Noob Guide to Xbox 360 Repair

Friday 19th of February 2010
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Error codes that can be fixed with this method:
PrimarySecondary Error code 
1 red light 1RLOD
2 red lights 2RLOD
3 red lights 3RLOD
4 red lights 4RLOD

A Basic Introduction to Xbox 360 Repair

If you're visiting Xbox Experts, then you probably have a broken console and you are attempting to learn more about repairing it yourself. This guide is intended to introduce you to Repair Concepts and Methods that you should know about. Most of this guide will give you an overview of the different repair methods, and then link you to the correct tutorial to learn more detailed information about how to complete the Repair.


One of the more common problems that the Xbox 360 experiences is a problem with the DVD drive. Of these issues, the most common problem is Playing a Disk or an Open Tray Error. If you have a problem with your console reading a Game, DVD, or CD there is usually a very quick fix that you can apply. 9/10 the DVD Lens just needs to be cleaned. Over time, your console builds up a lot of dust and grime. If you smoke near your console, this factor can be increased. Dust commonly enters the DVD drive when the tray opens, and smoke can also get into your system. Dust can keep your lens from reading a disk accurately, and smoke can leave a film on your lens. To repair this problem, you first need to disassemble your Xbox 360. As you follow the disassembly tutorial, you only need to get to the point where you have the top half of the casing removed (by removing only the Long Screws) so that you can access the DVD drive. Now disconnect the SATA and Power cable from your drive and remove the drive from the console. If you turn your console upside down, you will notice screws around the edges (most drives will have 4 screws, and Hitachi drives will have 6). Remove all these screws and separate the two halves of the drive casing. Now you will be able to see your Laser Lens. Take a good quality Q-Tip and dip it in some rubbing alcohol (the higher percentage of alcohol the better). Very gently rub the alcohol against the surface of the lens. Once you are satisfied that you have removed any grime, flip the Q-Tip over and use the dry side to remove any left over film from the alcohol. Reassemble your console. Most of the time your drive will read great!

If this simple cleaning does not solve your issue, you have a couple of options. First you should try adjusting the Pot. This adjustment controls the DVD's intensity and frequency. Many times the laser will need a correction, and this can solve your reading issues.

If cleaning and adjusting the Pot have not fixed your issue, then you will need to perform a replacement. You have 3 options as far as replacing your defective hardware. The first option is replacing your DVD Laser. Assuming that your problem is related to a bad laser, this can be an inexpensive way to solve your problem. You can also exchange the PCB computer board that contains your DVD Drives unique Drive Key. To do this you MUST purchase the same type of drive that is in your Xbox 360 console (either Hitachi, Samsung, BenQ, or Liteon). Check the information label on your drive to determine which drive you own. In a Hitachi or Samsung drive, you can simply unhook the ribbon cables that connect the PCB to the Drive Components and remove a screw or two. Then you take YOUR PCB and insert it into the Replacement Drive (hook up everything exactly the same way that it was previously). In a BenQ or Liteon drive, the PCB is held in by several soldered wires. These can be exchanged as well, but the wires will need to be unsoldered and then resoldered into the new drive. This can present a significant element of risk if you are uncomfortable or new to soldering. Your last option is called "Spoofing". Spoofing requires a Computer with a SATA connection and an approved chipset. With Spoofing you hook up the damaged drive to your computer and use a program called "Jungleflasher" to read the Firmware file from your Flash chip. Then you insert this file into the proper firmware that matches your new drive and then reassemble your console.

"Red Ring of Death"

The Red Ring of Death is typically 3 red lights around the power button of your console. It can also appear as 1, 2, and 4 Lights. These lights act as a "check engine" indicator and tell you that you have a hardware problem. If you have 4 Red Lights, it means that your video cable is either faulty or not plugged in. With each of the other numbers of lights, you need to check your Error Code to determine exactly what your problem is. This can be accomplished by waiting until the Red Lights start showing up and then pushing a button combination. After your Red Lights start flashing, press the "EJECT" and "SYNC" buttons at the same time. There are 4 numbers in an error code, so you need to press the two buttons together 4 times. One Flashing Red Light is a "1", Two Flashing Red Lights is a "2", Three Flashing Red Lights is a "3", and Four Flashing Red Lights is a "0". These numbers combined will tell you information about what is going on in your console. There is a guide on the Index Page of Xbox Experts (located on the right side of the page) that can give you detailed repair information based on your error code.

