New 2022 Otofix IM1: everything you need to know

Nick Francis

17 Nov 2021

YesAuto has partnered with Autel, an automotive tech company that makes a range of tools for all manner of technical jobs, including this - the Otofix IM1 car key programming device. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is it?

Most of us probably take our car keys for granted and don’t think too much about how they work. That is until they lose them, or they are broken or stolen. Modern cars use electronic key fobs which transmit a unique message from the key to the car, telling the car this is the correct owner and then opening and powering the car.

If the key is lost or damaged the car is rendered immobile, and that’s where the Otofix IM1 helps. The IM1 is a device used by professional mechanics and automotive locksmiths to programme new keys for cars. 

Otofix promises the IM1 can programme electronic keys for 80 per cent of cars, and 95 per cent of cars made after 2000. It covers all Ford and Volkswagen models. It is also able to diagnose and deal with faults in a car’s key and immobiliser system. Furthermore, it can share reports via the cloud so others can access the data.

The IM1 isn’t cheap, but as we say it’s an invaluable tool for mechanics and workshops: lost keys is one of the most common problems people in the trade have to deal with. In the box is a 7-inch Google Android-powered tablet which is lightweight and durable, designed for the wear and tear of workshop life. You also get a V1 VCI dongle, the device which plugs into a car’s OBD port, which is how the IM1 can read the car’s ‘brain’. The OBD port is usually found beneath a car’s steering column.

Who is it made by?

The Otofix IM1 is ultimately made by a company called Autel. 

Even if you don’t know the name the chances are your car has at some point benefited from Autel’s technology. Autel specialises in the kind of automotive tech that keeps cars on the road, enabling engineers and mechanics to diagnose problems with a vehicle and get it fixed in the most efficient way.

Autel’s products are sold in over 70 countries, including Great Britain, China, America and Australia. Its diagnostic tools are class-leading and found in more than 500,000 independent vehicle repair shops across the globe. Put simply, when there’s something wrong with your car, Autel has the tool that can identify the problem and get it back on the road ASAP. 

But it’s much more than that. Over 60 per cent of Autel’s employees work in the research and development (R&D) arm of the company, working on everything from battery and charging technology for electric cars to autonomous driving solutions. Autel has R&D centres in Silicon Valley, Munich and Shenzen.

Since it was founded in 2004 Autel has received 1040 domestic and foreign patents and has won almost 100 awards and honours, including the VISION Best New Product in the United States award and no less than 13 Red Dot Awards, known as Oscars in the world of product design.  

What does it do?

As we say, the IM1 is a tool used by professionals to programme new keys for cars. This is a common job for mechanics and workshops, as humans are very good at misplacing car keys or damaging them. 

The IM1 does this by using a dongle that plugs into the car’s OBD port which then scans the car for the correct information needed to create a new key. The dongle transmits the information back to a tablet device via Bluetooth. The user can also perform a range of other functions other than programming a key, including scanning for any errors on an existing key. Sometimes the owner of a car may come into the workshop with a faulty key, rather than having lost one. 

Via the tablet, the dongle can be ordered to set up a new unique signal, which will enable the car to be opened and started. Crucially, the IM1 will delete any existing keys, which means if they have been stolen or are found by an untrustworthy person, those keys will no longer work with the car. 

You can also simply create a new key to add to your existing keys, if you have someone else who needs regular access to the car but you don’t want to share the existing keys. 

The 7-inch tablet is lightweight and durable. This means it can be used by mobile automotive locksmiths who need to travel to meet stranded car owners. It is easy to use in the dark thanks to its bright high-res screen.

It can also send reports on the health status of a key and any other related data via a cloud system, so other professionals can access it. This streamlines the repair process. 

How much is it?

Bought directly from Autel, the Otofix IM1 costs £780. It comes with a majority of new cars already programmed but you can pay for software updates as new models come to market. 

This content is sponsored by Autel

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Nick Francis

17 Nov 2021