Looking for the right key programmer can be a difficult task with so many options available. But don’t worry, I’ve narrowed it down to the top 7 choices for you.
Now, I’ll give a handy overview table with the 7 best auto key programmers for car owners.
You can choose your level of diagnostics for specific scanners review and comparison below the table.
7 Best Automotive Key Programmers 2023 Comparison Chart[Mobile users: Swipe left for full table]
Autel MaxiM KM100
|Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO||Check Price|
XTOOL InPlus IP616
|Autel MK808S||Check Price|
|Launch CRP909E Elite||Check Price|
|Simple Key||Check Price|
|Xhorse VVDI Mini Key||Check Price|
(*): The Autel MaxiM KM100 is only designed for IMMO system, while other scanners can perform diagnostics and service functions on all vehicle systems.
(-): No support
Here’s my quick recommedations:
- Looking for a tool with numerous advanced IMMO functions? Try the Autel MaxiM KM100.
- For the best OBD2 scanner with key programming function, check out the XTOOL InPlus IP616.
- Need advanced IMMO functions, vehicle diagnosis, and maintenance? Consider the Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO.
- Simple Key is the cheapest key programmer if you are a 1-vehicle owner.
Table of contents:
- Best Key Programming Machines for All Cars
- Best Professional OBD2 Scanners with Key Programmer
- Best Key Programming Tools (program key for 1-2 vehicles)
Best Key Programming Machines for All Cars
#1. Autel MaxiM KM100: Most affordable yet powerful key programmers for locksmiths (with lifetime free updates)
- Wide vehicle coverage
- Numerous IMMO functions
- Super fast & user-friendly
- Lifetime free update
No major cons
Autel MaxiM KM100 is specifically designed for programming keys, so don’t expect any OBD2 functions like system diagnostics or service resets. However, if you’re looking for a solution to key-related problems, Autel MaxiM KM100 is an all-in-one.
This enhanced key tool will:
- come with Autel Universal iKEY, which allows you to replace smart keys for over 700 vehicles. Autel MaxiM KM100 can support almost any car that comes into my garage, even brands like Ford, BMW, Toyota.
- pull IMMO data and write it into a new key, ensuring that the new key works with the immobilizer system
- read, write and clone transponder chips
- check the frequency of a smart key
- unlock keys, adjust button and even detect ignition coil issues
The best part is that this tool is super user-friendly. It works flawlessly and quickly, with clear instructions to guide you along the way.
All in all, Autel MaxiM KM100 is the best investment if you’re a professional locksmith, or a DIY enthusiast focusing on the IMMO system.
Today’s best Autel MaxiM KM100 price:
#2. Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO: Best key programming machine with advanced diagnosis and maintenance.
- Wide vehicle coverage
- Super advanced IMMO functions
- High update fee
If you’re looking for a professional key programming tool, then Autel MaxiM IM508 is the way to go.
First thing first, Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO is super powerful when it comes to adding new keys. This tool can program new keys for 95% of the vehicles that I have tested, which is amazing.
What’s also great about the Autel MaxiM IM508 is that it caters to both DIYers and skilled technicians. If you’re new to this, you can choose the Smart Mode which provides step-by-step instructions. And for those who are more comfortable with advanced functions, the Expert Mode is perfect.
Yes, Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO can go beyond the key adding/disabling to access more extended IMMO functions.
One of the best features of Autel IM508 is the ability to read EEPROM/MCU data or write anti-theft data. And this function is only available in high-end key programming tools, mind you. This advanced function makes the IMMO very safe.
Some other top-notch IMMO functions that the Autel MaxiM IM508 performs include:
- All key lost
- Key learning
- IMMO ECU adaption/ coding
Here’s a thing, just because it’s a key programming tool, that doesn’t mean it’s limited to that. Autel IM508 can also do
- OE-level diagnosis
- full bidirectional control
- and 28+ services for daily maintenance like SAS calibration, hot reset services, and more.
