How do I fix my computer fan from clicking?

If your computer fan is making loud clicking or rattling noises, it likely means the fan bearings are worn out and need to be replaced. A noisy computer fan can be annoying and may also be a sign that your computer is overheating. Replacing the fan is usually a relatively easy fix that can be done yourself.

What causes a computer fan to make clicking noises?

There are a few common reasons a computer fan starts to make noise:

  • Fan bearings are worn out – Fan bearings are lubricated metal sleeves that allow the fan blades to spin smoothly. Over time, the lubricant wears out causing the metal parts to rub together, creating a clicking or grinding noise.
  • Obstruction in the fan – Dust, cables, or other debris may get caught in the fan blades and prevent them from spinning properly. The obstruction scrapes against the fan as it tries to spin, causing a rattling or grinding noise.
  • Fan is loosely mounted – The fan housing may have become loose inside the computer, causing it to vibrate and rattle as the fan spins.
  • Fan motor failure – In some cases, the motor that drives the fan can start to fail, leading to odd noises from the strain on the motor. This usually means the fan needs to be replaced.

How can I confirm it’s the computer fan making noise?

To confirm that the noise is coming from the computer fan and not one of the internal hard drives or other components, take these steps:

  1. Open the computer case and power on the computer. Listen closely to isolate the source of the noise.
  2. Gently stop each of the fans with your finger to see if the noise stops. The fan that causes the noise to stop when halted is likely the problematic fan.
  3. Visually inspect the fans for any obstructions rubbing against the fan blades.
  4. Power off the computer and unplug the power cable from the power supply. Then manually spin each fan with your finger to feel for grinding or resistance.

How to fix a clicking/noisy computer fan

Here are some steps to try to fix a clicking or noisy computer fan:

1. Clean the fan

Use compressed air to blow out any dust or debris buildup on the fan blades, heat sink fins, and motor housing. Canned air cleaners designed for cleaning electronics work well. Make sure the fan blades spin freely after cleaning.

2. Check fan mounting

If the fan is making a rattling noise, make sure the fan is securely mounted to the case. Tighten any loose screws in the fan housing. If there are rubber isolators mounting the fan, make sure they are not cracked or brittle.

3. Listen for grinding

Power on the computer and listen closely to the fan while manually spinning it. If you hear grinding or the fan offers uneven resistance, the fan bearings are likely worn out and need replacement.

4. Replace the fan

If cleaning or troubleshooting the fan mount doesn’t resolve the issue, replacement is likely needed. Most computer fans are inexpensive and readily available online or at electronics stores. Make sure to get the same size, connector type, and power specs as the original fan.

5. Test for overheating

A failing fan can be caused by chronic overheating. Download a system temperature monitoring utility like Speedfan or HWmonitor. Check temperatures at idle and under load to see if the CPU or system is overheating. address ventilation issues or a failing heat sink/thermal paste if there are overheating problems.

Choosing a replacement CPU or case fan

If you determine the CPU or case fan needs to be replaced, make sure to choose the correct replacement model. Here are some tips for selecting a replacement fan:

  • Match the size – Measure your fan’s frame size or check the specs to get the same size replacement. Common sizes are 80mm, 92mm, 120mm, and 140mm.
  • Match the connector – Many fans use a standard 2-pin, 3-pin, or 4-pin connector that connects to the motherboard. Make sure to get one with the same connector style.
  • Check airflow direction – Airflow direction can be important for cooling. Make sure a replacement case fan pushes air in the same direction – either exhausting out or bringing air in.
  • Mind the power rating – Get a fan rated for similar voltage as the original. Most standard fans are 12V.
  • Check RPM speed – Higher RPM fans move more air but are louder. Make sure the fan speed is adequate for your cooling needs.
  • Consider noise level – Check noise ratings measured in dBA if fan noise is an issue.

Replacing a CPU fan/heatsink

CPU fans often are part of a larger heatsink assembly. When replacing a CPU fan, it’s generally best to replace the whole heatsink and fan assembly for optimal cooling performance. Check manufacturer specs for the correct compatible replacement unit.

Make sure to thoroughly clean the old thermal paste off the CPU before installing the new heatsink. Apply fresh thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink to help transfer heat into the heatsink. Consult your computer or motherboard manual for the recommended thermal paste application method.

Installing case fans

Replacing a case fan is much simpler than swapping a CPU fan. Follow these tips when installing a new case fan:

  • Screw in the new fan where the old one was mounted, making sure the air flows in the same direction.
  • If replacing a fan mounted in plastic housing clips, remove the entire fan housing and clip in the new fan.
  • Consult the case manual for fan mounting instructions and screw hole locations if not apparent.
  • Attach the new fan’s connector to the same motherboard header or fan controller the old one used.
  • Use cable ties as needed to keep cables tidy and avoid obstruction.

Troubleshooting fan issues

If a noisy fan persists after attempting the above fixes, here are some additional things to check:

Update BIOS and drivers

An outdated BIOS or fan control driver can sometimes cause fan issues. Check your motherboard support site for the latest BIOS and drivers. Install updates to see if it resolves any fan noise problems.

Fan control settings

Enter your BIOS settings or use your motherboard manufacturer’s fan control software utility. Make sure the fan control mode is set appropriately and the fan response curves are calibrated properly. Misconfigured fan settings can cause fan noise issues.

Graphics card fan

If you have a discrete graphics card, don’t overlook troubleshooting its fan as well if you’re still having noise issues. Clean, inspect, and test the GPU fans in the same manner described above.

Refurbished fan

In some cases of bearing wear making fan replacement difficult, you can have the original fan disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled. Various online services offer fan refurbishing if you can’t find an exact replacement.

When to replace vs. repair a computer fan

Here are some guidelines on whether you should replace or try repairing a noisy computer fan:

Issue Recommendation
Loud grinding, squeaking noise Replace fan – Bearings likely worn out
Fan loose/rattling in housing Repair – Tighten mounting or replace isolators
Obstructed fan/blades don’t spin freely Repair – Clean fan of dust & debris
Uneven running noise Replace fan – Motor likely defective
Fan running slower and loud Replace fan – Bearings re-lubricating may temporarily help

Replacing a fan is usually the better option if you hear grinding or other harsh mechanical sounds. For mild rattling or obstruction issues, try fixing the fan mount or cleaning first before replacing.

Preventing computer fan problems

You can head off many computer fan issues by keeping up with consistent maintenance and providing adequate cooling:

  • Clean fans and heatsinks every 6-12 months to prevent dust buildup.
  • Ensure the computer case and components have adequate airflow and ventilation.
  • Make sure the computer is not constantly overheating or running too hot.
  • Replace the thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink every 2-3 years.
  • Do not obstruct fans with cables or other components.
  • Keep computers away from floors, carpets, and walls to allow proper air intake.

With proper computer cooling maintenance, you can keep your fans running smoothly and quietly for years before needing replacement.


Clicking and grinding noises coming from computer fans are usually a sign of wear that requires replacement of the defective fan. Confirm the fan is the source of the noise, then clean and inspect the fan before replacing it if needed. Match specifications like size, power rating, connector type, and airflow direction when selecting a replacement fan. With routine cleaning and maintenance, you can maximize the lifespan of computer fans and prevent premature failure.