Xbox 360: Some Fixes For Freezing and 3 Red Lights

I’ve made quite a few posts about the problems I’ve had with my Xbox 360. You can take a look at the Xbox 360 tag archive for the entire list of posts. I’d like to highlight a few comments in those posts from readers. There’s been some great comments by readers, some go into pretty good detail.

All of the comments on all those posts in the Xbox 360 tag archive add up to a very valuable resource for gamers experiencing problems with their Xbox 360. You may have to do a little reading, but there’s some great comments there. Now, here’s some of my favorites.

Comment from reader Laserman:

Basically it looks like the 3 lights of death are a design flaw.

Inside the 360 the CPU and GPU are both BGA chips. The clamping mechanism used to keep the heatsink on the chip causes all the pressure to be in a tuny point at the centre of the chip with the pressure pushing upwards from the bottom of the board.
This causes the motherboard to flex (MS in their wisdom didn’t secure the board to the base except at the very edges – unlike a PC where the board is screwed down in multiple areas.).

The board flexes and the tiny solder connections on the CPU and GPU break and you get an intermittant problem that slowly gets worse.

The ‘towel trick’ works for a little while as your 360 gets hot enough to soften up the solder points and for the mobo to warp ever so slightly back to make contact again, but it will fail.

Basically you need to do the towel trick or similar and then replace the heastink clamps with bolts and nuts to secure the heatsink in a way that keeps the chip in full contact with the board and stops the board warping again.

If under warranty, just demand a replacement. If outside warranty then get some talismoon replacement fans (quieter and move 50% more air than the existing rear fans) and replace the heatsink clamps to stop the problem re-occurring.

There is a great post on xbox-scene titled RED LIGHTS = DESIGN FLAW or something similar that goes into detail

And a comment from reader Drew

I kind of have the same problem discussed here. My 360 started out with one freeze during Oblivion when I first got it around Christmas time. Nothing really happened after that for a while, so I dismissed it as a glitch in the game, or one random system freeze. Hey, they all have them. However, as time went on it started doing it more and more frequently, and it was getting really annoying.

Now, I can play a game/movie for about 5 minutes before everything freezes up, and I actually have to go over to the console to turn it off (controller does nothing). FYI, it even freezes with that game on the HDD, Hexic, i think it’s called. What’s funny about the last post is my 360 seems to work if I leave it on forever. It doesn’t freeze up if I leave it on for like 3 hours. So overheating is definitely not the problem. “more open air” won’t do ish for me, considering it’s in as open a space as it can be, and it hardly gets hot at all. Warm, but OMG overheating hot. Power supply same thing.

I am not about to wrap it up in towels, and leave it on for a half hour though. Scares me.

@ Neal, I have noticed that the games are jumpy when the time/date is not correct, it’s never frozen because of that. For instance, in Madden 07, when they show you the defense getting ready, it freezes for a second, but the whole system doesn’t freeze up. You can try going into the console settings in the dashboard, and change it, but I don’t think that’s your problem. However, you’ll be surprised at how smooth everything is running, if it’s always been wrong. I downloaded the update, didn’t do anything. If you don’t have a home network, you can plug the 360 directly into your modem to get the update, however, I doubt it will do anything.

I’ve also never gotten the E71 message, or the rings of light. I personally just think it’s a junk part that MS uses, and whatever it is, they need to stop using it. The troubleshooting tips on the website are a joke, and did nothing for me. I am sending it in for repair, kind of mad because I’ve had my original XBOX for 4 years without any issues. I guess if MS fixes it properly, and quickly, no harm, no foul.

Comment from reader Mike is an important one for those of you thinking of trying the Xbox 360 Towel Trick “fix”. This was an important comment because the Xbox 360 Towel Trick definitely has the potential to cause damage to your Xbox 360 console. The towel trick works because there’s some pretty shoddy soldering inside the Xbox 360 apparently. Mike has even gone to the trouble to explain how Xbox 360 owners can fix the bad soldering on their own, without having to send their console to Microsoft. Although, be warned that removing the case from your Xbox 360 will definitely void the warranty. He’s watching out for his fellow Xbox 360 owners, kudos Mike.


