I've got a fan in a laptop that occasionally makes some loud airplane-like noises. It mostly happens about 10 seconds after booting up and lasts for 10-20 seconds.

It also occasionally happens when the computer is running, but very rarely. Interestingly, it does not seem to happen when the processor is being used heavily.

The laptop does not have a discrete graphics card.

The fan is clean.

I'm not sure if the laptop is under warranty, but I trust my own skills much more than I trust the manufacturer (or the shipper).

Before I search for a matching fan and replace it, I thought I would see if it is safe to try any lubricants.

Are there any lubricants that are safe to use inside a laptop?

I don't want a fire or anything that will splatter and cause conductivity issues within the circuitry.

  • 3
    They suggest or a specific one or a sewing machine oil. Few ;-) you do not want to have oil everywhere. Give it a look here too... or on other of the tons link you can find... [ or here...]
    – Hastur
    Dec 2, 2015 at 7:49
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    I've tried them all. The fan fails again in a short period of time. The bearings are worn and lubricants can only hide the problem for a short time. Dec 2, 2015 at 10:58
  • 1
    Which type of fan does your laptop have?
    – K. Rmth
    Dec 2, 2015 at 11:42
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    Is there anything wrong with the fan at all or is it just spinning up to full speed when it gets hot (and at startup before the fan control kicks in)? May be that all you need is to clean out any dust.
    – JamesRyan
    Dec 2, 2015 at 13:48
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    I don't think this is the type of hardware or product recommendation that would "become outdated quickly" (little fans & lubricants have been around for decades & will be for many more) or be mainly opinion-based (someone somewhere must have tested different lubricants for fans) - why not keep the Q open?
    – Xen2050
    Dec 18, 2015 at 22:08

13 Answers 13


If you are hearing noises, it's already way too late. The bearings are worn and allowing the fan to shift its axis slightly, causing rubbing that wears the bearings more. Adding lubricants can make the problem better for a short period of time by filling the space around the worn parts of the bearings, reducing the fan's ability to shift temporarily. But very soon the lubricant will get squeezed out and the fan axis will shift again. Replace the fan.

  • 1
    It's fairly safe to add a drop or two of the thickest lubricant you have as far in the fan as you can get it. It will buy you a few weeks, enough time to get a replacement fan. I don't know of any harm a drop or two of lubricant could do, even if it makes its way out of the fan. Dec 2, 2015 at 11:45
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    Having just gone thru this exercise -- there was a particular batch of Lenovos with fans that wore out relatively early -- I'll vouch for lubrication not being a lasting fix. (I used tri-flo, but any nonconfuctive dry microsphere lube theoretically would be the right thing if the bearings weren't already shot.) I'd also point out that exact-replacement fans aren't slways that exact; first one I got almost worked but the machine would overheat, second from another supplier worked perfectly.Total cost for both, including individual shipping from China, was about $40; not bad.
    – keshlam
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:57
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    The frustrating thing is that I first assumed the noise was coming from the disk... oh well, it was a useful upgrade (to SSD), just an expensive one.
    – keshlam
    Dec 2, 2015 at 17:00
  • @keshlam +1 on upgrading to an SSD being useful. By far my favorite upgrade to my computer in the last 10 years. Sorry about the fan though. I actually have the same problem but already have an SSD, so I know it's not the drive :) Dec 2, 2015 at 18:46
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    I have to disagree with this. I have repaired a handful of laptop fans with lubricant. See my answer below.
    – Keltari
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:18

One tried and true lubricant is sewing machine oil. Sewing machine oil is designed to work well with parts that move at high speeds, which is exactly what your computer fans are.

What David Schwartz said is mostly correct. By the time a fan is tilted/wearing on bearings, the fan's days are numbered. But if you can catch it quickly, you can prolong the life of the fan for quite a while.

Here's a little tutorial on how to go about it.

