February 26, 2009

How to fix a noisy MacBook Pro fan

My three year-old MacBook Pro recently started emitting a constant racket from its left fan (which sounds something like this). Most people will tell you you need a new fan for $50, but I decided to try to fix it instead, and so far (it's been two weeks nine months), the repair has worked great. As any google or youtube search for "noisy macbook pro fan" produces thousands of results, I hope this saves someone fifty of their hard-earned bucks.

You'll need a couple of tools to perform this operation, but you would need these same tools to install a replacement fan as well, so you're still saving fifty bucks (or more, if you were going to take it in to be repaired). They should total up to less than $15:

You also might want to get some compressed air to clean out the dusty innards of your machine (I added one to my order just to make it to the $25 free shipping mark at Amazon, and it ended up being quite handy).

As reported in the comments below, this repair works on both 15" and 17" versions, going back to 2006 and including the newer "unibody" models (unibody disassembly instructions are slightly different, but the repair requires the exact same set of tools). UPDATE: the new MacBook Pros introduced in April 2010 drop the Torx screws for Triwing screws; you'll need a Triwing screwdriver to complete the repair.

The first step is to disassemble the laptop, for which you'll need the aforementioned T6 Torx and Phillips screwdriver; it's best to print and follow these instructions. This undertaking is categorized by iFixit as "difficult" -- and while I would downgrade that rating to "easy if you're coordinated," you may want to go a different route if you're not comfortable with the idea of your laptop looking like the one at left.

After you've extracted the fan from the Mac's innards, the fan assembly comes apart quite easily (by undoing two Phillips screws), into three pieces. The inside of the fan assembly (illustrated in the brilliant photo below) is the noise culprit -- it just needs to be cleaned and lubed.

Get rid of any debris using a lint-free cloth. Then, apply some some WD-40 to the axle (illustrated by the subtle red arrow). I applied a bit to the axle, reassembled the fan, and everything went back together, quietly.

After reassembling the laptop (follow the directions in reverse), use the app smcFanControl to ramp up your fans to full speed for 30 seconds or so, and when you drop them back down to normal RPMs, the lubricant should have set. The Mac once again operates as it should, silently. Problem solved!

Your Comment

298 Comments

I clean the dust around the fan but the noise is still there. I'll try to disassemble the fan as your advice next time. thanks.

February 28, 2009

-2
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cooltony

This worked great! I cleaned and lubed the spindle and vacuumed the vents out. Thank you for the tip!

March 15, 2009

2
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jeff

Raise the roof!

Thanks a million for taking the time to do this. I am about to try it.

April 24, 2009

1
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Chase

Raise the roof!

Thanks a million for taking the time to do this. I am about to try it.

April 24, 2009

1
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Chase

Hey, has the noise come back at all since the repair?

June 9, 2009

0
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vlad

Hey, has the noise come back at all since the repair?

June 9, 2009

0
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vlad

Awesome tip, fixed my noise and wasn't that hard to do.

June 13, 2009

1
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bongo

Awesome tip, fixed my noise and wasn't that hard to do.

June 13, 2009

0
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bongo

It worked great! I couldn't stand my incredibly loud fans anymore and this did the trick! Saved me 100$ in ordering new fans. I used a spray called jigaloo instead of WD40 since it's 100% transparent and doesn't leave any residue.

July 15, 2009

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Jack

It worked great! I couldn't stand my incredibly loud fans anymore and this did the trick! Saved me 100$ in ordering new fans. I used a spray called jigaloo instead of WD40 since it's 100% transparent and doesn't leave any residue.

July 15, 2009

1
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Jack

You're a lifesaver.

August 3, 2009

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Kim

You're a lifesaver.

August 3, 2009

2
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Kim

Thanks! I am going for it right now. Don't you think Apple computers are weaker than before? My firsts Apple computers were real tanks! Unbreakable. And now... look at that mess...

August 19, 2009

0
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Stéphane

Thanks! I am going for it right now. Don't you think Apple computers are weaker than before? My firsts Apple computers were real tanks! Unbreakable. And now... look at that mess...

August 19, 2009

-1
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Stéphane

I don't know how to thank you for this. I swear that if I didn't come across this post, I would've been in a mental hospital by now.

Whoever wants to ruin their day can listen to my story...

