally narrow each cut on the key down to two possible depths. Armed with that information, it doesn’t take long for almost anyone to make a working key. Determinator Tom has introduced three new Determinator sets to make your work even easier:

  • GM 12 – Chevrolet Equinox, using the B96 / B102 keyway
  • FOR 6 – Ford 8-cut system, Huf locks on the H75 keyway
  • KIA 3 – Hyundai and Kia vehicles using the HY15 keyway

Determinator Tom also has two new books out. The first, “High-Security Key Origination Manual,” is actually a compilation of his three earlier books on originating side-milled, “high-security” keys, plus a new fourth volume. This four-part book covers vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes, Saab, Kia and Lexus. He even covers the new GM flip-key system as well as the Pontiac G8 and others. His second book, “High-Security Quick Reference Book,” covers all the data that you would need to know to deal with just about any high-security lock system found in North America.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or The Determinator, telephone 800-561-0443, web site www.thedeterminator.com.

Aable 8 Wafer Ignition Force Tool & No Sidebar Force Tool

Occasionally you’ll encounter a Ford 8-cut ignition that has either been hopelessly damaged, or has just failed. When that happens, the easiest way of dealing with it is to just force the lock to turn and then replace it. The problem is that some Ford ignitions have sidebars and some don’t. Fortunately, there are specialty tools for each different application.

Aable makes a combination tool that will allow you to either drill and pick the standard sidebar ignition or to force it. The tool is machined to fit precisely into the openings that are revealed after you pop off the plastic “fishlips” on the face of the lock. These opening are above and below the keyway on the sidebar equipped locks.

Since the non-sidebar lock does not have the same openings above and below the keyway as the sidebar locks, the Aable 8 Cut No Sidebar Force Tool is designed to fit snugly over the face of the lock.

The end of the tool is machined to match the face of the lock exactly, allowing you to grip the lock securely as you force it to the “ON” position.

Focus Buster

The 2000 and up Ford Focus that is equipped with Huf ignition locks that are famous for failing. The Focus Buster takes advantage of a weakness in the lock, and lets you break out the face of the lock to reveal the end of the sidebar. All you have to do then is pull the sidebar out of the lock and the lock will then turn freely so that you can remove and replace it.

For information on Aable products, contact your local locksmith distributor or Aable Locksmiths, telephone 203-882-0600, web site www.aablelocksmiths.com.