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

300 Comments

I just wanted to thank you for this guide! Apple replaced my fans back in March (was a big ordeal and was not fun) and the left one started sounding like my moped again. I called Apple and they wanted me to drive the two hours to an Apple store, have them order the parts, then drive back when they got the parts in. I called around and nobody in town sold these fans, so I was about to buy one online and wait for it when I found this guide. Now it's running great! I hope my posting this only 30 minutes after isn't a jinx, but for now it's working!

August 10, 2010 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Shawn

> Guess I jinxed it. Minutes later it's the same sound

August 10, 2010 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Shawn

Finished the work on my MacBook Pro earlier today using white lithium grease spray (applied to the fan shaft using a fine brush) and the noise is gone! Thanks for the instructions!!

August 16, 2010 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Kevin

Another thanks. I was just about to send off for a new fan - saw your article just in time. 15 minutes later and the MBP is completely silent again. Brilliant.

August 17, 2010 at 1:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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My fans were as loud as a plane taking off...(MacBook Pro 2.16 Ghz).. I was often very ashamed especially when I was in class or a quiet room. Now my fans are quiet and I even see my Mac more attractive, No doubt loud fans can make look a machine old and accelerate apparent depreciation!

Thanks for the info, you are the man!

August 29, 2010 at 2:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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fxuxo

Worked for me! I tried cleaning my fan just with compressed air. Nope. You have to take that fan apart and shoot WD-40 on the axel. Thanks!

August 31, 2010 at 7:47PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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1. Grab your macbook.
2. Throw it out the window.
3. Buy a real laptop.
4. ???
5. Profit!!!

September 2, 2010 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Yaro Kasear

funny that someone takes the time to search mac repair guides only to leave these sort of comments..? I dont get it? whats the point.

October 17, 2010 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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antimacguyscans...

Thanks! This was great. I walked into my office yesterday hearing this awful sound. Opened up my mac and determined it was the fan. I stumbled across your solution looking for tips on how to quiet it. But, figured I would need to get it repaired...until I found your site. Thankfully, your solution worked perfectly. It's only been 12 hours, but my computer has never been so quiet.

September 19, 2010 at 6:29AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Keith

My macbook pro 15" has maglev fans so they don't come apart as is shown here to lube them...but I took them out of the macbook and blew the dirt out with compressed air and now they are very quiet. Mine is a late 2009 macbook pro model. Thanks for the instructions!

October 3, 2010 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Eric

Oops, followup to previous post... my macbook is a late 2008 unibody model.

October 3, 2010 at 10:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Eric

Worked like a charm! No longer does my wife of 37 years ask "Why does your laptop sound like a teeeeny tiny chain saw?"

October 7, 2010 at 8:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Jeff Jerde

Hi,

I have the same exact problem but I do not want to damage my computer and fix it myself nor do I have the time to actually do so. I took it to genius bar @ Mac and they said they were going to charge me $170 or so to fix it because I'm out of warranty and it'll take about 5-7 days to fix. Considering the fact that a lot of people on here are saying they saved $50bucks by fixing themselves; is that because you didn't pay for labor and time for a tech? Or is the Mac quote that i was given about right if their techs had to fix it? Also, is there somewhere or other companies (DC/VA Area) that i can take it to without having to pay the Mac price or am I going to have to sadly chuck down the high price tab?:( Thanks in advance for your responses!

October 11, 2010 at 9:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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DA

Followed your directions and so far I have a silent mac again!!!!! Yeah, and it only cost me 20 bucks for the screwdriver set and compressed air. I didn't have wd-40 so I used some CLP-Break Free. Thanks again!

October 27, 2010 at 9:03PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Mike

Outstanding - first time I've tried opening up a laptop (getting the keyboard up was a bit tricky) - but I followed the instructions using a little WD40 and all is good. Fan is as quiet as a church mouse.
Many thanks.......

October 29, 2010 at 9:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Si

Uggh, well my fans were quiet for a day or two, now they are noisey again. I have the mag lev fans so they don't come apart as described....does anyone have any suggestions???