My fan started to make a noise 2 - 3 weeks ago, so I contacted Apple warranty. They said it could take 2 - 3 weeks, so this being my primary laptop, I went ahead and bought a fan of the same model off of eBay. It arrived, and all was going well until I got to unscrewing the old fan, which had screws that seemed they were of a different size. I tried screwdriver upon screwdriver, and it just wouldn't come off. All this trying lead to the screws being stripped, and i was left with a noisy old fan, a new fan in a sealed bag beside me, and screws that wouldn't come off even if i tempted them with a million dollars! Not to mention, I'd voided my Apple warranty.

So, I woke up today morning and with dedication, thought I'd give it a last go before i empty my wallet by showing it to a computer repair store, none of whom by the way were confident they could fix the problem ("oh, we can try drilling or pliers, but not sure we can do anything other than that.") After a couple hours, I was able to unscrew one of the screws by essentially cutting it half with a knife and using an ordinary screw driver. The other 2 screws, however, were pretty much impossible to remove this or any other way as I found after 5 - 6 hours of trying, because they were indented 1 - 2 cms below the surface.

Anyway, in a last last last attempt, I googled "macbook noisy fan" and came across this post. By this time, I had pretty much destroyed the old fan, because the top plate had come off, and I could remove the actual spindle/part. I cleaned it 3 - 4 times with some water spray and a cloth, and VOILA! It was quiet! Kapoof! Silence!

Not sure how long it'll remain like this for, but as I said, if this hadn't had happened, I would be either selling my socks to pay for the $100 - $200 extra bill (not to mention the $100 price of the new fan), or selling the 3-month old MacBook for a 100 month-old price because the computer guy couldn't remove the screws.

So, thanks!

August 23, 2009

-1
Reply
Sid

I don't know how to thank you for this. I swear that if I didn't come across this post, I would've been in a mental hospital by now.

Whoever wants to ruin their day can listen to my story...

My fan started to make a noise 2 - 3 weeks ago, so I contacted Apple warranty. They said it could take 2 - 3 weeks, so this being my primary laptop, I went ahead and bought a fan of the same model off of eBay. It arrived, and all was going well until I got to unscrewing the old fan, which had screws that seemed they were of a different size. I tried screwdriver upon screwdriver, and it just wouldn't come off. All this trying lead to the screws being stripped, and i was left with a noisy old fan, a new fan in a sealed bag beside me, and screws that wouldn't come off even if i tempted them with a million dollars! Not to mention, I'd voided my Apple warranty.

So, I woke up today morning and with dedication, thought I'd give it a last go before i empty my wallet by showing it to a computer repair store, none of whom by the way were confident they could fix the problem ("oh, we can try drilling or pliers, but not sure we can do anything other than that.") After a couple hours, I was able to unscrew one of the screws by essentially cutting it half with a knife and using an ordinary screw driver. The other 2 screws, however, were pretty much impossible to remove this or any other way as I found after 5 - 6 hours of trying, because they were indented 1 - 2 cms below the surface.

Anyway, in a last last last attempt, I googled "macbook noisy fan" and came across this post. By this time, I had pretty much destroyed the old fan, because the top plate had come off, and I could remove the actual spindle/part. I cleaned it 3 - 4 times with some water spray and a cloth, and VOILA! It was quiet! Kapoof! Silence!

Not sure how long it'll remain like this for, but as I said, if this hadn't had happened, I would be either selling my socks to pay for the $100 - $200 extra bill (not to mention the $100 price of the new fan), or selling the 3-month old MacBook for a 100 month-old price because the computer guy couldn't remove the screws.

So, thanks!

August 23, 2009

1
Reply
Sid

This worked like a charm! After disassembling the mac: I just opened up the fan, blasted it with air duster, drenched it in silicone lube, and then put it back together. D/L'd the fan app and ramped up the speed...and it is essentially silent!

Just in case anyone else notices that the wiring on their left fan is a bit different then in the link, I'll tell u a bit about my experience. I bought my MacBook Pro right before they came out with the unibody model. The wiring on the left fan was a little different than the link to the disassembly instructions. My wires going across the very top of the left fan and the way those wires attached to the motherboard was different than in the picture in the guide. I was able to remove the fan without detaching that group of wires by lifting the electrical tape just enough to free then fan. Hope this helps,

Brandon

September 6, 2009

0
Reply

This worked like a charm! After disassembling the mac: I just opened up the fan, blasted it with air duster, drenched it in silicone lube, and then put it back together. D/L'd the fan app and ramped up the speed...and it is essentially silent!

