Mechanical problems in my Asus RT-AC66U router, failing on/off switch

This is a classic example of the phrase “weakest link”, a 50 cent mechanical device failing a state-of-the-art electronics device. I was one of the early adopters of the 802.11AC protocol router from Asus, and I was extremely happy with its workhorse performance over the last 18 months or so. I mean, I can write an entire article raving about its features like built-in VPN server, QOS, and its theoretical 1300 MBPS dual channel speeds and what not. However, this article is about a lesson in quality control for high tech devices, and how easy it is to overlook relatively smaller issues which could undo all the hard work and intelligence built into the system.

I noticed this problem last week, when I lost all wireless connectivity in my house one Saturday afternoon. I ran to the computer room, and noticed that the router was turned off, which I found really bizarre as I don’t ever turn it off. I suspected it must have been some sort of power surge which caused the router to shut itself, and promptly tried to turn it on back by pressing the power button. However, the spring mechanism of the router has given out, and the switch refuses to stay in the on position. This is now a case of a 50 cent spring, killing the functionaity of a 300 dollar router. Phew.

Now, my only option was to send it back to the manufacturer and ask for a warranty/replacement. This could take anywhere from two to four weeks, and I was in no mood to wait that long, nor to dust off my old router and use it in the meanwhile. So, I remembered my dad’s advise from my childhood, that an engineer should be able to use any and all objects at his disposal to get the job done, and should never ever wait for “perfect/brand name” items as far as possible. So, I looked around in my house, and did a bit of thinking, and did this.
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The biggest decision I had to make was chosing between sticky tape and the toothpick. Sticky tape sounded like the obvious choice, but because of the heat generated by the router, it will melt the gum away and the switch will turn off every now and then, but the toothpick will stay rock solid, but will literally stick out like a sore thumb. But, thankfully it will be hidden in the back, and in this case function beat aesthetics.
All my ramblings aside, it got me thinking as to why some devices still have machanical switches on them. Most electronics manufacturers have stopped using them, you don’t see them on TVs, Bluray players etc, and maybe its a good idea to abandon them completely.

Comments

comments

66 Comments

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      I think part of the problem is owing to the excessive heat being generated which caused the springs to lose tension. Otherwise its such a cool router to have.

      BTW, did you have any problem with both 2.4 and 5 GHz channels on the same name. For the longest time, I had a lot of trouble when my devices won’t connect, and then I had to give the channgels separate names to fix that. Weird, but apparently quite common.

      1. Artem Russakovskii

        I separated them right away as I like to have control over the exact networks my devices connect to and don’t want them to hop.

        But I’m having a ton of issues maintaining connectivity with this router, so I’m hoping to get it replaced rather than repaired.

  1. Tim Bleeker

    Just happened to my AC66U as well… I snapped my toothpick in half and used a black sharpie to make it blend in better. Any chance they’ll send a replacement prior to an RMA return so I don’t have any down time?

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      I highly doubt it. Besides, why bother when it’s in the background, as long as it functions well. Trust me, there is no other issue with my router besides this mechanical problem. I’d just stick with it until its time for an upgrade.

    2. Artem Russakovskii

      Rajesh is right, I called ASUS about this and asked about an advanced RMA, but they said they don’t do it for networking products, only motherboards. I decided against fixing it as well – it’s not worth the hassle.

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      Vlad, thanks for your comment. I am really amused that my toothpick solution has helped so many people. Its kinda funny how the smallest and cheapest of all components ruined an otherwise perfect router.

      Right now, this blog post is the most popular among all my posts. most commented on too. Maybe Asus should give me some money 🙂

  2. Todd

    Just happen to me today as well. Looks like a systemic problem for these and everyone will have to contend with it. Also, time to start looking for people throwing these out!! I taped mine…but the toothpic is probably a better idea. What was the warranty on these?

  3. Thanks for posting this solution…looks like everyone of us will face this issue soon. Mine just went out today. Router about 1.5yrs old. Mines hooked with tape now but I might go get a toothpick so it wont come off again.

  4. Rahul Singhania

    Got the same issue, 2 years after the purchase. Used cotton and tape solution to keep the button in place, but will open it up one of the days and hardwire the power button to on position. Bought from US and based in India now, so no option to RMA here.

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      I’d be very careful opening these things. I tried it with a cheaper modem couple weeks ago, and I think the covers are kind of molded together into the ethernet ports and you may break the piece altogether. Not saying it will happen, but just be careful.

