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!
Thank You. You've just solved my nightmares with MBP, that longed for a year recently! :)
December 26, 2009 at 2:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
I had a big presentation to do and didn't want the PC professors to make fun of my noisy Mac. I never opened my Mac before but after seeing your site and reviewing procedures on Youtube, I methodically approached how I would remove the fans with wires around it and what to do about the air shroud. I figured it out and it went smoothly. More importantly it worked! Been skint after Christmas and your site saved me! A million thanks. Deus beatus tu!
December 30, 2009 at 12:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
It worked for me too, my right fan was dead but now it's spinning nicely again!! I hope the noise won't return, because initially it was a bit noisy once fixed, but after boosting the rpm with smcfancontrol it seems all fine.
Btw, I didn't really encounter large amounts of dust or bent parts... I removed some minor dust between the blades and put some lube on the axle, that's it...
December 30, 2009 at 1:00PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
I just wanted to add a comment and say thank you for the great advise. Recommend that the fan air vents, mother board, and air vents at the back of the mac be cleaned out to reduce over heating.
When the fans started to make a loud noise, I assumed that the hard drive was I about to crash from previous experience. I spent $100 (320GB) for a new drive and the OWC usb casing to clone the drive. When it comes down to data, I never have a second thought about replacing a drive that appears faulty.
Replacing the drive did not solve the heating and noise issue. I decided to take it apart and starting the computer to see where the problem lied (not recommended, I've been a system administrator for 9 years) and found it that it was coming from the fans. I was going to replace them. But after looking at the price ($100), I decided to look for other ways to fixing the issue.
I came a cross your page and your solution was so simple that it was genius. Why didn't I think of that. I just want to say thank you for saving me $93. The cost of fixing and removing the dust from the internal components was a total of $7. I picked up a silicon lube at a hardware store. As far as the hard drive expense, I had no more space on the old drive so I need it anyway. Besides, I got a 7200RPM 320Gigs Western Digital Scorpion Black which is way more faster than the drive that came with the macbook. Some people had commented on the drive noise, but I can't hear any noise on this drive. My macbook was 4 yrs old and a veteran of the afghan war :). So it's no surprise that the vents and fans were clogged with dust causing heating problems.
Thank you Again
December 30, 2009 at 7:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
Oh, one more thing. The plastic fan needs to be pulled out in order to remove it from the casing. I was looking for a screw that might be holding it. just stick a screw driver underneath to pull out the plastic part. I had a little hard time on this because I was afraid of breaking it. I recommend pulling the fun evenly so it doesn't get damage, but it seems to be pretty sturdy. Another thing was a cable on the left fan that appears to connect to the left speaker. I didn't know how to unplugged it so I pulled it out from where it plugs to, but i learned I just needed to pull the little tiny tab to disconnect the cable. I was lucky I didn't cause damage to the tab. otherwise, I would not be able to fix it.
December 30, 2009 at 7:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
Thank you. It works!!! My fan has been making noise for more than a month. And today...peace and quiet. Used very small drop of sewing machine oil. Worked like a charm.
December 31, 2009 at 6:50AM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
Tnx for this info.
Last monday my MacBook Pro started making terrible noise while I went on my lunch break. You can imagine I was kinda worried.
I ordered a replacement fan costing 40 euros. That was before I found this post. The lube I used was a teflon based dry lube I usually use on my mountainbike chain during the summer. Dropped a drop on my table and dipped the little axle once with the tip. Wanted to make sure not to lube it too much.
Fortunately the Apple service provider where I ordered the fan allowed me to only order the part and let me do the installation myself. Else it would've costed ad aditional 40 euros.
Now I kinda regret that I ordered the fan though. It seems to work wonderful. In fact. The fan I "fixed" makes less noise compared to when the system was brand new. :) Logging the fan RPMs and graphing the result to see if there are any deviations. None yet.
January 5, 2010 at 3:42PM, Edited September 4, 7:25AM
Thanks for the info!
I was going to order a replacement part but i really didn't want to spend $40 or $50 for the part. It has been over two weeks now and it hasn't make a sound! Thanks.
January 6, 2010 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
this was incredibly helpful! thanks dude!
January 15, 2010 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
To update: it's a full year later and the noise has finally returned (albeit in a different, quieter form). I'm going to try the repair with some silicon lubricant or graphite when I get a chance.
January 18, 2010 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
thanks for posting this! i fixed both of my fans on macbook pro 17" A1151 with WD-40. the first time around, i dabbed the axle with kleenex with WD-40 on it, but apparently it wasn't enough, so i just sprayed the axle directly, poured out the excess on to kleenex, let it dry a bit, and it worked perfectly! no more noise, and my laptop runs much cooler too! even if WD-40 is temporary, i wouldn't mind re-applying them every year or every few months. i should probably clean out the dust in the fan every year or so anyway.
