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!
I know there are plenty of these types of comments like this but thank you so much! My 3 year old MBP right fan started grinding a couple days ago. I thought for sure it would result in a few days out of commission and a couple hundred bucks to replace the fan. Luckily a coworker of mine had the tools, I found these instructions and a little bit of oil and now it sounds better than brand new.
I went with one of the commentator's advice and stayed away from WD-40 and instead I used some lubricating oil that I already had. Thank you so much for your instructions. Very well written and extremely useful.
May 16, 2011 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
WD-40 isn't a lube don't use it.... use a slicone based lubricant, or Mobile 1.
June 21, 2011 at 3:09PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I'm not that handy... how much time can my mac be with this noise until one of my friends can help?!?!?!
July 8, 2011 at 9:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
I followed the instructions letter-for-letter (using 3-in-one instead of WD-40). Being a computer tech novice but being relatively handy, I moved ahead even though I could have used more precise instructions on how to actually dismantle the computer and extract the fan. Terrifying to look at the pile of tiny screws on my desk; even more terrifying to pull out the tiny connectors ... But now I swear my computer is quieter than when I first got it. And it's nice and cool, to boot!
July 25, 2011 at 6:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for this! I just did mine, which was from 2006 and now this macbook pro is quiet and running alot cooler! Much easier to do than an HP laptop!
July 27, 2011 at 9:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks! Still works. Instead of WD-40, I used a needle-tip precision lubricator from Radio Shack. 2 tiny drops and voila!
I didn't touch the left fan, but if it acts up, I'll know what to do.
July 29, 2011 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
So glad I found this! I have started wondering if my laptop was dying or if something else was wrong, and now I know. I'm not sure I'm up to taking my computer apart, I'm sure I would misplace something, but I'm glad to know it's likely just a fan than needs to be fixed, as opposed to buying a whole new computer. Thought that sounds kinda fun too.
August 2, 2011 at 2:29PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Great info man! Worked like a charm. Thanks!
August 22, 2011 at 12:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
dude , is this applied on hte MBP 13 unibody generation ??? this sound is killing me and making me nervous !!!
thx for sharing !
September 11, 2011 at 5:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I don't think it works on unibody, but I can't be sure...
September 11, 2011 at 9:20AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just did this on my MBP Unibody. Worked great, saved me 73 bucks the Geniuses wanted to charge.
October 7, 2011 at 11:44AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Good to know, glad it worked!
October 7, 2011 at 11:49AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks a lot Man! I was about to buy the new fan when I found this page! I just finished and the fan is working beautiful! I used 3in1 instead of WD40 and I would also add that this is not complicated at all, but you have to be careful when removing the fan as two cables run on top. Also, you might have to replace the black tape and the end of the assembly. I used electrical tape and you can't even tell the difference with the right side fan.
Thanks a lot!
September 21, 2011 at 5:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
you are the man! works great!
October 4, 2011 at 1:41PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I have a problem with loud fan . Here is my problem: i downloaded smcFanControl to just test fens... but the sound is constantly the same. even if i turn both vent to lowest posible way in program. The sound still remains the same.
I mean FTW? is it one of my fens or its my hard drive so loud? Some times the sound disapers and then come back..
Help me dudes, do i need to take my macbook pro to the servis or i open it? I work very hard to buy it, i dont want to open just for seeing....
help me please!!!
November 4, 2011 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Regarding the lubricant issue...
I was remembering back to when I was a kid, and we used to use graphite on our pinewood derby cars to make them go faster. Have called computer stores all around where I live, and all of them sell only silicone-based lubricants. Thought I would give the tiniest bit of graphite a try, and see if it would do the trick...
Anyone advise against this? I figure everyone has a pencil laying around if they have no other option.
November 4, 2011 at 3:57PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Graphite conducts electricity and I wouldn't want a conductive powder blowing around in or around my conputer.
November 30, 2011 at 2:36AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
worked like a charm. thank you for saving me 80€.
November 8, 2011 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
thank you very much for the suggestion.....I followed the instructions in lubricating the fans and used the "needle-tip precision lubricant". This fixed the noise problem completely. My macbook pro has never been this silent, the SMC fan control works as brand new, and machine is running much cooler.
November 13, 2011 at 5:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Hi! I had never done something like this before, but I decided I was going to try your advice, since at the store they charged me $200 for the fix. I was amazed it worked! One thing, though, I used another video in youtube to explain step by step how to remove the cover of the computer and that was a huge help. Two drops of a silicone lubricant on the fan, a little bit of dusting, and when I closed everything and turned it on, no noise and everything works normally!! Thank you!!!