So if you’re after a tool that can handle advanced IMMO tasks as well as other common functions in the garage, Autel MaxiM IM508 is the tool for you.
Today’s best Autel MaxiM IM508 PRO price:
Best Professional OBD2 Scanners with Key Programming
#1. XTOOL InPlus IP616: Best OBD2 scanner with Key Programmer (with ECU Coding & free lifetime updates)
- Reliable key programming function
- 31 service functions
- Support CANFD protocols
- ECU Coding
- Lifetime free update
No major cons
XTOOL InPlus IP616 is kinda new to the market, but you can look at its rating on Amazon, a 4.9 rating is just impressive, and I’ve got to agree with all the other customers out there.
One of the best things about it is its key programming function. It can do everything that those expensive scanners can do but at a much more affordable price. You can:
- Add new keys
- Disabling key losts
Adding a new key with the XTOOL Inplus IP616 is super simple and fast. There are two ways to do it: by type or by vehicle. You can pick whichever method suits you best.
The instructions provided by the XTOOL Inplus IP616 are clear and will walk you through each step, so don’t worry about getting stuck with a complex process.
Sure, the XTOOL Inplus IP616 doesn’t support key programming for every vehicle like some other specialized key programmers, it has been successful in working with about 85% of the vehicles that I have tested.
Along with its key programming feature, XTOOL InPlus IP616 also has:
- Full system and OE-level diagnosis so that you can check all the systems in your car and make sure everything is working properly
- 31+ commonly used maintenance functions (ABS Bleeding, DPF Regen, etc) to help you take care of your vehicle
- ECU Coding to customize your car, like turning off annoying alarms or lights
- CANFD protocols are supported so that you can work with newer GM vehicles
And the best part? The XTOOL InPlus IP616 comes with free lifetime updates. This means you won’t have to pay for updates in the future, saving you even more money.
You might not believe me but I don’t find any problem using this scanner till now.
So, if you want an affordable device that can program keys, as well as diagnose and repair your vehicle, then the XTOOL InPlus IP616 is a great option.
Today’s best XTOOL InPlus IP616 price:
#2. Autel MK808S: Most affordable bi-directional scanner with key programming.
- Delete keys lost
- Check key numbers
- Active tests
- Top-notch functions
- Quite complicated
- High update fee
Autel MK808S is not a key programmer, it is a bi-directional scanner with a powerful key programming function. This scanner not only lets you program numerous keys for your vehicles but also allows you to
- check the number of appearing keys
- delete keys that you have lost
These two features help eliminate the chance of someone stealing your vehicle with a key lost.
The process of adding keys is super-fast, however, it can be a bit complicated. You’ll need to repeatedly turn your ignition on and off to program each key, which may take some effort. However, the Autel MK808S responds quickly so that it won’t take up too much time.
Well, the key fob function of Autel MK808S is great, but it’s just a small part of all the features this scanner offers. The function that makes this scanner stand out from other products in this list is the ability to do active tests on some systems.
Yes, I’m talking about asking the vehicles to do some simple tasks and system status tests like opening/locking the door, operating fans, cycling the ABS pump, etc.
What’s really cool about this scanner is that it gives you the same functions you’d find at a car repair shop. Autel MK808S allows you to handle minor or complex vehicle repairs without needing a mechanic, with its shop-level functions.
The thing you should consider is the high update fee. It only offers 1-year free update, and the fee after that year is quite considerable ($125/ year). Of course, you can still use the scanner without updating, but it may lack some new features and vehicles covered. (You can use the key programming function without updating)
All in all, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to take their vehicle repairs to the next level and handle complex problems like a pro. And sure, for those who are willing to pay some.
Today’s best Autel MK808S price:
#3. Launch CRP909E Elite: Another OBD2 scanner with reliable key programmer.
- Affordable price
- Full system scan
- Top-notch functions
- Quite complex
First thing first, if you need to check the number of keys or delete lost keys, Launch CRP909E Elite won’t be able to help you out.