January 25, 2010 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
Thanks for the help man... I was freaking out and was worried that it was sign of death.
January 31, 2010 at 3:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
2 days now and not a sound, you my friend are a freakin genius. Thank you.
February 3, 2010 at 1:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
The right fan on my Macbook Pro had been making noise for about 2 months now. It would only get really bad when they would get to high speeds and then if I let it rest it would be fine for a while. I had read this before, but didn't really pay attention to it and tried some other things, but eventually looked at this in more detail and decided to try it because sewing machine oil was pretty cheap. Drove to Joann Fabrics this afternoon and picked up some for less than $4 and then eagerly tried the fix when I got home. It worked! Thanks a lot, now I can finally enjoy peace and I'm not embarrassed to take my Macbook in public.
February 10, 2010 at 8:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM
Worked like a charm. Thanks for saving me the cost of a new fan!
February 13, 2010 at 3:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
thanks man!!! great fix.
February 14, 2010 at 7:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
This was a big help, thanks a lot.
February 17, 2010 at 8:06PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
I can't believe I didn't do this sooner. I've been dealing with this noise for months. Don't torture yourself. I did this all with an eyeglass repair flat-head screwdriver and WD-40.
I used a toothpick to scrape off some tiny bits of dust off the base of the spindle. That might have been what was throwing the fan off-kilter.
Easy fix if you've got steady hands.
February 19, 2010 at 11:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thanks for the post! Saved me money and headache... However, WD-40 has not worked for me as a long-term solution. 4 months later, i've got a noisy mac again. I'm about to open up the macbook again and try using Silicone Lubricant. Maybe that will last a lot longer.
March 1, 2010 at 11:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
i had the exact same problem, i was about to order two new fans just to make sure the other fan didnt do the same in the future. i luckily stumbled onto this page and i did exactly what it says and it worked! my fans are quiet! this is amazing! thanks a million.
March 2, 2010 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thanks. Your instructions were very helpful and I now have a quiet fan! However, I needed a little more help with disassembling the laptop. These instructions were helpful for that: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/Installing-MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Model-...
March 6, 2010 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Put 1 drop of silicone oil on each fan spindle and re-assembled. Power on, FAN NOISE GONE!!!
I had already reset the SMC, zapped ran the Apple Hardware (extended) Test and still had the noise even at idle.
Using you instructions, I opened up my 15" unibody thinking I would find dust as the culprit but it was SPOTLESS. I still hit it with canned air and then took apart the fans. They were spotless too- wiped the insides with q-tips and had very very minor residual dust.
NOTE (slight build variation from your description): The left side fan required a torx 7 bit on the upper left screw. All other topside screws were torx 6 Also both fans only had 1 Philips screw on underside to remove.
THANKS! You saved me from unnecessary downtime.
March 8, 2010 at 9:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
this worked! ...for about only 2 weeks. im just going to purchase a new fan and replace it myself.
March 9, 2010 at 4:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thanks a lot. You really made my day. I did'nt know what to do with that disturbing noise until i read your post. With the help of one of my friend, i fixed the problem and the silence has come back.
March 10, 2010 at 6:49AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thanks for posting this.. I learned how to take my computer apart in the process, but the fan is still busted! I've had the quieter 'whirring' in the past, but this noise that started a few days ago is much much louder and is not intermittent, and the right fan does not respond to the SMC, as it is spinning well under 1k rpms.
Today I took my right fan out, cleaned, lubed with graphite, put back in (done this twice now) and tried speeding it up with the SMC, but my right fan still won't get up to speed... its still stuck between 500 and 800rpms and very noisy. Maybe the thing really is just broken? First I tried a moderate amount of the graphite powder, and then a healthy amount, and the fins are not touching, but unfortunately no improvement.. :(
I haven't read any mention of the loud AND slow fan's yet in my search-- Does this have any significance to anyone out there reading this? Any info would be appreciated.. worst case I'll just replace the fan, I'm just hoping that there isn't some larger issue related to this. I just had the I/O board replaced by Apple (out of warranty) a few months ago..
March 14, 2010 at 12:05AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
This was happening to my left fan ... noise was intermittent over couple of months but today came back insistently and LOUD. Unbearable. I was checking with iStat menus and temp was running 170 degrees, right fan was cranking at a few thousand RPM, and the left fan was dogging it at a few hundred RPM and the speed was going up and down seemingly with the volume of the noise. I would definitely associate the slow speed with the noise in my case. I did this lubricating procedure and it is now completely quiet and the fans are both running within a couple of RPMs of each other (right now left 1995 RPM and right 1998 RPM at 129 degrees).