It's a bit too long to copy/paste it all over into an SE answer, but here's the gist:

  1. The center of your fan has a sticker. Remove the sticker. When removing the sticker, be sure to be extra careful. You want to place the sticker back on the fan later, so it needs to remain intact.
  2. Underneath the sticker is a little rubber 'plug'. Under the plug is a little metal cylinder (most of which you can't see). This metal cylinder is made of a porous metal.
  3. Drop one and only one drop of oil on the visible part of the cylinder.
  4. Put the plug back in place.
  5. Put the sticker back in place.
  6. After you turn the computer back on and the fan whirrs into life, it might take a little bit of time for the oil to distribute.

Desktop fans are replaced easily enough (they're all pretty cheap), but since you mentioned this is a laptop - which often have unique/hard-to-find components - a replacement might not be feasible. So sewing machine oil might be your best bet.

  • This is the answer: sewing machine oil. Being very low on funds as a young man has taught me how one may prolong the life of many things. Now I would simply replace the fan, but my money and my time are mine to spend how I wish.
    – Aaron Hall
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:58
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    It should be noted that there is nothing in a sewing machine that spins as fast as a laptop fan. This technique may make the fan quieter, but if the oil is even marginally more viscous then it could also slow it down. Dec 3, 2015 at 0:28

I had a laptop fan that was noisy. I opened it up and cleaned the axle with some alcohol. I then used a needle dipped with alcohol to clean the slot/shaft/hole/? where the axle goes. There was some dirt in there that caused the axis of the axle to be slightly off. This caused the blades of the fan to graze the case, causing the noise. Then I used some mineral oil on the shaft and used the needle to get some in the hole. It has been running perfectly for 2 years now. FYI, mineral oil is non conductive. Ive fixed several laptop fans with this method.

  • 2
    +1 for cleaning before oiling if you can disassemble. It's the same issue with changing the oil in your car--you don't want to just add clean oil to the gunk that is there.
    – fixer1234
    Dec 2, 2015 at 21:03
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    Follow up: After lubricating the fan, it has been running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year for 5 years without an issue. All the other answers saying you cannot do it are false.
    – Keltari
    Dec 12, 2017 at 17:47
  • December 2015 it was 2 years, December 2017 it's 5 years. But anyway, this gives hopes, after I have just watched a video where the guy stressed 3 times that it's only for 1 month.
    – ZygD
    Sep 15, 2018 at 21:38
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    @ZygD Im replying to your comment from the very same machine I fixed. Fan is running fine and is still silent.
    – Keltari
    Sep 15, 2018 at 21:46

My recommendation would be NOT to add ANY lubricant. The computer fans are designed to be serviceless. ANd you definitely don't want anything dripping anything onto anything inside a computer... There are several possibilities as to what is the cause:

  1. Fan (or fan/heatsink assembly) is not properly screwed in place and what you hear is harmonic resonance.
  2. Computer has been opened and you have a cable that hangs over (or sticks out under) the fan and causes the rattle.
  3. Fan is dying and this is it's swan song.

My bet would be on last one, though. If it happens on start and stop only it means that probably it got overheated or damaged at some point and it has deformed from temperature. Had this issue in laptop once - later fan started to cut out after some time and finally failed completely. Warranty job, though.

If there is a crucial need to jump-start or ease the fan's working it is much better idea to pull it out completely, give it a good (but CAREFULL!) compressed air cleaning and give it an alcohol soaking bath (isopropyl alcohol is cheap and is nearly as wondrous substance as WD-40). Dry it afterwards and put back in the machine. If the fan was dirty this should do the trick.

