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|MacBook Pro 17" Unibody||
The left fan was making a very loud noise. Like the one you hear when you stick a baseball card in a bikes' spoke. But just to be safe I replaced the right fan too even though it wasn't giving me any problems.
The repair was very easy. I removed the screws holding the bottom cover then the three screws holding each of the fans in place. I disconnected the power supply and was able to lift the fans out. I replaced the fans and only screwed the screws in just enough to do a check. I turned on the power and the noise was gone. I finished tightening all the screws and replaced the cover. The entire job took me about 15 minutes. It would have been less if I had my repair tools but I don't where I put them.
Make sure you have the right tools.
At least one of the fans in my unibody MacBook Pro 17 was making pretty horrific noises. I've had this happen before in MacBook Pro systems. The poor little fans give their all and then die.
I replaced both fans just to be sure, it took about 2 minutes to get the case open, and about 2 minutes each to swap the fans. I had to open the machine up a second time since one of the fans had a small rattle to it. It turned out the replacement fan had been compressed slightly in shipping. I quick tweak to the fan, reinstall it, and the machine is back running and happy. I was selling it, so it is now on it's way to Georgia to live out it's years running Qlab in a theme park.
If your fans are noisy, do the replacement yourself. It should take less than 10 minutes, and it's dead simple.