What to Do If Your Wii or Wii U Is Unable to Read a Disc

A troubleshooting guide for when your Wii or Wii U won't play a disc

An illustration of two people troubleshooting a Wii that won't play a disc.

Lifewire / Nasha Ashjaee

Sometimes, a Wii or Wii U is unable to read a disc; other times, a game will freeze or crash. Occasionally, the console won't play a disc at all. Before you throw the disc — or the console — out the window, a couple of easy fixes may get you back to your game.

What to Do If a Single Disc Won't Play

If a disc won't play properly, start by checking the disc. A flaw in the disc could prevent the console from reading it. Hold the bottom side of the disc to the light to see any smudges or scratches.

If a smudge is the culprit, cleaning the disc often fixes the problem. Use a microfiber cloth like the ones used to clean eyeglasses. Or, use a tissue that doesn't include lotion of any kind. Gently rub the smudged spot. When using a tissue, steam the spot with your breath first.

Don't exert more force than necessary; it's a flimsy disc.

When the disc looks clean, put it in the console. If it doesn't work, find a brighter light and look again. Small scratches and smudges are difficult to find.

A scratch on a disc is more problematic. If the disc is a game you just bought, take it back where you purchased it and exchange it for another one. Otherwise, polish out the scratch to fix a scratched CD. Use a home remedy such as toothpaste, furniture polish, or petroleum jelly to fix the scratch. There are also CD repair kits that include a machine that buffs out scratches for you.

Some older Wii consoles have trouble with dual-layer discs, which pack more information onto the disc. Games that use dual-layer discs include Xenoblade Chronicles and the Metroid Prime Trilogy. If your Wii has trouble reading a dual-layer disc, use a lens-cleaning kit to clean the lens in the console.

If you cleaned the disc and the game console and the disc still won't play, the disc may be bad.

Use the right disc for the console. The Wii and Wii U are different consoles. The Wii U is backward compatible, it plays Wii games. The Wii isn't forward compatible, a Wii U disc cannot be played on a Wii.

What to Do If No Discs Will Play

Cleaning the console with a lens-cleaning kit is your first step if the console isn't reading discs at all. The problem may just be a dirty lens.

If cleaning the lens doesn't help, perform a system update

If cleaning and updating don't do anything, contact Nintendo