What is the best car key programmer? In truth, it depends on what you’re looking for. Some key programmers are single-purpose, focused exclusively on generating new keys. Others include a range of diagnostic and service functions so they’re helpful all-in-one tools for any garage.
We’ve pulled together our 7 favorite key programmers on the current market. Let’s check out the full reviews so you can see which one is right for you!
- 1 Best Car Key Programmers Review
- 1.1 1. Autool Xtool X100 PAD Tablet Key Programmer
- 1.2 2. Autel MaxilM IM508 Key Programmer
- 1.3 3. XTOOL X100 Pad2 Pro New Version With Special Functions
- 1.4 4. FICBOX 4D Chip Keymaker/Programmer
- 1.5 5. Autel MP808K Key Programmer
- 1.6 6. Autel MaxilM IM608 Key Programmer
- 1.7 7. Carrfan CK-100 Car Key Programmer
- 2 Best Car Key Programmers Comparison Chart
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Car Key Programmers Review
1. Autool Xtool X100 PAD Tablet Key Programmer
Fast Key Programming
The functions on the Autool Xtool X100 PAD have a faster processing speed than in past models. This lets you quickly reprogram new keys. You can also perform adapter features, like reading PIN codes, chip programming, and initializing the ECU. The ability to reset or program IMMO settings spares you the need to visit the mechanic after you make new keys.
All OBD2 diagnostic functions are supported by the Autool Xtool X100. This allows you to read and clear any trouble codes illuminating your check engine light. In addition, you can look at freeze frame and live data, and view helpful emissions test data.
The X100 PAD has an array of special functions that let you perform repairs beyond new keys. These include resetting the oil service and timing belt service lights, along with EPB reset, battery reset, and TPMS reset. You can also calibrate the steering angle and throttle body and adjust the DPF system with this powerful tool.
Intuitive Navigation And Updates
The 7-inch touchscreen on the Xtool X100 uses an Android operating system and a 1.6 GHz quad core processor. That gives you both top notch performance and an easy to read screen. The menu layout is intuitive, too, even for less experienced mechanics.
For updates, you just have to go to the company website through the on-board Wi-Fi. You’ll get two years of free updates included in the price.
- Performs chip programming and ECU initialization
- Allows IMMO programming and reset
- Full OBD2 diagnostics
- 8 reset functions
- Stable connection with fast communication speed
- Easy updates through Wi-Fi
- Includes adapters for Honda and Kia ports
- Doesn’t support all functions on all vehicles
- Won’t perform non-OBD system diagnostics
The Xtool X100 PAD is a versatile and efficient key programmer, and also supports a range of diagnostic and service functions. Overall, it’s a fantastic all-in-one tool for home or professional garages.
2. Autel MaxilM IM508 Key Programmer
Comprehensive Key Programming
The XP200 Key Programmer that comes with the Autel MaxilM IM508 is among the most useful on the market. Not only does it make keys, it can also read keys, or the PIN if all your keys are lost. Its remote learning and ECU adaptation functions are helpful, as well. When it comes to the IMMO system, you can reset, code, or refresh it. Since it also supports writing to the ECU, it’s got all the functions a professional vehicle locksmith will need.
You don’t just get OBD2 diagnostic data from the MaxilM IM508. It quickly diagnoses all modules for 80+ manufacturers. That includes major systems like the ABS, SRS, and transmission. For most vehicles, you can even read and correct issues with electronic systems, like the seat controls and climate control.
The Autel IM508 goes beyond reset functions for your dash lights. It also supports common service functions like ABS bleed, SAS calibration, and DPF regeneration. And it will reset those dash lights, too, including the oil light, battery light, and other annoying dash lights.
One of the reasons you can diagnose so quickly with the Autel MaxilM IM508 is its intelligent programming. Its auto-VIN scan feature makes it much easier to access the full range of functions for your vehicle. There’s also a Smart Mode that guides you through IMMO functions, along with an Expert Mode that gives experienced technicians the control they need.