The Red Ring of Death is commonly caused by "broken" or "cold" solder joints under either the GPU, CPU, RAM, Southbridge, or ANA/hANA chips. 90% of errors will be caused by this problem. Otherwise it can also indicate a missing component or a broken component. The actual problem can be caused by a few different conditions. The most common problem is related to the metal casing that holds your console. The way that Microsoft assembles your console will cause it to fail at some point. When the Motherboard is tightened to the case, it creates bends and flexing. If you have researched repairs on different websites or on YouTube, you may have encountered a repair called a "X-Clamp Replacement". This method is actually very bad for your console and is NOT a long-term solution. There is a repair that is based on the X-Clamp Fix that is called a "Hybrid Fix". The Hybrid Fix corrects all the defects in the Xbox 360 case design and will ensure that your motherboard stays flat at all times. Most of the time, applying a Hybrid to a defective console will repair it for a long time. There is a Homemade version of the Hybrid, and then there is a kit that you can purchase in the Xbox Experts Store. Both methods are equally successful, but the store kit makes applying it much easier. If you live in a Humid area, it may be necessary to "Bake" your Motherboard before applying your selected repair. Baking will evaporate any moisture that has built up in your Motherboard and can reduce/eliminate future flexing.

Sometimes applying a Hybrid Fix is not enough. When the Hybrid fails, it is necessary to "Reflow" the chips on the Motherboard. There are 3 common methods of Reflowing. An "Oven Reflow" is the most successful method. Also you can attempt either a "Griddle" or "Heatgun". A Reflow melts the solder beneath the specified chip and causes it to make contact again. Most of the time, this will eliminate the Error Code that you were experiencing.

One thing that you can combine with a Reflow is "Flux". Flux is a chemical that prepares the solder under your chips for Reflowing. It softens the solder and creates a stronger joint after the Reflow. It also causes your repair to last MUCH longer. While it is not a required step for Reflowing, it is highly recommended.

Error Codes (E-Codes)

Error Codes (not to be confused with Secondary Error Codes) are accompanied by one flashing Red Light. Most of the time, the Flashing Red Light will be accompanied by an Error Message on the TV screen. The most common of these codes is E74. Error Codes are essentially the same thing as the Red Ring of Death and are treated the same way. You can still get a Secondary Error Code to determine more information about your problem. The Repairs for E-Codes are the same as the ones for the Red Ring of Death (for the most part).

Causes/Repair Myths

Most people outside of this community do not understand the Red Ring of Death and attribute it to many things. The most common of these claims is "overheating". There was a company that was hired to study the Xbox 360 and determine the causes of it's problems (see the full report in the Hybridintroduction). This company determined that on average the console only runs a few degrees hotter than is ideal. Many people also attribute the Red Ring to dust build-up. This is also a myth. Dust can affect the DVD drive and in rare cases mess up the fan, but it is not primarily responsible for the Red Ring. The Red Ring is caused by case flaws and flexing. People will also tell you that positioning your console vertically or horizontally can affect whether or not it gets Red Ring. This is also false. Your ventilation is on the back of the console, so unless the back is obstructed, the position will not affect the console.

Closing Comments

This is a basic introduction to Xbox 360 Repair, and it is only intended to introduce you to some concepts and define some common terminology. It is highly recommended that you visit all of the tutorials to learn more about each repair. There are problems that were not covered in this tutorial, and you can learn about those in the Tutorials. Feel free to contact members of the community in the Forum. We are here to help you and we love to contribute to your success. :)

Notice: The Tutorials have been done many times and were often successfull, however we cannot guarantee the success and so dont take any responsibility for any damages that might be caused by it, you do it on your own risk!!!



Xbox Repair Guide

Please select the number of (red) lights that your ring of light shows:

0 red lights
1 red light
2 red lights
3 red lights

4 red lights


Error codes

Go straight to the Error code list/ Database!