There comes an unbiased review of some popular key programming tools by a real UK locksmith who has 10-year working experience.
When this device came out a few years ago it was popular in Asia and USA. However, in recent times there has been more clarity and frequent updates. It’s a good all rounder and excellent value for money. Particularly strong in Toyota, Volvo, Fiat and Chrysler and will handle Ford, PSA, VAG and Renault up until 2015 and has many other brands it will cover. Using the emulators, you can do many Toyota all keys lost via OBD.
Probably the best bang for buck programmer on the market today. A great all-round tool which is known to be strong on Renault, Ford, PSA and Mazda. For a tool of this price to be able to do 2020 Ford Focus and Transit, 2017 Renault lost keys and read a pin from practically any PSA you plug in is unbelievable. Updates are frequent and very much focused on the EU market.
Xtool X100 PAD2 & PAD Elite (PAD3) –
The model range is very confusing as there are many different versions of the same device. The updates are coming thick and fast, 2 years’ worth included from purchase. Really strong on Asian brands, in particular Hyundai, Kia, Honda and Toyota. The recent Ford and Renault updates have been impressive and I expect many more updates over the next few months. The Pad Elite (PAD3) is compatible with the KC501 and can program Mercedes keys very fast, so for the money it’s a good tool. Not quite as refined as some other devices but once you find your way around it’s a solid machine.
Autel IM608 Pro (IM608) –
I have mixed feelings on this device, in some respects I think it’s excellent as it has such a broad coverage and the user interface is great. It has without doubt some of the most powerful diagnostic capabilities available from an all round “scanner” (whether you would use even 20% as a locksmith is debatable). However, if you don’t need high end diagnostic functions, I think it’s a lot of money for a key programmer. As with most devices, there is a heavy reliance on server calculations and this is where Autel suffers. There are so many occasions where the servers are so overloaded that programming cannot be carried out, or takes extremely long.
BossComm KMAX-850 –
This is a new device in the UK that many haven’t seen. Some of you may remember a diagnostic tool many years ago by BossComm, it was a good device in its day and this is from the same developer. For the surprisingly low cost of this tool it is very reliable and has great coverage. I used it on a Ford Focus 2019 spare key as a test and was surprised how well it worked. It is based on the Linux platform and has less reliance on the internet so it’s a good tool as a backup and comes with a pre-coding device. It’ll do VAG, Ford, Fiat, Honda and many more brands quite easily.
Every practising auto locksmith in the country should have heard of the Zed-FULL. For some people it is still the first tool they would plug in, for others it is a last resort. Without doubt it is a powerful device with a huge coverage, very easy to use and a plethora of functions. It is a token-based device and can work out very expensive, in today’s market I think token machines are only worth having if they do something other machines do not. A few years ago, that may have been the case with the Zed-FULL, but certainly not now. The other downside is that on some vehicles you must use an IEA key/remote so your hands are tied.
Smart Pro –
As most users found out the hard way, this device was released prematurely and left a lot of upset customers who had traded in a working device for a device still under development. I think that has changed now, it is much more reliable and has one of the best user interfaces of any of the devices mentioned. It is very good on Ford and can do AKL on Renault Trafic 2015- without bricking the BCM. It has a broad coverage and is easy to use, however it is token based so an expensive tool to use constantly. A good tool for a beginner, but still quite expensive for what it is actually capable of.