Today is Sunday, 23rd October 2016

How to Fix the Sansa Fuze Thumb-Wheel

Author: DarkKnightH20

So I recently bought a Sansa Fuze since I wanted a MP3 player that was inexpensive and well-rated. The Sansa Fuze has an average of 4.5/5 stars on Amazon, which is a great rating for any MP3 player. It has expandable memory, long battery life, is easy to use, looks nice, and is inexpensive. All-in-all, it has been an excellent MP3 player, but unfortunately started to develop problems with the wheel being harder and harder to move. This means it’s difficult to turn the volume up and down (the main reason for moving the wheel) on this MP3 player, which, as you may guess, is annoying since many like to mess with the volume level depending on the song being listened to. This is *somewhat* of a common problem, so do not be alarmed if it’s happening to you. The thumb-wheel issue is really the only problem with this MP3 player…It doesn’t happen to everyone, but if it does happen to you then do not worry, it’s easy to fix! Also note that the Sansa Fuze is a little bit scratch prone, so get a case! This case will also help protect the wheel in the future:

What Causes the Problem? Possibility 1
Primarily, the problem is — gunk! The wheel (thumb wheel) is somewhat badly made in this sense. This gunk usually develops overtime and slowly, but it is NOT uncommon for it to start occurring after a month or so for *some* people. This can happen if you have gunk on your fingers (even an unnoticeable amount can add up over time) and use the thumb-wheel, or if you happen to spill crumbs from food or liquids (such as soda) on your Sansa Fuze. Regardless of what happened, just keep in mind more than likely there IS gunk in your MP3 player listening to your music.

What Else Can Cause the Problemo Other Than Gunk? Possibility 2
There are little white sheets that are within the Sansa Fuze that can interfere with the thumb-wheel spinning. If this is the case, then you have to open up the Sansa Fuze to fix it. More on that later, gator!

So…What can you do to fix it?
Well, assuming you do not want to exchange your Sansa Fuze for another one (or simply cannot return or exchange it in general), then you of course will want to try to fix it yourself. I’ll also assume you do not have a warranty or you do not want to use your warranty on it. So…let’s get started on ways to fix this issue!

Wet Towel Method
Some people recommend that you get a damp towel and put your Sansa face-down on it. This moisture helps break apart the poop gunk stuck in the Sansa (it acts as a solvent), which loosens the death grip-hold that the gunk has on your wheel. The problem with this though is that the gunk, despite breaking up because of the water / moisture, doesn’t necessarily leave the Sansa Fuze. It may be loosened and re-harden later, thus it is HIGHLY recommended that you leave it on the moist towel as long as possible (face-down, as stated earlier) in an attempt to have the solvent work as effectively as possible…and in hopes that the gunk will escape through the thumbwheel. Keep in mind that water and electronics don’t mix, so you must be careful. Don’t use too much water and be sure to let your Sansa Fuze dry for as long as possible. When the thumb-wheel is fixed (and you no longer want to keep it face-down on the moist towel), keep it face-down on a dry desk with a light over it. No light? Then just keep it face-down by a window instead (sunlight helps)…No window? Wow…that’s rather…unfortunate :( Just keep is face-down then. Note that you can in fact use this method to fix it and the next method to help ensure spinning is easily done in the future.

Lube Method (No…Not Astroglide / KY Jelly)
Enough silliness! Back to fixing the problem! Some people recommend using something such as WD-40, and applying it to a Q-Tip, then rubbing it on the edge of the wheel to try to lube it up. I’m going to go against the norm and recommend that you use something more meant for electronics. I have no brands in particular to recommend, but if you go to a Radio Shack (called “The Shack” now…*sigh*), Microcenter, or any other electronics store, then they’ll more than likely have a WD-40 equivalent made specifically for electronics. It is better to call ahead rather than waste your time driving there only to find out that it’s “out of stock” or that they “don’t carry / no longer carry” it.

Refrigerator Method
I highly recommend NOT doing this method since not only does it sound like a bad idea, but the possible moisture being built up in your Sansa Fuze may in fact kill it. You may be wondering then — why are you even writing about this then? Well, rest-assured that I do not want to kill your Sansa Fuze. I simply am writing about this method because some people (those willing to do it) have in fact had success with it. Simply put your Sansa Fuze in the refrigerator for a little while, and then see if the Wheel feels like moving. Again, I recommend trying every method except for this. I am not responsible for issues that may develop because of this method. Also note that if a Sansa Fuze is in the refrigerator, someone might accidentally eat it (durrrrr!).

Be Rough With the Wheel Method
I don’t really recommend this method because it’s pretty much just ignoring the problem and temporarily fixing it, but if you’re in no mood to nurse your Sansa Fuse back to health and the wheel is acting sluggish, try roughly turning it in circles while the MP3 player is turned off. Basically, you’re attempting to either crush possible crumbs within or loosen the death grip of whatever is jamming the wheel. Again, this doesn’t fix the problem, but can temporarily make it go away (or completely go away if you’re lucky).

Loosen Up Faceplate Method
This fixes it for me temporarily. Using your fingers (and finger nails), try opening the Sansa Fuze from the bottom of the MP3 player – being careful not to hurt the Sansa female power connector. If you can’t use your fingers, then be resourceful and try using something else. Regardless, be careful with the connector. Open it partially, then close it. Depending on how badly gunked up it is in your Sansa, you may or may not be able to spin your wheel easily now. Shaking the Sansa a bit might help crumbs fall out, but be careful and make sure everything is left in tact.

