Amazon Fire Tablet Not Charging? Here’s How To Fix It
The Amazon Fire is a terrific little tablet, available for an extremely reasonable price and with great Kindle integration. Unfortunately, many models of the Kindle Fire have had persistent problems when charging. Tablets that won’t charge are truly aggravating; the Fire, like all tablets, depends on battery power to run and if the battery won’t charge then you won’t be getting a lot of use out of your device. Fortunately, there are several troubleshooting approaches you can take to figuring out the source of your charging problems, and in this brief tutorial I’m going to show you how to do it. I will also discuss some precautions to take to avoid developing “charger port rot”, the underlying cause of many of these charging problems. Finally, I’ll show you some MacGyver-style fixes that can resolve some charger port problems.
(Is your Fire charging OK, but for some reason won’t power up? Check out this guide to what to do if your Fire won’t turn on.)
Diagnosing the Problem
- Diagnosing the Problem
- Preventing Charger Port Rot
- MacGyver Time
When a tablet won’t charge, there are basically four possible sources of the problem. First, there can be a configuration/software problem. Second, there can be a problem with the battery itself. Third, problems with the charger. Last but in the case of the Fire far from least, there might be a problem with the charging port on the tablet. We’ll look at each of these possibilities in turn.
If your Fire won’t charge for some reason, there are some logical troubleshooting steps we can take to find out the cause and then do something about it. We’ll start with the easiest things to check (and fix) and then move up from there.
Test the outlet
Make sure you have power in the outlet you’re trying to charge from. Seems rather obvious, but sometimes it’s the obvious things that get us.
Test the charger
If the charger (the little square that plugs into the wall) isn’t working, it’s super easy to figure out the problem. Instead of using the charger, use the cable to connect to a computer or other USB power source and see if your Fire will charge from that. If it will, then the problem was the charger. Get a new one.
Test the cable
The charger is only half of the hardware equation – there’s also a USB cable that connects the charger to your Fire. Above, we tested the charger. Next we need to test the USB cable itself. Fortunately all micro-USB cables are basically the same, so borrow another one from a different device (your smartphone, most likely) or from a friend, and see if swapping out cables will get your Fire to charge. If it does, then you know the problem was your cable – replace it.
Test the charging port
Many models of the Fire are notorious for having a weak charging port. Prolonged connection and reconnection can cause the circuitry inside the Fire where the port connects to the battery cable inside to become loose or detach completely. This is particularly a problem for those of us who use our Fires while they’re charging; the charging port was apparently not designed for the stress of having the cable yanked around because someone was holding the tablet while charging it. When you connect the charging cable, make sure the cable is seated securely. If it seems secure, try to gently move the cable while in the socket. If it moves around, it may be loose.
Lay the Fire down flat and insert the charger. This can cause the wires inside to connect again and allow the device to charge. While not ideal, it keeps it working for now, and if this works where other charging attempts have failed, then you know the problem is with the port itself. While not for the faint hearted, this guide shows you how to check the connections within the Fire. I would suggest only trying this if your Fire is out of warranty and you are confident in what you are doing. Otherwise, you’ll either have to baby the connection when you charge it, or replace the whole unit.
Reset the Fire
If all your hardware seems to be in order, you may have a software issue. A full reset will wipe the slate clean and hopefully allow it to charge.
- Hold down the power button for 20 seconds to make sure the Fire is powered off.
- Turn the Fire on with the power button.
All you’re doing here is forcing the Fire to turn off and then turning it on again. This will force close any apps that may be getting in the way of charging and reset voltage within the device.
Factory reset the Fire
The factory reset should only really be performed if all of the previous methods have failed. It will wipe everything you have loaded onto your tablet and return it to its default configuration. There is no guarantee that it will fix the not charging issue either but it has apparently worked for some users.
- Save all your data if you can get your Fire working.
- Swipe down on the home screen to access the menu.
- Select Settings and Device Options.
- Select Reset to Factory Defaults.
- Select Reset to confirm factory reset.
As mentioned, this will wipe your device clean and delete everything. Once complete, you should force a reload of the system software to make sure you are running the latest version.
- Press the volume up button and power button for 40 seconds.
- Release the power button but continue holding volume up until you see ‘Installing the latest software’ on the screen.
- Allow the update to install and reboot your Fire.
(For a more detailed look at resetting your Fire, see this TechJunkie tutorial.)
He’s still dead, Jim
If you’ve tried all these steps – swapping out outlet, charger, and cable, checking the port and the internal connections, and doing a complete reset of your tablet…then unfortunately the news is very bad. Your battery is likely the source of the problem. Although Amazon does not encourage it, it is in fact possible to replace the battery on your Fire. However, replacement batteries cost nearly as much as a new Kindle Fire in the first place, so you probably should just consider getting a new one.
