The American Key Supply Guide to Cloning

The Benefits of Cloning

Investing the money needed to be able to clone keys is not for everyone, but understanding the benefits will help you decide when it's time for your business to make the jump.

  • Save Time: Sometimes programming cars can be a time consuming process. For example, using your diagnostic machines on a VW has always been iffy for me, even after investing thousands in multiple types of tools that 'say' they can get the job done. Cloning most cars only takes a couple of minutes and does not even involve walking farther than from one side of the counter to the other.
  • Copy Keys Without the Car Present: With the exception of Philips 46 chips (about 35% of the market), you can clone keys without having to visit the vehicle. That makes it a perfect solution for retail locations such as locksmith shops, hardware stores, etc. Think about bringing your cloner to events and offering key copying services on-the-spot. This is something that just wouldn't be practical without cloning.
  • Unlimited Copies: Most cars have a limit of only 4 or 8 keys that can be programmed into the system at any one time. With cloning, the vehicle thinks every cloned key is the original, so you can really create an unlimited number of keys that will operate the vehicle.
  • PIN Codes? Ugh. Forget about having to worry about getting access to PIN Codes or BCM code conversions. Cloning bypasses the need for that.
  • Copy Valet Keys: For some cars, especially some older Toyotas with a first generation transponder system, creating more keys when only a Valet key is left can be an extremely costly thing. Using a cloner, you can now make as many copies as the customer needs.
  • Honda "Red & Black Key" Systems: Some Hondas & Acuras with a first generation transponder system require a RED key that was sold with the car in order to program in new keys. 10-13 years have passed since those cars were sold and I am extremely surprised to find anyone that still has their red key. Without a cloner, the customer would have to pay $400-$600 to reflash the ECU in order to get extra keys made. Now they can get keys copied for as little as $50.
  • Save Customer Key Info: Some advanced cloners such as the Zed-Bull by Istanbul Electronics or the AD900 by Advanced Diagnostics can save customer and key information. In theory, you could save all of your customer's keys in the database, and 2 years down the line when they lose all of their keys again, you could just produce a key again without any original, hand it over, and collect your $250.
  • Chip Identification: Any cloner should be able to identify not only if there is a transponder chip in the key, but what kind of chip it is. Unless you always use more expensive brand names such as Ilco and Strattec that print part numbers on the key itself, it can be very easy to get keys mixed up. For example, many experienced locksmiths use JMA shells with interchangeable chips instead of having to stock every single type of transponder key sold. Many, many keys use the same types of chips, and when doing swapping of chips and shells, it's very easy to get them mixed up. If you do this type of thing, either get a cloner or get a friend with one that you can borrow from time to time.

The Myths

  • Cloning Reduces Costs. Most beginners are under the incorrect assumption that owning a cloner means you will be able to save money copying transponder keys. In reality, the keys required to clone onto are very expensive in comparison to most standard transponder keys. Even when calculating in the cost of an $11 token (if your programming uses tokens), programming a key using diagnostic equipment thru the OBDII port most times will be cheaper for you. Exceptions to this rule are when programming some vehicles that use multiple tokens, if your cost on tokens is higher than about $13 each, or when the transponder key blank is expensive (eg. 2004 Mazda 626).
    UPDATE: New cloners are coming onto the market now that support the new, less expensive CN chips. For example, with the KeyLogic US900 Cloner, your cost for cloning has come down to under $10 each!
  • I Can Clone Any Key. Actually, that's close, but not totally right. Now that the cloning tool makers have cracked the Philips 46 chip, we're up to about 95% of cars that we can clone. Examples of vehicles that we still cannot clone in the US market: most BMW, Mercedes, most VW, Volvo, 2010+ Toyotas (G & H chips), and 2011+ Fords (80-bit). Most manufacturers also have one or two oddball models that use unpopular chip types that clone makers just haven't found it profitable to try and crack.
    UPDATE: The KeyLogic US900 Cloner now supports Toyota G-chip cloning (requires purchase of G-box).
  • I Can Clone Without the Vehicle Present. In the case of Philips 46 chips (about 35% of the market), you need to do a little work on the cloning machine with the keys, walk to the car and go through a short cycle process with both keys, and then return to the cloning machine again for a final short period of programming.

Limitations

  • Remote Head Keys: We are not aware of any solution for integrating remote functionality with cloned keys. In other words, cloning a key results in a copy that will not have any buttons on it.
    UPDATE: The new, less expensive CN chips (CN1, CN2, CN3, CN5, CN64) are the same dimensions as standard black wedge transponder chips, so they now can be placed into many standard remote head keys. And with the introduction of the KD900 Remote Generator tool, you can now offer a wide range of flip-style remote head keys to your customers.

