How To Fix A Broken PS3

PS3s, like most modern tech, break. They might take a while to do so, but chances are – ultimately – they’ll stop working. The one below was a launch model, day one, and lasted five years before kicking up the nasty Red Light Of Death during a viewing of Toy Story 3 on Blu-ray.

That’s probably not important. What is important is that the console was dead. It would switch on for a second or two before flashing a red LED and shutting back down. I waited over a month before trying to fix it, before finally realising that I should at least attempt to see if it still works.

So I (and a mate) pulled it to bits. Shoved the bits in a couple of carrier bags, and forgot about it.

broken ps3

Last Friday – a couple of weeks later – as regular readers to the TSA twitter might remember, we grabbed some beers, some pizza (it was some spicy hot chicken thing) and opened up the bags and panicked. Mainly because we had no idea which bit went where, but also because we’d not separated the little screws.

They were just in a little bit of tin foil, all mixed together. This, we thought, might be fun.

broken ps3

First things first, let’s give the motherboard a clean. Dusting off any five year old crap and then – using what could only be described as industrial strength orange-scented Fairy Liquid, we began to carefully remove the sticky white paste on top of the chips, assuming that the PS3’s failure was due to some dodgy heat transfer or something.

The insides of a PS3, like most consoles, is a wondrous thing. All the bits and bats that Sony fed in their pre-launch hype were present and correct: look, the Reality Synthesiser! That was the thing that made MotorStorm look fancy, I seem to remember. Regardless, all the chips were cleaned and looked sparkling. This repairing lark was easy.

broken ps3

To make sure, we pulled everything to bits. Everything. The bit Portal-like industrial fan was scary, as was all that copper stuff that we could only assume was to make Kratos’ blades super shiny. There’s a lot of heavy metal inside the PS3 – at least the launch models – alongside all the fancy circuitboard stuff. The newer models probably just run off jelly.

If any of this is too technical, we apologise. The beer was nice, though, it was that lower strength Stella stuff that didn’t taste nearly as bad as the usual lager, and didn’t make us want to watch football or light a fag and play Call of Duty, so that’s nice.

broken ps3

As we were going, people on Twitter were telling us that we had to do more stuff. One of the extra tasks we adopted was to “reloat the flux”. Now, I’ve seen Back to the Future and my mate’s car is a 2 litre, so reaching 88mph wasn’t a problem. However, we were being directed towards a ‘heat gun’ and non-flammable surfaces, so we took the motherboard outside and blasted the hell out of it.

Nothing really floated, but it start to smell a bit, so we reckoned that was all good, and left it to cool whilst we had another beer and another go on Max Payne 3. When it was all dry (and literally freezing) we brought it back inside and then started the process of putting everything back together.

broken ps3

This bit was actually easy, apart from the mock catapults that Sony installed that needed both sides gradually screwing it otherwise everything inside would implode and all the Loco Roco would spill out. However, unless you’ve got about eight hands all they did was fly around the room and projected little eye-sized screws at your face. Deadly.

To the right is an iPad. This wasn’t also broken, it was used as a web browser so that we could see how things were supposed to be done. It was quite useful, but required considerable padding and sleeving to avoid the deadly metal shards from the PS3.

broken ps3

So, anyway, half an hour later and we were done. All back together apart from the top bit of plastic which I stood on and snapped. That bit wasn’t really necessary anyway, the whole innards were fixed, cleaned and re-floated, whatever that meant. We were good to go. I found the kettle lead for the system, plugged it in and counted down from 3.

Magically, the thing worked. It was green. It booted. I took and tweeted a picture to prove it. We were back in business. We’d fixed something. We were legendary heroes who would be talked about for years. I could sense the book deal, it was close.

broken ps3

And then it went red again.

Throwing the useless, terminally dead piece of crap back into the same carrier bag it had been rotting in for weeks, we grabbed another beer and played some more Max Payne 3. These things are sent to test us, of course, and this particular model had – as they say – run its course, had a good innings and served me well.

An anticlimax? More of a cliffhanger…



  1. THe inside of my PS3 needs a good clean, but then i take one look at this and have a slight heart attack, id never be able to put humpty dumpty back together again.

  2. I had a YLOD and got out the heat gun. Repaired it and it lasted 2 months. Repaired again and it last 1 month. Again and this time 2 weeks. And then I went an bought a new one.

    • I did exactly the same for myself and my other friends who were silly enough to buy US launch models. Every time you fix it the time it stays fixed decreases exponentially. In the end I gave up and bought a slim. My YLOD 20GB is still lying in a cupboard, I dunno what to do with it. I don’t have the heart to throw it away. I loved that thing.

    • I’m pleased to read this. When my 40GB got the dreaded YLOD I wandered into Maplins to grab myself a heatgun and some thermal paste to attempt the well documented fix.

      The spotty teenager that insisted on assisting informed me that although it would work it was unlikely to stay fixed for long. He also told me that I should buy an Xbox360 as they were infinitely better. I told him that I already had one and that it wasn’t and I left empty handed deciding to take his first bit of advice on board.

      I sold my Xbox and bought a new slim PS3 so I’m pleased my decision, and his advice, appears to be sensible considering my net spend for a new PS3 was £60. It would have cost me a few hours and £30 to attempt the repair.

    • Yep me too, my first repair lasted 4 months though and I screwed up my second attempt by snapping some components off the motherboard. The legendary hero bit made me chuckle as that’s exactly how I felt!

  3. Ahh I’m gutted for you that it went red again, such a sad ending to an otherwise triumphant tale. 10/10 for effort!

  4. Can’t we just swap the CPU and GPU from a PS3 slim?
    Surely it’s just like PC motherboard and CPU/GPU’s.

    • then the games would not run I should think.

    • Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. the cpu literally melts the solder holding it in place until one day it finally losses contact with the motherboard basically losses its Shit so melting it back onto the board with the heat gun is the only way to get it to work again, but as stated its only a patch, mine lasted 2 weeks after fixing. my advice, try try try to fix it do you can back up any/all save data (you can always download games again) then pay Sony like not even $200 au to replace all the parts with new gen stuff. cheaper than a new one but you can’t keep the card readers or backwards compatibility.

  5. i was so excited the anticipation was building and then you dropped me of a cliff at the end. nice, good article .

  6. Sounds scary.

    My 5 year old console has huge problems playing RDR (literally last an hour at most before freezing) and is very loud, but i don’t really want to be the one to clean it out seeing as it still works, for now.

  7. Great article. Perhaps we could make it a regular on here:-

    “Next week, how to repair a broken PS Vita Launch.”

  8. Got an old phat PS3 that needs fixing but hadn’t got round to searching the web for help, Glad to see this article, thanks for saving me time scouring the interweb.

    • Forgot to ask, does it make a difference what type of pizza it is?

  9. I got my PS3 60gb second hand and it died with YLoD at the beginning of the year. Fixed it as mentioned here and lasted for two months and then it failed again. Repeated steps but it didnt work. Looking at the board some of the smaller chips had a decidedly “burnt” look about them so gave up and bought a slim. Still miss the old shiny one though…sob

  10. Those bloody Toy Story 3 blu ray’s!!!!

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