- Reset and code IMMO
- Supports key learning and ECU adaptation
- Can program keys even if all keys are lost
- OE-level all-system diagnostics
- Includes 1 year free update through Wi-Fi
- Auto VIN scan saves time in diagnosis
- High cost
- Service and special functions not universally compatible
The Autel MaxilM IM508 is the best key programmer for professionals. It combines OE-level diagnostics with robust key programming capabilities on a wider range of vehicles than most similar devices.
3. XTOOL X100 Pad2 Pro New Version With Special Functions
Full Key Programming Power
Like the X100 above, the Xtool X100 Pad2 supports reading and making new keys, remote learning, and IMMO reprogramming and reset. The biggest difference here is it supports these functions for more vehicles.
Diagnostic And Service Functions
The X100 Pad2 has the same 8 service functions found on the X100 Pad. Its main improvement from a diagnostic standpoint is the inclusion of 4-system diagnosis. This means you can read codes from the ABS, SRS, and transmissions systems, not just the engine.
The biggest difference between the X100 Pad2 and the X100 Pad above is its range of compatibility. It includes a wider array of adapters, and its IMMO and service functions are supported on more manufacturers. This includes newer models, like the C-class and E-class Mercedes left behind by other versions of the device.
Not only is the X100 Pad2 easy to use, you can adjust it to satisfy your needs. It comes with a range of interactive interfaces, and can also give you detailed reminders of how to operate it. That makes it an easy device for anyone to navigate.
- 8 service functions
- 4-system diagnost
- Wide vehicle compatibility
- One-click oil reset
- Easy to update through Wi-Fi
- Personalized interface
- Won’t diagnose all engine modules
- ECU programming compatibility is still limited
An enhanced version of the Xtool X100 Pad above, the X100 Pad2 supports more special functions and vehicles, and is a better choice for professionals.
4. FICBOX 4D Chip Keymaker/Programmer
Affordable Key Programming
If the models above are outside your budget, consider the FICBOX 4D Smart Key Maker. It can program new keys for Toyota and Lexus vehicles in about 20 seconds. Best of all, it does so without disrupting the car’s anti-theft protocols.
Now here’s the rub: you can’t use the FICBOX Chip Keymaker on any vehicle. It will only work with Toyota and Lexus vehicles that use the 4D chip—basically those that were made from 1996-2008.
The FIXBOX Keymaker also doesn’t have any service, diagnostic, or programming functions. That’s not surprising for the price, but it’s something to keep in mind. For making new keys, this is a fast and functional device, but don’t expect it to do anything beyond that.
- Add a key in as little as 20 seconds
- Won’t disrupt vehicle’s anti-theft system
- Can make new keys even if you’ve lost the master
- Very affordable
- Lightweight and compact design
- Limited compatibility (Toyota/Lexus with 4D chip)
- No IMMO or ECU programming functions
The FICBOX 4D Chip Keymaker is the most affordable ways to make new keys for Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
5. Autel MP808K Key Programmer
Efficient Key Programming
The Autel MP808K can effectively program key fobs for a wide range of vehicles. It also supports ECU coding. Having said that, though, it’s more a diagnostic scanner with keymaking abilities than it is a dedicated key programmer. Its IMMO functionality is a bit limited, and on some vehicles more than others.
Along with full OBD2 support, the MP808K can perform bi-directional tests of components. This is very useful for diagnosing mechanical issues and very helpful when it’s time to make repairs.
Full Service Functions
The capabilities of the MP808K go beyond any other scanner you’ll find at the price. It’s the best key programmer for all-in-one functionality. Among its 23 service functions are DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, transmission or throttle adaptation, and injector coding. While you won’t get all of these on all supported manufacturers, it’s still one of the best repair tools on the market.
