Common Issues with the Nintendo 3DS and How to Fix Them

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them
Video why is my 3ds not reading games

The Nintendo 3DS is a beloved gaming console with an impressive library of games. However, like any electronic device, it’s not immune to technical difficulties. There’s nothing more frustrating than encountering problems when you’re ready to play your favorite games. But fear not! In this article, we will discuss some of the most common issues with the Nintendo 3DS and provide you with solutions to fix or prevent them.

How to Get Help from Nintendo

If you encounter any issues with your Nintendo 3DS, the first step is to reach out to Nintendo for assistance. Nintendo has streamlined its support page, making it easier to find solutions to your problems. Simply visit the support page here and use the search function to look up the error code you’re experiencing. Nintendo also offers support for Nintendo Switch problems on the same page.

Your System is Freezing or Won’t Turn Off

Just like any electronic device, the Nintendo 3DS can occasionally freeze, leaving you unable to use any of the buttons, including the power button. Luckily, there is a simple fix for this problem.


  1. Hold down the power button for ten seconds to perform a hard reset. This will shut down the console completely. You can then turn it back on as usual.
  2. If the freezing issue persists, try updating the system software. Go to the System settings, select Other settings, and scroll through the pages until you find System update. Follow the on-screen instructions to update the software.
  3. If the problem continues even after updating the system, it may be related to the game you’re playing. Check the eShop for any updates and use the Nintendo 3DS Download Repair Tool, which can be found in the eShop under “history” and “redownloadable software.” Follow the instructions to repair the installed software without losing any saved data.
  4. If none of these solutions work, it’s possible that the problem is hardware-related. Contact Nintendo’s online repair service for further assistance.

Your System Won’t Wake Up from Sleep Mode

If your Nintendo 3DS refuses to wake up from Sleep mode, it’s likely due to a low battery.


  1. Press the power button to turn off the system completely. Then turn it back on. If the Sleep mode issue is resolved, you’re good to go.
  2. If the system won’t turn on and the light is blinking red, connect the charger and let it charge until the orange charging light goes out. If it’s not charging, proceed to the next section, “Console Isn’t Charging Properly.”
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Console Isn’t Charging Properly

If your Nintendo 3DS battery dies quickly or doesn’t charge properly, the issue could be with the charger or the system itself.


  1. If you have a 3DS charging cradle, plug it into an outlet and place your 3DS in it. If the system still doesn’t charge, you may need to send the console, AC adaptor, and charging cradle to Nintendo for replacement.
  2. If you don’t have the cradle, try using a different AC adaptor and plug the 3DS directly into a wall outlet.
  3. If the console charges when using a different AC adaptor, it indicates that the previous adaptor is faulty. You can purchase a replacement, or if your 3DS is less than a year old, Nintendo can provide a replacement. Note that the charger has a 90-day warranty if purchased separately.
  4. If the 3DS still doesn’t charge with a different AC adaptor, the problem may be hardware-related. Contact Nintendo’s online repair service for assistance.

Lines and Smudges on the Top Screen

The original 3DS had a design flaw that could cause vertical lines to appear on the top screen.


  1. To prevent the lines from turning into scratches, use a screen protector. Apply the protector carefully, leaving a small amount of space around the edges of both the top and bottom screens. Use the included plastic tool to remove any bubbles from the protector.
  2. It’s advisable to have a 3DS kit that includes a microfiber cleaning cloth. Keep it with your system and use it to wipe the vertical lines off the protector when necessary.

Speakers Are Making Undesirable Noises

The 3DS’ internal speakers are known for their subpar sound quality, and you may experience popping or crackling sounds, especially in quiet environments.


  1. Try increasing the volume above 30% and see if the popping sound stops. If playing at a high volume isn’t an option, use a pair of headphones to bypass the design flaw.
  2. If the popping problem persists, it may indicate a hardware defect. Contact Nintendo’s online repair service for further assistance.

Circle Pad Isn’t Working Correctly

The Circle Pad on the left side of the 3DS can sometimes become unresponsive or act differently than it should. However, you may be able to fix the issue by recalibrating it.


  1. Go to Settings, then Other on your 3DS, and locate the Circle Pad option.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to recalibrate the Circle Pad by rotating and moving it as directed.
  3. If recalibration doesn’t solve the problem, it’s likely a hardware issue. Contact Nintendo’s online repair service for further assistance.
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How to Make a New Circle Pad

If your Circle Pad is broken or missing, you can attempt to create a replacement.


  1. Flatten a small piece of polymer clay to the same size as the original Circle Pad.
  2. Place it on top of the small nub left from the original Circle Pad, making sure it can still move in all directions.
  3. Score the indentation on the clay with a knife or toothpick, then follow the instructions on the clay packaging to bake it in the oven.
  4. Use a tiny amount of super glue to attach the replacement Circle Pad to your 3DS. Allow the system to rest in the open position for a day. You’ll then have a fully functional and DIY Circle Pad. Note that this solution may void your system warranty. If you’re not comfortable with this repair, it’s best to send your system to Nintendo for professional repair.

The Touch Screen Isn’t Responding

The 3DS touch screen can be finicky, requiring more pressure than other touch screens to register inputs.


  1. Instead of using your finger, try using a stylus to interact with the touch screen. The smaller point of a stylus increases pressure and improves the screen’s responsiveness.
  2. Press harder on the touch screen. Remember that the 3DS screen requires more pressure than most contemporary touch screens, especially when sliding the stylus.
  3. If the touch screen is still unresponsive, go to the system settings, select Other settings, then Touch screen. Follow the on-screen instructions to recalibrate the touch screen. Also, check for stuck buttons, as they can affect the touch screen’s performance.
  4. Removing a screen protector, if you have one, may also help resolve the issue. However, it’s recommended to replace the protector as soon as possible.
  5. If none of the above steps work, the touch screen may require repair. Contact Nintendo’s online repair service for further assistance.

Your System’s Hinge Is Loose

If you have one of the original 3DS models, you might notice that the console’s hinge moves more than expected, even after it clicks into place.


  1. Unfortunately, the loose hinge cannot be fixed. The best solution is to upgrade to a newer 3DS model, such as the 3DS XL or the New Nintendo 3DS, which have tighter hinges.
  2. If you want to save some money, consider the 2DS, which doesn’t have a hinge at all.

Some Games Are Running Poorly on Your “Old” 3DS

Since the release of the more powerful New Nintendo 3DS, certain games may not perform well on older 3DS models.


  1. If you’re experiencing issues with specific games, such as significant frame rate drops, it may be time to consider upgrading to a New 3DS model.
  2. If purchasing a new model isn’t an option, there isn’t much you can do to fix the performance issues. Unfortunately, some newer games may not work properly on the original 3DS model.

In conclusion, while the Nintendo 3DS is an excellent gaming console, it can experience technical problems. By following the solutions provided in this article, you can troubleshoot and resolve many common issues on your own. If the problem persists or if you’re unsure about any repairs, don’t hesitate to contact Nintendo’s online repair service for professional assistance. Happy gaming!