November 16, 2011 at 11:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Glad to hear it worked!
November 16, 2011 at 3:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Worked like a charm. Thank you!
November 27, 2011 at 3:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Unfortunately after around 20 minutes of use, when I ramped up the fans the noise came back... Sigh I have to open this thing up AGAIN (such a PITA).
November 27, 2011 at 3:57PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
THANK YOU!!!!!!! Worked perfectly. My fan is back to normal....sounds great! The clear directions made it so easy. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I used 3-in-one oil instead of the WD40. AWESOME!!!!
December 9, 2011 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Dude, this post came right on time! I have a 2005 MacBook Pro 17" and when the fan started making noise, I knew I was going to have to go under the hood and take a look. I was just hoping I wouldn't have to do any replacements...and sure enough, you're post helped. Even though it takes a while to get to the fans, after wiping them down, blowing out the dust, and adding the lubricant, my computer is super quiet and is acting brand new. Good job on this post yo!
December 13, 2011 at 10:45AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Hey there, I just opened the macbook to clean my fans..however I seemed unable to open the fan itself to oil it..I'm able to get the fan itself to open (so I could blow out a load of dust) but then there are no screws to open the fan further (to actually oil the point on which the fan itself rotates) could anybody help? thanks!
December 28, 2011 at 12:59PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
The fan in my MBP 13.3 had a single small screw that needed to be opened.
February 2, 2012 at 8:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
You might need to open some tabs on the side of the fan, and possibly remove a single screw. It should be located somewhere around the side of the fan. Be sure to check both sides!
May 18, 2012 at 8:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Fantastic post. Followed the steps and got my MacBook Pro's noisy fan to pipe down. The computer even runs better now. Sweet.
January 3, 2012 at 4:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I went through the steps necessary to disassemble and reassemble my macbook pro but I did run into a few snags. I didnt end up using WD-40, instead went with Dupont's teflon non-stick dry film lubricant (which leaves no oily film). I applied it to both fans, since both were making a noise. Once I closed everything up and put back all the screws, I couldnt get 2 of the 4 screws for the bottom of the laptop to go completely back in their holes. I might have stripped it in the process of removing it or putting it back in. Starting the computer back up, I ran that program to test out the fans, and the right fan was making a loud buzzing noise. Almost like I used too much lubricant and its spinning like crazy. It tends to make that noise when I close my laptop and pick it up to walk away with. Not sure if that problem will fix itself in the near future or if I just need to replace the fans all together.
January 8, 2012 at 5:56PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for very useful solution. In my case, MacBookPro early 2008 model generated terrible noise on right side fan and your cleaning method completely solved problem.
January 12, 2012 at 11:38AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just open up my MBP 4.1 and fixed my fan noise problem. Disaster struck when I snapped one part of the fan (Got big and powerful fingers lol) but thank God, no noise and the MBP temperature stabilized to 50 degrees, instead of 70-80 degrees previously when re-assembled.
January 14, 2012 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
lest forget to say. THANKS FOR THE TIP. Now my wife can watch her online movies again...sigh
January 14, 2012 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Great post, followed the steps, works great
January 15, 2012 at 9:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Fantastic.... You would not believe the noise my 2008 MBP has been making... It's been getting worse for months now, always there but will have bouts of silly loud... Followed these instructions and 'WOW' no more noise... I used 3 in 1 oil and will wait and see if it stays noise free but for now totally brilliant, Thanks. Ps. before oiling I downloaded smc fan control and the noisy fan was running at half speed of the other one.. Now both running the same speed... This really works, Thanks again...
January 31, 2012 at 3:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks! The clean-up worked and now I can hear myself breathing again.
The only doubt I have is that when I checked before he cleanup, SMCFanControl showed me two readings. Now it shows me just one. I hope the fan has not just stopped working.
I checked using Apple Hardware Diagnostics (the quick test) and it said All OK. My temp readings are going up to 92C and the fan spins up to 4600rpm, but it's stable around there and the noise of the 6200rpm storm is not there.
February 2, 2012 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Okay I had to do the procedure a couple more time since the fan started revving up to 6000rpm again (I have a single fan in my unibody 2009 13.3" MBP). The machine works for a day or so at lower revs (2000-4000rpm) but after that it comes back up to 90C, 6200rpm very often. I have to put it on standby when it gets too noisy, and then open it again, to start again from 55C, 2000rpm.
I'm using singer 3-in-1 all-purpose machine oil like someone recommended. Isn't that as good as WD-40? Should I be using something else?
