Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wii Overheating and Powering Off due to Stuck Fan

The past few weeks, my family has been having a problem with our Nintendo Wii game system at home: After being on and used to play games for an hour or two, the Wii would just shut itself off without warning.  The outer case of the Wii would be hot to the touch after the shut-off.  The obvious diagnosis was that the Wii was overheating, and powering itself off as a safety measure to avoid damaging the processor or other internal components due to the very high temperature.  A Nintendo customer service article on the Wii provides support for this: "The system will shut down if it cannot vent properly to prevent overheating."

After the self-shutoff, the power light of the Wii on the front of its case would be off (not red or yellow, as is normally the case when the Wii is plugged in but powered off).  After the Wii had a few minutes to cool down while powered off, we could get it to power on again by removing and then re-plugging the power cord, but this was obviously only a temporary workaround, since it did nothing to address the root cause of the overheating.

The vents on the back and bottom of the Wii appeared to be clear -- not clogged with dust or otherwise blocked.  However, I couldn't feel any air movement at all when putting my fingers near the vent at the back of the Wii while it was running.  My suspicion was that Wii's internal fan might be jammed with built-up dust, or not running properly for some other reason.  I couldn't determine whether or not this was the case by trying to peer through the vents in the back of the Wii, though.

Reading further on the nintendo.com support site, Nintendo does offer an official repair service, but my Wii (according to the site, after entering my Wii's serial number) is out of warranty; Nintendo wanted US $75 to cover shipping and repair of the out-of-warranty Wii.  I wasn't terribly excited about the prospect of paying such a steep fee to have my not-yet-2-year-old Wii repaired.

I searched around some more, and came across a great article, including pictures, on how to disassemble a Wii, by Ken Hanscom.  Armed with this (thanks Ken!), and with the knowledge that my Wii was out of warranty anyway and therefore there was no warranty to be voided, I decided to set about disassembling my own Wii to be able to get at the fan, and try to diagnose and fix the problem myself.

Tri-wing screwI did need to pick up one additional tool before starting the disassembly -- a "tri-wing" screwdriver, which previously I'd never heard of before.  The Wii and some other consumer electronics devices use tri-wing screws (shown at right) apparently as an attempted security measure to prevent customers from removing the screws and taking apart the devices, as most people don't own one of these screwdrivers, and most hardware stores don't carry them.  However, I was able to pick up a tri-wing screwdriver easily on eBay (searching on tri wing wii) for a grand total of $1.88 including shipping -- almost certainly my most inexpensive online purchase ever that involved something being shipped to me!

Following Ken's instructions, I was able to get the Wii disassembled without too much trouble.  I did run into a couple of problems along the way, though.  First, my micro-size Philips-head screwdriver was having problems getting a grip on the very first set of screws, on the outer Gamecube controller panel of the Wii; however, I ended up being able to use the flathead end of my micro-screwdriver to get those out.

I also ran into a problem with the very last screw to be removed, one of the two tri-wing screws on the bottom of the Wii, in the front panel.  The screw was pretty well stuck in its socket, and I unfortunately managed to strip the screw head using the tri-wing screwdriver, such that I wasn't able to get a grip on the screw with any of my screwdrivers (or with my needle-nose pliers).  Finally, though, as I took a break to put my son Eli to bed, my wife Missy took a turn with the project, and discovered that the casing of the Wii would come apart without actually having to remove that particular screw.  So we were able to complete the disassembly without ever actually getting that screw out.

Wii_parts_bagAs I went along, I ended up putting the screws from each step of the process with their own small plastic bag, to avoid any possibility of getting them confused with one another when I went to reassemble the Wii later.  I also labeled each bag with instructions on where each screw in the bag came from.  This did turn out to make it easy to get the Wii back together at the end of the project.

Finally, the Wii was opened up!  A front/side view:

Wii_naked_front_side

A rear view:

 Wii_naked_rear

The Wii's internal fan is visible at the bottom of the latter image.  The fan actually turned out to be very clean -- no visible built-up dust or grime at all.  However, when I tried turning the fan blade with my finger, the fan was "stuck"; it wouldn't move at all.  When I applied a bit more pressure, though, I could feel the fan suddenly become unstuck, and from that point on, it turned very freely -- even just blowing on the fan would get it spinning easily.

I'm not sure how the fan had gotten stuck in the first place, but apparently, the stuck fan had been the problem!  I tested the Wii by putting the cover back on (although not putting all the screws back in just yet), powering it back up, and playing Rock Band 2 with Missy for about an hour; at the end of our session, the Wii outer cover was still cool to the touch.  (Previously, when the Wii was experiencing the overheating issue, playing for any length of time over a few minutes would cause the Wii's cover to become at least warm to the touch, if not hot.)  We were also to feel some slight air movement at the vent at the back of the Wii while it was on, and we could, listening closely, hear the fan spinning.

