The most common PlayStation 4 problems, and how to fix them

Having issues with your PS4? Check out our solutions to its most common problems

Sony PlayStation 4 Slim
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The PlayStation 4 is a remarkable piece of hardware, but like all game consoles, it’s not immune to the occasional hiccup. Since its original launch in 2013, Sony has worked to resolve many of the console’s intermittent issues through various firmware updates.

In 2016, Sony released two new iterations of its premier console — a slimmer model with the same name and the 4K-compatible PlayStation 4 Pro — both of which provide improved performance over their predecessor and address some of the console’s lingering hardware issues.

Still, you may find yourself with a misbehaving unit, and that’s a real bummer if you’re hoping to squeeze some gaming into your busy schedule. Our guide covers common problems with the PS4 family of systems and offers possible solutions to get you back in the game as soon as possible.

Get in touch with Sony

First, here’s all the information you’ll need to get in contact with Sony if your particular issue is not resolved from our guide.

Method  Contact
Phone 1-800-345-7669 (Available Monday through Sunday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT)
Forums Website
Live Chat Website
Twitter @AskPlayStation

You can also search Sony’s error message library and follow the troubleshooting suggestions for the error that you encountered.

Malfunction: Blinking blue indicator light

Three years down the line, the “Blue Line of Death” remains the most-crippling of all problems yet to surface on the PS4. Taking a cue from the Xbox 360’s “Red Ring of Death,” the pulsing blue line indicates a technical problem could mean your console is no longer functional. Unlike the red ring, the “Blue Line of Death” doesn’t automatically mean your PS4 is dead, but it does the same job as the ring; letting you know that there’s a really big problem.

When booting up the PS4, the LED indicator light adorning the side of the console should quickly pulse blue prior to turning white. On consoles suffering from the “Blue Line of Death,” however, the blue light pulses continuously, indicating failed video output before inexplicably powering off. In this case, the console never sends a signal to the TV, essentially bricking the device and preventing normal operation. Sony believed the problem was an isolated incident, but also released a troubleshooting guide highlighting a slew of potential fixes. While the problem was more widespread at launch, it still crops up for a small portion of users and is more likely to be an issue if your console was manufactured between late-2013 and early-2014.

Potential solutions:

As Sony outlined in the aforementioned troubleshooting guide, the blinking blue light could be indicative of a number of hardware or software issues. That said, there are a number of potential solutions you can try. If you do manage to isolate an issue with the PS4 hardware, contact PlayStation customer support, or take your console directly to an official Sony retail store, as they can sometimes provide on-site repairs or replacements. If there isn’t a store available in your area, you’ll likely need to ship your console to Sony. At this point, your console may not be under manufacturer warranty: If that’s the case, keep in mind that you may have to pay a repair fee.

  • Update your TV’s firmware — A handful of users have noted that updating television firmware has resolved the lack of audio-video signal. If you have newer television, particularly one with internet connectivity, refer to the television’s instruction manual and update its firmware. Doing so may alter HDMI settings and fix device compatibility.
  • Check the HDMI ports — Take a look at both the HDMI port on your TV and your PS4 for any blaring abnormalities or damages, along with your HDMI cable. If possible, try testing alternative HDMI cables.
  • Check the power supply — Touch the power button on the front of the PS4 for at least seven seconds, or until the system beeps twice and powers off. Afterward, disconnect the AC power cord from the electrical outlet and check the AC IN connector and power cord for any conspicuous damage or anomalies.
  • Check the hard drive — Make sure your PS4 is turned off, then disconnect the AC power cord and any other connected cables before sliding the HDD bay cover outward. Once removed, inspect the hard drive for any potential damage and ensure it is properly seated in the HDD bay.
  • Controller reset — Make sure everything is connected properly. Press and hold the PS button on your controller until the system light turns orange. Then, press and hold the PS button again until the light turns white. We have tested this method, and it can get your PS4 to boot properly.

