Hey fellow auto locksmiths, this month we have started an exciting brand new blog feature. We shall be writing a fortnightly column called “Under The Microscope” that tests and reviews the best key programming and vehicle entry tools.
There are dozens of tools available to auto locksmiths and key programmers that all claim to be the best, but which ones work and which ones don’t? We will be reviewing every aspect of the tools from value for money to performance and functionality.
We hope to be able to provide a valuable resource for new auto locksmiths and also invoke discussion from the more advanced auto lockies out there. Discussion and comments on these posts are very welcome and would add great value and worth to the topic. I will be reviewing the top three products in each category from my own experience, and finally announce a winner based on comments that I receive here on the blog.
OK without further a do lets crack on with our very first “Under The Microscope” – Renault key programming
NB: If you are not a locksmith and have stumbled across this page you are probably looking for information about our mobile service for replacement Renault keys
To start off here is a quick round-up of the types of keys and immobiliser systems used on Renault cars here in the UK.
Renault immobiliser / key systems
Renault cars are a complex beast that run several types of immo systems. The Renault immobiliser works to protect the car from being started without a correctly matched key or remote fob. Some of the earlier Renaults are strangely the most complex and difficult to replace keys for. These early Renaults work with an immobiliser integrated into either the BSI / UCH or a separate immo box. Replacement Renault keys can only be programmed to the early systems with either a main dealer machine or Eeprom work. As far as I am aware there is no after market tester appliance that will code these early system 1 type vehicles – if anyone knows of a suitable product please let us know in a blog comment.
The products that we will be reviewing are suitable for coding the later Renault models like the Clio 2 (that uses an id46 chip and fob) and the later Renault Magane’s and similar using the remote key “cards”. We can code replacement keys to these Renaults with a diagnostic tester or laptop software through the cars main OBD port.
Renault key programming – The top 3
Whilst i’m sure there dozens if not hundreds of tools that are capable of doing the job, the top three that are widely used and approved are:
- AD 100 Pro or MVP Pro – From Advanced Diagnostics
- True Code – From KeyProgrammers
- AVDI with Renault Commander – From Abritus 72
I have put all of these tools under the proverbial microscope for a closer examination. My comments are based on my own experience with the tools and comments I have received from others in the industry.
AD 100 Pro Renault key programming
The AD has consistently been a solid tool for key programming and should be an integral part of every auto locksmiths kit. This review is focusing on the Renault software specifically, rather than the machine itself (which I shall be covering in a future article examining the best ‘all round’ key programmer). The full Renault package comprises of 3 software packs. ADS104 is the basic Renault key coding software and is required as base software before any other advanced software can be added. ADS161 is the Renault pin code reading software. ADS180 is the updated Renault software for programming Renault keys on 2011 > vehicles.
|Image source http://www.advanced-diagnostics.co.uk/|
The application list includes:
CLIO II PHASE 2, CLIO III ESPACE IV PHASE 1, ESPACE IV PHASE 2, KANGOO PHASE 2, LAGUNA II PHASE 1, LAGUNA II PHASE 2, LAGUNA III PHASE 1, MASTER PHASE 2, MEGANE II, MEGANE II PHASE 2, MODUS, VEL SATIS PHASE 1, VEL SATIS PHASE 2, SCENIC II, TRAFIC PHASE 2.
The application list is strong and covers everything you would expect from a Renault key coding package. At just £450 for the basic starter software it’s a very affordable solution for locksmiths who program keys with the AD100. This was pretty much all that was required to make and code a replacement key for the common Renaults like the Renault Clio Phase 2. However with the stringent immobiliser code policy recently adopted by the Renault main dealers, programming a Renault key with just the basic software is near on impossible, unless the customer has previously obtained the 12 digit security code. Some dealers are charging as much as £50 for the immobiliser code and will only issue them to the vehicle owner with proof of ID and log book details. This pretty much makes the additional pin code reading software a must for anyone using the AD100. This adds an extra £450 onto the package and bumps the price up by a hefty amount.
My experience with the pin code extraction software is not great, it will usually extract several possible codes. It can be quite time consuming if you do not get the correct code on the first attempt. On the odd occasion I have actually walked away from a job unsuccessful with none of the codes being correct. A few years back when alternative options were few and far between this was acceptable and the best product for the price, but other products have clearly excelled in this area.
