Well, after two years and 3 months of having the Smart and its fancy electronic key fob, I finally did the "ooops" of leaving it in the pocket of a pair of my pants when I washed them. I've had other cars with remote entry before, just usually on a fob attached to the key like a key chain, not as PART of the actual key. All the other cars I currently have are standard key locks only, no remote entry, so I had TRIED to be careful with the Smart's key, just in case I forgot. And since I'm the one that does the laundry in the house, I don't have anyone but me to blame for not checking the pockets first.
So I went out to the car after JUST pulling the key from the wet pants (pre-dryer, I at least didn't screw up THAT badly), and the car unlocked and locked using the buttons. So I thought I dodged a bullet. This was as I was leaving for work, so I didn't bring my spare key since the main one looked to be functioning fine.
Put in my 8hrs and was walking out the door to go home. Hit the Unlock button on the key, it honked once. Not beeped like the alarm, honked (and blinked the parking lights). I tried the door, it wasn't unlocked. So I hit the button again, still just the single honk. So I tried the Lock button, the car went into Panic mode, honking its horn over and over and over again, with the blinking parking lights. This usually wouldn't be so bad, except I have upgraded my horn, so there is now a LOUD airhorn sounding in the parking lot. Got that to stop, but it still wasn't unlocking. So I removed the keyhole cover (carefully so as to not break the stem
), inserted the key and unlocked the door. It has been a while since I read the owners manual, so I forgot that if you open the door using this method the alarm will sound. It did. But at least it was just the siren and not the horn again. I paused for a moment, trying to figure out how to disarm the alarm since the key's buttons were not working. I thought maybe starting the car will work. It did thankfully, as I had already been the cause of too many loud noises in the parking lot.
I drove home and tried locking the car with the key's button. No joy. So I went inside, grabbed the spare and hit the Lock button on it, worked as it should (hadn't been washed. :P). At which point I went back inside and popped open the washed key to see how bad it looked. Didn't snap any pics, but about 9hrs after being removed from the washer, it was still VERY wet inside. I cleaned and dried everything on the backside of the main board and around the battery off as best as I could without access to any alcohol for the electronics as I would have liked, then went out to try the key on the car. Again, no joy. So I went back inside, popped the key open again and took a closer look at the prongs/posts holding the board to the button panel. It looked like you could possibly squeeze the three-headed prongs together to allow the board to slip over them, but I wasn't really sure. I tried it, but wasn't able to get it to budge that way. Then I decided to try just prying up the board away from the button panel, thinking maybe the prongs don't have THAT good of a grip on it. They did not, the board came up and away cleanly. More water/residue on that side of the board which I cleaned off. I put it all back together and figured that I would let it dry out for another 16hrs and try it on the car again.
Lock and Unlock so far are working. I haven't tried the hatch release yet nor the Panic, but will check those in the morning. Hopefully this is it and the electronic board in this key is a bit more resilient than the one in my old Mk III Jetta.
Edit: I want to put some pics on here, but my camera is in the mail coming back from being repaired. I'll update the thread tomorrow with how the rest of the functions are on the key and then put some step-by-step pics in showing the process of opening the key and dealing with the internals so that if anyone in the future needs to do this they'll have a better understanding.