So you’ve sat down to play your Nintendo Wii, but you keep getting the following error message that says “Unable to read the disc. Check the Wii Operations Manual for help troubleshooting.”
This is by far the most common problem with the original Wii. In this guide we’ll diagnose and dissect the error so you can get that Wii reading discs again. Let’s get started.
In this fix guide, we will go through the following steps until we fix the error:
- Step 1) Try Cleaning The Disc
- Step 2) Test Other Games
- Step 3) Clean The Laser Lens
- Step 4) Replace The Laser Lens
Step 1) Try Cleaning The Disc
The first inclination that most people have when they see the unable to read the disc error is to try to clean the disc, and honestly it’s a good place to start. Here is a great quick and simple guide of how to clean a game disc*:
*Credit to BlownUpGaming Nation for the disc cleaning tutorial.
Once you’ve done that, try putting the game into the Wii again to see if the error goes away.
Sometimes cleaning the disc is all you have to do. However, there is usually more to it than that. If only it were that easy!
Chances are if you are reading this guide you have already tried this without success, so let’s move on.
Step 2) Test Other Games
Put some other games in and see if your Wii will play them.
If the Wii will read other discs and games with no error, then you’ve discovered the problem! There is most likely nothing wrong with your console, and it’s the disc that’s causing all the grief . The disc giving you the error is most likely damaged, badly scratched, or has a defect and needs repaired or replaced.
Dual Layered Discs:
The exception to this, is if the disc giving you an error is a dual layered disc. Dual layered discs can hold twice the amount of information, which allows for more robust games. However, Wii’s have been known to have trouble playing these dual layered discs if the laser lens is dirty or needs replaced. The best way to fix the disc read error for dual layered discs is to replace the laser lens (step 4). Here is a list of all known dual layered games for the Wii (if your console is having trouble reading these games, but will read other games, go to steps 3 and 4):
Metroid Prime: Trilogy
Metroid: Other M
Raving Rabbids Party Collection
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
Samurai Warriors 3
Sengoku Musou 3 Moushouden
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
The Last Story
If you are still getting an error, or the error occurs with multiple games and discs, and you are sure the discs are clean and not damaged, move on to step 3.
Step 3) Clean the Laser Lens
OK, after going through steps 1 and 2 we’ve discovered that it’s most likely not the disc causing the error. This means there has to be something wrong with the Wii console itself.
The laser lens is the issue.
At this point, the error is either occurring because the laser lens inside the Wii (the part of the Wii that actually reads the disc) is either dirty, or has failed.
With that in mind, if you would like to give it a shot and clean the laser lens you are going to want to make sure you do it right.
Cleaning the laser lens can be difficult on the Wii since there is no direct access to the lens. Nintendo makes it easy to do this with their Wii Lens Cleaning Kit which you can get for about $15-$20.
Just grab the kit, follow the instructions, insert a game and see if this fixes the problem. If it does, great! If not, move on to step 4.
Don’t get your hopes up with this step, though. On most occasions you will end up doing step 4.
We recommend only using the official Wii Lens Cleaning Kit. Other DIY methods have been known to damage the Wii laser lens further, so it’s better to use a kit that is specifically designed for it.
Step 4) Replace The Laser Lens
Replacing the laser lens will fix most, if not all, read disc errors. Honestly, this is the only real solution to this problem.
It has been our experience that the unable to read the disc error often shows up when the laser has stopped working all together. You can do all the cleaning you want but I am sorry to say that cleaning doesn’t fix a none-working laser lens. It seems that this can be an occasional problem at first. Eventually the laser will stop working completely, and when it does you will see this error on every game disc you try to play.
How to Fix It by Replacing The Lens
Replacement is actually a pretty simple process. With a little bit of patience and the right tools, you can perform this fix yourself.
You will need a few things to replace the laser lens:
- Wii Laser Lens Replacement – In order to replace the laser lens, you are going to need a replacement! You can find a Brand New Laser Lens for Wii Replacement Part in our store for under $15. We de-solder the laser lens before shipping, so you don’t need a soldering iron.*
- Tri Wing Screwdriver (size Y0), and a tiny Phillips Screwdriver (size #000) – You can find a Wii Screwdriver Set here. This screwdriver set is exactly what you need in this repair. These screwdrivers are necessary to take apart, and reassemble the Wii.*
- 1-2 hours of your time. Take your time and don’t rush the repair.
We are in the process of creating an in-depth How To on replacing the laser assembly. We may not currently have a How To on this, but in the mean time, here is a great tutorial by Tinker Mods:
As was stated earlier, we will go into detail on the replacement in a future post. For now, take your time and follow the above tutorial step by step and you should have no issues with your repair.
Hopefully this guide was helpful and you are well on your way to fixing this pesky problem!