Just in case anyone else notices that the wiring on their left fan is a bit different then in the link, I'll tell u a bit about my experience. I bought my MacBook Pro right before they came out with the unibody model. The wiring on the left fan was a little different than the link to the disassembly instructions. My wires going across the very top of the left fan and the way those wires attached to the motherboard was different than in the picture in the guide. I was able to remove the fan without detaching that group of wires by lifting the electrical tape just enough to free then fan. Hope this helps,

Brandon

September 6, 2009

0
Reply

For me, lubrication didn't address the problem entirely as the fan blades were slightly scraping the housing. Upon closer inspection, the aluminum part that the fan sits on (partially shown on the left side of your picture with the arrow) was slightly bent which caused the blades to hang too close to the bottom part of the housing. I carefully bent it back so it was a level as I could make it, put it all back together and no more scraping sound.

Not sure how it get bent in the first place. Perhaps when they replaced my logic board a while ago (fixed under the NVIDIA recall)?

Without your post, I wouldn't have thought the fan was serviceable at all, so thanks a bunch. Now that my MacBook no longer sounds like a leaf blower, I can get back to work.

Cheers

Craig

September 29, 2009

-1
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Craig

For me, lubrication didn't address the problem entirely as the fan blades were slightly scraping the housing. Upon closer inspection, the aluminum part that the fan sits on (partially shown on the left side of your picture with the arrow) was slightly bent which caused the blades to hang too close to the bottom part of the housing. I carefully bent it back so it was a level as I could make it, put it all back together and no more scraping sound.

Not sure how it get bent in the first place. Perhaps when they replaced my logic board a while ago (fixed under the NVIDIA recall)?

Without your post, I wouldn't have thought the fan was serviceable at all, so thanks a bunch. Now that my MacBook no longer sounds like a leaf blower, I can get back to work.

Cheers

Craig

September 29, 2009

-1
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Craig

cool this worked really well, i was able to do the fix easily, now my macbook pro is as silent as it can be

October 6, 2009

2
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jovy

cool this worked really well, i was able to do the fix easily, now my macbook pro is as silent as it can be

October 6, 2009

1
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jovy

Can't believe that my 6 month old unibody macbook would have a noisy fan!!!
Talk about quality parts!
Ordered a new replacement fan from a company in Hong Kong... as Apple want 3days with my macbook to fix this issue and the noise is real annoying...
Saw your page and hadn't realised the fan comes apart so easily!!
Will 5 minutes later the fan off the unibody macbook was in 3 bits and a drop of silicon oil later and back to gether.... one silent macbook.
Very happy!

October 7, 2009

1
Reply
Clive

Can't believe that my 6 month old unibody macbook would have a noisy fan!!!
Talk about quality parts!
Ordered a new replacement fan from a company in Hong Kong... as Apple want 3days with my macbook to fix this issue and the noise is real annoying...
Saw your page and hadn't realised the fan comes apart so easily!!
Will 5 minutes later the fan off the unibody macbook was in 3 bits and a drop of silicon oil later and back to gether.... one silent macbook.
Very happy!

October 7, 2009

-1
Reply
Clive

I used a dry lubricant on my MCP 17" SR and noticed quite a bit of dust in the sinks where the fans emit the air. Cleaned everything up and reassembled now the fans are at 1500 and the cpu(s) are around 99F, much cooler than the usual 125F and silent now. I too, noticed one of the blades making contact with the housing and made an adjustment. Good DIY.

November 1, 2009

0
Reply

I used a dry lubricant on my MCP 17" SR and noticed quite a bit of dust in the sinks where the fans emit the air. Cleaned everything up and reassembled now the fans are at 1500 and the cpu(s) are around 99F, much cooler than the usual 125F and silent now. I too, noticed one of the blades making contact with the housing and made an adjustment. Good DIY.

November 1, 2009

2
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Awesome! this is a life saver. Thanks for sharing! I'm going to try this tomorrow. Very nice step by step

November 3, 2009

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Blacksuede

Awesome! this is a life saver. Thanks for sharing! I'm going to try this tomorrow. Very nice step by step

November 3, 2009

0
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Blacksuede

Thanks a million for sharing this. My mac book pro come back to very quiet now.