      1. Rahul Singhania

        Well, I’ve opened it once before (router fell off and I broke one of the antenna plugs – had to reattach it then, so kinda know the insides now 😉

        Thanks for the warning anyway. 🙂

        1. Todd Snyder

          If you have any pictures or things to watch out for let us know. I will probably just jumper mine too since sending back is way to problematic and you may end up with someone’s broken refurb..

  5. Jerry Jones

    Same thing just happened to my Asus RT-N66U yesterday. Got a text from my home security system saying that broadband connection was lost. When I got home and checked the router, it was not powered on. After a few minutes of checking the power connection and the power button, I came up with a similar solution. I used a push pin from a bulletin board to wedge the power button in the on position. As you stated it is very frustrating to have a 50 cent part disable an expensive and otherwise functional device.

  6. Tony

    Same issue happened to me today. My router is 1.5 years old. I opened up the case , then used a multimeter to test which lines are shorted together when the switch is pressed. I soldered those 2 pins together. Router is now working without the spring switch.

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      Well done Tony. I am too lazy to open the casing, and I didn’t have any solder anyway. But, I like your approach better, no need to be delicate with the router if the insides are soldered.

  7. Rahul Singhania

    I thought of doing so too, but then just went and upgraded the router to 87u. I don’t mind aping what you did, as a backup router – can you share a snap to show what 2 lines did you solder?

    Thanks

    1. Tony

      Sorry, I don’t want to open the router again but I can help you to find the 2 points if you’re stuck. I don’t want to spend anymore time working inside the router in case I break it. The parts are very sensitive to static. You can use a multimeter to check the resistance between 2 points. Press the power switch, then check the resistance between 2 points. Check to see if the to see if the resistance changes to 0 when you press the power switch.

      An easier solution is to use a multimeter that has an audible continuity feature, so you can just listen for the beep instead of looking down at the meter for the change to 0 ohms

  8. Rajesh Valluri

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  9. SteveM

    I had this problem too – after about 1 1/2 years. Thanks for the excellent suggestions. Tape stopped working, so I’ve moved to the toothpick. Will probably open up and solder sometime.

  10. WindKat

    Today I too have joined the 1.5 – 2 year club. I didn’t even know this was a thing. Very pissed – but as long as my Hello Kitty duct tape fix continues to work, I guess I’ll get over it. I don’t want to end up with a refurb. Very happy with this router other than this silly silly defect.

  11. Mentalblaze

    Got this problem today, me too. But my router have been running for 2.5 years. And I found out that the warranty is three years.
    I actually went for the toothpick solution before I found this site. 🙂
    But if it takes too long to replace it, I will probably go in and bypass the switch.

  12. Seth

    Same issue here. In fact it just happened 20 min ago on my RT-AC66U.

    I filed an email with ASUS. I hope they send a replacement first and then I can send in my taped on button one back b/c I cannot be without internet. I work from home. This is both unexpected and super annoying. Thing isn’t even 2 years old.

  13. Whalers

    This hit me to yesterday. After returning home late from the office, noticed no WiFi. Unable to access via web or ping. Noticed on the core switch no link from the device. I have a N66U which has worked flawlessly for 3 years. Now this. Jeez

    The problem with the N66U is not directly related to the spring. Its the detent that holds the spring loaded switch closed. The router is unable to hold the switch closed. May be heat or otherwise material fatigue based on age of the plastic and constant stress holding the switch closed. Interestingly enough I recall the router mysteriously being turned off around the first of the year. At the time I was able to close the switch. Shrugged it off and assumed operator error as I was working on a network upgrade anyway.

    Bottom line is that the N66U was replaced by a higher performing routing and security solution and turned into an access point. Otherwise my entire network which is both wired and wireless would have been down.

    Tape alone would not work due to the spring tension pushing itself open. I didn’t use a toothpick but some other piece of random junk to jam in there to hold the switch closed.

    I guess its time for an upgrade anyway and ordered the Netgear X6 Nighthawk. Great wireless specs and that’s what I’m paying for. I’ll hardwire the switch and use as a backup device.

  14. Derek

    Just happened to mine today… Tried duct tape but that loses the tension after about an hour – just put a rubber band around it to try and hold the power button in, I suspect that will fail as well. Will grab a toothpick next!

  15. Rajesh – is that you? Remember me from NYC/Westchester? 🙂

    Your toothpick solution helped me out too – my Asus RT-N66U started having this problem today. What an annoyance! But thanks for the “innovative” solution, hehe.

