I hope you can help me. Unfortunately my hand sanitizer leaked in my bag and got onto my car key fob.

It no longer works and I really cannot afford a replacement at this time.

I have taken it apart and left if out to dry for 2 days and removed the battery. I put it back together with a new battery but it still won't work. I can't even get into my car as the key won't allow me to open it. I don't have a spare key. I'm kinda screwed. The red led on the fob comes on when I press the buttons but that's about it.

I read all the posts about fobs getting wet but I am wondering if the ingredients in hand sanitizer has permanently damaged it. I've popped it now into a bowl of rice dismantled, to see if that would help.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I may have to go through my car insurance but I know they cover it up to £300 and I'll probably need a locksmith to get into my car.

Thanks in advance

  • Most cars have a key override to get you inside, it's often integrated with the fob. Have you tried that? What's the make, model and year of the car?
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


Ok, so once the fob stopped working or definitely when you removed the battery then the fob lost its coding to the car.

This is why when you re-assembled it, it still did not communicate with the car.

Some car owners manuals state how to get the fob re-programmed to the car, for others it is only in the workshop manual.

You best bet would likely be a locksmith who deals with cars.

Note, some cars need to re-program fobs with the car in pairs - however this is not true of all cars.

First step talk to a locksmith, find a good one in your area - some local websites may help you choose.

You might find that checking with your insurance will give you a local locksmith... If that matches the local advice then even better.

Downvoted by those who have not had to deal with a PATS system where the fob is actually designed to change its code all the time...

These are the instructions for my Jaguar, and do note at the end where it mentions the codes change...

Programming or pairing a new remote Key fob for the X Type is a very simple job that will cost a substantial amount if it is done by Jaguar. It's annoying but this may need to be done if your Key fob battery has been allowed to go flat, or the car battery has been removed for any length of time. Follow these steps exactly and you should have no problems, pairing old or replacement Key fobs for your car. 1.)I would recommended that you ensure all key fobs are fitted with new batteries. ( Click here to see battery replacement guide). 2.)Get in the car and close the drivers side door. 3.)Put the key into the ignition and turn to position I. 4.)Wait 5 seconds 5.)Turn the key quickly to position II then back to I four times. (do this only once) 6.)You should hear a single chime. 7.)Remove the Key 8.)For each Key fob in rapid succession. Press any single button on the key fob you wish to pair, you should hear a chime as each Key fob is paired with the security system. After the chime press a button on the next Key fob you wish to pair. 9.)On completion after all keys have been programed, wait 3 minutes then check the operation of each Key fob by locking/unlocking the vehicle. Important Note :-All the fobs that you wish to use Must be paired at the same time. Every time you operate the key as in step 5 above the code will be changed, previously programmed fobs will no longer work unless you pair them all at the same time.

  • Thanks so much lovely for your advice, which makes sense. It does sound like it may need to be reprogrammed. I'll contact my insurer tomorrow and see how I get on. Will getting it reprogrammed be cheaper than full replacement of the whole fob device, if you know.? The car is second hand so not sure how I would go about trying to reprogramme it myself. I best leave it to the experts, as you suggest. Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 12:57
  • Most fobs don't lose the coding to the car when the battery comes out ... the car has the coding recorded within it. If the coding was embedded in the fob, it would be REALLY easy for someone to record the signal from the car and then fake a compatible fob the car would then take. Plus, seeing as how the coding is in the car, it makes it so the battery can be changed WITHOUT losing the pairing. Do you have any references which state otherwise? Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 14:45
  • I also have never seen a FOB that lost it's settings when taking the battery. The FOB's code is stored in some non-volatile way inside and the car is coded to accept that FOB's coding. What has more likely happened here is the sanitizer has damaged something on the FOB's circuitry and it's no longer functioning as intended.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 15:03
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 I have two fobs for my car. On one the battery went flat and it was replaced with the correct type. It no longer communicates with the car, while the other fob continues without issue. I do have the correct instructions to re-pair the fobs but have not done so yet. I also have the workshop manual and have read the instructions about how the fobs and pairing, and re-pairing works.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 15:18
  • Mind editing your post with car info? Good hand sanitizer contains up to 70% alcohol, water and an aromatic. Alcohol is conductive and conducts electricity. Water may corrode connections. Using canned air (keyboard duster) can blow out remaining liquid to leave a remote as good as it was before sanitizer entered. The button membrane presses onto brass contacts to activate controls. A pencil eraser rubs clean brass contacts shiny to allow the buttons to work.
    – F Dryer
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 15:22

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