November 14, 2009

0
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Chenxujin

Thanks a million for sharing this. My mac book pro come back to very quiet now.

November 14, 2009

0
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Chenxujin

Thanks! My work book just lost a logic board a couple of days ago and I was not in the mood to pay for more repairs for my personal book.

November 14, 2009

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Chupatribra

Thanks! My work book just lost a logic board a couple of days ago and I was not in the mood to pay for more repairs for my personal book.

November 14, 2009

1
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Chupatribra

Hi there, I have just done this today on my unibody MacBook, it has worked a treat, I just used a dab of silicone oil to lubricate. Hopefully it will last for a while.

All up the service took about 10 minutes.

Thanks for the informative article.

November 17, 2009

0
Reply

Hi there, I have just done this today on my unibody MacBook, it has worked a treat, I just used a dab of silicone oil to lubricate. Hopefully it will last for a while.

All up the service took about 10 minutes.

Thanks for the informative article.

November 17, 2009

2
Reply

WD-40 FTW! To others: Re-lubing is the key. I tried to get away with just taking the fans apart and cleaning them (it's cold outside where the WD-40 can was...). That didn't help. Taking the fans apart and lubing the spindle quieted things all the way down.

Thanks for the hint!

November 19, 2009

-2
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Dave

WD-40 FTW! To others: Re-lubing is the key. I tried to get away with just taking the fans apart and cleaning them (it's cold outside where the WD-40 can was...). That didn't help. Taking the fans apart and lubing the spindle quieted things all the way down.

Thanks for the hint!

November 19, 2009

1
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Dave

THANK YOU! It took two times to get it right. After the first attempt (I used Silicone spray on a q-tip to clean the axle), the noise was the same! I just couldn't take it again - and the epic fail... so I tried again - this time with WD-40. I noticed that one of the fan blades was bent and just about broken... I finished it off an broke it off. I was worried about the balance - but oh well - ... I had to move forward. I sprayed the q-tip with WD40 and cleaned the axle thoroughly and used the dry end to clean up the mess (and dust in the chamber area). Put it all back - ran SMCFAN - boosted up to max and back down - ... and????.....

NO SOUND - like new. RPM's of both fans are about the same. So, if you still have the loud noise - check the blades (and use WD40).

Good luck to all - I'm VERY HAPPY. Thank you for my sanity!

November 22, 2009

-1
Reply

THANK YOU! It took two times to get it right. After the first attempt (I used Silicone spray on a q-tip to clean the axle), the noise was the same! I just couldn't take it again - and the epic fail... so I tried again - this time with WD-40. I noticed that one of the fan blades was bent and just about broken... I finished it off an broke it off. I was worried about the balance - but oh well - ... I had to move forward. I sprayed the q-tip with WD40 and cleaned the axle thoroughly and used the dry end to clean up the mess (and dust in the chamber area). Put it all back - ran SMCFAN - boosted up to max and back down - ... and????.....

NO SOUND - like new. RPM's of both fans are about the same. So, if you still have the loud noise - check the blades (and use WD40).

Good luck to all - I'm VERY HAPPY. Thank you for my sanity!

November 22, 2009

-1
Reply

For what it's worth... WD-40 is NOT a long-term lubricant. It has a small amount of lubricant in it but it will break down within a few months... it's intended to get inside tight spaces and break corrosion bonds and remove water (WD stands for "water displacement", the 40 is because it took them 40 reformulations to perfect it).

The best stuff to use is sewing machine oil (about $3 for a bigger bottle than you could ever use for laptop fans), since this is pretty much exactly what it's made for. You can get it on amazon or from a lot of craft/sewing/etc shops.

Alternatively, 3 in one oil is something a lot of people will have around the house, and it's almost as good. You can get that at any hardware store or department store that has a hardware section.

November 27, 2009

1
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JC

For what it's worth... WD-40 is NOT a long-term lubricant. It has a small amount of lubricant in it but it will break down within a few months... it's intended to get inside tight spaces and break corrosion bonds and remove water (WD stands for "water displacement", the 40 is because it took them 40 reformulations to perfect it).

The best stuff to use is sewing machine oil (about $3 for a bigger bottle than you could ever use for laptop fans), since this is pretty much exactly what it's made for. You can get it on amazon or from a lot of craft/sewing/etc shops.

