By Richard Bunn
With so much equipment available on the market today it’s difficult to know what to buy, why you should buy it and more importantly how to then use it effectively. In the world of automotive locksmithing there are many options when it comes to creating transponder keys to a wide range of VAG vehicles. In an ideal world you would purchase one piece of diagnostic equipment which would enable you to then create and program 99% of all keys in a lost key scenario, and for every car on the market both past, present and future. As we all know that doesn’t exist and no doubt never will.
So what are the current options available to the automotive locksmiths for programming VAG vehicles today?
Well luckily, due to VAGs volume and therefore popularity on the road all diagnostic equipment manufacturers seem to have a solution for some part of the VAG group. There are solutions from Advanced Diagnostics, Abrites, Zed Full, Vag Com, and many more, not to mention the dealer OEM solution. All diagnostic equipment manufacturers (as a rule of thumb) have ‘partial’ solutions for Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda, but do you know the limitations which you are currently faced with and by each equipment manufacturer?
In brief transponders used in these vehicles are represented by the popular ID48 Megamos package, this same device when coded correctly can go from a regular ID48 transponder, to a canbus vehicle specific transponder (i.e. ID48 VW Canbus, ID48 SKODA Canbus, ID 48 AUDI Canbus, and ID48 SEAT Canbus). From approximately 2004 we were introduced to these ID48s turning into canbus transponders and the need to write 7 bytes of component security to the transponder for the vehicle to recognise the transponder key prior to programming. From 2009 onwards these same ID48 transponders increased their security by using all the crypto key pages (pages 4 to 9) on the transponder and 12 bytes of component security had then become a requirement.
So, understanding what the vehicle needs you to do in order to create your pre-coded transponder is an important part of your decision making process. Ideally you would plug in your OEM dealer tool, link to the internet (as you have purchased your VAG license) and let the server based at Volkswagen do everything for you. This is however an expensive solution, a hard approval to attain, and the need for internet is imperative.
Up until 2009 for Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda you could create and program new keys in a lost keys scenario relatively easily, most diagnostic equipment as previously mentioned will pull the security pin code, and the 7 bytes of component security needed for precoding and final coding into the vehicle. 2009 onwards however there is a problem! Unfortunately to program these vehicles after 2009 you will need a working key in order to program an additional key, so if all keys are lost by the customer you have not got a simple OBD solution. The technical reason for this is the VAG vehicles security changed to a VDO NEC processor in the clocks (or commonly known as the instrument cluster, I use both of these terms interchangeably) and unless the cluster is activated into boot mode or service mode (this happens automatically if you have a working key) the vehicle will not allow any more keys to be programmed.
So when all keys are lost for VAG vehicles dated 2009 onwards what can you do? Only some of the equipment manufacturers will have a solution which involves taking out the clocks (this is very easy to do and usually involves unscrewing 2 or 3 torx screws), and removing the clocks from the vehicle. Then these same equipment manufacturers need you to remove an EEPROM from the instrument cluster PCB, write a new file to the EEPROM, re-solder the EEPROM and then with the instrument cluster in ‘service mode’ you can then program new keys. The solution I prefer and will pass on to you involves no removing of EEPROMS, involves no soldering irons, and involves no writing back to EEPROMS, plus its quicker (approximately 50% less time to complete) and definitively safer for you as an automotive locksmith.
So using SuperVAG – let’s run through a real working example and see what actions and procedures are necessary to perform this job:
Job: Create new keys to the vehicle (none available).
Vehicle: Seat Ibiza 2012
Problem: All keys lost (bought as a Category D by the customer).
Step 1: Remove the instrument cluster from the vehicle
Detach the surrounding trim, remove a total of 3 x Torx screws in this case, and detach the loom with the blue connector from the rear of the clocks – as shown below:
Step 2: Remove the back of the instrument cluster (4 x Torx screws)
Step 3: With the clocks open on your bench you should now have SuperVAG ready to plug in; your Tango for transponder writing and a key to program
Step 4: Connect SuperVAG interface to the laptop and open the application software. Connect the SVG ‘bespoke’ cable that connects to the back of the instrument cluster
Step 5: Now power up your SuperVAG connection and start following the onscreen instructions included in the SuperVAG software
Step 6: Now your connected to the clocks via SuperVAG cable you can read the transponder data off the processor. The first stage in the software is to press the icon as highlighted below:
Step 7: As the microprocessor is secure you will be unable to initially read the data successfully. The application software will ask if you have the SVG cable connected (which you have), and then it will ask you during this process: have you researched the clocks that you are working on? The reason is that you will be prompted, during the process, to touch a specific contact point or hole on the PCB with the attached POGO pin
Step 8: Downloading the online pdf from the SuperVAG website you then need to match the PCB you have from the vehicle to the research pdf document. The below picture shows the PCB on the clocks that we have from the vehicle totally matches the PCB shown below. It also indicates where the POGO pin needs to be inserted when prompted by the SuperVAG software
Step 9: Now following the on screen prompts: the software will ask you to switch off the power to the clocks, insert the POGO pin and then power it back up (you MUST read the on screen instructions and do NOT jump ahead in the process)
Step 10: All the lights that were lit up on the clocks will now have gone out except for the parking break – as described below. If this is not the case you may need to repeat the procedure a second time (due to bad placement of the POGO pin etc.)
Step 11: When the clocks have gone into service mode SuperVAG will then start extracting all the data from the NEC processor. Initially it will give you the pincode, as shown below:
Step 12: Then SuperVAG will create a bin file for that processor and will ask you where you wish to save the file to (I always save it to the desktop for easy visual access)
Step 13: Now you have successfully saved the file. Leave the SuperVAG application open and open up Tango. Select the keymaker for, in this case, Seat. You will see that there is a SuperVAG option for this vehicle inside the TANGO software:
Step 14: Now press the F (for file) car icon and you then pass the SuperVAG bin file to TANGO that you had saved earlier. The TANGO software will then tell you how many keys are in the system. Then select an unused slot, in this case key number 3. Insert your transponder (ID48 Megamos – it doesn’t need to have been converted to canbus, this will be done automatically) into TANGO, press the W (write button) and then select the Megamos-48 transponder radio button when prompted
Step 15: Now you have written to the transponder you now need to write the transponder data back to the clocks. TANGO will now automatically create a new bin file for you to write back to the locks using SuperVAG. Again save this file to your desktop and name this new file with a meaningful name so you remember what you have done. In this case we have named it ‘add key back to cluster’ bin file
Step 16: Finally go back to SuperVAG application and click on the icon below (writing data to the transponder). Once pressed the SuperVAG application will ask for the file you just created with TANGO. Once you have selected that file SuperVAG will write the data back to the NEC processor on the PCB of the cluster and the process is now complete
Step 17: Now ensure before unplugging the SuperVAG loom that you turn off the power. Then fit the back of the cover back onto the clocks with the Torx screws, and carefully fit the complete clocks back into the vehicle.
Step 18: Well done on your first successful SuperVAG dash solution – you have now created new transponder keys, without EEPROM reading, without soldering and desoldering, and without having to pay for a dealer key.
With technology continually changing, the next challenge is the MQB systems on the 2013 to present day vehicles within the VAG range. As of yet there are still no solutions for lost keys on aftermarket equipment on Golf mark VII, but with inventors such as Martin Richter from SuperVAG – it may just be a matter of time.