November 6, 2010 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Eric

Have you found a solution? I think my macbook has maglev too.

December 7, 2010 at 6:12PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Thanks for the page and the tips. Your instructions more or less worked for my Late 2007-White MacBook C2D. No more vibrations, no more noise. Back to the way it was before. Saved myself $50 worth of fan & $40 worth of int'l shipping charges with about $3 worth of WD-40 and a $2 Philips screwdriver. No need for a Torx screwdriver for my model of MacBook.

November 9, 2010 at 6:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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ManilaRaf

I just had to do this for my right fan and I found that using the suggested Powdered Graphite Lubricant results in a VERY NOISY FAN even at the lowest speed!

So I had to take apart my MBP again, shake out some of the graphite, and apply some mineral oil (apparently a key ingredient of WD40). Now after some sustained testing at high speed (3d games) I can say that the right fan is still not as quiet as the left fan but it's essentially back to normal.

Please update your instructions so people can fix their fans correctly on the first try. Liquid lubricant good, powdered bad.

November 11, 2010 at 12:15AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Hoby

Thanks Hoby -- will do.

November 14, 2010 at 12:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

This works great thanks so much!

November 13, 2010 at 11:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Brilliant tip - I had a horrible fan noise, but it sounded more like something was hitting the blades, so I was sceptical that this would work, but it did... a bit of lube is always the trick!

November 20, 2010 at 6:50AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Steve

this worked great so far....7 hrs.......thanks so much for posting...saved me lot of money a gave me that do it yourself satisfaction!

December 12, 2010 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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bizewy

This is so weird... I can't hear my laptop at all.
Now how I am supposed to know it's still living? Same thing happened with Ole' Pappy...

December 22, 2010 at 6:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Slap into a Jim_Jim

Tragicomment.

December 22, 2010 at 9:21PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

This is good info and was one of the top hits when I was looking for info on the fan noise my 17" Macbook Pro was making.

The only thing I'd suggest is to NOT use WD40 which is mainly kerosene and a small amount of mineral oil. WD40 was designed as a water displacer and not a high speed lubricant. The next best thing around the house would be sewing machine oil or 3in1 oil which is vegetable based but still better than WD40.

Anyway, thanks for the tip. My fans are quiet and clean now that they've been vacuumed, dusted and lubed.

December 28, 2010 at 6:41PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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G$

used sewing machine oil. tons of gunk and fur in the area near the fan, pulled off a clot where it exhausts
worked perfectly afterwards, very happy now , was sure i would be buying a new macbookpro cause the noise was so grating.
thanks

December 31, 2010 at 11:00AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Just did this to my Unibody Macbook Pro and the noise is completely gone! Fantastic fix as I had all the tools and lube at the house.

January 2, 2011 at 9:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Jim

Yeah I too agree.. The fan noise was driving me crazy. Now nothing!!
Glad that I came across this website :)

February 13, 2011 at 3:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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kane

WONDERFUL!! it worked like a charm. I used a bit of light grease as lube

January 6, 2011 at 10:27AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Bala Dada

Thank you so much for the fix! Worked perfectly. I owe you some money!!!!

January 9, 2011 at 4:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Pol

I found I did not have to take the fan out, just undid the 2 phillips screws, sliced the black tape holding the fan cover to the exhaust vent, and pulled it out. A dab of Vaseline and good to go. (also evicted the dust bunnies). Spooky quiet now. :-)

Thank-you SOoooo Much!!! for the tip.

January 14, 2011 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Arno

Another VERY effective lubricant to use for the fans (I use it in commercial public-safety radio power supplies) is silicon "o-ring" lubricant. It is commonly available at auto repair stores, and is extremely durable as well.

January 24, 2011 at 8:26AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Tucker

Good Technology! I have a basketcase Macbook purchased from eBay (when I still HAD faith in their services) so it was an easy fix. I used silicone spray lube in the place of WD40 since I already had it on hand and use it most often. So far so great! The SMC FanControl is the SHIZZITS as well. Thanks a heap!