February 16, 2012 at 10:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
great stuff! my fan had stopped working altogether shortly after it had started to make some strange noise. followed the instructions and had it fixed in no time. thanx!
February 14, 2012 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Argh! Got all the way to the fan connectors and on my MBP 2008, they are so small I have no idea how to pry them out. Needle nose plyers to pull directly out? Anyone? Please. :)
February 16, 2012 at 8:46PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Try pulling them up gently, instead of out. They slot in from the top, they don't slide in like normal larger connectors.
February 16, 2012 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for that. Man, those wires are very small and so is the connector. I will try again after a few beers have settled my nerves...:)
In order for me to keep track of the screws, I had a sheet of paper with STEP # written out and a circle below where I placed the screws inside the drawn circle. Worked like a charm!
February 17, 2012 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Bingo! 3 beers and some silicone grease solved the problem. Needed the have the fan run high speed about 4 minutes but after that, she's purring like a cat that's not purring. :)
February 17, 2012 at 6:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for the great information. Just got my mac book pro back together and it's running quiet again.
One precaution I would add is to be careful while removing the plastic fan. I broke one blade off of one fan from squeezing too hard while pulling it out.
February 17, 2012 at 10:36AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
genius. i broke a fan blade, tried to stick it back together then mounted back. it just hung on for a few moments before giving up the ghost, twice. but now the fan doesn't make any noise. thanks alot!
February 19, 2012 at 5:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Awesome. I was floored when I saw a replacement was $50. No sir, not for a 2006 MBP. Lube worked a treat. Quiet now.
February 25, 2012 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Ryan you are the freaking man, thank you for posting this fix. I was getting ready to take a hammer to my MBP with the jet engine fan noise, and came across this site. For lubricant I could not find any WD-40 in my house, so I used "Weapon Shield", a new lubricant for firearms among other things. Found a lot of dust bunnies in the heat sink area and cleaned them out as best that I could, and now my MBP is as quiet as can be. Thanks for saving me about $150 which is what the local mac geek squad was going to charge me.
One question, did anyone rip the heat sink tape when removing the fan? I ripped mine twice but was able to put it back almost in the same exact spots and all seems well. Just wondering.
March 21, 2012 at 7:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
It worked great on my MBP, many thanks for this article !
March 23, 2012 at 10:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for the info - I may end up doing this eventually but found that I could avoid it by setting the fans to max speed using smcFanControl and it has been quiet for 3 days as long as I don't try to pick up the laptop (as to hold it in my lap) while it is running. When I did and it started again, I simply closed it, let it power down, then opened it again. A decent workaround until I get the tools & some time.
March 25, 2012 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thank you! I first cleaned the fans according to instructions I found before I came across your post (not to mention that the screws that hold the fan assembly in place were stuck [*]). Anyways, cleaning alone didn't work. I opened the machine again and did the WD 40. It worked.
[*] -- if anybody has a problem with stuck screws you should get a pair of 18 or 20 AWG sheer cutters or some call it flush cutters (http://bit.ly/HiclDE), grab the screw head by its sides and twist. Be careful so pliers don't slip and damage something on the logic board. Takes some time and patience but it works.
March 27, 2012 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I love this fixit. Worked great for left fan noise on 2006 MBP. A few suggestions:
Re lubricant: Advise against any oil as it will go everywhere and not stay in the bearing (it evidently works). Advise against WD-40 as this is not really a lubricant, but kerosene and works by dissolving old grease. I used white lithium grease. I like the suggestions of silicone-based grease. The dry lubricants are tempting, but they will not be taken into the pores of what looks to be a brass or bronze fan bearing. Wheel bearing grease would do.
Re disassembly: The case top lifts straight up. The 2 tabs at left front are not bent, but are straight up. The 4 plastic "clips" over the CD drive have a straight-up-and-down action. So even tho the top tends to tip up because the back lifts easier than the front, work the front free before tipping too far. If the tabs bend, straighten to a straight up position before reassembly.
Re wiring connectors: All of these slide to the left except the connector for the ambient light sensor. For the latter, the brown flap lifts from the left edge to release the ribbon cable. It is not really a connector at all. Best tool to slide the connectors with is something small and bluntly tipped, wood or plastic. Not having the classic "Spudger", I cut a strip from plastic spray paint can lid and shaped it with a pocket knife. Also the exact wiring configuration varies with the model of MBP, as my wiring looks like the above, but there is a Fixit in ifixit.com for other models and the wiring is slightly different.