Opening the Sansa Fuze
This method is the most annoying to do since it takes a bit of work…but it is a long-term fix rather than short-term. When I say “a bit of work” — I really do mean just “a bit”. The Sansa Fuze is held shut by two clips. Be VERY gentle when prying open the Sansa, as these clips can break off easily. There is also a ribbon cable that is connected to the face plate — so be careful like a neurologist! The screen may want to come off too, but make sure that it stays in place (it’ll click into place).

Now, remove the ribbon cable (that I mentioned earlier) using the release flap. You obviously do not want to rip it off (I hope)! Next, peel the tape off the back of the faceplate (SLOWLY!) and unscrew the two screws (they’re tiny) on the back of the wheel area. If your Sansa Fuze is jammed, there will likely be dust, debris, and gunk back there. Note that if you found a dead body back there…then you probably opened something up other than your Sansa…Clean it as well as you can! As to not re-gunk it, use a Q-Tip for cleaning and/or compressed air! You can even use electronics cleaner (again, Radio Shack / The Shack carries this, as do other places), which is a good idea. Remove the ring that surrounds the wheel temporarily and then try to move the wheel again. You *should* be able to see what’s causing it not to move now since your visibility of the problem has increased significantly. Depending on the problem you have, there is either gunk causing the issue or the little white sheets by the Sansa wheel are preventing it from spinning. To help alleviate this problem, you can trim the white sheets. BE CAREFUL THOUGH! If you mess up when trimming and cut yourself, your Sansa will be covered in blood and will then develop a taste for it. You will then, in effect, cause your Sansa to become a zombie and it may eat you.

After you’re done cleaning / trimming the Sansa (depending on what the issue was), start closing it up. Everything goes back in place easily, but you may have trouble with the ribbon cable. Some recommend using a paper clip to try to push it back into place while closing it.

Miscellaneous Notes
Some recommend using rubbing alcohol to clean it. This includes using ALCOHOL SWABS, which is a nice, easy way to clean it. Buy a case for your Sansa as soon as you can as well. This will add another layer of protection that may aid in protecting the thumb-wheel next time you spill soda on your Sansa Fuse…You reckless soul!

Below are some items from I suggest looking at possibly getting. A case to protect the Sansa, some accessories, and electronic cleaner, which you may very well need if you’re having Sansa Fuze issues. You can probably find some some of these items locally, but I find that Amazon ends up having the best prices despite shipping. Good luck!


  1. Comments  New Text: Fixing the Sansa Fuze Thumb-Wheel Guide | Geek Montage   |  Tuesday, 23 March 2010 at 11:53 PM

    […] a guide on fixing the thumb-wheel, which jams and stiffens up for some people. Read the guide: How to Fix the Sansa Fuze Thumb-Wheel. […]

  2. Comments  How to Fix Jammed Sansa Fuze Thumb-Wheel |   |  Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 12:32 AM

    […] problem myself and decided to create a guide to teach people how to fix it. You can view it here: How to Fix the Sansa Fuze Thumb-Wheel. Hopefully it’ll be of some use to those with this […]

  3. Comments  Matt   |  Wednesday, 25 August 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time and working on the issue. However, all the links don’t work at the end of the article. -Matt

  4. Comments  DarkKnightH20   |  Wednesday, 25 August 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Thanks! And unfortunately it looks like all of those off-site pages recently died for some reason :( Removed them.

  5. Comments  Jenny   |  Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Thanks for writing this article. I tried the wet paper towel method, but the Snapple that I spilled on it keeps re-hardening no matter how long I keep it face down. I really don’t want to open it up because I’m not exactly good with my hands and I’ll probably break it. Do you have any other suggestions?

  6. Comments  DarkKnightH20   |  Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 9:49 PM

    Unfortunately I don’t have any other suggestions than what’s written in the article :) If you know anyone who can help you open it, that may be your best bet with such a difficult gunk. Closing it is very simple thankfully, but if you’re not careful when opening it, the clips can break and the wheel can get worse.

  7. Comments  Puppeteergirl   |  Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Hi, I’m having a problem reconnecting the ribbon cable. I’m not all that familiar with the innards of electronics, so maybe I’m not doing something right. There is a little black lever on the thing that the ribbon cable connects to. Is that supposed to be used somehow when I’m reconnecting the ribbon cable?

    Another thing, when I opened my sansa fuze there are two metal plates covering the wheel with two tiny screws each. I broke the plastic that two of the screws were supposed to screw into and I can’t budge the other two.

    Normally I’d be freaking out about this, but the fuze I opened was water damaged so I don’t really care about goofing up. I have another fuze that has the “stuck” problem, so I’m using the waterlogged one for practice opening the thing.

  8. Comments  Puppeteergirl   |  Monday, 27 December 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Ok Never mind I figured it out. It was the white paper that was in the way btw. What is that for anyway?

  9. Comments  Jeremy   |  Friday, 31 December 2010 at 12:05 AM

    I just followed your directions and THEY WORKED GREAT! It Works again. Thank you for your help!

  10. Comments  Ghiche Bradley   |  Saturday, 06 August 2011 at 4:51 PM

    add me on facebook… i really appreciate all of these methods. i was surprised that it worked, and i was so thankful that i had to come and thank you for posting, and assisting all of us. apart of all of us.. thanks

  11. Comments  joe   |  Friday, 04 November 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I blow into the holes(headphone jack,usb connector)or right in the wheel and that fixes it for a short time.I was thinking about food grade silicon spray.

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