Good Things to Know

  • Cloning GM Keys: Do you really need to clone with GM? Weigh your costs for those keys. Programming in additional keys in most cases is only a 5 second, on-board process, so it's probably a very fast, easy thing to do with an inexpensive, standard transponder key. In other words, save your money and don't clone when it comes to GM.
  • User Memory: Since a cloned key is essentially identical to the original, some makes/models will not be able to remember driver preferences such as seat and mirror positions, environmental and radio settings, etc. Make sure your customers are aware of this if their vehicle supports these types of features.
  • CN Chips and Ford: We are hearing reports that CN1 and CN2 chips are not sending a strong enough signal for some Fords. In a similar way that Ford uses glass chips in their H72 (4C) and H86 (4D-60) keys, you may need to use glass TPX chips instead of black wedge style CN chips for some Fords. Please be prepared and keep some TPX chips in stock.

Your Options

Cloning Machines

KeyLogic US900

KeyLogic US900

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Touchscreen operation
  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required for almost all features)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Will clone Toyota G-Chip! (optional purchase)
  • Clones onto CN chips, TPX chips, or EH2/TK60 electronic head keys
  • Supports transponder production, including VW CAN, Toyota 4D-67, Lexus 4D-68, and GM PK3+
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips
  • Detects remote frequency for testing
  • Includes some key writing from EEPROM BIN files (dumps)

KEYS: Very open system, supporting as many cloning key types as possible. The most important thing to note is that it supports writing to CN chips, so your per-key cost is extremely low. Use CN chips with any manufacturer's key shells (JMA, BlueRocket, etc.) for a cloning key under $10 that looks very similar to the factory original.

PRICING: $1495 and includes over $300 in FREE cloning supplies (chips & keys).

SUMMARY: Definitely one of the more advanced cloners on the market. Relatively inexpensive to buy when free keys are noted and supports the very inexpensive CN chips, keeping key costs very low. A great option for any business with a medium volume of cloning services. Also a very good option for automotive locksmiths looking for advanced features like chip manipulation, especially by those providing reflashing services for their customers. Manufacturer is actively developing new features.

KeyLogic US600

KeyLogic US600

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Touchscreen operation
  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required for almost all features)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Clones onto CN chips, TPX chips, or EH2/TK60 electronic head keys
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips
  • Detects remote frequency for testing

KEYS: Very open system, supporting as many cloning key types as possible. The most important thing to note is that it supports writing to CN chips, so your per-key cost is extremely low. Use CN chips with any manufacturer's key shells (JMA, BlueRocket, etc.) for a cloning key under $10 that looks very similar to the factory original.

PRICING: $595.

SUMMARY: Etremely inexpensive to buy and supports the very inexpensive CN chips, keeping key costs very low. Very easy learning curve. A great option for any business looking to start provide cloning services. No advanced features so maybe not a good choice for the advanced or ambitious locksmith.

The Diagnostic Box
Cyclone
(Starter)

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Clones onto CN chips (also supports TPX2 chips)
  • Cannot clone onto TPX1 or TPX4 chips, nor any electronic head keys.
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Supports writing to CN chips, so your per-key cost is extremely low. Use CN chips with any manufacturer's key shells (JMA, BlueRocket, etc.) for a cloning key under $10 that looks very similar to the factory original.

PRICING: About $1100.

SUMMARY: A relatively affordable solution for those wanting cloning but nothing else.

The Diagnostic Box
Cyclone PRO

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required for most features)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Will clone Megamos 48—GM only
  • Will clone 8C (Mazda MPV & Miata 2000-2004)
  • Clones onto CN chips, TPX chips, or EH2/TK60 electronic head keys
  • Supports transponder production, including VW CAN, Toyota 4D-67, and Lexus 4D-68
  • Supports some VW CAN chip pre-coding
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Very open system, supporting as many cloning key types as possible. The most important thing to note is that it supports writing to CN chips, so your per-key cost is extremely low. Use CN chips with any manufacturer's key shells (JMA, BlueRocket, etc.) for a cloning key under $10 that looks very similar to the factory original.

PRICING: About $2000.

SUMMARY: Definitely one of the more advanced cloners on the market. A little pricey to purchase but does support the very inexpensive CN chips, keeping key costs very low. A great option for an business with a fairly high volume of cloning services.

JMA TRS-5000 EVO

JMA TRS-5000 EVO

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Clones onto JMA's battery-less TPX chips/keys (about $20-$25 each).
  • Cannot clone onto electronic heads or CN chips.
  • Cannot write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Must clone onto JMA's TPX chips which are typically inserted into shells that are shaped like the factory originals.

PRICING: About $1700 and includes around $500 in FREE TPX5 cloning keys.

SUMMARY: Extremely easy to use system, perfect when minimal training is needed. Per-key cost is relatively high.