Re screws: 2 of the tiny little Philips head screws are shorter than all the others. Make sure you know where these go. I had to guess.
Thanks again for a great Fixit.
March 30, 2012 at 9:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Awesome! Thanks so much. I've had it apart before to upgrade the HD, so I wasn't too worried. I did have the thought when I had it apart though to go ahead and give the right fan some attention too. The left is now so whisper quite even at max rpm compared to the right, that I wish I would have. So for those of you who have the foresight to read the comments ahead of time, go ahead and do both!
April 5, 2012 at 9:36PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Super! Worked like a charm! (I am on a Macbook from 2008)
Greetings from Germany
April 12, 2012 at 11:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I have a MBP '06 which i take with me to my computer programming class everyday..
but then a lilttle by little.. my left fan started making clicking(?) noises..
at first, it wasn't all that loud
over the course of a little over a month
it just got louder and louder to the point where i couldn't take my laptop to class anymore..
but this worked for me and now my fan is quite once again!
April 20, 2012 at 2:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
btw WD-40 won't work as well as actually lubricant.. i used silicon based mechanical lubricant.
April 26, 2012 at 12:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Would have spent a small forture n too much time without me MBP if I had gone to a repair shop.
Whisper quiet now.
April 30, 2012 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Awesome post. The noise was driving me crazy and the Geniuses at the Apple Store told me it would take days to get the fans in.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
May 2, 2012 at 12:10AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned it, but PLEASE don't use WD-40 on your fans! Use 3-in-1 oil instead. WD-40 was not meant for parts that run at high-speed and fairly constantly.
May 5, 2012 at 8:58AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Great stuff, thanks.
I was in the middle of writing a paper for school when this happened. You safed me a lot of trouble, time and money. Thank you very very much.
May 12, 2012 at 3:53AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
you owe me a new macbook pro
i lubricated the fan with WD40 just like you said and it screwed up my logic board and I had to replace it for $550!!!!
June 1, 2012 at 11:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I'm looking forward to trying this, but only because I read almost all the posts and the majority are positive. (The following post is the ONLY negative I could find) There are also dry alternatives given to lubricate that will quell the fears most of us have of putting liquid anything even near a laptop! Hope I have the same success as the majority of those who have posted here!
June 2, 2012 at 8:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Thanks for the tip! My right fan was making a racket even at 1500rpm and would not go above 2000 at all. This has probably extended the life of my old MBP by a few months.
You do need to be careful though - use too much liquid lubricant (e.g. WD40) and it will splash onto other components and may damage them. Also it is easy to break the keyboard/trackpad ribbon cable. If you do accidentally damage something, look for a broken MBP on eBay (often its the screen that is broken and you can recycle the other parts.)
June 10, 2012 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just wanted to leave a big Thank You - this worked for me on my 15-inch early 2008 MacBook Pro.
Just a few helpful notes...
Once you pop the top off your laptop, you can take some compressed air and fire it into the fan so it spins the fanblades. When I did this, one fan spun silently and continued spinning for a couple seconds after. The OTHER fan made the humming sound and stopped immediately, so I oiled that fan spindle and all was good.
You may not have to remove the T6 screws - I was able to just remove the two Phillips screws of the fan top and then open the top of the fan assembly using the existing tape as a hinge.
A note about using WD40 - I removed the plastic fan portion and sprayed WD40 onto the spindle but of course there was some excess liquid on the interior housing, so I just used a Qtip to soak up the excess, making sure not take any off the spindle.
June 13, 2012 at 3:33PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Yoo dude.. awesome. I'm not sure what that guys with the broken logic board was doing. Maybe he sprayed it directly into the logic board? and maybe a little in super drive too? lol You directions were simple and clear and then common sense filled in the rest of the gaps.
I too did the compressed air in the vent to see which one was making the noise. Again to the OP.. Great job.
June 20, 2012 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Worked perfectly for me! I didn't use any compressed air to clean, but did blow on it lightly, and used a lint free cloth to wipe away dust. Also used a Q-Tip to remove excess WD40 from inside the fan just like the comment posted below. Worked perfectly for me! Thanks for saving me the trip to the Apple Store plus the $100+ that they most likely would have tried to charge me!
June 20, 2012 at 7:21AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Just took apart my '06 MB with my dad - we got to taking part the fan and he refused to let me take it apart any further... :P so we just sprayed a bit of silicon lube into the fan itself. Sitting here typing this up with the fan a good 80% quieter than what it was doing before - thanks for the tips/help!
June 22, 2012 at 7:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM