Can car keys get wet?

Without realizing it, we notice that our car keys got wet and this happens most of the time when we forget the keys in a pocket of the clothes we wash. If car keys come in contact with water this can cause a problem, but there are also solutions for this problem.

What happens to the car key if you wash it?

To answer this question, we need to know what type of car key is with a chip or without it. Most of the keys today are with a chip.

The keys without a chip were made for old car models that we rarely find on the roads today. In this case, nothing happens if you wash a car key with no chip.

The no-chip key, being made of metal is resistant to water and detergent. It is not damaged even by hard and sharp objects. Its presence in the washing machine does not cause any notable damage.

On the other hand, if you wash a car key that has a chip, then this can cause some issues because water can damage the chip inside.

In this case, you will have to dry, disassemble, check, and assemble the key. There is also a risk that you might have to change the chip entirely because of oxidation. Not only moisture is bad for this type of key, but combined with detergent, it is even more harmful.

Problems that a car key with a chip can have if it gets wet

After washing, the car key may not be completely damaged. However, detergent plays a bad role here. What the owners may face:

  • A short circuit. Car windows can open and close without a reason.
  • A communication problem. The car ECU might not recognize the key and it will not start.
  • Other faults. Key buttons will not work anymore.

What to do when you wash your car key?

  • Check the key to see the damage it has;
  • Find a way to disassemble the key and memorize the steps you took;
  • Clean the chipboard carefully and try not to harm anything there;
  • Dry all parts so that there is no moisture left. You can put the parts in a towel and the towel on a warm stove;
  • Check the key after the final build. All functions must work;
  • If the problems persist, you will need to replace the chip.

Now let’s explain the steps above.

To check the key for damage see if the lights on the keychain turn on when pressing the buttons. Although you may hear that there is water inside, in this case, chances are high for the key to work like before. But if nothing happens when pressing the buttons there is very little chance of recovery.

The first thing to do after removing the key from the washing machine is to remove de detergent from the chipboard because it negatively impacts the key performance.

How to remove the chip from the car key?

To remove the chip from the key, you will need a bright light, screwdrivers of different sizes, a wire cutter, and some tools for cleaning the circuits from the board.

Open the case, if it is not cast open the joints with the tip of a knife, if it is cast look at the key fob in the light, you will see the place where the chip is attached. 

Carefully cut out a piece of plastic. Find the bolts that are in the case, unscrew them remove the chip, and then disconnect the key blade with the ejection mechanism and remove the buttons.

How to clean the car key chipboard?

This is the part where you have to be very careful, you need to quickly clean the board. Find the areas where the detergent is present because, when it comes in contact with it, it will oxidize. At the same time, it is important not to do any damage.

  • Use sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. The product cleans well, but at the same time, acts gently to neutralize oxidation, and remove corrosion. For cleaning, take a cotton cloth moistened with ammonia. Then sprinkle the board with sodium bicarbonate or baking soda and carefully remove those spots.
  • Use isopropyl alcohol. It evaporates quickly enough. For use, it is diluted in water 50/50. Then, with a moistened cotton cloth, clean the areas.
  • Use distilled water for cleaning. Cleaning is done with a moistened cotton cloth.
  • Clean the board with a phosphate-free cleaner.

Note that you cannot use tap water, as it contains impurities that provoke chemical reactions and oxidation.

Drying all components

It takes at least 12 hours for all components to dry properly. So, leave the parts in a warm place. Don’t forget about the rubber pushers under the buttons. Pay special attention to the board. It must be dry. Don’t rush with the drying.

Car key chip replacement and costs

If the above steps do not work, or the damage to the chip is high then its replacement is required. Sometimes you determine the need for replacement only after assembly and inspection.

To replace the chip, in most cases, you will need to go to the car dealer and order a new key. Prices are high though, you can also opt for a workshop that is specialized in car key chips or electronics. You could repair the key more cheaply.

If you opt for a car dealer, the average waiting time is about a week. In case the car is new and in warranty, the price for a new key may be lower.

Prices for a new key at the dealer depend on the car brand and the complexity of the work. It starts from a few hundred dollars, exceeding maybe 2 or 3 thousand.

If you opt for a repair at a workshop for electronics you will pay much less if the guys there can fix it.


Forgetting to check your pockets when you put the clothes in the washing machine can mean expensive damage, especially if you forget the car key with a chip inside. Chips can be saved if you act quickly but carefully and you have a bit of luck.

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