Rest assured, it happens to all of us at one time or another time – You know, when you drop your car key or fob in a deep puddle, a bowl of water or even leave it in your pocket and it ends up in the washing machine, spinning at 1200 rpm shortly before you can retrieve it.
However your car key or fob ends up getting wet, don’t despair, it may still be salvageable if you follow the simple steps below. If you do, you may be able to avoid and hassle of needing to get a replacement.
Firstly, it goes without saying that having a spare key (or two) handy if the above happens will make your life a whole lot easier regardless of whether or not you’re successful at drying out the damaged one. Even if it works, you’ll still need a spare whilst you wait for the drying process to take place.
The drying process
Water and other fluids (e.g. wine, beer, cola, hot coffee etc.) are a bad mix when they come into contact with electronics so if your key or fob gets wet, it’s important to act as quickly as you can to try and minimise the damage. For the sake of this post, we’ll stick with the basic assumption that your key fob has been dropped in water as this is perhaps the most common scenario.
1. Find something absorbent to dry the outer casing and buttons – Something like a paper towl or tissue would be ideal if you have either handy. Before you begin drying, try and make sure that you remove as much excess water that may be inside by turning the key fob so the buttons are facing downwards. Gently shake it so that any water can escape via the buttons and then thoroughly dry the casing and around the buttons as much as you can.
2. Next, if you feel confident enough, it’s a good idea to remove the battery if you’re able to. This can usually be done by prising open the casing with a small screwdriver or something similar. Car key fob batteries are usually flat, silver disks that look like a button and are the same type found in most quartz watches and they’re usually fairly easy to remove. If you don’t feel confident doing this, you can still continue and it may still work. If you do remove it though, don’t replace it with a new one until the fob is totally dry.
3. Now we need to thoroughly dry out the key fob. There are various ways to do this and any one will work. If you have silica gel packets handy, you can place these in a plastic bag along with the key and they’ll suck a lot of the moisture out. If you use this method, it’s still worth continuing the drying process as the silica gel packs might not be large enough to extract all the moisture. Dry, uncooked rice is sometimes suggested as an alternative but we don’t recommend this as the starch molecules in the rice can contaminate the delicate electronics.
Basically, the safest and most effective way to dry the key fob is to leave it for a couple of days in a warm and dry room. DON’T be tempted to leave the key fob on top of a radiator or attack with a hairdryer though, as this can damage it… patience is a virtue! You can speed up the process slightly by placing the key fob on a high shelf of the room – warm air rises and the higher up the key fob is, the warmer and drier the air will be.
After a couple of days (or until you’re sure the fob is bone dry), try putting in a replacement battery using the key as normal to see if it works. If it does, well done! If it doesn’t, getting a replacement from Keys 4 Cars is a convenient and cost-effective option. We’re both faster and cheaper than most dealerships and we’re mobile too, meaning that we can come to you if you don’t want the inconvenience of travelling to get a replacement.