The three light error is caused by faulty soldering on the motherboard. The best way I have found to fix this is to go the local hardware store and get a heat gun; then take apart your system. Take just the motherboard, pull the head sink off of the GPU only and place tin foil over the plastic pieces (on board). Then take the heat gun and place it on low heat and for 2 minutes trace the board in circular motions (front and back of board) focusing mainly on the GPU and RAM chips (4 chips around the GPU in rows of 2). Then place the heat gun to high heat and do the same thing for 2 more minutes. Then let the unit cool for at least 30 minutes. The unit will boot right back up. I have had successes with about 10 consoles so far.



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54 thoughts on “Xbox 360: Some Fixes For Freezing and 3 Red Lights

  1. My friends 360 kept having the 3 lights of death and when it would work it would freeze every time you tried to play a game. We were able to totally fix the problem by placing the original xbox right on top of his 360. Since we did this it hasnt frozen or shown any problems. You can place anything on top of your 360 as long as its not to heavy and be sure it dosent cover the vent holes.

  2. Hello everyone. I have had the three red lights of death 7 times already, MS is starting to piss me off. But i got the same problem lastnight i unplugged it took out the hardrive and put the harddrive back in. After 30 mins i plugged it all back in then tapped lightly all the way around the Xbox 360. After that it was working but the only problem is now is that it keeps freezin, Could someone please email me how to fix the freezing problem. my email is Please I really need the help

  3. Brendan, you’re probably best off just sending your Xbox 360 into Microsoft for repair. Call their support line (1-800-4MY-XBOX) and they can get you taken care of. You’ll have to go through all the troubleshooting steps with the support agent first though. They’ll also need to register your Xbox 360 before it can be sent in for repair.




  4. I have red lights that keeps flashing it will not work sometimes it will then it will stop working for a long long time how do i get fix and working again.

  5. maurice: The best thing to do is call 1-800-4MY-XBOX for technical support. If you’re feeling brave, you could try the Xbox 360 Towel Trick. Be warned though, the towel trick has the potential to do additional harm to your Xbox 360.

    Sounds like you’re experiencing the same thing I was, apparently random problems. I’d say 99 out of 100 times I turned my broken Xbox 360 on, it would flash the 3 red lights on the Ring of Light. The other 1 out of 100 times something totally different would happen. It’d either freeze when loading the dashboard or I’d see red/green/white checkers.

    Your best bet is to send your Xbox 360 in for repair.

  6. well i keep having 3 still red lights and it is pissing me off because it just dont work. ive tried everything and hundreds of times but it just wont work! the red lights dont move they just flash, what should i do!!!????

  7. Figures MS would have some of their employees on these posts telling people to send it in for repair when actually you’ll just end up paying 150 for another broken 360, surprised people are still stupid enough to listen to them, towel trick works but not for long so I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Instead go to your nearest hardware store and try to the fix the problem yourself. I’ve seen people do it and it works.

  8. I am on my second “repaired by warrenty” 360 and it is happening again… I am contacting them again to see what they are going to do for me.

  9. Ray,

    Please let us know what they do. It really is amazing all the problems owner of 360’s are having. And it is past ridiculous. I have sent several emails and letters to organizations like BBB & Dateline NBC. I am not sure how serious I, by myself, am going to be taken.

    Please join the fight

    FREEEDOMMMM!! (sorry, I could resist) 🙂

  10. Lory’s solution worked for me. My 360 is playing a movie as I type this, but let me say that this is not for the fainthearted. Taking the 360 apart is a challenge all on its own and several times this task had me wanting to throw the bad boy at the wall. Of course then I am not very techy either, which is great news for those of you who are a little techy.

    I will update everyone if it bursts into flames or calls down beings from another planet to beam me away… errr… maybe not if that last thing happens 😉

  11. I’ve finally had enough. Microsoft Sucks! The XBOX 360 sucks! I just finsished smashing mine with a hammer! I’m going to buy a PS3 today, hopefully Sony has their S*&# together, I know MS doesn’t!

