Giving my MacBook a Lube and Oil Change

A few days ago, my trusty 3.5 year old MacBook Pro started making some strange sounds. It was just a little rattling at first, then it got louder. And louder. And louder until it sounded like this:

It was impossible to concentrate or watch a video on it with all the buzzing and vibration. At work the next day I exiled myself to a conference room all day, partly embarrassed by the noise and partly to save my coworkers’ sanity.

I installed iStat Menus (a great little utility, by the way) to see what my fans were doing and clearly the left one – where the noise was coming from – was not doing well. When the right one was running at 3000 rpm, the left one was barely around 1000 rpm.

Not only was this noise annoying, but the left fan wasn’t doing its job, making it possible for my computer to overheat.

Luckily, I’m not the first person to have this problem. I found a nice blog post with instructions on how to take apart the computer, get to the fan, take it apart and lubricate it with some WD-40. I cleaned the right one too while I was in there in case it has problems in the future. I also used some compressed air to clean out all the accumulated dust in there. The whole process took me a little over an hour.

Magically, it worked. When I booted up again, my Mac was whisper quiet – quieter than I can ever remember it being. iStat menus reported that the fans were running at the same speed again.

Even better, the lubrication and dusting allows the fans to do their job better which means my computer is running cooler and the battery is lasting longer since its spending less time whirring fans around.

I can even watch YouTube videos without my computer sounding like it’s getting ready for takeoff.

You can buy replacement fans for your MacBook, but they’re $50 and take almost as much work to install as just cleaning your noisy ones.
I highly recommend giving your Mac an occasional lube and oil change. It makes a big difference!

My next challenge is to perform surgery on my wife’s MacBook with its sticky mouse button. I suspect there will be some interesting bits of food and who-knows-what in there to find.

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