I'll certainly keep an eye on the Wii's behavior over the coming days and weeks, but for now, the problem appears to be solved -- and without needing to send the Wii off for repairs for several days/weeks, or pay $75 to Nintendo!  I even managed to learn a few things, and pick up a cool new tool (the tri-wing screwdriver), in the process.

If you have an out-of-warranty Wii that you suspect of having a fan problem similar to the one I've described in this post, I would suggest, as a first step before you consider disassembling it, that you power off the Wii, unplug it, and then use a very narrow screwdriver or similarly-shaped tool to reach through the vent at the back of the Wii and check, by gentle touch using your tool, whether the fan appears to be "stuck" as mine was; and if so, if you are able dislodge it by means of applying gentle pressure.  It would be an easy troubleshooting measure to try, before going to the time and effort of disassembling the Wii.

81 comments:

  1. I have been having the same problem with my wii (also out of warranty!) and i was about to get the screwdrivers out for a full destruction. It's a pain in the butt to have the wii turn off in the middle of a game. Stumbled on your blog in a google search. Thanks for the tip! I am going to try it out tonight and hopefully avoid the disassembly process altogether. If not, maybe i'll have to order a brand new tool as well

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    1. i have been having the same problem with my gamecube i was playing melee and as i finished a match the gamecube shut off but the motor was still running on the inside

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    2. i have been having the same problem with my gamecube i was playing melee and as i finished a match the gamecube shut off but the motor was still running on the inside

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  2. @Anonymous -- Cool, it would be great if you were able to get your Wii up and running again just by reaching in with a tool and getting the fan unstuck, without having to spend an evening getting the Wii apart and then back together, if that is indeed the issue in your case. Good luck, I'd be interested to know how it goes!

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    1. also jon if fan is shot or does not move at all then simple fix remove 4 screws then unplug connector and replace fan easy get new one on ebay just choose U.S. only not all cause u will get some cheap fan from china or what i mean is a namebrand fan

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    2. used a paper clip and moved the fan. turned it on and now the fan is working. thanks

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    3. tooth pick worked for me

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  3. It worked! Thanks again for the tip, and for saving me the time and money :)

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  4. We just got a new Wii yesterday and it seems to be having this problem. I'll see if somehow the fan is stuck (how I cannot imagine, it's brand new out of the box) and report back. It's under warranty but we don't really want to wait 2 weeks to play Animal Crossing and Smash Bros. But I don't feel any air blowing from the back when I turn it on and it's shutting down and hot to the touch.

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  5. @Anonymous, if you don't have any immediate luck getting your fan fixed: Since your Wii is brand new, I wonder if you could just take it back to the store where you purchased it, and try to exchange it?

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  6. I had the same problem. But what i did is just using a chopstick and turned the fan slightly. after that, it worked perfectly.

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    1. great tip, no disassembly required!!

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  7. I've been worrying over the same thing here for weeks. But one mere touch on the fan does it all! Thank you so kindly, my friend! :)

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  8. Thank you so much! my kids have been experiencing the same problem with our not yet 2years old Wii, the unit was overheating & shutting down after playing for just one hour. I'm so glad I found your blog...you just saved me the $ and trouble of sending the unit to Nintendo. I simply nudged the fan with a small screw driver and the fan started running again!

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  9. lucky me my friend work's at game stop so he can do that thank's for the help :)

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  10. Thanks for posting this blog John, such a shame it was one page two of a google search for overheating Wii. I had to read so much garbage, and just about everyone saying send it in to Nintendo. Well fortunately I found your blog and resolved the issue and didn't even have to disassemble the Wii. A stuck fan that needed just a little nudge, and i save $75 and no more down time on the Wii. Great post, very helpful.

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  11. Great, I'm glad this was helpful!

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  12. Thanks, worked like a charm!

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  13. Yup, had same problem for like 2 months. Then i ran into this. Just stuck a thin screw driver inside and gave the fan a little nudge. I blew into it and it spun. Turned wii on... fan working again. Awesome post.

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  14. SuperSmashBros8/24/2009 7:25 PM

    Thank you for this, I've had my Wii since release, and have not seen this issue until yesterday:
    I was playing with some friends, and one of them tripped on the cable on a gamecube controller - sending my precious wii careening to the ground! I was very worried at first, but it seemed to be completely alright - that is, until about an hour and a half later...when it shut down. A quick feel immediately showed me that overheating was the issue. I repowered it up once more to see if the problem ensued. (Which it did). I was ready to disassemble it once again (I usually disassemble all electronics right after I buy it and ensure that it works properly, partially for curiosity and partially so that I know what everything looks like incase an issue arises.) I decided against disassembly though, and instead first went to google. After a few pages of useless arguments that taught me nothing, I found your informative article. It turns out, my fan had been stuck (i also found some dust), and a quick push solved my problem altogether. I would like to personally thank you for saving me many hours of not neing able to play my much-beloved Wii.