EDIT ON LUBRICATION: Any lubricant that would do anything good needs to be sticky (which means viscosity must be high enough), so that it sticks to the fan (duh.), but not too high so it can penetrate to the spot where it's needed. Since fans are somewhat hi-speed, most of the lubricant will get squeezed back out anyway. That means the dust particles and grit have something to stick also. Normally this is happening mostly due to static charge, so it means you can remove any dirt quite easily with airspray. With lubricant you get caking, which can be, after a while, basically only dissolved to get rid of. So WD-40 time (again) or alcohol bath. And after that lubricate again, since WD-40 is not lubricant, but a solvent. Since you end up with most of the lubricant on the outside, and with that speed it will be very fine mist, it will end up inside the heatsink. And thus more caking and more WD-40. That's why I mention viscosity - adequate oils will have low viscosity, which means above process will take hours; with high viscosity oils fan motor will be more strained spinning the fan, causing said motor to overheat... Higher temperature will lower viscosity of the oil, which will cause it to drain faster. And we're in a 'while-then' loop really... There is a reason why in case of high-rpm systems lubrication is applied to sealed components and it's usually grease.

I'm not saying lubrication is a dumb idea (just touching on mildly stupid), but I would see it as an emergency solution only, not normal usage, and with understanding there will be part replacement sooner than later.

The fact that you can doesn't mean you should. Laptop fans are small, high-speed devices. They are designed without any lubrication whatsoever. So that should give you pause right there. But just to drive the point home - since they're designed that way (and, to boot, this is because they are designed as a dust-proof devices, for obvious reasons), only way to meaningfully lubricate a laptop fan you have to tear it down... Which is another "pause and think before you do it" moment: disassemble a part designed not to be disassembled and then put it back together with something extra added.

  • 2b. A sticky pad holding a cable in place has ceased to be sticky and the cable droops into the fan. I've seen this on 1 laptop but severakl desktops. It's easy to test for by running the machine upside down. I'mn pretty certain you could pour oil/WD40 all over a motherboard and it would still run fine. It might smell a bit when it warms up but the nothing should get above the operating temperature of typical oils.
    – Chris H
    Dec 2, 2015 at 13:32
  • I agree that possibility 3. is the most likely, except I would remove the word "slowly". It could stop spinning at any time. Dec 2, 2015 at 13:48
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    @AcePL it may contain a solvent but it's a penetrating lubricant designed mainly for short term use e.g. on stuck parts. Not much actually dissolves in it. Citation needed on "hygroscopic" as well, that wouldn't be a useful property in something designed to drive out water.
    – Chris H
    Dec 2, 2015 at 17:34
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    @AcePL getting offtopic here... the WD in the name "WD-40" stands for the phrase "Water Displacement". It means that WD-40 is hydrophobic, not hydroscopic.
    – uxp
    Dec 2, 2015 at 20:30
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    @AcePL - Linked on that question is a snopes article (snopes.com/inboxer/household/wd-40.asp) of an email forward of "45 uses of WD-40" that states both "Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools." and "If you sprayed WD-40 on the distributor cap, it would displace the moisture and allow the car to start.", which the manufacturer confirmed. It does not attract water. It repels water. Putting it on ferrous metal does not make that metal oxidize, thus it prevents rust. It's hydrophobic.
    – uxp
    Dec 7, 2015 at 19:35

I can only tell you my experience with an HP Pavilion laptop. Its fan started making noise like its bearing was bad, I looked online for lubrication tips, but read that nothing would likely work, so ordered a replacement fan, which I installed.

Two months later, the replacement fan started making the same noise. I had kept the OEM fan, and figured I had nothing to lose by trying to fix it. I found a youtube video that showed how to take apart the fan to clean its bearing. Because mine was so dirty, I cleaned it by rinsing it in camp stove fuel, after which it spun freely (had not before and was thick with dusty gunk which the fuel removed). I let it dry, then put it together and it seemed to work, but soon was making the same loud bad bearing noise.

So, I took it apart and put a tiny bit of silicone grease on the pin that is the axle the fan spins on. There are different viscosities of silicone grease. This one was thinner than the plumber's grease type. I got it from a diving supplies shop, and I believe it is intended for lubricating SCUBA gear O ring seals.

After I put on the silicone grease, I reassembled the fan and installed it. When I booted the laptop a warning displayed that there was a problem with the fan (looked like a BIOS warning).

