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What to Do if Your Wii Remotes Won’t Sync

Posted by Jamie on October 16, 2019

The Nintendo Wii is now 13 years old but is still going strong. With a huge range of quality games, a family-friendly intent and sturdy build, even some of those earliest consoles are still going strong. They aren’t without their challenges though and one of the more common is when your Wii remotes won’t sync.

As the Wii depends entirely on those remotes, having them not work as advertised compromises your entire gaming experience. Fortunately, there are some easy fixes for when that happens.

The Wii uses infrared controllers in its games. These have a very useful wrist strap to help prevent accidents and have probably saved thousands of windows and TV sets in their time. Most of the time, the Wii controllers work perfectly, but occasionally, they will go out of sync or not respond at all. That’s when these troubleshooting techniques come in.

Wii remotes won’t sync

While designed for when Wii remotes won’t sync, they may also work if the remotes won’t respond at all. Try these quick fixes to get your Wii remotes working again.

Reboot your Wii

The first fix is a full reboot. It works on phones, on computers and on most consumer devices and it could work here. Turn it off at the mains, leave it for 30 seconds, then turn it on again and see if it picks up your Wii remotes. If they connect normally, there is no need to continue. If they don’t, move on to the next fix.

Resync your remotes

As the Wii remotes are wireless, Nintendo built in a way to re-sync them should they lose connection with the console. It’s a simple process that takes less than two minutes.

  1. Power off your Wii and power it on again.
  2. When you see the Health & Safety warning, open the SD card slot on the front of the console and press and hold the red Sync button for around 15 seconds.
  3. Remove the battery cover from your Wii remote and press the red Sync button there.
  4. Press the Sync button on the Wii console again and wait for the two to pair.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the other remote(s).

This simple pairing process first clears any paired remotes and then re-pairs them. Step 2 clears the initial pairing and the following steps sets up your remotes as a new pair. You will then need to repeat Steps 3 and 4 for other Wii remotes you need to pair. Don’t repeat Steps 1 and 2 for extra remotes otherwise you reset everything again!

A quick note about pairing multiple Wii remotes. When you have paired one remote, you need to move quickly on to the next before the sync window times out. The LED on the remote will tell you what number each remote has been assigned, so if you sync more than one, they should be assigned sequentially, 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.

Check the batteries

The Wii remotes use batteries to supply power. If you’re not seeing any lights or they won’t pair with the Wii, check and/or change those batteries. The remote will use two AA batteries or battery pack to power it, either single use or rechargeable. You can try reseating the batteries and re-syncing as above or just change the batteries to make sure. Either way, once you remove the batteries, it makes sense to resync as above.

Nintendo says the batteries should last up to 60 hours with normal use or up to 25 if you use them as pointers as well.

Repair or replace the remote

If you have replaced the batteries and tried to sync your Wii remote and it still isn’t working, you may have to consider replacing it. They have a finite lifespan and depending on how robustly you use them, can easily break. Fortunately they now don’t cost much and are available online or in game stores everywhere.

Once you have your new remote, you will need to sync it using the process above to pair it with your Wii.

Repair or replace the Wii

If more than one remote won’t sync and you have gone through all the steps above, it may be the console at fault. If you have a friend with a Wii, try your remotes on their console. If the remotes work, you have a problem with your console. If your remotes still don’t work, you will definitely need to replace them.

If it’s the console at fault, some outlets offer Nintendo repair services or you can buy a cheap Wii online.

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