Creaking Air Fix -- Not For Everyone

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by crspechicn, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. crspechicn macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    I had dealt with the creaking of my 2011 13" MBA for a few weeks, brought it in twice and had the Geniuses tighten the pentalobe screws and also tightened them myself. The creaking would get slightly better -- but then return with a vengeance.

    I decided to take it upon myself to fix the issue. The creaking is a result of motion of the base plate relative to the screw heads (and upper case) as the body is stressed. Someone had mentioned in another thread the word "monocoque" -- which is exactly what the MBA is. The base plate is an integral part of the body's rigidity.

    I decided to try and find some new screws that I could at least tighten without stripping, perhaps some hex or phillips heads. I settled on some stainless M2x0.4mm flat head screws. As it turns out -- the flat head was a good choice, unknowingly.

    The screws are McMaster-Carr p/n 91801A105.

    The screws themselves are phillips head, a few mm in length (which were subsequently filed to length and the threads chased with a M2 die). After installing them -- the creaking is completely gone, and the body feels much more rigid.

    The flat head screws are sort of a "wedge" that self-centers in the hole in the baseplate, and also keeps the plate from shifting relative to the screws.

    There are a couple of issues, however. First, the screw heads are slightly wider than the recesses in the base plate so the heads don't sit entirely flush with the body. Its not really that noticeable, but you can tell there is a screw head there as opposed to the smooth feel of the stock screws. The second thing is the screws themselves -- perhaps Apple designed the body to flex, and by using these screws I've removed that ability and who knows what the consequences are. Either way -- the creaking is gone and the body feels much more rigid.

    I love keeping Apple products stock -- I don't use cases at all on any of the products from them that I own. In this case though, I decided the deviation from stock was worth the benefit of no creaking when I am typing on my lap. To each his (or her) own.

    Attached Files:

  2. minnus macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011
    Very nice - I would be interested I knowing if the fix is permanent, since as you have noted, the problem always returned for the stock screws. How long has it been since you installed the new screws?
  3. crspechicn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    It's been just over a week, and no creaking yet. I've been checking the screws, they haven't loosened either. I was going to add some loctite but not if I didn't need to.
  4. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011
    I would not use Red Loctite for it is considered permanent. But I use Blue Loctite on any of my Motorcycle bolts that loosen the first time, also on my seat and saddlebags frame which I take on and off on occasion. Also use it very sparingly, just a drop on the thread.

    But for myself, I would not use Loctite on any hardware for the MBA, that's just me. It will make a gummy mess of the internal threads.
  5. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Didn't you just void your warranty?

    I mean they will know you opened the unit and can blame you for any mishap now.
  6. crspechicn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
  7. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    I'm amazed at those who actually believe they know better than Apples highly skilled engineers.

    The MBA comes with a great warranty & terrific customer service. Why one would not use it, baffles me.

    Not only have you voided the warranty you've ruined a laptop. This is not an off road vehicle that's going to rattle the screws loose. Nor are they supposed to be tightened to extremes. I've never heard of such nonsense.

    If it creaks one simply returns it.

    I've got three new MBA's in my family and they're beautifully built and structurally sound.
  8. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I notice my wife's creaking every time I pick it up. But, its never bothered me to the point where I needed to do anything about it. Certainly, my 15" MBP is more sturdy, but its a heck of a lot bigger too.
  9. crspechicn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    Note the thread title -- Not For Everyone.

    The first MBA I had Apple took back because I brought it it because it creaked. They put an orange sticker on it and said that meant it was going back to Apple's engineers to have then take a look at it.

    I never stated I know more than Apple's engineers -- I don't -- but my laptop had a problem that bothered me so I fixed it.

    I returned the second MBA I had because I wanted more storage space -- but that one creaked too. I had tried the "returning" avenue, but that wasn't fixing the problem.

    BTW the original screws have loctite on them, but it's not because they're in an off road vehicle, they can (and certainly do) fall out with enough motion of the body.

    Thanks for the comments.
  10. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    You should have taken the screws to apple to install...I believe Apple can claim your warranty void. Its not likely they will...but that just depends on the nature of the future problem (if any).
  11. crspechicn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    I have always wondered about that... obviously I won't be taking it in for warranty repair with these screws installed. I do have (two sets) of the original pentalobe screws and the driver, so I figured I'd just install the original screws when I went in if I ever had to.
  12. richpjr macrumors 68030


    May 9, 2006
    Perhaps you missed the part where he brought it in twice already and they didn't fix it?
  13. macneubie macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2011
    Not forgetting the travel time wasted back and forth just to get the thing fixed.
  14. baaadboy macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    Mine creaks too. It actually creaks every other time I pick it up.
    Unfortunately it is going back to apple, for other reasons.
    MBA is not for me, the color gamut was really off.
    I will stick with MBP 15, for now.
  15. ihonda macrumors 68000

    Sep 17, 2009
    mine creaks in the bottom right corner. what exactly is causing the creaking issue.
  16. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    You said you tightened the stock screws .... what size are they?

  17. yetieater macrumors regular

    May 6, 2007
    Stock screws are pentalobular design.

    Facepalm for everyone who is claiming that this guy should have taken the hardware to Apple for a replacement. Thanks for driving up their cost of doing business and crapping on my shares.

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