How to Fix the 3 Flashing Red Lights on a PS3

By Matt Brogan

The PlayStation 3 is quite a robust and reliable console. However, there is one issue that some users find themselves facing--the flashing red light appearing on the front of the machine. This is commonly caused by overheating, which can be triggered by a number of factors, including dust buildup, lack of ventilation or loose or disconnected cables. Sony will fix this problem for you, but before you send your PlayStation away, there are a number of simple techniques that can avoid this plan of action.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry cloth
  • Earbuds
  • Hand-held vaccum cleaner

Cleaning Dust Buildup

Step 1

Turn off the PlayStation 3. Disconnect all the cables to the console. Blow into every exposed connection to remove any dust buildup.

Step 2

Remove heavy dust buildup by using a dry cloth. Make sure not to push the cloth too far into any connections to prevent disconnecting internal wiring.

Step 3

Remove dust from the fan at the back of the console. Blowing won't clean heavy buildup, and a cloth usually can't get deep enough. Use an earbud to get into the back of the fan and remove all the dust. Be careful not to push the earbud farther than the fans' blades to prevent internal damage.

Step 4

Vacuum out the remaining dust from the fan and exposed connection using a hand-held vacuum cleaner. This will extract any dust that you may have pushed inside while cleaning.

Step 5

Reconnect all cables and turn the PlayStation on. If the red light is still present, move on to Section 2.

Removing the Hard Drive

Step 1

Turn off the PlayStation 3. Press the release button on the outside of the hard drive slot.

Step 2

Remove the hard drive. Rid of any dust with a dry cloth. Use earbuds for any hard-to-reach places.

Step 3

Turn the PlayStation 3 on without the hard drive inside. Allow the console to boot up fully. Turn the PlayStation 3 off. Reinsert the had drive.

Step 4

Insert a game (if there is not one in already) and turn on the console. Allow it to fully boot up the first option screen.

Step 5

Turn off the console. Remove the game and hard drive. Reboot the console again. Turn it off once more and reinsert the hard drive. Repeat this process three times. This is the most common technique for solving the red light issue (and the first process taken when you send your console to Sony).

Sending PlayStation 3 to Sony

Step 1

Pack the PlayStation 3 into either its original box or one of a similar size. Include only the console (with the hard drive removed).

Step 2

Fill the box will bubble wrap, newspaper and any other material to cushion the console and prevent damage.

Step 3

Contact Sony via telephone numbers provided on its website and obtain a customer receipt number and sending address.

Step 4

Send the console to the provided address. If the device is still under warranty, it will cost you nothing to fix. If not, it will be approximately $150. Fixing your PlayStation 3 and returning it to you is a process that takes up to six weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Allow your PlayStation to rest. Try not to play it for prolonged periods (for example, five or more hours in one sitting). Always turn it off when it is not being used.