How To Rescue Your Key Fob After It Gets Wet

Whether you dropped it in the pool, fumbled it into a puddle or accidentally left it in the wash, there are plenty of ways you can get your key fob soaked by mistake. But your key fob's days aren't numbered just yet. With the following tips, you may be able to rescue your key fob from its run-in with water.

Act Quickly

Once you've realized you've gotten your key fob wet, you'll want to have it dried out as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely your fob will survive its brush with death. That's because your key fob can succumb to one or more major problems from the moment it comes into contact with water:

  • Voltage spikes - Water makes for a great conductor, which means it could easily short out parts of the key fob's circuit board.
  • Corrosion - A wet circuit board is also one that'll see its metal traces and other components succumb to rust and corrosion.
  • Battery failure - A wet circuit board can also cause the key fob battery to dump its charge. At best, you'll end up with a dead battery. At worst, the battery could leak or even explode.

Dab and Shake

After fishing your key fob out of whatever puddle, pool, or washing machine, focus on getting as much water out of the fob as possible before opening it up. First, flip the fob button side down and let as much water drain out of it as possible. Shake out as much water as you can and then buff the fob dry with a clean cloth.

Afterwards, lay the fob button side down and leave it to drain for a few minutes. The cloth should not only catch the water, but also pull a small amount from any crevices in direct contact with it.

Open It Up

Even after all of this work, chances are there's still a small amount of water trapped inside of the key fob. Now is the time to carefully open up the key fob. Some fobs are held together with small Phillips head, Torx or Allen-head screws, while others must be carefully pried apart with a flat screwdriver.

Once the key fob is cracked open, carefully dry out the inside of the case and the circuit board as much as possible. Wipe the circuit board carefully with a cotton swab dipped in 90-percent isopropyl alcohol to remove any leftover impurities and then let it dry out completely.

Check the Battery

You'll also want to take a close look at the battery and make sure it isn't leaking. If it is, carefully remove the battery and rub the affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in distilled white vinegar. This will neutralize the acid and make it safer to clean up.

It's a good idea to replace the battery as a precaution, just in case it was damaged or depleted after the accidental submerging. After removing the battery, scrub the contacts on the circuit board with isopropyl alcohol and let it dry before installing the new battery.

Try It Out

After making sure it's completely dry, carefully put the key fob back together and test it out. If it works, then you're good to go. If only some of the buttons work, then you may need to disassemble the key fob and carefully clean the affected contacts once more. If the key fob doesn't work at all, first make sure the fob doesn't need reprogramming after being out of commission.

Remember that it's not guaranteed that your key fob will work after completing all of the above steps. So if your key fob bites the dust, don't get mad - chalk it up as a learning experience. Although you'll be out a couple hundred dollars or more, at least you'll know exactly what to do if you ever run into the same problem in the future.

For more advice on what to do if your key fob is submerged in water, contact companies like The Lock Shop that specialize in car remotes.