Preventing Charger Port Rot
The charging port in the Kindle Fire does not, of course, literally rot. However, with the Fire, as with some other brands of budget tablets, the construction quality of the charging port is not always the highest. In addition, most tablets (including the Fire) use the MicroUSB charging/data cable system, and while the standardization of these cables has been extremely convenient for everyone, it comes at a cost. The MicroUSB design relies on many small wires being soldered to a circuit board, and this design is very vulnerable to physical stress. The combination of these factors is that charging ports tend to be the most fragile part of a device, other than the glass itself.
This doesn’t cause a problem for light users of their tablets; people who turn the machine on once a week to watch a movie and then put it away again rarely experience “port rot”. Rather, it is those folks who use their tablets constantly, so that the charging port is almost always in use, who find themselves with a Fire that won’t charge. Each insertion and removal of the charging cable puts a little bit of mechanical stress on the glue or solder holding the port on the circuit board inside the machine, and over time the connection can fail and the port becomes loose.
There are a few things you can do to delay or even prevent the onset of port rot, even if you use your Kindle Fire a lot.
Keep the port clean
Lint, dust, and debris can clog up a charging port and cause it to stop working well. You can use a sewing needle to gently remove dust or debris from the port. You can also use a can of compressed air to occasionally blow out any debris in the port.
Don’t charge and play
When you are using the Fire, don’t charge it. When you’re charging it, don’t use it. The motions of normal use put some stress on the cable/port combination, and what’s worse, when we use our tablets while they are charging we tend to do things like use the cable as a mechanical support for the device. (I’ve caught a dropped Fire by the cable more than once.) This puts all kinds of mechanical stress on the connectors. So use your Fire untethered; if the charge gets low, turn it off and plug it in and go do something else.
Use quality cables
All MicroUSB charging cables use the same basic design, but there are differences between cables. Specifically, very cheap, low-quality cables may be sloppily sized so that while they will make a connection, they are also stretching out the receptor port or bending pins inside it. Use high-quality, well-engineered cables. You don’t need to go spend $30 on a “premium” cable, but avoid the dollar store or bargain bin cables.
OK, it’s time to get serious! You’ve figured out that the problem is in the port itself (it usually is) and you want to know: can this be fixed, or am I on the hook for a new Kindle Fire? The good news – much of the time, you can jury-rig a way to get your Fire to charge, or even completely fix the problem. So let’s get our MacGyver on.
Sounds silly, but in fact a strong rubber band can often preserve the charging life of your Kindle Fire for weeks or even months. You may notice that when you put the charging cable in, the Fire starts to charge but the charge is very slow, or it stops charging once you let go of the cable. This is because the port is just a little bit loose, and if you are putting some pressure on the cable to press it into the port, there is a good connection. Now, you probably can’t stand there holding the cable in place for a couple of hours to give your Fire a charge, but you CAN take a rubber band, loop it around the base of the cable end, and then loop it over the whole body of your Fire. Now the cable is being held into the port by the rubber band, and the connection stays strong enough to get a good charge.
However, be aware that by doing so you are putting more stress on the connector; you’re pushing something in that already has been pushed in. Eventually the port is going to come completely loose and break.
Don’t try this one on your brand-new charging cable, but if you have a cable that otherwise works but just won’t connect with your Fire, the problem may be that either the cable end or the charging port has gotten stretched in one dimension or the other through repeated use. You can apply the pliers very gently to the cable end and thicken it in one dimension or the other by very gently squeezing. (I.E., to make the cable end wider, squeeze it gently along the top and bottom, while to make it fatter, squeeze it gently along the sides.) By doing this, you may improve the fit and cause the cable to match back up with the port and work again.
Sewing Needle and/or Compressed Air
As mentioned above, if the problem is dirt in the port, then you can use a sewing needle or compressed air to carefully blow the debris and dust out of the port and get it nice and clean again.
You’ve heard of the tin foil hat brigade, but how about the tin foil charger? This should be considered an act of last resort, because in general adding more metal to a charging situation is not the optimum approach, but if worst comes to worst, try wrapping a small strip of aluminum foil around the charging end of the cable before inserting it into the port. The conductive aluminum will carry the electrons between the cable and the charging port even if the connection is otherwise poor. It might work, or it might not. It’s important not to let the Fire overcharge if you take this approach; by using the foil, you are going to be confusing the circuitry of the port and it may not stop charging even when the battery is full. So keep an eye on it.
This is the true last resort; if everything else fails, and you are a good hand with small electronics, and your Kindle Fire is just a brick if you can’t get it charging, you can always try opening it up and installing a new charging port on the motherboard. New ports aren’t expensive (here’s one sample Kindle port) but this is not a job for a first-timer with a soldering iron. The exact steps to follow are outside the scope of this article, but you can find guidance in other places on how to at least try to fix your Fire this way.
If your Amazon Fire tablet is not charging, these methods have been known to work for many. Do you know of any other ways to get the Fire charging normally? Tell us about them below if you do!