How to Read a Car Key Code

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    Key codes are present in vehicles for the purpose of replicating keys. With a key code present in your car, you don't need to replace the entire keylock system each time your car key gets missing, and it also helps the locksmith save time. 

    Vehicle manufacturers assign a unique key code, usually a five-digit code, to every vehicle they manufacture. This code is VIN-specific and indicates the depth of the cut of the vehicle key. Although it is not unusual to have two vehicles with the same key code, it is very unlikely to come across two vehicles with the same key codes. 

    Car Key Codes and How to Read Them

    Car key codes consist of five-digit alphanumeric codes, representing the high and low patterns needed to cut new keys. These codes are VIN-specific and can be read by using a Lishi tool, a lock-picking instrument. This tool picks and decode vehicle locks. However, understanding how it works can be a bit confusing, as the process of picking and decoding is a bit complex. 

    No worries; there are still other ways to find your car key code, as the codes are often located in various parts of the vehicle, depending on your manufacturer. But for security reasons, they are usually tucked away in a concealed location. They can be found engraved on locks throughout the vehicle.

    Oftentimes, on the door lock and ignition lock. It is also not unusual to find them on the glovebox locks. All that is required is to pull out these locks and read the code. 

    • For Honda vehicles, their key code is usually engraved on the glovebox locks, which can be accessed by loosening the screws holding the lock in place.
    • With GMC, their key code is engraved on the ignition cylinder. Popping out the ignition cylinder would reveal the key code. 

    Getting the key code and cutting the key is one part. You’ll also need to program the transponder in the new key for it to work with your vehicle. A good bi-directional scanner that has built-in key programming features is Ancel X7. 

    Ancel X7 Bi-Directional Scanner With Key Programming

    Apart from reading and clearing error codes, this scanner also allows you to program new keys and performs key matching when the ignition switch, ECU, BCM, or other critical component is replaced. 

    For increased security, the modern car key has an embedded transponder chip, that stores data and holds the password for the immobilizer system. Anytime the key is inserted into the ignition, the system reader comes on and reads the password inside the chip. Without the correct password for the immobiliser system, the vehicle wouldn’t start. 

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    Hence, reprograming a new key is a requirement for it to work, and Ancel X7 supports the Immobilizer system. For the average locksmith, the functionality of this scanner isn’t limited to just reprogramming new keys. Below are some other features of the Ancel X7 scanner: 

    Bi-Directional Scan Tool

    Unlike basic scanners that can only be used to read and clear error codes, this scanner takes thing bi-directional scanner takes things a bit further. It also has the capacity to send commands to the vehicle's onboard computer to actuate any computer-controlled part. 

    With this scanner, you can easily diagnose issues by commanding the ECU to actuate vehicle components. For instance, if you are dealing with a vehicle that is unresponsive to the lock and unlock commands from the remote, you can easily diagnose the issue by actuating the central lock. This way, you get to find out if the issue is from the remote or a faulty central lock system. 

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    Live Data

    It also provides live data in real time, allowing you to check the system workings on a live graph. With this information, you get better insight into the cause of the malfunction, helping you to streamline where the error originated from. 

    Back to our previous example, you can probe further into what’s hindering the central lock from responding to the vehicle remote. By examining the Live Data graph, you can check if your vehicle is receiving the signal from the remote. This will help you save time and prevent you from potentially wasting money on a remote key.

    ECU Coding & Active Testing

    While this is only limited to VW and Audi vehicles, you can reflash their vehicle control module. You get to reprogram the adaptive data for various components after making repairs or part replacements, improving efficiency and reducing the risk of system failures. 

    Furthermore, the Ancel X7 scanner can also make your vehicle perform specific tests on varying modules to find out if any of them has an issue. You can request information from specific modules, and the system responds by sending the said information back to the scan tool.

    Bluetooth Connectivity

    Although the system has a USB cable for a wired connection, it also has a Bluetooth dongle for a wireless VCI connection. This makes it more portable and less clumsy to work with. The system Bluetooth connection has a higher range for improved connectivity. 

    When compared to other traditional wireless scanners, the X7 has a much higher range of connection, allowing you to stand as far back as 30 feet from your vehicle while still enjoying a stable connection. 

    Final Thought

    Cars have evolved over the years, and you don’t have to replace the entire keylock system whenever you misplace your key. Manufacturers have made car locks sustainable and improved security by introducing unique key codes that allow a locksmith to replicate new keys. 

    While most locksmiths use a Lishi tool to decode the key code which is a bit complex, you can use the easier route by removing either your door lock, ignition cylinder or glovebox lock and you’ll see your key code. But this may vary depending on your manufacturer. 

    However, modern car keys have an embedded transponder that must be reprogrammed into the every new key for it to work. And with the Ancel X7, reprogramming your key is straightforward. So, we recommend buying the Ancel X7 bi-directional scanner if you are in the market for a scanner that supports your vehicle immobilizer system. 


    How can you find your car's key code?

    The key code is often engraved on locks like the door lock or ignition cylinder. Remove the corresponding lock to find and read the code.

    Why is reprogramming a new car key necessary?

    Modern car keys have transponder chips that require reprogramming for the key to work with the vehicle's immobilizer system.

    What are some features of the Ancel X7 bi-directional scanner?

    The Ancel X7 scanner can read error codes, program keys, actuate computer-controlled parts, provide live data, and support ECU coding for select vehicles.

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