Getting flashing red lights on your console after your Xbox 360 stops working is a frustrating experience. If you don’t understand the meaning of these lights, it’s impossible to know what you should do next.
For starters, there are four different light patterns or error codes to be aware of. Each error code denotes a specific type or class of problems. The error codes and their meanings are listed below:
1.) One red light.
This indicates a hardware problem. Turn off the console and remove the cables. Then reattach the cables and turn the console back on.
If it still flashes a one red light, then repeat the process with the hard drive. Power off the console, detach then reattach the hard drive and turn the power back on. You should also do this with the memory unit if your console has one. Power off, remove, reattach, and then power on again.
The point of this procedure was to ensure that the hard drive, cables, and memory unit were securely attached.
2.) Two red lights.
Two red lights mean that the console has over heated. Your Xbox needs to cool down so turn off the power and allow a few hours of rest time. The Xbox has a marginal cooling system at best and can’t handle abuse of any kind.
It is extremely delicate in this regard. It should only be used in cool and well ventilated environments. Don’t place it next to other electronics (they put out heat), ovens, stoves, or in direct sunlight.
Keep your Xbox out of any and all enclosures. The fan vents draw in a lot of air for cooling purposes. So it’s important that they not become clogged up.
Keep these vents clean of dirt and dust. Placing you Xbox on shaggy carpeting or on very soft surfaces like the top of your bed covers can also obstruct air flow into the fan vents.
3.) Three red lights.
Three red lights indicate a hardware problem with either the console or with its power supply. The three red light condition has two basic causes. Either the Xbox is starved for power, or it is running too hot.
First check to see if it’s getting enough power. The power supply has a light on its side. It should be green, if not, start checking the power cord connections. Make sure that your wall outlet or power surge protector aren’t at fault.
If too much heat is causing the 3 red light error, the problem may be caused by the way that you are operating the Xbox. It could also be caused by an internal defect. You should first rule out operational causes by using the recommendations for the 2 red light error. If you are still having problems, then an internal component needs replacement or repair.
4.) Four red lights.
You have an AV cable that is either loose or damaged. Reattach the cable or get a new one if required.
Think you can repair your Xbox by opening up the console? Some people have successfully done this but there are even more who have attempted self repair and failed. If you want a working Xbox instead of a piece of scrap, be sure to avoid the following 5 hazards:
1.) Using bad or incomplete information.
There are a lot of people on the Internet with their own ideas and theories about how to repair the red ring of death. Any adult, teen, or child with a Youtube account can upload a home made video and be an “expert”. All sorts of methods are shown from very radical Xbox mods to discredited techniques like the towel fix.
Even if the technique discussed is correct, it may be difficult or next to impossible to follow because the explanation and video was poor. Remember that the person providing this information doesn’t have to answer to anyone if his advice causes damage to your console.
Perhaps it may be worth your while to get a repair guide with a guarantee to refund your money if the fix doesn’t work. Before buying the guide, make sure that it has lots of favorable reviews.
2.) Static electricity.
Microelectronics are extremely vulnerable to static discharge. Static discharge is the shock that you sometimes get on a very dry day. This can happen when you shuffle your feet on the carpet and then touch a door handle.
If this should happen to a component in the console, it will be damaged. If it’s very dry, do your repair on another day. Try wearing an anti-static wrist strap and avoid working on carpeting.
The console should be on an anti-static mat or bag when doing your work. Keep all loose console components in an anti-static bag.
3.) Losing or breaking parts.
In addition to fragile parts which are easily damaged, you will end up with lots of small parts that may be misplaced. So take your time and be careful. Don’t proceed to the next step if you aren’t sure of what you’re doing.
4.) Using the wrong parts.
Some very common items are typically used in repairing your console. But this doesn’t give you a free license to use whatever you please.
For example, washers are commonly specified. If you are asked to use one washer, don’t use two. That extra washer can mean the difference between an Xbox that works and one that doesn’t. This also applies to the size of the washer as well as to the material that it’s made from. A metal washer is not the same as a plastic one.
5.) Sloppy application of thermal compound.
It’s a recognized fact that dried up thermal paste can result in overheating that leads to the red ring of death. Don’t apply new thermal compound before cleaning off the old thermal compound. Be careful of using too much because this will lead to overheating. Just use a very thin coat. Arctic Silver is best used for this.
One common concern that many Xbox 360 owners have is whether or not they will get the red ring of death. It is very common for your console to behave oddly before the ring of death happens.
Whatever you do, don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore these warning signs. You will have to face the fact that there is something seriously wrong and that it is not going away on its own.
Here is a list of some very common symptoms or warning signs of an impending RROD failure:
1.) The only thing that works is the button that turns the console on or off.
2.) The sound stops or there are sounds of static.
3.) The console freezes.
4.) You get problems with the graphics. There may be checker patterns, stripes, or any effects that don’t belong to the game that you’re playing.
5.) You see a message that says the disc can’t be read.
6.) Getting the 2 red light error (overheating) is a common occurrence.
Strictly speaking, the 2 red light error isn’t a warning sign of the red ring of death. However, too much overheating of the console will eventually cause the red ring of death because heat causes internal damage. This damage builds up until your Xbox malfunctions.
You can also get the RROD without warning of any kind. If this should happen, it may be possible that your console is just fine. It could be that a cable simply needs to be reattached or that the console isn’t getting adequate power.
Sometimes when the console overheats, it will flash 3 red lights (red ring of death) instead of 2 red lights. In this case it’s simply a matter of making sure that your Xbox runs cool by avoiding common user mistakes such as using the Xbox in an area that prevents it from getting enough air into its cooling vents.
Another mistake is operating the console next to other heat sources. If you aren’t making any of these mistakes and you’re still experiencing overheating, then you may have to get a cooling fan, preferably one that is external and has it’s own independent power supply.
Getting any warning signs that worsen over time is a bad thing because it indicates that internal damage has occurred and is steadily getting worse.