- Programs key fobs for most vehicles
- 23 service functions
- All 10 modes of OBD2 supported
- Diagnoses all systems
- Supports bi-directional control
- User-friendly interface
- Auto-VIN for quicker diagnostics
- IMMO functions aren’t as robust
- Service and key programming functions not supported on all vehicles
The Autel MP808K is the best diagnostic scanner with key programming abilities, but it’s not a dedicated key maker. Because of that, it’s missing some functions you’ll get from other professional key programmers.
6. Autel MaxilM IM608 Key Programmer
Guided Key Programming
The Autel MaxilM IM608 gives users full access to key programming and IMMO functions. Not only can you read and write to the ECU, it also has a Smart Mode for guided key making. This takes the guesswork out of making keys or resetting the anti-theft protocols, making sure you get the job done quickly and effectively.
Comprehensive OE-Level Diagnostics
Along with all 10 modes of OBD2, the IM608 can read trouble codes from most electronic systems. You can diagnose systems like the airbags or anti-lock brakes quickly and easily. In addition, auto-VIN and Auto Scan functions are an efficient way to diagnose any vehicle.
Robust Special Functions
Advanced maintenance services of the MaxilM IM608 include oil reset, battery and TPMS relearn, and maintenance of the EPB, SAS, and DPF systems. These functions are available for most vehicles, too, unlike most hand-held scanners which are limited by manufacturer.
The 10.1” touchscreen on the Autel IM608 is larger than you’ll find on most diagnostic scanners. This gives you more room to view diagnostic data and a clearer picture of your vehicle’s health. It includes both Smart and Expert modes, too, and has other helpful extras, like a built-in camera and flashlight.
- Reads and writes transponder and ECU data
- Full OBD2 and all-system diagnostics
- Compatible with more than 80 manufacturers
- Guided IMMO functions
- Large touchscreen interface is easy to read
- Flashlight and 8-megapixel camera built in
- Auto-VIN for faster diagnostics
- High price
- Unit is bulkier and requires more power
The Autel MaxilM IM608 is an advanced key programmer and diagnostic scanner with all the functions a professional needs, though it’s likely outside the budget of hobbyists and DIY-ers.
7. Carrfan CK-100 Car Key Programmer
Efficient Key Programming
The Carrfan CK-100 is a single-purpose unit, aimed exclusively at programming new keys. You can also deactivate keys you’ve lost and read key data from the IMMO system. Its guided process allows even non-experts to quickly create new keys for their vehicle.
Most diagnostic scanners with key programmers are bulky. The CK-100 is slim, lightweight, and easy to take with you anywhere. You’ll also find the button navigation on the screen intuitive, regardless of your level of expertise.
The only thing to be aware of before you buy the Carrfan CK-100 is that its compatibility is limited. While it supports key programming on more than 25 manufacturers, it won’t read PIN data from all of them. Make sure you check that your vehicle is supported on their website before you purchase.
- Affordable price
- Programs new keys and deactivates lost keys
- Guided programming makes process easier
- Lightweight and portable design
- Built-in database includes an array of vehicle makes
- No diagnostic or service functions
- PIN code reading abilities limited (7 manufacturers)
The Carrfan CK-100 is the best car key programmer for home garages, thanks to its affordable price and guided key programming features, though it lacks the advanced functions you’ll find on other models.
Best Car Key Programmers Comparison Chart
Autool X100 PAD
Xtool X100 Pad2
4.2 / 5
4.1 / 5
5 / 5
|Dimensions||8.2” X 5.5” X .6”||21.4” X 16.7” X 6.8”||12” X 9.3” X 3.8”|
|Reads Pin Code||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Programs New Keys||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Vehicle Compatibility||34+ manufacturers||80+ manufacturers||48+ manufacturers|
Most key programmers are pretty costly, but you can find a great deal if you look. The higher the cost, the more diagnostic and programming functions it will offer. Vehicle compatibility also goes up with the price, which is important if you’re buying the best car key programmer for a professional garage. Getting the right one really comes down to knowing what you need! We hope the reviews and comparison above have helped you identify the perfect tool for you.