8 Annoying Nintendo 3DS Problems and How to Fix Them

While the Nintendo 3DS is over a decade old, it’s still a fantastic handheld games console. Unfortunately, due to the age of the console, you may find that your Nintendo 3DS is prone to hard-to-resolve software and hardware issues.

If you’re having issues with your Nintendo 3DS (whether 3DS or 3DS XL), like no sound, an unresponsive touchscreen, or not charging, we’re here to help. Here are some common 3DS problems and how to fix them.

1. Top screen or touch screen is dirty

While the 3DS naturally protects itself with the foldable design, both screens are still susceptible to getting dirty. This is especially true if you use your fingers on the touch screen. Fortunately, the screens are easy to clean.

Take a microfiber cloth and gently wipe away the dirt. For any stubborn dirt, lightly dampen the cloth – you don’t want water getting inside your system, so make sure the cloth doesn’t drip. You can also use an antibacterial wipe designed for touchscreens.

play smash bros on nintendo 3ds
Image Credit: Tinxi/Shutterstock

Do you have dirt on the edges of the touch screen, between the screen and the 3DS case? If so, Nintendo recommends that you use a new toothbrush to remove the particles. All information is available at Nintendo Support Site.

If you’re using a screen protector, chances are dirt is on it rather than the screen itself. You may want to consider replacing the guard or removing it altogether.


2. Touchscreen not responding

If your Nintendo 3DS touchscreen responds erratically to input, you may need to recalibrate it. To do this, go to System Parameters > Other settings > Touchscreen. Here, touch the center of the circles with the stylus. You can also launch it directly from startup by holding down the key Power, I, Rand X buttons.

If you are using a screen protector on the touchscreen, remove it. Although you may want a screen protector on your phone, they are known to reduce the input sensitivity of the 3DS screen. Also try to use the stylus when possible, rather than your finger, to ensure consistent input.

3. Game cartridges cannot be read

There is nothing more frustrating than your 3DS not being able to read a game cartridge. If possible, test the game on another 3DS. If that doesn’t work there, the cartridge is at fault rather than your console. In this case, contact the dealer for a replacement.

3ds games on a shelf
Image Credit: Lutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock

Also, unlike the original DS, the 3DS is region locked. This means that you can only play games purchased from the same region as the console.

If none of your games work, your console is faulty. According to TronicsFix, this is often caused by the pins of the game slot being dirty. To fix this, place a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab. Rub it on the pins of any of your games. Then, with the console off, insert and remove the cartridge about ten times. This should hopefully clean up the console pins.

4. 3DS not charging

If your 3DS won’t charge and you have a charging cradle, disconnect it and plug your 3DS directly into the wall via the AC adapter. If it works, your charging cradle is faulty.

If you only have the power adapter and it does not charge your console, try a replacement. Your power adapter may be broken.

Alternatively, if your console only works when plugged in, or the battery drains quickly (should last about five hours on a full charge), the battery is faulty and needs to be replaced. You can either ask a professional to do it or follow Nintendo Battery Replacement Guide.

5. Unable to connect to the Internet

You do not need to maintain an Internet connection to use your 3DS. However, it is necessary when you want to play online, download games, browse the web, etc. As such, it’s understandably frustrating not being able to connect to the internet.

First, check Nintendo Operational Status Page to see if the servers are down or undergoing maintenance. If they are, all you can do is wait.

Alternatively, the problem may be with your internet connection; test another device like laptop or mobile to find out. If your internet connection is failing, check out our guide on how to fix an unstable Wi-Fi connection.

6. Microphone not working

The Nintendo 3DS has a built-in microphone. Some games, like Super Mario 3D Land, make fancy use of it, while others use it for voice chat.

nintendo black 3ds

If you think your 3DS microphone is broken, you can test it via System Parameters > Other Settings > Microphone test. Speak and you should see your voice recorded on the screen.

If you don’t, chances are your microphone is broken. A simple solution is to plug in headphones that include a microphone; the 3DS supports them with no additional configuration required. Check out our recommendations for cheap wired headphones.

7. Circular pad not responding properly

If your circular pad is not registering movements correctly or detecting input when there is none, you need to calibrate it. To do this, go to System Parameters > Other settings > Circular buffer. Here you can reset the neutral position of the circular pad and calibrate the directional recording.

If your circle pad isn’t registering any input, or if this calibration tool isn’t responding accurately to your movements, chances are you need to have your 3DS repaired by a professional.

8. No sound from speakers

If you hear no sound from your Nintendo 3DS, check that the physical volume slider is up. Yes, it seems obvious, but it’s worth checking out.

Also keep in mind that your 3DS won’t come out of its speakers when you have headphones plugged in. On that note, if you can hear through headphones but not through the 3DS speakers, that suggests a hardware fault with your console that will require professional repair. .

Can’t hear anything in a specific game? Check the game settings to see if you can manually control the volume there.

Nintendo will fix your 3DS… for now

Every 3DS comes with a 12 month warranty, but you’re unlikely to find a new 3DS available for purchase these days. As of this writing, Nintendo will still repair your 3DS if you send it to their repair center, but be warned, that could change, especially as Nintendo is ending the 3DS and no longer supporting the eShop in 2022.

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