Maybe try some WD40 ... worth a try ...
April 19, 2010 at 3:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
muchas gracias senor! I was going loco with the left noisy fan issue but am now writing this from a perfectly quiet macbook :) Yes I've also installed smc fan control and ramping up the speed to 5000-6000rpm produces only more silence, just what the doctor ordered.
Slight difference to my original situation however which was
1) addressing this issue from the UK so had to go to new sources for the tools.
2) using non uni-body 17" macbook.
Hope the following helps for people in a similar situation to my own.
For MacBook Pro 17" ifixit guide -
For T6 x 40 Torx screwdriver (UK amazon) -
Equivalent 00 Phillips screwdriver (cheapest and best option I found) -
Spudger (via ebay in the UK)
Compressed Air -
bought this direct from my nearest PC world
Sewing machine oil -
bought this from a local sewing machine repair man :)
Additionally also bought an antistatic wrist strap from Maplins to be extra safe.
I've never done any repair work inside a computer before so for me this was my equivalent of venturing boldly forth where no man had gone before. I found it daunting but incredibly exciting, felt like I was performing a lobotomy. There was one stage where I thought I may have fried the internal circuitry when I was attacking the inside of the mac with compressed air but thank goodness when all was re-assembled everything worked as in a dream. I admit the whole process took me 3 hours however in my defence this is entirely new grounds for me being completely green when it comes to tinkering inside computers. Basically if I was able to fix it with no previous experience I reckon any of your readers will be able to do the same.
My advice, be prepared - have the right equipment and follow the instructions and you will soon have your old quiet mac back again.
Your health Ryan, I will be proposing you for knighthood in the next honours list ;)
March 21, 2010 at 6:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Hi from Venezuela, dude thanks a million, my 2 years old macbook pro had the right fan noisy. Was easier than I thought disarm the fan, a drop of oil on the shaft, and ready, no more sound ... like new. thanks again ...
March 24, 2010 at 9:54AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Just did this with my previous gen MBP 17" (the non-unibody one). Oiled both fans with this stuff: http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_storeId_10001_...
Now is silent and seems to be working a little cooler checking with smcFanControl (I usually have it on 4k rpm. Now its fine on 3k).
Much appreciated info!
March 27, 2010 at 9:29AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
my solution was to remove the fans totally ! its really quiet now.
March 28, 2010 at 7:27AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
That's really not a good idea; they're there for a reason. Your could permanently damage the thing...
March 28, 2010 at 12:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Just came here to say this is great. I just followed these instructions, and I used a kleenex to dabble some WD-40 onto the spindle. I get a slight whirring still, but much quieter than before! I'll do this again with some graphite lube soon and I'm sure it will work like a charm.
April 2, 2010 at 5:27PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Worked really well on my 3.5 year old 17" MBP. The fan had a connector which I could not remove without feeling like I would snap something, so I just left it connected, removed the fan from its nest and flipped it over, and removed the fan wheel. Lubed it with WD40 also (lightly). I can't hear my fan at all now. Thanks a bunch for sharing this ... your article is still living on and helping people > a year later! Awesome.
April 19, 2010 at 3:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Forgot to mention, was a decent bit of dust in the fan vent which I also vacuumed out. May have helped too.
April 19, 2010 at 3:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
> I agreed did the same thing u did and my Beautiful Aluminum Uni-body Macbook, is as clean on inside as out!
April 22, 2010 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
My noisy macbook is super silent again! However, I did order a replacement fan and since there was no rush to get it, I shopped around and found one that cost $6.00, included free shipping from China. It's coming as a cheap precaution. You saved me a lot of grief and money!
April 22, 2010 at 8:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Mike - I don't suppose you'd have a link on that Chinese site....I just oiled my fans and they're better, but I think I waited too long. They're still a bit noisy, probably permanent wear. And $50 each for fans is steep for me right now.
May 23, 2010 at 4:21AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Dude, this worked perfectly, thank you so much!
April 29, 2010 at 10:23AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
I'll be giving this a shot today, probably use the Radio Shack lubricant mentioned at other how-tos. One thing that I will do that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is preventative maintenance on the other fan while I have it opened up.
May 3, 2010 at 7:13AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Agree with OneFreeMan, I had exactly the same experience with the connector that wouldn't come off. But everything worked well with the connector still in place, and now my dear MBP is silent again. Many thanks for this perfect tip!
May 9, 2010 at 1:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
I havent done it yet im going to. Mine produces the same noise but not to the same extent but its still very annoying from one day to another to have that happen and i only have mine one year.... and i took it to the repair store and they said there was nothing wrong with my mac at all and the noise is from the aging and its natural or high demands from me....
