Every tuner manufacturer makes their tuners lock to your car or truck in order to prevent you from being able to use one tuner on many vehicles; it's their way of making sure they get paid for every vehicle out there with their tuning on it. Basically, when you program your vehicle the tuner will read your VIN number and store that number inside of it. As long as that vehicle has the performance tuning on it, the programmer will only work on that vehicle; if you try to program another vehicle you will get some sort of error message and programming will not be possible. Once a tuner is used to install performance tuning on a vehicle, that tuner becomes "VIN locked" or "married" to that vehicle. However, once the original vehicle is returned to factory settings using the tuner, the programmer “unlocks” or “unmarries” itself from the original vehicle and now becomes ready to be used on another vehicle and will function exactly the same as a brand new tuner.
So that gives us to the first answer of a way to unlock a programmer, to reset the original vehicle to factory settings. Now this may seem pretty simple but many people do make mistakes when doing this. One common mistake we see on Hypertech products is that people will actually go in to performance tuning mode and then when custom selecting their options they will select “stock” for all options. This actually will not unlock the programmer, even though the vehicle will be at factory settings. In order to correctly reset a vehicle to factory settings with a Hypertech programmer, you must press “Y” when the programmer first connects to your vehicle asks you to press Y if you want to reset to factory settings or press N to enter programming mode. Another common mistake we see with Diablosport products is that people will do something similar to the prior example where they will install the stock with options tune instead of installing the original backup. The stock with options tune is completely stock, but is for users who want to customize everything themselves instead of using the Diablo Tune. Luckily, all of the programmers we sell go through our rigorous testing process to ensure they are in fact 100% unlocked.
The second way to unlock a tuner device is to pay the company a hefty fee to unlock it. There are many different programmers, companies, methods, and fees, but here are a few of them.
- Hypertech Power Programmer – Hypertech no longer supports these and will not unlock them.
- Hypertech Max Energy – Hypertech will unlock these for a $200 fee.
- Diablosport Predator (versions 1.xx & 2.xx) – These are the original Predators and there really aren’t a lot of them around. Some that come to mind that we see in these old versions are U7198, U7192, U7193, U7195, U7185, and U7180. Of course, these also come in the newer versions as well, it just depends on when yours was manufactured. In order to have these unlocked, Diablosport requires you to mail these in for a $100 hardware upgrade fee to be changed over to the new version and they will charge a $50 unlock fee on top of that. In addition, you’re going to need to cover two way shipping charges and you’re going to need to wait 6-8 weeks. So in total, you’ll be looking at around $180.
- Diablosport Predator (versions 8rxx, 9rxx) – These are the newer version Predators and Diablosport can unlock these over the phone for a $129 fee. You need to have the Predator powered up, they’ll have you go into a secret menu that displays a keycode. Using that keycode, they will provide you with a password which is a specific key sequence to gain entrance to the Expert Menu. Once in there, you select “Expert Registry Reset” and the programmer will unlock itself.
- Diablosport inTune – Similar to the newer version Predators, Diablosport will unlock these over the phone, except that the fee is increased to $159.
- Diablosport Trinity – These are unlocked the same way as the newer Predators and the inTune, over the phone. However, the fee on these jumps up to $179.
- Superchips Flashpaq and Superchips Cortex – These can be unlocked using Superchips Spark or Superchips Ignition software for a fee of $100. Simply follow the update process and once complete you will see a screen with the option to purchase a VIN Unlock. Fill in your payment information and complete the order. Then close the program, unplug the programmer, open the update program back up, and reconnect the programmer. The program will go through a quick unlocking process.
Many people have searched high and low looking for a shortcut around unlocking, but the tuner companies are really smart! There is no way around unlocking a programmer other than returning your vehicle to factory settings or paying a fee to have the company unlock it for you. Trust us, we’ve been searching for a method for the past ten years and still haven’t found anything that legitimately works! Of course, if you don’t want to pay for an unlock fee or return your vehicle to factory settings (or if you don’t have access to the vehicle), you can always sell it to us and put that money towards a purchase of one of our many tuners! We buy tuners in all conditions including ones that are locked, so if you have a locked programmer and don’t know what to do with it, be sure to contact us!