I took it all apart again and looked at the fan's axle pin. I saw I had put a little too much grease on it, and some of the silicone grease had worked its way out of the axle bearing and to the space between the fan and the housing, where it apparently caused enough drag that it triggered the fan warning.

I cleaned off that bit of grease, and wiped a bit of the grease off the axle, leaving some, and put everything back together.

That was well over a month ago and the fan has worked silently since without more warnings. How long it will last I do not know, but it appears to me that cleaning with solvent and lubricating the axle pin with a tiny amount of relatively low viscosity silicone grease is worth trying to fix a failing / noisy laptop fan.

Update. Here we are two months after making my original post and it is still working flawlessly. Update, over a year now and still working flawlessly.


I have an old Thinkpad t410. Two month ago its fan stopped working. The problem was contamination. I opened it and detached the rotor from the stator. But after cleaning and putting them together, another problem showed up: Noise! After some searching I found that lubricating it may help. But lubrication was not the answer. After many tries and errors, I found the answer! I put the rotor in the stator when the fan was under voltage! and it's working like the day one with no lubrication or anything else. Maybe it's not the case for every one but it's something that should be considered. I think that when we put things together, the router is not aligned in its natural axis and by imposing voltage to the fan during the assembling process, it will find its natural axis.


My fan was making very loud noise, I opened the laptop and saw that the fan was jumping out of it's place and hit the case, mostly because the axle is losing it's vertical axis of rotation (may be the slot/shaft/hole become little loose for the fan axle)

I tried to replace it but I couldn't find any compatible fan with my laptop model :( :(

So I decided to try the oiling/lubricating methods I saw while searching, like @Keltari answer

  1. I cleaned the axle with alcohol very gently (to not bend the axle lol)
  2. I used a medical shot to drop some drops of alcohol in the hole, and inserted a needle with tissue and cleaned the whole VEEEEERY gently (DON'T tear the tissue and leave parts of it in the hole)
  3. I waited about half hour to let alcohol inside the hole to be evaporated
  4. I used a "GREASE" that is used in the home big fans at the repair shop , and inserted a very little peace of it in the hole and around the axle

enter image description here

  • it's is VERY heavy/thick
  • it resists high temperature
  • I don't know if it is conductive or not yet :(

it's a week for now and I never heard any noise and the fan is rotating smoothly, I don't know what is going to happen later thought lol.

I will update the answer to tell you if it still working or not, if I didn't update that means it's not working lol

UPDATE 1: yesterday(after 6 months) it made noise again, I cleaned it and repeated same method and it works now smoothly again.


I can't believe all the wrong answers here.

Fans come in two types. Those with plain bearings that have a steal shaft in a bushing made of porous bronze, and those with race bearings - usually ball races.

If the fan has plain bearings and has not been noisy for too long it certainly can be lubricated. The reason these bearings begin to get noisy in the first place is due to a lack of lubrication. The lack of lubrication could come from either not enough being applied in the first place, or it simply evaporated due to excessive heat or time. Yes, all oil is volatile to some extent and all oil will eventually evaporate. These bearings respond well to lubrication and for a small motor like in a laptop fan I'd suggest between a 10-15 weight oil. If it has gone too long such that the bushing is so large the fan begins to slow down after starting then lube will only be a stop-gap. If you get to it quickly (within a couple of days of the noise starting) lubrication could fix the problem for a good deal of time. Just make sure any obstruction in the airflow (dust, fibers, animal hair, etc..) is kept leaned out other wise the heat will get excessive and cause our bearings to dry out again.

As for race bearings, the ones used in such tiny fans are invariably sealed. Even it they weren't, by the time a race bearing starts making noise - it's generally toast.

  • Thanks. What are your thoughts on dry lubricants and silicone lubricants for this use? Jun 24, 2021 at 7:16

I have used a lubricant that is meant for hair trimmers. They have super fast moving motors. It's not thick at all and drips like water. I am guessing that I could has also used some WD40 as well. It fixed the loud rattling that the HP Pavilion's fan was making. In the mean time, I have ordered a replacement fan as I am not expecting this to be a long term fix.