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  15. My fan was stuck too and came loose with a simple screwdriver push. Now working well without any heating problems.Thank you for this simple fix.

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  16. I have this exact same problem with my wii. Thank you very much for the post, I'm definitely trying this.

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  18. Hey, it worked for me too! Thanks a bunch!

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  19. I inserted a game and started it up. Then I reached through to the fan with a TOOTHPICK and just moved it several times until it came unstuck! Working fine now. I thank you and my grandkids thank you!

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  20. I mentioned "a very narrow screwdriver or similarly-shaped tool" -- yes, a toothpick fits the bill perfectly. :-) I'm glad this was helpful!

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  21. You sir are a life saver. Thanks for the tip

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  22. Very helpful blog....thanks!
    Had the same problem and the toothpick worked for me.
    I was just about ready to send the Wii to Nintendo until I read started searching for answers on google. Saved myself some $$$.
    Kids are very happy it's up and running again.

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  23. Thanks dude, I just blew on my fan and it came unstuck :)

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  24. ur tip saved me a ton of time thanks gawd for this site and googling :)

    thanks a ton

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  25. hey thanks lol it worked for me to aint that something wonder what made it stick to begin with hope it doesnt anymore will have to keep check on it maybe a sign the fan motor is getting weak dont know time will tell i guess thanks again!!!!!

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  26. Thanks a million. I had the exact same problem and just stuck a q-tip through the rear grid covering the fan and it came unstuck and is now blowing air.

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  27. My Wii's been dropped about three times now, so I guess there's a reason my Wii's having the same symptoms as yours. But it's three years old, and my tri-tip screwdriver is coming in the mail soon. Thanks for sharing your experience, I'm a lot more optimistic now... can't wait.

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  28. Thanks for the tip! Mine has been shutting off in under an hour of play with the power light completely off and the unit hot to the touch.

    After finding your article, I checked for air movement and--indeed--the fan not turning. I was able to use a small screwdriver and un-stick the stuck fan.

    So far so good.

    Thanks again.

    -r

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  29. I just moved the fan with a screw driver through the holes on the back and it seemed to be spinning.

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  30. My four-year-old knocked the WII over and it kept shutting itself off. The fan stopped working. Your solution worked. Thanks!!!

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  31. Thanks! I really appreciate your thorough analysis of the situation, it helped me confirm that I had the same problem as you. And to think, I almost took my Wii to a repair shop I found on Craigslist... Cheers :)

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  32. I bought an as is broken wii on ebay. The seller stripped some parts off it first. I had another good for parts wii so I was able to fix the other one. After being very impressed with myself and my new working wii I had the same problem except my fan was missing! I can't believe I didn't even look for it. It's always the simple things huh?

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  33. Awesome. I was ready to push the button on an $85 payment to Nintendo when I backed out and found your post. Ten minutes later, the Wii was fixed, and my son thinks I'm a genius. Many thanks!

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  34. Jon! Thank you so much man, you just made my stress level about my wii go down completely!!!!!! Thank you so much for this thread! I was worried about sending my wii in and paying 75$ and I was also worried about my wii getting lost in the mail or something! But you helped thanks alot!!!

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  35. Thank you for this!! My Wii was shutting down and I couldn't watch Netflix or play games for more than 15 minutes. It would shut down and the only way to turn it back on was to unplug it and plug it back in. It was really hot to the touch when I checked it out.

    I removed it from the bookshelf it was on, and I let a regular fan blow on it and it didn't die. When I listened closely I could not hear a fan going, and a flashlight into the back confirmed it. So I checked out this FAQ. The unit was on and I took a toothpick, poked the fan gently and a BLAST of hot air hit my face as the fan started up. YAY!!! This made my day! Thanks!

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  36. Excellent tip and simple solution which actually works!!!! I dropped it couple of times in the past and tonight it suddenly stopped working as we were watching a netflix movie. I searched on google, read your article and BOOOM... q-tip unstuck the fan!!! I am just wondering if Wii intentionally used such a fragile fan assembly so users can keep sending $85 payment over and over again!!!!
    -Ali

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  37. Same here, I had positioned a small fan to blow cool air on it when the internal fan stopped working, then while a game was playing I used a tooth pick to nudge the internal fan until it started spinning again. I'm probably going to keep the small fan on as well for double cooling!

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  38. wow i was having the same problem and your solution was just what it needed!!!

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  39. My son was actually looking to buy a Wii cooling system for his unit because it was overheating. When we came to discover, his fan was also stuck. I didn't disassemble the unit, I just used a small tool to reach in an give the fan blade a nudge. That seems to have done the trick. Thanks for letting us know about this!!!! BTW, our warranty was expired too.