Malfunction: Blinking red indicator light

Reports of the “Red Line of Death” aren’t as widespread as the aforementioned blinking blue light, but it is almost as serious. On consoles suffering from the “Red Line of Death,” the LED indicator light adorning the side of the console will flash red repeatedly, subsequently powering off after the system emits three distinct beeps. The issue is tied to overheating problems as outlined in the PS4 user guide and confirmed by Sony, possibly a result of fan malfunction. Some users have reported the issue within minutes of powering up the console for the first time, however. Thankfully, it’s not the sign of a completely bricked unity.

Potential solutions:

If the problem persists and is not alleviated by either of the potential solutions below, contact PlayStation customer support or take your console directly to an official Sony retail store to arrange a repair/replacement.

  • Give it a rest — Touch the power button on the front of your PS4 for at least seven seconds, or until the system beeps and powers off. Then, disconnect the power supply and allow the console to rest for an extended period of time, or until it sufficiently cools down, before powering it up again.
  • Give it ample space — Place your PS4 in a well-ventilated area to ensure it has enough breathing room, avoiding carpet and similar services whenever possible. Additionally, some users have reported that placing the console vertically helps decrease overheating (though it shouldn’t considering the position blocks access to either side vent).

Problem: Damaged HDMI port and faulty HDMI cables

It may not be PS4-specific or widespread, but some users have reported issues stemming from a damaged HDMI port shipping on their PS4 units. The problem, which leads to a lack of audio or video output on the TV, is often caused by a connection obtrusion resulting from a bent piece of metal within the console’s built-in HDMI port. Although the reasoning for the bent component is unknown, it effectively renders the port incompatible since the bent piece can no longer properly connect with the HDMI cord. Additionally, there have been reports of faulty HDMI cables that simply don’t work for one reason or another.

While this issue was resolved in subsequent PS4 shipments after the console’s launch, if you purchase a pre-owned unit or you’re experiencing HDMI issues, you’ll still want to look for possible answers below.

Potential solutions: 

If neither of the potential solutions below solves the problem, try contacting Sony. Although not confirmed, Sony will likely send you a free replacement cable in a matter of days once the problem has been confirmed.

  • Check the HDMI ports — Take a look at both the HDMI port on your TV and your PS4 for any blaring abnormalities or damages, along with your HDMI cable. If possible, try testing alternative HDMI cables.
  • Bend back the metal — If you can clearly see a piece of metal bent upward within the console’s HDMI port, bend the damaged piece down using a pin or small tool. Also, make sure the port didn’t knock out any teeth or cause any additional damage to the HDMI cable. If this is the problem, you may still want to contact Sony and ask for a replacement, even if the console begins to work.
  • Use a different HDMI cable — If you’re unfortunate enough to receive a faulty HDMI cable from Sony, simple use another on-hand cable or purchase a new one.

Problem: Damaged DualShock 4 analog sticks

We like a lot of things about the DualShock 4 controller, but the soft rubber padding on its analog sticks can tear quite easily when playing a game that requires quick movements, like Bloodborne. But just because the rubber tears doesn’t mean you have to ditch the controller!

Potential solution

Analog stick covers, such as GelTabz — available in stores like GameStop and on Amazon — pop right over your analog stick, providing an even more comfortable gaming experience while also protecting the stick itself. They are slightly textured, so your fingers don’t slip despite their flat design, and four are included in every package. PlayStation-formatted GelTabz work with both DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 controllers.

Problem: Running out of storage space

The newest PlayStation 4 systems, including the “slim” model and the more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro, both have increased internal storage of up to 1TB. This is plenty of space for several AAA games, so you can easily jump between a few of your favorites without having to delete anything. For those with a 500GB internal drive, however, you will find yourself running out of space with regularity, particularly as game updates make your file sizes even larger than they were at launch.

Potential solution

  • Connect a USB external hard drive to your console — The PS4 works with any USB 3.0-compatible hard drive. Simply plug it into one of the PS4’s USB ports, and select the Format as extended storage option.
  • Swap out your PlayStation 4’s internal storage — Any 2.5-inch drive with storage greater than 160GB will work with your system, and you can swap it without voiding the warranty on your PlayStation 4. You can also upload all your save files to the cloud through PlayStation Plus or to a flash drive, so you can easily retrieve them once you’re done. Check out our full guide for a step-by-step walkthrough.
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