Launch CRP909E only lets you register new keys to your vehicle.
Also, the process of adding new keys can be a bit complex, which may not be ideal for those who need to program multiple keys regularly.
That being said, Launch CRP909E is still a reliable tool for doing advanced tasks and program keys in this price range. I just say it is not as powerful as the other 3 options; it can still beat hundreds of options out there.
In terms of diagnostics and repairs, this Launch CRP909E is solid with:
- Full system diagnostics to track every issue on the vehicle
- 28+ top-notch special functions to enhance car performance and maintenance
Launch CRP909E comes from a trusted brand; it offers numerous shop-level functions. Not to mention that it is a better money saver in the long run (it offers a 2-year free update, and the update fee is only $90).
Today’s best Launch CRP909E price:
Group 2: Best Key Programming Tools (program key for 1-2 vehicles)
#1. Simple key: Cheap, fast, easy-to-use, for one-vehicle owners.
- Program keys directly
- Only support 1 vehicle
- Only support 5 brands
This Simple Key tool is designed for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, or Volkswagen.
However, one thing you should know is Simple Key can only work on the first vehicle you connect it with. So, I recommend this tool for one-vehicle owners.
One of the best things about Simple Key is that it can program up to 8 keys for one vehicle, so you can always have a backup key just in case.
This key programmer is easy and super fast. I was impressed with how fast Simple Key could program a key at first, the whole process literally took about 3 min to program one key. That’s what an impatient person like me looking for in any key programmer.
Thus, I can confirm that Simple Key is easy to navigate and use. The tool comes with a manual, it’s kinda clear. But if you’re new to using key programmers, you should better search for a video tutorial on YouTube – it is much easier and faster.
Overall, I don’t have any big problem using this key programmer. The only downside I could think of is it’s only for some specific car lines. If you’re lucky enough to have one of the compatible models, Simple Key is definitely worth the investment.
Today’s best Simple Key price:
#2 Xhorse VVDI Mini Key: Cheapest chip key programmer for all car brands
- Support many brands
- Only clone chips
- Limited vehicle coverage
Xhorse VVDI Mini Key is a Bluetooth key programmer, and it works with its own free Xhorse app.
Xhorse VVDI Mini Key programmer is not the top-rated key programming tool, but it is the most affordable one that works with many different types of cars. Other tools within this price range usually only work with one or two specific car models (like the Simple Key).
In fact, I do want to note that the Xhorse VVDI Mini Key does have limitations. It only worked on about 60% of the vehicles I tested it on, so be sure to check compatibility before purchasing.
Thus, beware that Xhorse VVDI is a tool that can program/ clone chips on the keys, not the keys.
The process is:
- Use Xhorse VVDI to clone the chips on your own key into new chips
- Place a new chip in a new transponder key
That means you have to buy a couple of clonable chips with the unit.
And don’t worry; the process is really easy and quick, better than spending a lot of time and money at a repair shop.
What I love most about the Xhorse VVDI Mini Key is its small and compact design, making it easy to carry around with me wherever I go.
If you’re looking to program a car key directly, the Xhorse VVDI Mini Key isn’t what you need. But if you want an affordable and reliable option for duplicating key chips, then it’s definitely worth considering.
Today’s best Xhorse VVDI price:
7 Best Automotive Key Programmers Full Comparison Chart
[For mobile users: Rotate your phone and swipe left for full table]
|Add keys/ Clone chips|
|Check key numbers|
|Delete key lost|
|ADVANCED IMMO FUNCTIONS|
|Key frequency detection|
|Universal key generation|
|Ignition coil detection|
|Read & Write EEPROM/MCU|
|Service functions (*)|
|DESIGN & HARDWARE|
(*): Vary on different vehicles
Thanks for checking out my review of the best key programmers. I really hope this post helps you find the right tool for your needs.
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