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  40. many thanks for posting this tip! Ours had been dropped, figured it was broken, but nope, just a stuck fan. I appreciate you taking the time to write this out! now if nintendo would just post this as a solution to the fan problem on their website....

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  41. Jon,

    Can't believe the solution to my overheating problem was as simple as this. Thanks so much. Like you said Nintendo should have this on their site!

    - Greg

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  42. Unfortunately, my fan was stuck so bad I broke one of the blades trying to get it to turn! Someone suspected that Nintendo might be using cheap fans so they can make some extra money on repairs and I have to wonder if that isn't true. Either way, I will now be ordering my tri-wing and a fan :\ Someone mentioned the whisper fan costing $4.99 on Amazon but it looks like they are now going for $46.99! Seems like an impossible markup, so I'll be doing more research. If anyone has more info, I would appreciate it! :)

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  43. It worked! It really worked! I used a skewer on mine. It moved pretty easy, so I didn't think that it was stuck. When I turned it back on, the fan was working! You are a GENIUS, John! Thank you soooo much!

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  44. Anyone have trouble with their Wii freezing instead of turning off when it overheats?

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  45. Used a vacuum cleaner to get the dust out of mine.

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  46. Just wanted to say thank you. That simple solution was all it took. I believe my fan is operational again and I'm testing, but already it feels cooler to the touch.

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  47. Thanks! Even 4 1/2 years later this solution is still helping people. I bought my Wii at launch so I figured it was just time to get a new one, but you have breathed new life into it.

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  48. My wii is a great source of joy for me. You've saved me tons of worry and effort. Thanks.

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  49. Thank you so much!

    After reading this I checked my fan and it was stuck. I just needed to use a paper clip to make it to work again!

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  50. Thank you oh wise one. Google + toothpick = me looking like a genius.

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  51. thank you it was very helpful

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  52. Thank you much, bobby pin and BOOM! it works. thanks again.

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  53. It worked! So glad you posted.

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  54. OMG you just saved me money and my wii I just nudged the fan while the wii was on and it started up! thanks :D

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  55. I have Ninento wii, Prince of persia game screen freeze during playing,every thing is ok fan and there is no over heating problem, so what shall i do?
    My email is ghazanfar.javaid@yahoo.com

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  56. GENIUS! totally fixed my Wii! thanks!!!!

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  57. Thanks! I took a small phillips screw driver, and used it turn the fan blade. Plugged it back in and the Fan kicked on, and now the Wii is back in working condition!

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  58. Thanks! Seems same for mine. Used a thin stick to move fan when power is on, and fan start to move again.

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  59. Same problem and just a stuck fan. Stuck a paper clip in and got the fan unstuck. Awesome! Thanks!!

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  60. Going to try your solution....our problem is a little different in that the unit does not shut off, it just locks up...wand won't work, and we have to shut if off manually....and when it shuts down....we get a very shrill piercing tone from the speakers on the tv.....any thoughts?????

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  61. So glad I found your advice... Used small screwdriver to 'unstick' the fan and I'm now a very happy camper. Thank you so much!!!

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  62. I tried sticking a screwdriver into the fan vent, but the fan isn't completely stuck. Instead, moving the blades with the screwdriver moves them in a full circle, but once you let go of them, they slide to a stop at a preset position. Blowing does not move the fan at all. I noticed the blades are rather dusty. Should I use a vacuum on it like a previous poster mentioned?

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  63. Thanks a lot this has been happening for a week my wii would be hot and shut down I moved the fan it was stuck now its working great it cooled down as soon as the fan started working :)!!

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  64. Thank you for the tip! I used a bobby pin and it worked great :)

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  65. Used a small screwdriver and a flashlight. bent one of the fan blades so slightly and it buzzed to life then got silent and works flawlessly. It may be a small/simple tip but you saved me time and $$ and for that I am thankful!!!

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  66. Pushed the fan with a small screwdriver and it works again! I had no idea the fan got stuck like that, thanks so much for this article. Almost spent money on a new cooling fan and then (before reading the whole article) on a triwing screwdriver. Hell yeah to doing things yourself :-)

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  67. dude, your like negrodamus
    http://www.cc.com/video-clips/f94z9e/chappelle-s-show-negrodamus---wayne-brady---uncensored

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  68. Fix my grandsons wii that's been boxes up now for a year or two. Can't believe it was that simple, Thanks a million!!

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  69. I have read your article post. Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts. I am tiring the same best work from me in the future as well. Thank's for sharing.

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  70. Thank You!! A toothpick and a puff of air & the fan turned on! We just finished 3 hours of Netflix and the wii never shut off once!!

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  71. This was a God sent. Experiencing overheating with my Wii U and this simple trick saved me a trip to the local store + the headaches. She's working like a charm now. Thanks!

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  72. Thanks man, this really help a lot, without opening the console. Thankyou very much!!

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