rMBP 15-inch (Late 2013) creaking chassis fix

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by toneLA2, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. toneLA2 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
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    Beverly Hills, CA
    #1
    Hey all,

    I thought I'd drop a line to help shed some light on the rMBP creaking chassis we sometimes encounter.

    I've had a 'late 2013' presenting severe creaking. When I say severe I'm not joking at all. It was absolutely terrible around the trackpad area, clicking simply upon resting my hands on it. At the time, I didn't bother and returned the unit for another one. I was fortunate enough to get a good screen and a defect free unit.

    I read multiple times that some people simply do not feel comfortable exchanging theirs (within the 14-days) since they fear the screen-lottery.

    A friend of mine got one very similar to the one I exchanged and creaked pretty badly. Picking the laptop up, even by both corners at the same time, resulted in severe clicking noise within. He went to the Genius Bar to get a reset of the bottom plate + screw tightening. Alas, no fix. The 'genius' said it was 'within specs.'

    I decided to give it a go and opened his bottom plate with my pentalobe screwdriver and this is what I found — which makes you wonder whether or not Apple did really open it or simply tightened the screws.

    The battery pack was covered with various sized aluminum residues/bits from the unibody machining. I actually thought this was rather odd knowing how OCD they are about what it looks like inside. Let's not even mention what such bits could do if stuck in a fan.

    The culprit seems to actually be around — where the bottom plate sits. Some aluminum bits where stuck in the rather narrow groove that makes contact with the bottom plate.

    I took a small paint brush to 'clean' the groove and removed all the residues sitting around the battery pack. I also made sure the bottom plate received the same treatment before putting everything back together. Don't forget that screws are different and have to go back in the right holes — do not mix them.

    Rock solid. No click, no creak anymore. It's been almost a month at this point and he told me it's been silent ever since.

    It actually makes sense to me. Since everything is so 'perfectly' adjusted, tolerance for error is rather low. If a very small metal particle gets caught in a groove nearly the size of a hairline, the whole assembly is now off. Also, by being 'off', the little springs around the logic board are more audible since they no longer make contact where they're supposed to on the designated areas of the bottom plate.

    I agree that at $2.5K it certainly shouldn't be my job to fix what the genius couldn't, but since it's a relatively easy thing to do, I'd take that any day of the week over dealing with their sometimes very condescending associates.

    In the end, if your unit exhibits bad creaking, I'm pretty sure it's 'dirty' inside and needs a bit of detailing. Hope this helps!
     
  2. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a

    DHagan4755

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    Jul 18, 2002
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    Massachusetts
    #2
    ^ Now that is some really bad QC on Apple's part. :eek:
     
  3. Xerotech macrumors 6502

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    Jul 22, 2011
    #3
    I'll have to check this out. Thanks for the detailed post!
     
  4. Groovemaster17 macrumors member

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    Aug 7, 2012
  5. toneLA2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Location:
    Beverly Hills, CA
    #5
    Sure thing! Just to be 100% sure — I opened mine earlier today after writing this post since it's brick solid and doesn't squeak at all.

    The bottom plate came off instantly whereas my friend's was kind of 'stuck' in place. I had to use a credit card edge between his case and plate to pry it open once the screws were gone. This makes me think that the metal bits are really enough to slightly bend it out of shape making it grind badly. Mine literally came right off and everything in there was clean — totally different than his.

    Once I screwed everything back together on mine, it remained rock solid.

    Note : I had the higher-end pentalobe drive from iFixit. I heard people stripping screws using some cheap ones with softer tips. Don't go do that obviously! :)

    Hope it helped!
     
  6. fredrikb macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2013
    #6
    Before opening my late 2013 rMBP I'd like to confirm this is what you had problem with. I have a similar problem, although there is no sound from pressing anywhere on the top. But when I for example lift my computer and put pressure on the bottom (specifically the area equivalent to the F3-C-M-F7 "square" on the top) there is a pretty loud sound that sounds like it could be metallic.
     
  7. toneLA2 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Location:
    Beverly Hills, CA
    #7
    My friend's one (the one I 'fixed') was creaking all over. From opening the lid, to lifting it up by one corner, to pressing around the keypad. It sounded like clicks, creaks and squeaks. All of which were obviously metal induced. It was the worst when off and cold. Some seemed to go away with the heat generated during normal use.

    I am quite sure after opening mine that's perfect and doesn't make any sound, that the particles are the source of it all. Give it a go, nothing can happen if you're being careful with the screws and avoid stripping them/mixing them. That's really the only way Apple could tell whether you've tinkered with it or not. Follow a cross pattern to reassemble — start with left corner and screw the opposite corner. Right corner and opposite corner. Left side and opposite side. Do not over-tighten, that's when stuff goes wrong, the screw gets damaged and the driver comes flying scratching the bottom.

    Super easy to do when you take your time.
     
