Worrysome Wii noise
April 8, 2008 12:58 PM   Subscribe

My Wii makes a lot of noise when it plays a game, whether upright or on its side. I think it's the motor running. My boyfriend says it's because I left it on all night a few times about a year ago (it's about a year and a half old) and now I need to get the drive fixed before it breaks. Is he right? If so, how do I get it fixed? Is there anything I can do to fix it on my own?
posted by easy_being_green to Technology (19 answers total)
I've left mine on for weeks on end, no issues. It does make motor noises when playing games, accessing different areas of the DVD.
posted by mattdini at 1:04 PM on April 8, 2008

Out of curiosity, has it started making more noise recently? Particularly when you play Smash Brothers?

If so, that is (according to many anecdotal reports) totally normal. Smash Brothers is a dual-layer disc, and this seems to result in noisy drive operation.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Haven't tried Smash Bros on my Wii, but I've been playing a lot of Mario Galaxy lately. Is that they same kind of disc?
posted by easy_being_green at 1:10 PM on April 8, 2008

Leaving it on all night a few times would not cause a drive to fail a year later. Hardware can fail after lots of use, though, so it could be that it's failing. I don't know if there's any way to fix that without sending it in.

Anecdotal: we play Smash Brothers and the operation is definitely noisier. We haven't noticed excessive noise when playing other games, including Mario Galaxy.
posted by bedhead at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2008

If it's only while you're playing a game, it could well be that the laser is struggling to read the disc and it could be on its way out. It's not because you left it on a few times overnight a year ago.

You could look through here and see if anybody has reported a similar problem, and if there's anything you can or should do about it.

Chances are, though, that it's what others have mentioned, it's struggling to read dual-layer discs. Or it could be about to die. Frankly, the amount of time and energy it's going to take to get it fixed if it does die might not be worth it. I'd be sure to turn it off regularly, not overuse it, enjoy it, and if it dies -- get a new one.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:34 PM on April 8, 2008

Consumer devices are designed to be left on 24/7. They dont need to be unplugged or shut off during certain periods. That's 100% voodoo bullshit. At best they might require reboots from time to time. Your boyfriend doesnt know what he's talking about and he's making you feel unnecessarily guilty about something that isnt your fault.

If your device is unusually loud it might be failing. Considering your Wii is most likely on warranty you should call Nintendo and talk to them about it. They may just send you a replacement before total failure.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:48 PM on April 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

My boyfriend says it's because I left it on all night a few times about a year ago...

Your boyfriend is wrong about this.

...and now I need to get the drive fixed before it breaks.

The wii only has two spinning parts: the cooling fan(s) and the tray drive. So pull the disc out of the tray; is the noise still there? If no, then it's noise from the tray or the disc, and if yes, then it's a cooling fan.

If it's the tray or the disc, throw another disc in; is the sound the same? If yes, it's the tray drive, and if no, it's the disc.

Once you've done these trivial steps, you will be better equipped to talk to the warranty folks about getting a repair.
posted by davejay at 2:12 PM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hardly use my Wii at all, and I've noticed that when playing certain disks, it can be very loud. I attribute this to the small size (little space for sound dampening materials). I'm entirely certain that my drive is not going, and unless you are seeing issues in your games (lockups, long pauses at non-load screens, etc) the odds are good that yours isn't failing either.

I really wouldn't worry too much about it. If you are really concerned, see if any of your friends have a Wii that they could bring over so that you could compare the relative noises of the machines when running the same games while in the same room.
posted by quin at 2:59 PM on April 8, 2008

I'm not sure why you would get the drive fixed before it breaks. It's a wii, not a website. Let it (eventually) break then get it fixed or replaced.
posted by chairface at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2008

If you do get it repaired, be sure to coordinate with Nintendo so that any Virtual Console or (upcoming) WiiWare downloads are kept with your Wii. If you just swap out a dead Wii for a live one then you'll lose your downloaded content and anything not saved to a SD card.

However, I'll agree with everyone who has said it's probably not a big issue at this point. Nintendo will not preemptively repair a Wii, but they are fantastic with customer service once there is an actual hardware problem.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:18 PM on April 8, 2008

In addition to what others have said, the wii has a power-save mode that should spin down the drive etc when left idle on the dashboard - leaving it on overnight is not significantly different than leaving it in it's normal sleep mode.

It does have a fair bit of seek noise normally (the chuk-chuuuuk-chuk when loading data from the DVD) but the spin noise is pretty low, i.e. the low-pitched constant whine. If the whine has got a lot louder, there is a chance the bearings are going, DVD drives don't last forever. Wait for it to fail, then get nintendo to repair it if needed.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2008

Haven't tried Smash Bros on my Wii, but I've been playing a lot of Mario Galaxy lately. Is that they same kind of disc?

No. Super Mario Galaxy was released on a 4.2GB Single Layer DVD, or in industry terms, DVD5 Standard. Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the first Wii release to come on a 9.6GB Double Layer DVD, known as DVD9.