May 12, 2010 at 2:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thank you for this. Followed the same procedure to re-lube the right fan on my 15" LED MBP. I used a little gear oil I have left over from working on the car. I was convinced the fan would have to be replaced but it works fine now. Thanks again.
May 15, 2010 at 1:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
worked like a charm, and id never taken a macbook apart before. now im noticing some new subtle noise coming from something else. guess the absence of the fan noise has made it more prominant, or maybe its in my head? either way my fans are not embarassingly loud any more, thanks!
May 15, 2010 at 1:55PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
WOW that worked great! Thanks for the info. My MBP was so loud I wanted to toss it as far as possible. I know nothing about computers let alone take one apart but I read this watched a couple of videos on YouTube and it was way easier then I thought. One thing I used different was pneumatic oil instead of graphite or wd40 its a little more thick but not too thick. I tried graphite too but I don't think it worked as well as the oil.... Thanks Again for all your info!!
May 24, 2010 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thank you for your help. This worked very very well.
June 2, 2010 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
My December 2006 MacBook Pro 15" is as silent as a lam (again). These instructions worked very well, thank you.
June 6, 2010 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
I am generally not a commenter.... But THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I was searching on eBay for a fan because my 15" MBP was getting obnoxiously loud. I was a new considering a new computer. I followed your instructions to the letter w/ the wd40 & it is silent once again. Many thanks!
June 25, 2010 at 10:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
> I, like Haeck Design, rarely ever comment but this has helped me tremendously! I was about to spend $85.00 for two fans for my MacBook Pro 15' and another $85.00 for labor. Instead I went to Home Depot and bought the mentioned tools for less than $20.00, followed your steps and... VOILA! Thank you so much for being a MacBook Pro genius! I aspire to one day tinker with my MacBook and try to find quick fixes on my own... but that's another time when I have money to replace said MacBook when it blows up in my face. Thanks again!
July 12, 2010 at 11:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Another HUGE THANK-YOU to you!! This worked GREAT and saved me the cost of having both fans replaced... i had a terribly noisy left fan and a non-functioing right fan - which of course led to a fire hot sluggish laptop. I followed your instructions, cleaned & re-lubed both fans, put it back together and now i have TWO beautifully running SILENT fans.
My macbook pro is running ALOT cooler with both fans set to run between 5000 - 6000 rpm via the smcFanControl app. Very happy with the results! THANK-YOU!
July 13, 2010 at 2:31AM, Edited September 4, 7:26AM
Thanks for the guide.. unfortunately the socket for the fan went off while taking apart the macbook pro, and I had to solder it back on, quite a task : )
But now, having cleaned the ventilation system, the system runs much more smoothly.. I guess the dust bunny took up a lot of space.. flash movies would make the macbook run at 60-70 degrees before, causing the fan to go up to 6000 RPM.. but now it runs at 55 degrees (Celsius) and 2000 rpm.. nice :)
July 24, 2010 at 8:02AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Wasn't confident enough to disconnect the fan but was still able to take the fan apart and lube it up. Worked like a charm- thanks a lot!
July 26, 2010 at 1:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Damn bro! This works! Thanks a bunch for the detail procedures and instructions! I can sleep well at night again! :)
July 26, 2010 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
If I'm going to go to the trouble of opening up my MBP, I'd like to just go ahead and actually replace both fans (noisy one & quiet one). However, this noisy fan issue started only like a week after I bought the MBP. I don't want to waste time or money, opening up my MBP and replacing the fans...if they're only going to start making noise again in a few weeks.
I'm wondering if anyone has feedback on the replacement fans...have they fixed the noise problem, while still cooling well? Do they last? If not, are there 3rd party fans that may work better?
While I don't want to "break the bank" on the replacement fans, I'd rather spend a little more to get a quality product. If anyone knows of the best fan options, please provide company name, links, or any info you can.
August 2, 2010 at 8:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for the guide! Helped a lot, was a bit scared at first and trickiest part was ifting off the top case but still I managed to complete the fix. Actually did it twice, because I forgot to reconnect the fan after cleaning ;) But now the MBP is running smooth, no sound from the fan!
So for all a bit scared to open a MacBookPro, go ahead, with the right tools it isnt too difficult!
August 4, 2010 at 2:13PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just wanted to let you know I jut finished putting my macbook pro together after following your guidebook. All I can say is that now my fans are silent. Thanks for putting the time to make this guide because without it I was going to spend $50 per fan to fix my issue.
As far as using smc, can someone suggest some settings for it?
Again to the author, thank you so much for the guide....
August 5, 2010 at 9:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM