What happens when you accidentally get your transponder keys wet? Like when you're in the bathroom or suddenly plunged in the pool? Can you still get your car started? Are they waterproof? We've asked the experts, and here's what they say.
Transponder keys aren't totally waterproof. Yes, they have a protective cover but water can still get through the small holes and affect the microchip inside. When your transponder keys get submerged in water, there's a probability that the microchip will be damaged and you won't be able to use your car.
Keep reading so we can explain further what happens to your transponder keys when they get wet. Let's also talk about what these keys are for, whether you can have them programmed at Walmart, how much it'll cost you to have your key replaced, and other related matters. Let's get started!
Can Remote Car Keys Get Wet?
Understanding if transponder keys or remote car keys can get wet requires an awareness of the materials from which they are made of.
Traditional keys are made of nickel or brass. This makes them more resistant to water although they will also wear out over time.
On the other hand, transponder keys are not your ordinary metallic keys. Aside from the traditional key part, they are also embedded with a microchip that's located at the head of the key.
This microchip contains a unique serial number or an RFID tag that has been specifically programmed by the manufacturer for your car.
Since your transponder keys are now considered an electronic device, and we know that water and electricity generally don't mix, your remote car keys can get damaged when they are submerged in water for a significant amount of time.
Water can get through the cracks of the key and affect the transponder key's circuit board. It can get corroded or rusted out. The battery can also leak or explode thus, rendering the key useless.
If you just dropped the key in a puddle of water for a short time, there's a high chance that it won't be affected that much since the key fob has a cover that protects the microchip. So make sure that you don't leave your keys immersed in water for a long time and always keep them dry.
What Is A Transponder Key Used For?
Modern cars come with transponder keys to start their engines. A transponder is a combination of two words: transmitter and responder. As mentioned above, these keys have been programmed with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The manufacturer assigns a unique serial number or a virtual ID to your car.
The transponder key works to override the immobilizer on your car. When you insert the programmed key to your car's ignition lock cylinder and turn it, the microchip sends a signal to the receiver.
Through the RFID system, the receiver then reads or detects the serial number in the microchip and if it matches with the encoded ID that's saved in its memory, then it will unlock the immobilizer, and your car will start.
Through these measures, the security of your vehicle is enhanced. This helps prevent car theft through hot wiring. Your vehicle won't start unless it recognizes the unique identification number that has been programmed both in your car key and the computer memory on your car.
However, be careful not to leave your transponder keys in your car. There have been many cases of car theft because owners left their keys inside which makes it so easy for thieves to steal their vehicles.
How To Waterproof A Key Fob
Since you need your transponder key to get your car started, it is important that you protect it properly. Manufacturers ensure that your key won't be damaged easily by putting a protective cover on the head of the key where the microchip is.
However, its original case can be damaged or water can still seep through the narrow openings which could damage the microchip inside. That's why you need to waterproof your key fob to make sure that it will work appropriately each time you have to use it.
Fortunately, there are products available in the market to help you waterproof your remote car keys.
Nite Ize Waterproof Key and Fob Finder
Use this key fob holder to store your transponder key. It comes with an IPX7 waterproof seal that ensures no water can get through it. Your keys will stay dry and rust-free when you use this. You can also stick this holder to metal and non-metal surfaces for safekeeping.
DRIPAC Floating Waterproof Car Key Fob Case
This waterproof case will keep your key fob dry even if it gets submerged up to 32 feet deep in the water. Its cover won't get in the way of your key's signal, and it's small and light enough to carry in your pocket all the time.
JOTO Floating Waterproof Phone Pouch
If you want a bigger pocket, you can get this waterproof phone pouch. You can put your phone, key fob, and cards inside so they won't get wet when you hit the water.
Bosvision Portable Lock Box
This portable key safe is made of metal which makes it durable. Its cover offers weather-proof protection to ensure that your keys stay safe and dry inside. For added protection, you can set your own combination of numbers for the lock.
These are just some of the products that you can buy to help protect your key fob from getting wet and damaged by water.
Can Walmart Program Transponder Keys?
Walmart is our go-to place whenever we need to have a copy of our keys or have them replaced. But sad to say, this only works well for traditional keys. It is harder to copy transponder keys because you need to have them programmed with their specific security code.
Transponder keys have been encoded with a unique serial code for your vehicle. This information can only be obtained from your car manufacturer and your car dealer, so Walmart can't get it for you.
This is how manufacturers ensure the security of your vehicle. Chip keys aren't easy to replace. Ordinary locksmiths can't replicate it for you. They need access to the right technology and programming to be able to make a copy of your key.
Although Walmart does offer limited car key copying services for transponder keys of some Nissan and Infiniti vehicles, this will only work under two conditions.
First, you need to have the instructions for programming the keys. Second, you should have your original keys with you to be able to start the vehicle and proceed with the encoding. Otherwise, you won't be able to program the new key and it can't be used to start your car.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Transponder Key?
Transponder keys are expensive to replace. The average cost for the replacement and programming of chip keys is between $150 and $225. However, different factors will determine how much you have to pay to have your key replaced.
The price would depend on the year, make, and model of your car. It also makes a difference if you have at least one working key with you, where you have it made, and where your vehicle is located at the time that you need the replacement.
It can go as high as $500 if you have a new luxury car. But it won't be as expensive if you have a working key with you because the locksmith can help you copy the security code that's embedded there.
If you have to get your replacement from the car dealership, expect the rates to be way higher than your local automotive locksmith. And if you immediately need a replacement because you've lost your keys, there would be added costs because you might need to have your car towed to your dealer.
It is such a hassle when your transponder keys get wet and won't work anymore. That's why you should always take care that they don't get wet. Use additional protection if needed. This will ensure that you do away with expensive replacement costs and the hassle of not being able to use your car.
To learn more about car keys and replacement, you can check out the following posts: