How to Fix Wii Disk Read Errors

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Published by Shawn Sines 8 years ago , last updated 2 months ago

Nintendo’s Wii game console may not have the repair problems that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s PS3 have, but over time the Wii will begin to experience disk read errors due to a basic design issue. If your Wii is failing to read disks, this how to offers a few possible solutions as well as step by step instructions for fixing Wii disk read errors.

Difficulty: Basic to Intermediate
Tools:

  • A microfiber cleaning cloth
  • A Tri-wing screwdriver Size 3 (don’t try and use a flathead) – This NEEDS to have a long shaft. There is a part of the Wii with recessed screws.
  • A mini Phillips screwdriver
  •  A small plate or container ( to hold the screws in )
  • A couple pieces of tape to keep track of what screws belong to part of the Wii
  • Some water (not a cleaning solution)
  • Wii lens cleaner kit

Time to Install: 5-30 minutes


Table of Contents

  • Step 1: Preparations
  • Step 2: Clean Your Game Disk
  • Step 3: Clean out the Nintendo Using Air
  • Step 4: Fixing the Wii Disk Drive
  • Step 4a: Disassemble Your Wii
  • Step 4b: Adjusting the Disk Retention Clip
  • Step 4c: Reassembling Your Wii
  • Closing

Official Disclaimer:
Part of this how to will explain how to disassemble and adjust an internal part of the Nintendo Wii’s disk drive. If you are currently under warranty from Nintendo you absolutely SHOULD NOT attempt this procedure. Send your Wii back to Nintendo for warranty repair. If your warranty is expired, and you are comfortable working with electronics, you might want to try this process.  Please note that you are doing so at your own risk.

Step 1: Preparations
Identifying the problem should be the first step before attempting to fix a Wii disk read error.  The most common reasons the Wii won’t read a game disk are:

  • Your Game Disk is scratched or dirty
  • Your Wii Disk Drive has a mechanical problem
  • You inserted your game disk improperly (i.e. upside down)

The first two most common issues are relatively easy to fix. We’ll talk you through the cleaning process next but first you should make sure your Wii is positioned right-side up or if it is standing, with the feet down. This will eliminate the occasional “Duh!” Moment when you realize you have the disk facing the wrong way.

Always set your Wii so that when inserting disks the printed side is up or facing to the right.

If you’ve noticed that your Wii is making a rubbing or rattling sound when you insert a game disk, you should head on down to Step 4: Fixing the Wii Disk Drive. You most likely have a problem with the retention clip on your Wii disk drive.

Step 2: Clean Your Game Disk
Game Disks often get the worst treatment. Between being set out face down during rapid-fire game sessions and constant touching and handling by oily fingers, discs can get pretty filthy. Because of this, it is important that when you find a dirty disk you clean it appropriately. Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to clean discs. Most game disks will get scratched and smudged over time, so regular and careful cleaning can maintain the life of your investment.

Properly cleaning any video game disc comes down to a fairly simple process but first here is a list of things NOT to do:

  • Don’t apply water directly to the game disk when cleaning.
  • Don’t wipe the disk surface in a circular pattern when cleaning.
  • Don’t use those “cleaning machines” to resurface or clean a disk – these do damage to the protective surface of the disk and rarely work effectively.
  • Don’t use a paper towel or tissue – these often leave remnants on the disk and can actually scratch the surface while you wipe.

With those rules out of the way, here is the proper way to clean a game disk:

  1. Dampen a part of your cleaning cloth with some water. Make sure you have either a dry microfiber cloth or dry part of the dampened cloth handy.
  2. Using the damp part of the microfiber cloth, wipe from the center of the disk out in a direct line from the inside rim to the outer rim.
  3. Using the dry cloth, repeat the cleaning steps to wipe any moisture off the disk.
  4. Let the disk air dry for a minute or two before trying to insert it into the Wii.
  5.  Insert the disk into the Wii and attempt to play.

If the game disk fails to read you may need to clean the Wii’s optical laser using Nintendo’s licensed lens cleaner.

Step 3: Clean out the Nintendo Wii Using Air
Over time, dust and dirt are transferred into the slot of your Nintendo Wii thanks to constantly changing game disks. Aside from the lens cleaning solution I mentioned above, a good blast of compressed air can help resurrect some Wii disk drives. You can buy canned air at most computer supply places. Simply unplug the Wii, blast the inside of the Wii with some pressurized air and let the cold air dry out a bit before trying to use it again.

Step 4: Fixing the Wii Disk Drive
The most difficult approach to fixing the Wii disk read error is when you have to take apart the console and adjust the disk drive itself. The Wii disk drive, like most moving mechanical devices, wears over time. Gamers commonly report that the system makes rubbing or scraping sounds when the disk spins up to reading speed.  This is most common among users who make the mistake of always leaving a game disk inserted in the drive of the Wii.

This rubbing sound comes from a metal piece inside the disk drive that sags a bit over time, causing it to contact the top of the Wii game disks. This contact can cause a number of issues, including the disk read error.  It impedes the drives ability to spin the game disk at the right number of revolutions per second and may even cause damage to your discs if it progresses far enough.

Luckily, there is a fairly low-tech solution gamers can try before sending the unit into Nintendo for an expensive replacement repair – opening up the Wii itself and “bending” the metal retainer up to stop this contact.

Step 4a: Disassemble Your Wii

Step 1 –  Remove the Battery

  1. Position the Wii on its side with the fan facing up toward you.
  2. You will see a single screw. Remove the screw and pull the battery tray out

Step 2 – Remove the 5 screws with plastic covers
When you removed the battery you revealed a screw. There are four more hidden underneath plastic stickers and rubber feet.

  1. Peel up the plastic stickers with a razor and pull it away with a tweezers.
  2. Remove the screws ( You can put the 5 screws to a single piece of scotch tape to keep them organized or just put them in your container. )
    • The black screw is on the top left. The two longer screws are located on the bottom, and the shorter ones are on the top.
    • This is important to remember because you need to put the screws in the correct holes when reassembling the unit.

Step 3. Remove the Rubber Feet and removing screws
Position the Wii flat on its top (so the memory slot is nearest the side facing you from the front) There are 2 rubber feet on top and 2 plastic stickers on the bottom that you need to remove. (Do not remove the rubber feet on the bottom – it is not necessary to disassemble the unit.)

  1. Remove the screws and fix them to a second piece of tape or put them in the container to keep them organized
    • The two black screws go into the faceplate/bottom and the two silver ones go into the top/recessed holes.

Step 4. Remove the GameCube port covers and hidden screws
One side of the Wii houses the ports for the Gamecube accessories. The covers to this section will flip open and easily detach.  There is a sticker on the inside depicting how to remove the covers. They snap off with light pressure.

  1. Remove the covers.
  2. Remove the 3 black screws and attach them to another piece of tape.
    • The screw closest the front/face of the Wii is the longest of the 3 screws.

Step 5. Remove the faceplate
Position the Wii with the face upwards with the dvd tray on the bottom.

  1. Flip the Wii face up and away from you.
  2. Find the thin red and black wire connecting the faceplate to the body of the console.
  3. Use a flathead or tweezers to disconnect the connector from the socket.
  4. Set aside the faceplate.

Step 6. Remove the GameCube black cover
The black covering should easily lift out now.

  1. Remove 4 screws and attach them to another piece of tape or drop them into the container and set them aside. Two of the screws are tri-wing and two screws are Phillips.

You should now be able to open up the Wii clamshell and see the top of the Wii disk drive. You can break down the console further but that is not necessary in order to adjust the disk retention clip.

Step 4b:  Adjusting the Disk Retention Clip
You can work on the Wii while the top is removed, and it is actually a good idea to test your adjustments before reassembling the console. Be very careful while the system is open and exposed. To make sure the disk retention clip is the source of your noise and disk read errors, you should insert a Wii game disk. The noise of the disk rubbing against the metal retention clip should be clear.

To adjust the retention clip you need to gently bend the metal up to reduce the amount of contact the clip makes with the spinning media. Eject the disk before making this adjustment just to be safe. If you don’t do this you might slip and gouge the top of your game disk, causing it not to read again.

Using a small flathead or Phillips screwdriver, simply pry the metal clip pictured above up slightly. Test the adjustment by re-inserting the game disk. Repeat this process, adjusting the metal clip on both sides of the unit until there is no rubbing or scraping sound and the drive spins the disk without contact.

Once you make sure the clip is no longer impeding the disk spin, you can begin the process or reassembling your Wii.

Step 4c: Reassembling Your Wii
Reverse the process outlined above to reassemble your Wii console. Once you have the unit back together, be sure to play one or more of the games you were experiencing the disk read error with for an hour or two, allowing the console to get up to speed and normal operating heat levels. If the disk read error occurs make sure the game disk is clean and possibly consider repeating the process if you hear the rubbing noise again.

Do not leave disks inside your Wii disk drive when you are not playing. If none of these steps correct your problem, you may have a bad unit. Call Nintendo to arrange to have the unit repaired.

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