January 31, 2011 at 2:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Macduzzit

cool beans man

February 3, 2011 at 12:14PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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OMG, i love you man !!!! ... worked like a charm and quite like, ... don't even have a comparison! ^^
you ARE AWESOME !!! Thanks for the tutorial !! :-)

February 4, 2011 at 6:13AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Raphael

Cleaned both. 1 is totally silent now the other one is still not cured.

BE CAREFUL the blades of the fans are easy to break while taking them apart.
I broke one blade of the fan - sh* - surprisingly this is not the one which is still noisy.

good luck!

February 12, 2011 at 3:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Stevie

My 2007 MacBook Pro had same problem. Left fan sounding like it was coming apart. Put up with it for over a year. Tried ramping up speed, dropping speed, over and over. Best I could get was a short few day fix.

Finally, dawned on me, 'Duh! I have AppleCare!'

I took it to the close by Apple Store. They took apart my machine, installed a new fan and returned it to me next day . Works great! Cost? NOTHING! Yea, AppleCare!

February 14, 2011 at 10:44AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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RIck O.

well.. Applecare is $349 for 2 years (1 year is covered by the warranty in the US). So you paid quite a lot for them to spray your fan.

In Europe Applecare is even less neccessary, as warranty on elecronic devices has to be minimum 2 years by law. My MBP Logic Board died (SantaRosa) just before these 2 years and Apple changed it for free. I did not have AppleCare.

March 7, 2011 at 7:31PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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rups

I can't explain how thankful I am to you for posting this! My 5year old MacBook pro was doing the same thing. At the apple store they basically told me it was time for a new computer (can't blame em... It probably is, but till I can afford that it really isn't an option. Lol)

My boyfriend got tired of me cussing out my laptop and even hitting it sometimes (don't judge... I know it's not very smart... But I was going a little crazy with the sound and it causing my computer to freeze up constantly while I tried to work... And somehow hitting it would actually stop the sound and unlock it...at least for a minute). So he googles the problem and found your post.

I'm not the most electronically savvy gal out there, but I was able to operate on my computer as directed just fine. And the sound has completely stopped now!!!!!!!! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!

Amanda

February 15, 2011 at 8:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Amanda, I think you shouldn't be afraid to blame them. I don't know why people always justifies Apple. They are to blame. Your computer is fine, it only needs a $30 piece. Time for a new computer? My *ss.

March 12, 2011 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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rups

Just did this with my 2007 Macbook pro A1211 and worked like a charm! Amazing! Left fan was a little trickier than the right. Went to iFixit for the complete guide but instead of disconnecting everything I pried enough apart to just spayed some WD40 in the fan well but now wish I would have taken it apart completely cause I can hear no noise from the right but still a little from the left (nothing even close to what it was though). Good tip!

February 17, 2011 at 11:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Nathan Davis

So good! Worked just as described. Not that hard. Totally fixed the problem!

One thing, I jus assumed it was the left fan, since that's what the instructions talked about, and I did the left fan and put everything back together, only then to realize that it was actually the right fan. So take a close listen before you get started and make sure you do the correct fan. Course, can't hurt to do both, but it was a pain because I put it all back together before I realized. There's an instruction for the right fan on iFixit as well.

February 25, 2011 at 10:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Robert Segal

I came here through Google because the right fan had become noisy all of a sudden on my MacBook Pro C2D 2006. I followed your instructions plus this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apn3j3mAR1k) to remove the fan and now my laptop is quiet as it was a few days ago. The only difference is that I used ceramic wet lube, meant for bike chains. Most of all, you saved me a trip to the Apple Store and days or weeks without my computer. Thanks a lot.