Keyline 884
Decryptor Ultegra

Keyline 884 Decryptor Ultegra

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Will clone Megamos 48 (optional purchase)—GM and VW!
  • Clones onto Keyline's proprietary electronic keys (about $30 each).
  • Cannot clone onto TPX or CN chips.
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Must clone onto Keyline's TK100 cloning keys (about $25 each). It can also clone Megamos 48, including VWs (up to 2005), with the purchase of the TKM-KIT (about $280) and use of TKM cloning keys (about $27 each). Keyline cloning key blanks are horseshoe blades with universal heads. They do not use batteries anymore, so limited key life is no longer a problem. The keys work well but are not shaped like the factory originals.

PRICING: About $950 and incudes around $190 in FREE cloning keys.

SUMMARY: A very capable and easy-to-use cloning system. If combined with the TKM-KIT, especially helpful for those that work with VW vehicles. Because the cloning keys are extremely expensive, this is a very good option for the automotive locksmith needing to do the occcasional key cloning.

Keyline 884
Decryptor Mini

Keyline 884 Decryptor Mini

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Requires operation using a connection to an Android mobile device or PC with an Internet connection
  • Transponder identification not perfect yet, cannot tell the difference between different 4D chips
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Will clone Megamos 48 (optional purchase)—GM and VW!
  • Clones onto Keyline's proprietary electronic keys (about $30 each).
  • Cannot clone onto TPX or CN chips.
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Must clone onto Keyline's TK100 cloning keys (about $25 each). It can also clone Megamos 48, including VWs (up to 2005), with the purchase of the TKM-KIT (about $280) and use of TKM cloning keys (about $27 each). Keyline cloning key blanks are horseshoe blades with universal heads. They do not use batteries anymore, so limited key life is no longer a problem. The keys work well but are not shaped like the factory originals.

PRICING: About $580 and includes around $300 in FREE cloning keys.

SUMMARY: An extremely inexpensive way to get into cloning but cloning keys are extremely expensive. This is NOT a stand-alone unit, so setup may be difficult for someone not comfortable with computers. If combined with the TKM-KIT, especially helpful for those that work with VW vehicles. Because the unit is so inexpensive but the cloning keys are so expensive, a fantastic option for the automotive locksmith looking to do a small volume of cloning services.

Ilco RW4 Plus
w/ Snoop

Ilco RW4 Plus

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Stand-alone unit (no PC or Internet connection required)
  • Will clone fixed code (T2, T5, Tex 4C)
  • Will clone Texas Instruments encrypted code (4D)
  • Will clone Philips 46 encrypted code
  • Clones onto Ilco's proprietary electronic keys (about $27 each).
  • Cannot clone onto TPX or CN chips.
  • Can write custom values to fixed-code chips

KEYS: Ilco cloning key blanks are horseshoe blades with universal heads. The "electronic head" keys use batteries so when the battery dies, customers will need to replace key battery to get they key working again. The keys work well but are not shaped like the factory originals.

PRICING: About $1800.

SUMMARY: Extremely easy to use system, perfect when minimal training is needed. Both machine and per-key cost are relatively high. Solid machine, but few advanced features.

   

Cloning Chips / Keys

As we mentioned earlier, you cannot clone onto just any ordinary transponder chip. You must use the right cloning chip/key for the job. Start by identifying what kind of chip your customer's original key has and use this chart as a guide for what cloning chip/key you'll need to clone to.

Customer's Original Chip Cloning Chip/Key
KeyLogic
US900
KeyLogic
US600
TDB
Cyclone Pro
JMA
TRS-5000 EVO
Keyline
884 Ultra or
884 Mini
Ilco
RW4 Plus
Megamos 13 T5
(sometimes called PT5, sometimes marked with "RW")
Texas Instruments 4C

CN1
or TPX1

CN1
or TPX1

CN1/CX1
or TPX1

TPX1
or TPX5

TK100 Ilco electronic
head keys
Texas Instruments 4D CN2
or TPX2
CN2
or TPX2
CN2/CX2
or TPX2
TPX2
or TPX5
TK100 Ilco electronic
head keys
Texas Instruments 4D-64 (Y160) CN64 CN64 /CN64 TPX2
or TPX5
TK100 Ilco electronic
head keys
Philips 46

CN3
or TPX4

CN3
or TPX4

CN3/CX3
or TPX4

TPX4
or TPX5
TK100 Ilco electronic
head keys
Megamos 48 Not supported Not supported R/W 48
(GM Only)
Not supported TKM
(GM & VW)
Not supported
Temic 8C Not supported Not supported TK5561
(discontinued)
Not supported Not supported Not supported
Toyota G-Chip CN5 Not supported Not supported Not supported Not supported Not supported