Tentative assertion: classic macbook pro fans will fail

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by unagimiyagi, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. unagimiyagi macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    I've had four of them. Is this a design flaw?
    After ~ 6 months but definitely 1 year (based on the age of each machine that I bought), esp. the right fan will start to fail.

    I can't define fail as stop spinning, but there will be a buzz-saw, grinding like the blades are hitting something, or a sound that resembles an approaching airplane (think WWII diving airplanes) that will continue to grow. It is audible at around 3000 rpm, and when you tilt the laptop at 45 degrees it seems worse. It's not a healthy sound. To hear it the best, run your fans at 6000 rpm and then slow them down to 2000 rpm. At 2000 rpm the fans continue to be inaudible. Unfortunately, it is this audible/inaudible combo that seems to make the problem more annoying b/c I can clearly hear the contrasts. If it was always there, I might be able to tune it out.

    This is not an isolated complaint about the classic mbp, but I've had so many of them over the last few years and all of them eventually exhibit this behavior. Every time I have taken it into Apple (about 3 different classic mbps) they have replaced the fan and said it was faulty. Whether they just wanted to make me happy or not is unknown, but a new fan did seem to help...until a few months later.

    I have never noticed this problem in my other laptop brands.

    I have taken apart the right fan and put some wd-40 on the shaft as others have suggested, and the sound still exists. It might be marginally improved, however.

    Do the unibodies exhibit this behavior and has this been a common complaint? I have seen the fans in the new unibodies and they are different than the ones in the classic mbp.
  2. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Mine is 2.5 years old and I haven't heard any strange noises from the fans. No sudden crashes/reboots due to overheating either. I also think we would have heard a lot more about it by now if it was a widespread issue.
  3. noodle654 macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2005
    Never Ender
    1.5 years here and still going strong. Fans are quiet and when they are running high they sound alright to me.
  4. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
    As a stop gap, could you use software to manually control the fans a bit to minimise the noise a little?
  5. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000


    Nov 14, 2008
    mine are quiet. I like how some put their experiences as fact. I still think people that have the same thing replaced multiple times are doing something wrong. As in user error.
  6. smartalic34 macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2006
    my sister and I both have 3 year old classic MBPs, and neither of us has had ANY fan issues. you may have had bad luck or run your fans at a high RPM too often, but no issues here at the 3 year mark
  7. RITZFit macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2007
    In my Corner
    same here, and I regularly use mine where the fans are throttled to 4k+
  8. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    If it's just the fans being replaced, then maybe something else in the computer is causing them to fail.

    I'm aware that some people use third-party software to control the fans (I think it's called SMC Fan Control). I've never used any such software and it'll be interesting to hear whether the OP has.
  9. sparkie7 macrumors 68010


    Oct 17, 2008
    WT? I have a 5 y/o 15" PB and a 4 y/o 17 PB and still going strong. Well ok, the 17" HD failed once and the 15" had the dreaded white spots problem - both fixed with Apple care, but the fans are still like the day they come off the factory line.

    Unless of course the classic MBP is of a lesser build. My cMBP 17" is 9 months young and no probs so far. Touch wood. Metal, ice, earth and air! :D
  10. BittenApple macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2008
    My right fan on my MBP has have trouble in the past. I can describe as a grinding sound, especially at lower RPMs.
  11. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Mine are still OK after a year.

    Don't use WD-40 on the bearings!! It will dissolve any factory lubricant and once the most volatile solvents evaporate, it leaves very little lubricant behind. A light oil lubricant with Teflon (PTFE) will work much better. Tri-flow should work well (I think they sell it at Home Depot, but I know most bike shops sell it), or if you can't find that, Radioshack sells a precision oiler that should work too.


    Unfortunately, I've found that once a fan starts making noise, oiling it will only delay its death a little.
  12. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
    3 years old, be using Fan Control to have it on full power. I do open and clean the fans once a year though.

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