Many Wii DVD drives have turned out not to be up to the task of playing the double-layered disc, and Nintendo has even offered to replace drives free of charge if they've been in homes with cigarette smoke and need some rehabilitation.

The Wii DVD drive typically runs at 2x, 4x, or 6x depending on what the system determines necessary. The faster it runs, the louder it runs. Some Wii mod chips have the ability to tune the maximum drive speed up and down, thus increasing/reducing noise.

Leaving your Wii on overnight, or for weeks or months at a time, should not hurt it. It has sufficient internal cooling to deal with this sort of use. Some early Wiis were a little less heat-tolerant than they should have been, and the video chip was known to burn out in them. This resulted in artifacting and permanent video glitches in the effected units. Nintendo covers this under warranty, but you would surely know if you were seeing this problem.

I chip Wiis. I've seen the insides of oodles of 'em.

My advice:

1. Leave it on as much as you want.
2. Consider the idea that it's been making this noise all along, you noticed it on a day that was particularly quiet otherwise, and it's been confirmation bias from then until now.
3. Consider the idea that you've been playing a game/games that are particularly intense on DVD drive access, and this would produce more noise than a less drive-intesive game, and far more noise than a Virtual Console game, as they don't use a disc at all.
4. If you're sure that it really is making more noise than it used to, stress that sucker. Play it lots and lots until it fails. Better that it fails now, than later outside of warranty. (You may still be within warranty, especially if you sent in your registration card.) Not a bad idea to check on your warranty status first.
5. If all the noise really bugs you, consider having the system chipped. Yours is an older one, and it should be easier/cheaper to do than most. The process can be intricate, so I still recommend that you have someone chip it for you if you're not extremely comfortable with a soldering iron and very small SMT pads.

posted by SlyBevel at 6:59 PM on April 8, 2008

One more thing: If your DVD drive does fail, you don't have to replace the whole Wii. New Wii DVD drives can be purchased from Wii hardware enthusiast sites for much less than the cost of a new system.

The installation of a new drive isn't nearly as advanced as chipping a Wii, though it would require a special tri-wing screwdriver.

If you do replace just the drive and not the entire Wii, then you save yourself the trouble of losing/having to redownload all of your games and channels. And WiiWare, when it comes out in your region.
posted by SlyBevel at 7:09 PM on April 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you! Great advice from everyone.
posted by easy_being_green at 10:02 PM on April 8, 2008

I had a lot of disc errors and had to replace my drive. Luckily, my parents live in Toronto and the repair center isn't too far from their house. Walk in service took an hour.

Now, SSBB plays and hardly makes any noise.

If you've sent in your registration card (or registered online), I believe the warranty is 15 months. If you're within that, get it fixed as a precautionary. The only repair center I know of in the US is Syracuse, and I believe the whole process to get it back to you takes less than a week.

Save your Miis and your data on an SD card or your Wii-mote, just in case. It shouldn't be lost, but you never know.
posted by smersh at 10:23 PM on April 8, 2008

Iam thinking its the cooling fan, dust might have built up and that could lead to fan struggling to move. Try getting a $5 compressed air and use it on the vents.

Could possibly help out?
posted by radsqd at 7:44 AM on April 9, 2008

A similar thing happened to our Wii (I bought it the day they came out). to me it sounded like the DVD drive making a loud noise (similar to when you burn an CD at 48X on your computer) but it happened constantly. This was with any game we played.

I ended up calling Nintendo () and speaking with someone. You'll likely spend more time navigating the voice menu than you will waiting on hold to talk to a person. They said that that loud a noise wasn't normal. My system wasn't under warranty anymore so I had to pay $60 to get the thing replaced. Since it turns out I live about 2 blocks away from the Nintendo Customer Service center in Redmond, WA, I was able to get this fixed the next day.

If your console is still under warranty, just call them, right now*. It won't be a huge time sink and most likely they'll replace it a no charge. You'll have to re-download your down loadable content and re sync your wii-motes and your friend code will change. They copy saved games over. It's not a painful process.

If you live in or arround Seattle, WA you are in even more luck.
* When my console first started making noise it was actually under warranty but I didn't call them because I thought it would be a big waste of time. It isn't. My mistake cost me $60. Please call them today.
posted by mge at 10:08 PM on April 9, 2008

I forgot to insert the 1-800 number for Nintendo. It is: 1-800-255-3700. Also it looks like you aren't near Redmond, WA so you'll likely have to ship it to them. I believe they will take care of this for you.
posted by mge at 10:13 PM on April 9, 2008

You'll have to re-download your down loadable content and re sync your wii-motes and your friend code will change.

MGE: If you really had to do all that, then you didn't get a new DVD drive, you got a whole new Wii. The drives are dumb components; they don't know anything about you, or your Wii Shopping account, or your Wii's onboard Flash ROM.

Swapping the DVD drive alone leaves everything downloaded, all settings, friend codes, Miis, etc... intact. Unless they screwed up and wiped your Wii's memory. Which I guess is possible, but unlikely. I think you got your Wii replaced, not the drive.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:32 PM on April 10, 2008

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