    1. Rajesh Valluri

      Not the same Rahesh Iqbal saab!! I did live in New York state, but don’t think I’ve liven in West Chester.
      Glad my solution helped, will be looking forward to your $10 in my paypal. That’s what all other guys sent me for helping them out. 🙂

  16. But for a nail, the Kingdom was lost. I got home this evening and I had a perpetual outtie. Great router, but poor engineering. My initial solution is four pennies wrapped in tape and then taped strapped to the router over the power button. It’s a little ugly, but it’s functional.

  17. subs

    Yep. I posted just now to a few forums on the web.
    Purchased 6/2/12. Power button dead 7/30/2015.

    The toothpick has been inserted, wedged between circular button and the housing. The router is now functional.

    I did the math on my purchase date and… It’s about one month over the three years of my limited warranty. FAIL. 😐

  18. Eric

    This just happened to my RT-N66U after however many years it’s been since I bought it. Thanks for the tip, I was going to use tape but the toothpick wedge is a much cleaner solution!

    A pity that this mars the product, and Asus won’t provide a fix. Not sure if I’ll buy from them again!

  19. Pingback: Asus RT-N66路由器替换按钮开关和添加TF卡 | 一半君的备忘录

  20. Mak

    I am yet another victim of the RT-N66U power switch problem — I see that there are tons of reports of this problem all over the internet. All of a sudden my wi-fi disappeared, and after trying a million different things, finally realized that the one cent power button won’t stay down any longer. Obviously an inherent design defect to put a junky one cent switch which is evidently prone to failure after a year or so, and which ruin the entire device when it does. I feel quite ripped off.

  21. Rajesh Valluri

    After reading all these comments I feel vindicated that I took the time to write this post. The only thing keeping me from throwing it away and getting a new one is the chore of copying all my settings, the VPN server, the port forwards etc. on to the new one. It doesn’t seem like I need an upgrade because of the crappy ADSL2+ internet we are stuck with here in Australia.

  22. Dan

    @Rajesh – yep, great post. You are not alone.

    It is otherwise a good router. – Or was… Actually last week, mine stopped working- it lights up (Toothpick in switch, of course) – but I can’t connect to it WiFi or wired. I’m shopping for a new router, ASUS no longer top of the list.

    Thanks again for your post.

  23. Wow, it seems that there are many with the same problem, so it is good that they didn’t use heat or power sensitive switch/circuit breaker and this does indeed seem to be a actual component failure. It too tried tape and eventually warmed up and stretched to allow the switch to come up. I decided after reading this to super glue it shut, re-taped it and placed a weight on it (I have mine mounted to a wall). This should seal it for good. If this doesn’t work I will try the toothpick method or secure a 3D printed plate over it with two small self-tapping screws into the case. To endure it remains on.

    1. Jim95608

      This just happened to me too. Got an RMA from ASUS sent it to them and found out it’s out of warranty so, $140.75 to repair. Really ASUS? A new one on Amazon is $97!! Sending it back to me and now I know how to repair it thanks to all of you.

  24. Jeroen

    My Asus RT-N66U broke down a few days ago. I first used a bottle off face cleaner from my girlfriend but she needed it and was complaining that it was warm.
    Tape or glue didn’t seem a good solution because of the heat.
    The toothpick works fine. Thanks from the Netherlands!!

  25. Felipe

    When I looked up this router, I did not expect to see this many individuals having this same power button problem. I am glad that there is a temporary fix, via the toothpick, but I have to ask, should we secure that toothpick with DUCK tape, yes, the one with the picture of a cute little duck on the bottle, and some GORILLA glue, yes, the one with ……

  26. C J

    Thank you so much for this fix. I have just discovered this exact problem this morning, much to my dismay. I was amazed to see so many people have the same issue!
    Before I saw your fix I used the tape method, which holds down a small key over the button so it doesn’t pop back up again. But the heat will likely prove too much so I’ll get the trusty toothpick out.
    Cheers from the UK!

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  28. Eric

    Late 2017 and I just had this same problem. Called ASUS. Warranty expired. They said 7-10 days to repair. ASUS guy says he has never heard of this problem and the sees no service notice about it in his system. Says there is nothing he can do for me other that accept the return of my router as a paid repair. I complained at how lame that response was. I told him he lost a customer and that I would start making these comments online. Following through on that here. At least I an be counted on, even if ASUS cannot.

    Tape failed for me in minutes. I found a video that showed how to disable the spring on my (now out of warranty so I don’t mind opening it up) router. I had it fixed for good in two minutes. $300 router. $0.01 part fail. Screw you ASUS and your terrible customer service. Thank you Internet!

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