  12. I recently turned on my xbox 360 to see the 3 red rings… I have had this xbox since before launch dew to a promo contest (pun intended) and have never had a problem with it. Tracing stuff back I noticed it was the PSU. Apparently it is not covered under the new extended warranty or retro warranty. $80 for a new one from microsoft. Not I know I shouldnt complain since teh console was free to begin with, but does anyone know of instructions on how to dismantle the psu? It seems rather well sealed.

  13. hey i tried the putting something heavy on it to stop the red lights of death and it works pretty well u have to have a pretty good amount of weiight though.

  14. Wtf I recently got the three rings of death after 6 months of flawless operation. It first started after the recent update I downloaded from xbl. It downloaded and rebooted and every thing like it was supposed 2 do. Then it happened. I loaded gears of war and as soon as I got to the press start screen it froze. I said no biggie it had done that like once before and restarted it like before. Then it happened it would even get past the xbox logo screen and constantly kept freezing everytime I was restarting it. Then I restarted it once more and I got the three flashing red lights. It wouldn’t boot up for a long time. It just kept on with the flashing lights. I left the piece of crap alone for a while and played my Ps3 for awhile. I came back to the xbox because I heard they had the new strangle hold demo. It finally went into the dash board and I preceeded to download the demo and everything was fine until I tried 2 play the demo. As soon as I started the demo it froze on the first loading screen that popped up. And it has been flashing ever since. Sometimes the thing will boot up and let me play for about 2 min -10min then it crashes. So I got mad and left the piece of crap on for a awihle with the red lights flashing to let my friends on the ps3 network know that the red ring was no joke. It sat like that for awihle flashiing and I went 2 sleep. When I woke up I turned the crap off. Today I turned it on and 2 my suprise the piece of crap came right on but as soon it got a little crazy in the strangle hold demo it froze. Now sometimes it red ring of deaths at startup but it always freezes now.I call 4my xbox and told them what was up and with no hesitation they said just send it in for repair. I haven’t got hte box 2 ship it yet. but I hope this crap dosent take a long time and I hope they don’t send me a referb in worst shape that the xbox I already had. cause that scratching games stuff is unexceptable when games cost about $65 a pop with tax nowadays.

  15. my 360 will get lights, then i will turn it off take out all the plugs, put them back in and it will work. Anyone know what that means, and how heavy should the item be on top of it? someone weigh what they are putting and post back please. Billy

  16. the thing is my screws are stripped so i cant take out the mother board is there any other way without damaging anything.

  17. mine broke 31 days to the date i bought it…ring o death…didn’t even play it that much. called tech support n they told me to send it in, i said no way and bought another one from wally world and returned the broke one. new one has worked fine so far

  18. Hey Bid Daddy Ricks: I received my 360 as a christmas gift and it has work almost flawlessly for about 9 to 10 months. It was almost a week ago that I purchased the xbox 360 intercooling fan. I figured my 360 would benefit from it but according to coustomer care, it destroys the system internally (personally i think what coustomer care told me is a load of krap to cover up a fault inside the 360). But anyway, before i purchased the cooling fan, i loaded up madden 08 one day and it began loading really slow once i hit the start button.So I rebooted it figuring it was no problem. To my surprise, about a week later, the game just froze after about 10 minutes of play. I turned it off and bak on and it froze again. It began to not even load and would freeze at the logo screen. To no avail i rebooted the system and the red rings appeared. Its weird though because the red rings have gone away and now the system just freezes at the logo screen. I have set up a repair with 4 my xbox. Just as a tip to anyone, I was told that u should not use an intercooling fan and should not have the 360 plugged into a serge outlet. I believe MS missed a huge problem that is messing up xbox 360’s because 3 of my friends have had problems with their 360’s as well. I am still awaiting the arrival of the box I was told I would receive. Hopefully MS will have a recall and can fix this interal error. Good luck with you system Bid Daddy Ricks. To all readers: should i expect to have a problem again once the 360 is repaired? Please respond if u have advice.

  19. Hey G_Dub u said that u just bought a new xbox and returned your broken one, well i was thing about that but i was wondering how u waited to return it?

