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So, my original MacBook Air's fan started making a *horrible* very, un-Apple-like screeching sound. I added some lubrication and that helped a little, but in the end it appeared the fan unit itself had just worn out after working at thousands of RPMs for many hours thru the years.
The repair took about 3x as long as I expected, 3 hrs total. This was primarily caused by the SDD's zero-insertion-force cable becoming de-inserted with almost zero force! Naturally, this prevented proper bootup and I was forced to assemble and de-assembled 3 times just to get the freakin' cable to seat properly when re-connecting everything.
Because the ZIF cable routes over the fan, and also because of the very tight tolerances within a MacBook Air, any thickness differences between the fan units (as mine had, the replacement being perhaps a millimeter or so thicker) can cause issues with the boot disk becoming unrecognizable when you try to bring your repaired machine back online.
Also, even though I'm loathe to end up w/ spare parts after my work, in this case I found the little "cosmetic covers" rather silly, as they cover up just 2 of the 20 or so screws. I'm all for making things look as good on the inside as the outside, but adding a cover in this situation seemed like the wrong choice. Glad to leave them off and have noticed no ill effects without them. Technically, it's even lighter! ;-)
The machine began to run a little hot with excessive fan activity. Eventually no fan, just a faint clicking sound and rising temperatures, which I diagnosed from various blogs as fan failure.
I hadn't checked the heatsink vs processor temperatures so couldn't confirm the state of the heat sink / thermal compound or be sure why the fan had been working harder than previously.
The repair went well, the iFixit guide absolutely 'spot on' describing every step of the repair perfectly. I also replaced the HDD with an SSD whilst the machine was open, also went perfectly once I'd figured how the zif connector worked.
The only issue was that one of the battery screws was damaged and extracting it was difficult. It took a little time drilling the head with a little help and a vacuum leaner to remove swarf as I worked. The battery has now one less screw holding it but you'll see that there are many screws holding the battery, one less will probably be ok.
The fan holds now at idle, 2500rpm, under most conditions, and temperatures are stable. Now with an SSD, its the machine it always should have been!
Living in the UK I deliberated long and hard about buying the spares directly from iFixit, I wanted to support iFixit, who's guides have been invaluable on numerous occasions with previous encounters - PowerBook 12" (HDD upgrade), Mac Mini (HDD & memory upgrade).
On this occasion as the part was a specific Apple part, I wanted to ensure that it fitted and would perform as the original so with mixed emotions had it shipped.
Take your time and work in a space where you can organise the many screws and sub-assemblies for reassembly. Also, as on his occasion you'll need to clean off and reapply the conductive paste, make a mental note of how much past there was originally to ensure a good thermal connection on reassembly.
Existing fan was loud
The repair went according to instructions. I like how all the different screws are identified. Made it really easy for reinstallation.
Ifixit shows instructions on how to remove the fan from the heatsink but does not offer the option of buy the fan only. I had to buy the heatsink and fan combo with the thermal paste. fan only only per instructions would be alot more cost efficient