(UPDATE – I have been informed that the pin extraction software has vastly improved in the last few months and has simplified the task in hand. It would be good to hear comments from anyone that has recently worked with the AD100 for Renault pin code extraction and coding.)
To program a Renault key with the AD100 you would first need to extract the security code, and then go back in and use the code to program the key. I originally worked with the MVP and would find these jobs to be very expensive, requiring 2 codes!
Support for the AD100 Renault software is generally provided by Hickleys, and is without doubt second to none! The guys at Hickleys are always nothing but professional and friendly, and offer first class customer service to assist new and experienced key coders alike.
True Code Renault key coding
True Code is an OBD based software programmer that runs straight from a laptop and operates with a single cable. The cable plugs into the Renault OBD connector and is able to extract pin codes and program replacement Renault keys at the push of a button. The software interface is very simple and an absolute doddle to use. Onscreen instructions walk you through each step and make the whole key coding process a cinch. In addition to its simplicity the speed of key programming totally blew me away. A new Renault Megane key card can be programmed in less than one minute.
|Image source http://www.hickleys.com/|
The software will extract the pin code required for programming the key and then supply an option to either program the key manually or automatically. If automatic is selected there is no requirement to enter a code – True Code simply inserts the code that it has extracted and seamlessly codes the key. This is all achieved at the push of one button and at just £445 is an absolute bargain!
Support for True Code is supplied from Chris at Keyprogrammers and is of a level that matches the performance of the tool. I received friendly help from Keyprogrammers with the installation of the software and have found they always reply to emails and are happy to advise over the phone.
The model coverage is comparable to the AD100 although two upgrades are required for the full up to date software.
Abrites Renault Commander
The Abrites Renault Commander is produced by Abritus 72, who are often described as a world leader in the development of vehicle equipment and diagnostic software. The Renault Commander is a truly amazing piece of kit, although its price tag unfortunately puts it out of reach for many. Abrites tools are unquestionably at the top of the game and offer dealer level functionality in an after market tool. Abrites Commanders work in conjunction with the AVDI interface, which is the main programming interface that is also used with other vehicle manufacturer commanders. The standard Renault coding software with the AVDI will set you back around £2000. Whilst this is not the cheapest way to program Renault keys, some say its the best.
|Image source http://www.abritus72.com/|
The coverage list for Renault key coding is slightly more advanced than the other two products and is continually being developed. The tool functions in a similar way to True Code in that you are not required to already have the security immobiliser code. The software will extract the pin code on connection to the OBD and seamlessly code the key / card.
Abrites Renault Commander offers more than just key coding, and is perhaps better suited to advanced locksmiths and auto electricians that offer vehicle diagnostics in addition to key coding. The tool provides access to airbag crash data, actuator testing, control unit live data and for an extra cost the Commanders functionality can be upgraded to perform odometer correction.
The best Renault key programmer – As reviewed by The Auto Locksmith:
|AD100||The AD100 is a perfectly fine tool for new auto locksmiths and key coders. It offers a high level of model coverage at a reasonable price. The difficulties with pin extraction can make coding new Renault keys a timely process.|
|Abrites||The AVDI Renault Commander from Abrites is without doubt a top quality tool that offers a high level of functionality. The model coverage is fantastic and as this continues to grow could soon see this become a market leader. The high cost is the only factor that really prevents this from taken the crown.|
|True Code||True Code just has to be the winner. The interface is unfussy and extremely simple to use. A very reasonably priced tool with a fantastic level of customer service. If only all key coding was this good!|
NB: All comments and star ratings are purely based on my own opinion and experience with the tools.
All three tools reviewed here are highly recommended for programming a replacement Renault key. As always there are unique pros and cons to every tool, so I would recommend that you take the time to read more about each tool on the manufacturer website and most importantly, speak to people that are using the tools to see which is best suited to you.
Thanks for reading this article, I had great fun researching and writing it and look forward to starting with the next “Under The Microscope” which will be published on Friday March 15th, so be sure to check back then.
In the meantime it would be fantastic to get some comments from you guys out there that are already using these tools. Please share any experiences you have with the tools by adding a comment below.
Take our poll now – help us crown the best tool for programming replacement Renault keys, as voted by the industry.
The result for Renault key programmer 2013
Ok guys the poll is now closed and the votes are in. The winner of our very first ‘Under the Microscope’ is True Code. It’s not surprising that with over 60% of the votes True Code have been awarded Best Renault Key programmer 2013 – as voted for by you – auto locksmiths and key programmers.