  20. paid cash, waited bout 2 days, tore the serial # off, put old one in box, stole the cables that came with it, had my fiance return it cause nobody questions her blond hair and blue eyes and innocent smile 😉 she just scribbled her name so they couldn’t read it

  21. oh ok
    but can you give me some more info about how u did the serial # thing cuz if i do this i dont want to mess up at all

  22. carefully remove thetag on the back by the av cable with a razor blade and hair dryer, don’t hold the hair dryer in one spot , make sure to move it around, and don’t heat it up too much…swap out the tags. when you return it, just play it cool, don’t act nervous and tell them you don’t want it. when i did this, they didn’t even check the serial numbers (minimum wage workers don’t care) or question my fiance. they might ask you for a drivers license, but tell them you don’t drive, forgot it etc. i don’t feel bad for doing this, M$ should have recalled and replaced all faulty units instead of trying to swindle us out of our hard earned money. i have had my ps2 since it came out, 1st generation, and it works fine, and for the money i paid for the 360, i expect the same. in my new one, i replaced the fans in the back with talismoon fans, and they sell an extra fan that you stick on the circuit board inside your case. this helps it run much cooler and will hopefully make my new one last.

  23. I’ve had my 360 for about five months with no problems. I decided to get xbox live and when i hooked up to live it said i needed to update my xbox. I hit o.k. and it restarted and when it came back on it said update failed and cannot find hard drive. So i rebooted and it came back with the same message. I’ve tried taking off my hard drive and putting it back on, I even bought another hard drive. No matter what I do I get the same message. I’m sending it back for repairs under warranty. Has anyone else had this problem?

  24. I put a big fan behind my xbox360 so it works fine now……..turn off 5min, the turn on my big fan…its ghetto but it works

  25. i just bought ‘rayman: raving rabbids’. the damn game kept freezing at the menu, so i thought it had to be the game since my 360 works fine with all my other games. took it back and paid $5 extra for a new copy, since the first one i bought was used. SAME PROBLEM! anyone have any idea?? ive tried everything- took out and reinserted the cables, took out my hard drive then reinserted it, nothing is working!

  26. “It doesn’t freeze up if I leave it on for like 3 hours. So overheating is definitely not the problem. “more open air” won’t do ish for me, considering it’s in as open a space as it can be, and it hardly gets hot at all.”

    WhatSup peeps!

    As an avid gamer, I have to say I love playing the games on my Xbox 360. And fortunately for me, I have not experienced yet this “3 Red Rings of Death” problem where the screen freezes, but my friend Sean did.

    He called me last night all excited, I thought he just got his hands on some new game not released or something. Sean began telling me about while he was playing his screen just froze up. He was not frazzled at first, he just shut his box down and turned it back on. That is when he saw 3/4s of his ring Red, and his box seemed to be down for the count.

    Sean contacted support and they told him that it was a “hardware” issue and that he would have to send it in for repair, and that it would probably take 4-6 weeks. Sean was pissed! We are both college students, and with the Christmas break coming up, he was anticipating some sweet gaming time. Now his box would be gone over the break.

    As he told me all this, I was like, so, why are you all excited about this then? Sean told me that he went online to some forums to check and see what others had experienced or what might be done. He said he found people complaining about the same thing in almost every Xbox forum he went to.

    In one of them though, this gamer gave Sean a web address: and told him that this program could fix the dreaded “3 Red Rings of Death” and he would not have to send it in.

    Sure enough, Sean went to and ended up purchasing a program that showed in text, color photos, and even a video, how to fix the box step-by-step. He did not have to go purchase anything, he said he had the stuff needed right at home. And the thing he is excited about was that he had his box going again in about 40 minutes after the purchase!

    Cool, I said. Sean was like, no man, it gets better! Then he tells me since he knows how to do it, he can fix others with the same problem. I guess it is happening quite a bit. So, Sean can like charge $30 to fix one or trade fixing for a game!

    But Sean also wanted me to help him spread the word to all our buds and any gamer with an Xbox. He thinks support is probably trying to gain some money to fix the box or worse yet get some info that the box has collected (he has a bit of a conspiracy thing happening). Still, it beats your box missing for 4-6 weeks, and who knows, maybe he is right about the info.