February 26, 2011 at 9:51PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Mozza

Great tip, just did it the way you described and, you guessed it, it totally worked. Thank you very much, you just saved me some money. Plus I finally got myself those screwdrivers. :)

February 28, 2011 at 5:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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there is this guide too http://appletoolbox.com/

February 28, 2011 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Serhat

February 28, 2011 at 9:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Serhat

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! :D

March 3, 2011 at 7:50AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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THANKYOU

hey! nice guide. 100% worked for me!

I not only fixed the rattling left fan, but cleaned the whole insides of the computer with the compressed air, and I'd say the cooling is noticeably more efficient now. I'm having average temps of 65C, while I usually had averages around 75C.

The fan blades were totally full of s**t. I don't remember the computer as silent as is now.

I recommend anyone with a 3+ y.o. laptop to do a general cleaning.

March 7, 2011 at 7:16PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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rups

two days afer the fan started rattling again.

I redid the fix, but this time I used a drop of oil from my car (5W30).

Now its been running smoothly for weeks.

So-beware of the lubricant you use. It's important it's a high speed lubricant. Others will dry in no time.

March 12, 2011 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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rups

You sir, deserve a pulitzer prize or something for this article. So far, this is working beautifully, and frankly, I am amazed. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

March 14, 2011 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Nick

The noise was really annoying for the past few days on my 3+ macbook pro. This works 100% it is so quite now. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

March 16, 2011 at 12:36AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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This is great! I've managed to clean my fans and the weird helicopter sound that the fans were making at over 3500 rpm is gone. Thank you!

March 24, 2011 at 8:47AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Mihai

Thanks, that was a great tip! Now I can finally use my macbook pro again.

April 4, 2011 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Tim

Just used this method to fix my mom's MBP. Worked excellent. Thank you very much!

April 5, 2011 at 9:01PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Dude, you rule!

April 23, 2011 at 9:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Jorge Mariani

22 April 2011 -
I took apart the MBP 17" core 2 duo which is nearly 5 years old now. The fan noise was unbearable and the heat from the machine was extreme. Cleaned inside with a iClean wipe and air. Disassembled the Fan assembly. I did not have to remove the "inverter" because the wires did not come across the fan on my model. Added a bit of WD-40 to the spindle and put it all back together. Instant result! Noise was gone and machine is running cooler overall. Thank you for your posts it's a brilliant and simple low tech solution to a high-tech problem!

One note, the fan on my model didn't just come right out... it took a little finessing to not damage it when removing it. The iFixIt docs are mainly for 15" model and not the 17" but they do get you to the fan disassembly alright...

Marv

April 25, 2011 at 4:17AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Marv

Wow, thanks a ton. Lately the fan rpms and temps in my 2006 MBP 15" were really getting me down - running all the time even under light processor load. I thought it was a software problem but could find no fix, and I think the overheating was causing intermittent freezeups. When the fan got super noisy 2 weeks ago I was thinking I'd need to get a new machine.

Like others, during the teardown I removed tons of dust between the fans and heat sinks, which were clearly hampering fans' efficient cooling. Nobody ever mentions that your laptop's fans might ave a craptop of dust in them! I used a 'dry' chain lube for bikes on the fan axles, seems to work great.

Now fans are silent, running at 2000rpm under light load (like they should) and temps are back down to normal. This is my main work machine – I run it hard – now itt's nearly 4 years old and I'm looking forward to lots more usable life from it. So thanks!

April 28, 2011 at 8:24AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Andy

OMG. YOU MUST CHANGE THIS! HUGE FLAW! Of all things why WD-40. I've done a lot of oiling fans but WD-40 is the ONLY one that you should not use. Don't know why you said WD-40. You're misleading people. WD-40 is not recommended for oiling fans. Do a quick search of oiling pc fans. 3-in-1 is a MUCH better choice.

May 12, 2011 at 2:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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bear95

I couldn't agree more! There isn't a technician out there that will tell you to use wd-40. Its crap. If you can find Break-Free CLP use it. If not call your local repair shop or do a search on which lube to use.

September 13, 2011 at 2:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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Ted

May 12, 2011 at 2:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

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bear95

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