Thank you all. It's because of this thread that I found the solution that worked for me.

  • Thanks and you're welcome. :) The trimmer oil you mentioned is an interesting idea. Upvoted. Note that I would not recommend WD40 for any long-term use (which, as you mentioned, you're not personally doing). WD40 is a water displacement liquid that will eventually attract dirt/gunk. Short-term it's fine, but long-term, it usually causes a mess for this sort of thing. I keep having to buy new replacement fans (starting to think the quality of new fans is not what it used to be), so when the next one goes out, I'm going to try different lubrication techniques. Jul 2, 2021 at 3:53
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    Thanks for the heads-up. I didn't know this characteristic of WD40. For now, I will stay away from WD40. And so far, the laptop is still functioning properly. I keep thinking that there must be a better way to make these fans. They are so small and light weight that it should be possible for them to not use any ball bearing. I thinking of having it float with zero friction while it's rotating (using magnetic fields). I am sure that if the collective mind of free thinkers gather around the idea, we will have a chance. Or even better, the air could be displaced with MHD... with no moving parts.
    – asiby
    Jul 4, 2021 at 23:21
  • You're welcome. I agree that the fans represent a weak spot of any device that uses them. Frictionless magnets seem like a good step in the positive direction. You mentioned MHD... I looked it upand found many definitions... to which one are you referring? Jul 5, 2021 at 14:41
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    I was referring to magnetohydrodynamics. Myself and my brothers had put together a contraption that could put some tap water in motion with a 9 volts battery, a magnet and two pieces of aluminum foil. To do the same thing using air as the active fluid, the air might need to be ionized.
    – asiby
    Jul 5, 2021 at 15:50
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    I didn't have a smartphone when it happen. I will try to redo the same experiment and share it on Youtube.
    – asiby
    Jul 6, 2021 at 1:51

If the fan is noisy, it will be due to poor balance, or faulty/worn bearings, and these things cannot be fixed by adding lubricant.

If you trust your technical skills more than the manufacturer, then buy a replacement fan and install it yourself.

To answer your question directly. There is no type of lubricant that could be safely added to a laptop fan. Any attempt to lubricate the fan would likely spread lubricant everything throughout your laptop.


As others have said, the best solution is to replace the fan. However if this is not possible due to the unavailability of parts, lubrication may help. The best lubricant I have found is semi-synthetic motor oil.

I have an old HP Omen laptop. One of the fan bearings is so worn that it looks slightly oval rather than round. I tried sewing machine oil which helped but the sound recurred after a month or two. Same result with dry silicon lube. Then as a last ditch effort I tried Nulon semi-synthetic 15W-40 motor oil. Noise has not recurred now for well over a year.

The bearings should be cleaned thoroughly with isopropyl or ethyl alcohol (isopropyl is easier to get but ethyl is better if you can get it). When applying the oil use a syringe to apply a single drop to the shaft.

Here's a link for the oil



My suggestion to the OP and others are to not use oils like mineral or for sewing machines, or with similar viscosity. They tend to evaporate very fast if the fan is used in warm area. It's better to find MoS₂ based grease, those usually hold to 350°C, have low friction and used in aviation and cars (and in my bicycle obviously). Just clean the axle and axle's bed, put some of this grease in it, reassemble the fan again and profit. If you want to be more precise, then check and the internal resistance of the fan, higher than usual means faulty winding (for reference can use another from the same model or with the same rpm/amps). The other thing to measure is the amps going through it - a much higher amps are also no go

  • Anonymous downvoter... care to explain why you downvoted this answer without any comment? Aug 12, 2023 at 8:53

Don't, it's shot. Order a new one.

Computer fans typically use sealed fluid dynamic bearings, so it's not possible to lubricate them anyway. You'd just be oiling the windings and magnet, creating a big mess and a dust trap.

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