    Anyways, we are now spreading the word to all who will listen. Feel free to pass this along too, if you would. You do not need support, just go to and get the permanent fix yourself and be back up and running within the hour!

    Thanks for your help.

    See you around online maybe,
    a.k.a Death Bringer
    Fav-Assassin’s Creed right now!

  27. Ive had this problem for ages. Careful listening to other peoples advice as the problem can be individual. Go to
    It will explain how to check what your individual problem is. Its the method the repairmen will use to diagnose the issue. Having done this ive realised that i might be taking advice from people with a different problem even though weve all got the same issue (3 gay flashing red lights), just wanted to warn. Good luck

  28. Microwave trick seems to fix all problems, see that other guys post

    Hi all,

    I just found this other thread with a fix that seems to be permanent
    In particular read the posts by shawn taylor, just do a search for shawn
    he explains how to use the microwave to fix your xbox! Many people seem to have used it with success (including me now)

    All the best everyone!

  29. i need help, recently i was playing online and my xbox froze, a wierd buzz noise lasting about 2 miliseconds came through the speakers, and the screen had blue checkers in the background, i turned it of and it had three red lights. i took the xbox apart and overheated it a couple times, everytime i get it working again the same problem happens it doesnt matter if i just have it idleing on the dashboard or playing a game, it always happens 7 – 10 minutes after turning it on. I seems like its timed, haha i need to figure out how to fix it myself..

  30. Chris, I had the same problem. I called MS becuase I finaly got the red ring, unfortunately they wouldn’t do a warranty repair under the 3 yr extension until the problem went permanent. I noticed also that the lights corresponding to the controllers were usually wrong when this happened. One day when it happened again I decided to see if it was a position sensor causing the proble so while the system was locked up I tried to lay it flat….OOOPS…It made a horrible noise and the Ring of Death became permanent.
    It took MS 2 days to get me a box, UPS 3 days to get it to TX, MS 1 day to repair and UPS 3 days to get it back to me.
    I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story, but there is a question..Has any one else had MS repair their system and have they had an reoccuring problems?


  31. OMG! i got the 3 lights thing too… the page froze a bit and it made bleep sounds…

    it stopped working and after reading what was on this thread i found that it you press you hand firm down on top of the console it comes back to life!

  32. Ok, I took my xbox 360 apart, I noticed there was quite a buildup of dust on the heatsinks, so I brushed them cleaned with a toothbrush and put it completely back together, and now it works like new again. God bless ingenuity =)

  33. I got the read ring of death after having my xbox for about 6 months, then i sent it to microsoft, they repaired it, and now three months after that it freezes right when i turn it on, but there are no red lights or anything

    1. The freezing of the xbox 360 is now becoming a very frequent problem. I just bought one off of ebay and it worked beautifully for a month or so. Then it satrted to freeze. I looked everywhere, tried new game disk, removing all accesories and clearing the cache, microsoft sends you through all this but it is a waste of time, the problem is the DVD Rom. dont try any magic tricks, if your xbox isnt working and its the occasional red light, but fixes itself and all it is doing is freezing then its not the 3 rings. mine froze and then gave me the ring of death i turned it off waited five minutes and it worked. MS has a manufactured DVD rom that didnt meet standards and now a lot of people are having the problem, this can also happen for the part being old. The best thing is to just send it in, dont check the sodder if it is FREEZING. i got lucky and still had a month warranty on mine and yeah it will take some time to get it fixed but it will be done properly.

  34. The towel trick has a small chance of working and can permently wreck your xbox and void your warrenty. I have another trick, which is simular, but safer. You put your xbox in the middle of your floor or just away from everything else. Turn it on its side and leave it on for about an hour. Turn it off and put it back flat. Turn it back on and it should work. You may need to let it cool off first and if you normally stand it on its side it may not work.

  35. If you intend to wrap a towel around your xbox 360 or put it in a microwave you may as well cast chicken bones in the middle of a pentagram during a full moon. Though the towel trick has only merit if you are trying to soften up the solder joints – AND add MORE death inducing heat to your CPU/GPU and system.

    Comparing a Xbox 360 with 1st or 2nd gen gaming system is like comparing a Ferrari with a Grand Am. There are more Grand Am’s with a lot more miles – but I bet you’d rather have the Ferrari.