  8. w00t951 macrumors 68000

    w00t951

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    #8
    I used to be all for digging around in my laptops. Due to time constraints, however, I didn't do that with my pre-replacement late 2013 rMBP.

    It was a good thing; Apple decided to give me a new one with minimal hassle (creaking/clicking, backlight bleed). One of the first questions the guy asked was if I had opened my computer.

    They can tell if you've removed the backplate because the screws are tipped with a blue locking finish. If the screws just smoothly unscrew, they have the right to blame any problems on you.

    Just a word of advice from a guy who 100% disassembled his 2011 MBP and builds desktop PCs for fun.
     
  9. toneLA2 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 28, 2014
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    Beverly Hills, CA
    #9
    I've been dealing with Apple for nearly 15 years and had quite a few machines — dealing with geniuses here in the States or overseas in Europe. Never have I heard an associate asking me whether or not I had taken my laptop apart.

    I'm not saying you weren't asked the question, I'm just saying this is a rare occurrence.

    Indeed the screws are dipped in blue Loctite but from what I've seen so far on his unit and mine, it was buttery-smooth to unscrew them — there was no resistance, not like breaking a seal. I'd defy anyone from being able to tell as long as the screws aren't stripped or screw holes scratched.

    Blue-Loctite is also available at almost any hardware store if need be.
     
  10. w00t951 macrumors 68000

    w00t951

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Location:
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    #10
    Well, I suppose as long as you're careful it won't be a problem. But yeah, the screw lock paste I've used before is incredibly viscous - it's meant to be generally used for permanent applications.

    And the Genius probably asked me about opening the computer because it was specifically a case-related problem.
     
  11. Shmanky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #11
    It's amazing that there is no agreement on what causes the creaking. This is the third or fourth explanation I've read. But when I opened my creaking case I didn't see any debris around the battery.
     
  12. fredrikb macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2013
    #12
    I opened my rMBP to see if I could get rid of the sound. It turns out the small flexible pegs that keep the bottom from touching the electronics make the sound when they are compressed.

    There's nothing to do about it, I just think Apple could have designed them in a way that doesn't make them sound.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Shmanky macrumors regular

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    Jul 26, 2005
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    Toronto
    #13
    Mine didn't make the same crunching noise when I pressed down on those springs with my finger. But it could be the source of the noise. Somehow we're not all in agreement about what causes the noise yet.
     
  14. shadow82x macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    #14
    I went to the apple store today to ask about the creaking I get on the chassis. Specifically, I get some creaking around the center of the plate. (Ends seem fine along with the trackpad.) He insisted this was completely normal for a macbook pro's with retina to be doing this. He opened it up regardless and took a look and showed me how it was the springs (as posted by fredrikb) causing it. Although I don't think this is an issue with all of them oddly, so I'm not taking his word 100%. I went through a few replacements, all of which seemed to be a bit creaky but some worse than others.

    I could of returned this device since I'm within the return policy, but I have one of the better screens out of my trail and error. (Little backlight bleed, yellowing, and no dead pixels.)
     
  15. Shmanky macrumors regular

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    Jul 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #15
    I've had both the mid-2012 and the late-2013 Retina MacBook Pro. The mid-2012 creaked a lot and the late-2013 creaks very little. I think they all creak but they differ in the amount of creaking. The Genius Bar is hopeless. I brought in my mid-2012 twice for creaking and they only reduced the creaking but didn't eliminate it. But I was not told that the creaking was normal; they told me to come back if it continues creaking. I think anyone with noticeable creaking with 14 days needs to return it exchange it; and anyone with bothersome creaking outside 14 days needs to buy a pentalobe screwdriver and carefully poke around the insides without stripping the screws or putting the wrong screws in the wrong holes like I did. Or, better yet, buy a PC and not deal with this )(*$#()*$)(@#$*#()@$*#()$*#)(*#$@)(
     
  16. shadow82x macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2012
    #16
    I'm thinking of trying another apple store..My creaking isn't awfully terrible though. The ends seem fine on the bottom plate, its only the center that seems to flex if I apply pressure to it and creak. Can anyone else confirm thats a sweet spot for it to creak? I do have the pentalobe screw driver and opened it up, I'm pretty sure its the spring itself that causes the creakiness because only two of the 7 or so make a creakiness when I press down with my finger. Wonder if oil could fix it or some other quick remedy.

    ----------

    I just made a video of it actually - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLqx6s_wgV8

    Surely this isn't normal.. -.-
     
  17. Jack Sun macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    #17
    I posted a fix for this a while back that addresses multiple issues:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1694494&highlight=creaking+fix

    The squeaky "column springs" that someone posted a picture of just need a little oil (preferably high quality machine oil, and just a speck). Mine were also VERY dry and frictiony.

    I suspect a lot of the problem is related to the backplate screws and backplate seating--both the screw tightness and the fact that they and backplate are metal on metal with the metal screw holders. The OP's unscrewing/removing/reseating/rescrewing the backplate itself probably fixed the problem more than removing metal bits, imo...
     

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