Alternatively, 3 in one oil is something a lot of people will have around the house, and it's almost as good. You can get that at any hardware store or department store that has a hardware section.

November 27, 2009

-1
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JC

I too had this problem, although I didn't perform this search until after I fixed it. My fix also gave me immediate great results.

I did exactly what is recommended above except for the following...

First off I cleaned out cotton ball sized dust bunnies out of the blades and housing. That helped keep it balanced and quieter. However I also needed some lubrication, I was really hesitant to use any oils or spray lube as I didn't want to cause a short or have internal leaking. Tthis is a possibility no matter how negligible the amount you use, as a laptop's internal components are very delicate.

I instead opted for using graphite a metallic dry lubricant often used by locksmiths and machinists. Not having any handy, I just scraped the "lead" (which is actually graphite) from a pencil into a little dust pile and deposited that into the inside of the fan and around the spindle.

Let me know if this works out for you.

December 5, 2009

0
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Elvin

I too had this problem, although I didn't perform this search until after I fixed it. My fix also gave me immediate great results.

I did exactly what is recommended above except for the following...

First off I cleaned out cotton ball sized dust bunnies out of the blades and housing. That helped keep it balanced and quieter. However I also needed some lubrication, I was really hesitant to use any oils or spray lube as I didn't want to cause a short or have internal leaking. Tthis is a possibility no matter how negligible the amount you use, as a laptop's internal components are very delicate.

I instead opted for using graphite a metallic dry lubricant often used by locksmiths and machinists. Not having any handy, I just scraped the "lead" (which is actually graphite) from a pencil into a little dust pile and deposited that into the inside of the fan and around the spindle.

Let me know if this works out for you.

December 5, 2009

4
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Elvin

you rock this has been killing me for months thanks dude :) huge thumbs up

December 9, 2009

-1
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trezmun

you rock this has been killing me for months thanks dude :) huge thumbs up

December 9, 2009

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trezmun

Thanks for this post.

I start having this noise in my (almost) 4 years-old MacBook Pro1,1, so I guess I'll give this trick a try.

But I think JC (3 posts up) has made a good point. WD40 isn't a long term lubricant. Better to use sewing machine oil or graphite powder as mentioned by Elvin (2 posts up).

December 17, 2009

0
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Mac-BR

It's true that WD-40 likely isn't ideal. Just to update, however, it's 9 months later and the noise hasn't come back.

December 17, 2009

0
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avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Just thought I would pass by to say it worked-out like a charm.

I've open-up my Mac, cleaned and lubricated both fans - only had noise on the left, but hey!, I don't do this every day, so I took advantage of the fact it was already open ;)

I've used something called SuperLub (?) and my MacBook Pro is working in pleasant silent again.

Thanks once again for the post!

December 19, 2009

-1
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Mac-BR

Dude thanks so much for puttin this on here you saved me so much stress. i did it exactly as you said. i have a silver unibody macbook that i got in may of 09. i had HUGE clumps of dust and lint inside the fan. i spent like an extra hour trying to do it though because i accidentally stripped out two of the screws that mount the fan casing down. i recommend buying the right size screwdrivers before trying this. but after i finally got it undone i got all the lint out, airdusted the shit out of it then put some WD-40 on a Q-tip and rubbed it on the spindle of the fan. then put it back together and worked like a charm. now my macbook runs at 97 degrees farenheit :)))))). thanks a lot man. saved me a lot of stress and trouble.

December 23, 2009

0
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RED

I was just about to buy myself a torq screwdriver today to fix my left fan which is making ugly sounds since about 4 days. But just today I couldn't get my mbp to heat up making the fan cry horribly - and after waking it up from a cooling sleep the fan is steady on 0 rpm. I hope it didn't crack completely. I've read in this thread a number of causes - dirty parts, bent parts, broken parts - so I just hope it's something I can fix, still after the left fan died.
Otherwise, this machine is scheduled to go to repair on a malfunctioning sleeping sensor by the end of january so I could have a double repair... *sigh*.
I'll keep you updated!

December 24, 2009

-1
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socrates

(I saw I made one bad sentence... I meant, I had some apps running while battery got a recharge, so heat went up and my fans started spinning louder than the left one could appreciate.
It's december, I'm tired and my sentences start going wrong... srry!)

December 24, 2009

2
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socrates

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