    Heat and dust are the enemy. Over time heat will break down the components. Dust builds up over the heat sinks and fans and causes a rise in temps. Dust get into the fan axles and causes binding – they start dragging down and put a load demand on the power supply. The power supply is now over worked and cannot keep up the smooth flow of constant voltages to the mother board and CPU/GPU. The CPU/GPU’s are designed to work in a certain range of voltage – a surge or drop of the REQUIRED voltage will cause them to stop functioning and lock. A reboot/reset is needed to unlock them. Once the voltage drops again – they will lock again. Since the power supply/dust/heat problem has not been fixed – it will happen again – no matter what- no matter the game or updates.

    The fix depends on the reason for the heat build up. Is it the fans drawing extra power cause they are dirty? Is dust coating the heat sink fins? Is the power source at the wall outlet constant? Are you sure? You’d be surprised to find how variable house current is when the furnace or refridgerator kick on. You’d also be surprised to find how much dust will build up over the heat sinks in as little as a few months. Got pets in the house? Shorten the time.

    True the xbox 360 should have a power supply that is more robust than it is, but go price a good power supply for any tower computer – close to $100US. Think MS is going to source a $100 power supply for a $300 gaming system? To play the games that the xbox 360 plays on a regular computer you have to have quite a good gaming system costing a lot more.

    The fix? There is no one fix. Clean it out – blow out dust carefully, but completely. Keep your system off the floor or down low where dust settles. The laser eye on the DVD get dust on it as well and will not read the disk well due to dust (Cleaned mine with air and now works like new).

    Be careful when blowing dust out of the fans and cooling fins as you could blow more dust into the fan axles and cause them to bind – dust is just smaller pieces of dirt. A dry lubricant may help the fans – but DO NOT use oil or WD40 – will only attract MORE dirt. If the fans are louder than when you bought it – BINGO. It may need new fans anyway.

    I can’t go into the heat sink paste replacement here, but it could be another source – here again its HEAT that’s the problem.

    Remember the more over heating you allow to happen the more the system will degrade. Over heated Electronics just simply break down over time and a system like the xbox 360 that is running flat out most of the time will break down faster. Addressing only one area of the heat problem may allow a brief return to function, but it will be back again as the combined causes have not been taken care of.

    The PS3 may be more robust due to the cost of the better components. If you have been following the news – Sony looses money on every PS3 it sells. It cannot sell it cheaper – so less people can afford it. MS probably made the choice at components that would work in normal variances. They tested it for hundreds of hours running time at the FACTORY and probably know how long it would run before failure with what type components. They probably chose to make it cheaper to allow more people to be able to buy one.

    Blame them if you want, but everything in life in a compromise.

    If you have boiled baked or fried your Xbox 360 trying so called fixes and are now flaming MS all over the net and there is a half inch of dust caking the floor near your system and the fans ducts whine and screech like strangled cats – and your house power dims and surges everytime a new light is turned on – you are half the blame – The other half IS MS’s fault.

    So maybe the Wally World fix is the best fix……..I’m only saying………

  36. my xbox has been freezing a lot on some games lately and im trying to fix the issue myslef. i think its because my xbox was very dusty around the bottom region because i never cleaned under my xbox. well it turns out that there were huge dust bunnies there so what i did was i unplugged everything (wirelesss adapter, hard drive, 360 itself, everything else) and i cleaned every opening vent etc. now its under a fan with good ventilation, i hope this works. btw my games are literally SPOTLESS.

  37. One day i took my xbox of my tv stand just to dust under it and stuff. I finished doing that and plugged it in…i went to eat super and i came back to play it and the three lights poped up…i left it for about 5 minutes and came back. It was fine and has worked flawless since. That was about 3 months ago

    1. i had the same problem it will get worse with time eventually it will not boot up and the lights will be on forever unless you reset it then it will work but will happen eventually again best wat is to fix it permanetly

  38. Hey, I have a quick question concerning the soldering used for the XBOX360. I want to know the correct solder to use so that when it is repaired, this problem won’t happen again. Thank you



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