How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Problems


The Ender 3 is a great 3D printer but sometimes gives problems such as X-axis problems. Many users have been looking for fixes for certain X-axis problems, so I decided to write this article to help with that.

I’ve got some of the common Ender 3 X-axis problems listed in this article, along with their fixes. So if that’s what you’re looking for, keep reading through.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Wobble

Wobbling on the Ender 3’s X-axis can happen due to several hardware issues. Some of them include:

  • Loose hotend on the X-axis carriage
  • Loose eccentric nuts on the Z uprights
  • Flat or pitted POM wheels
  • Loose screws on the extruder motor bracket
  • Stripped thread on the extruder motor bracket

You can fix these issues by simply troubleshooting and tweaking this hardware. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Tighten the eccentric nut on the hotend mount
  • Tighten The POM Wheels on The Z Uprights
  • Check the POM wheels for defects
  • Tighten the screws on the extruder motor bracket
  • Check the motor bracket for stripped holes

Tighten The Eccentric Nuts on The Hotend Mount

If the eccentric nuts on the hotend’s mount are loose, the POM wheels won’t grip the X-axis carriage properly. As a result, the hotend will experience some play while moving back and forth on the X-axis carriage.

This can lead to a loss of accuracy and quality in prints. So, wiggle the hotend with your fingers to check for any play.

You need to tighten the eccentric nut on the hotend’s POM wheels to fix this. First, locate the POM wheel with the eccentric nuts.

Note: It is usually on the bottom POM wheel.

Next, tighten it with an appropriate spanner. You have to be careful when tightening it to avoid restricting the motion of the hotend on the X-axis carriage.

Tighten it until there’s no play on the hotend at all. But be careful not to overtighten it by ensuring the hotend’s mount can still move freely.

This video shows how you can tighten the eccentric nuts on all the axes on the Ender 3.

A technique most people use when tightening these wheels is to tighten them until you can’t roll the wheel with your fingers. At this point, if you roll the wheel, the entire mount moves with it

Tighten The POM Wheels on The Z-Axis Vertical Frame (Z Uprights)

The POM wheels attach the X-axis gantry to the aluminum profiles on the Z-axis. If these wheels are loose, they won’t grip the Z uprights well, causing the X-axis gantry to wobble.

You can see an example of this wobbling in the post below.

Is this wobble normal? Should i tight something? from ender3

The wheels do not grip the uprights tightly, so there’s play in the vertical axis.

To fix this, you can tighten the eccentric nuts on the POM wheels. To do this, raise the X-axis by turning the Z-axis leadscrew.

Locate the POM wheel with the eccentric nut (it’s usually the single one on the inside). Turn them using the same technique in the section above until they’re tight and snug.

Do the same for the opposite upright.

Check Your POM Wheels for Defects

After a while, POM wheels can wear down or become coated with dust and debris. This will prevent them from sitting and rolling in their grooves properly.

So, inspect your POM wheels carefully for any signs of wear and replace them if necessary. You can get some high-quality Polycarbonate POM Wheels from Amazon.

According to reviews, they fit really well and roll smoothly on the X-axis carriage. They are also well-oiled, which lets them move on the carriage noiselessly.

Tighten The Screws on The Extruder Motor Bracket

On an Ender 3, two bolts secure the X-axis gantry arm to the extruder motor’s bracket; If these screws are loose, you’ll have quite a bit of wobbling in the X-axis.

So, remove the top of your printer’s frame and take out the X-axis carriage. Look for the screws behind the extruder and tighten them.

You can use this guide on Creality’s official YouTube page to learn how to do it.

Here’s how you can carry it out.

  • First, turn off the printer and unplug any motor or limit switch that won’t let you take out the X-axis carriage.
  • Unscrew and remove the top bar of the printer.
  • Use the provided Allen wrenches to unscrew the two screws that connect the bar to the extruder bracket.
  • Make sure that you line up the edges of the bar and the bracket, so they are level. Next, tighten those two screws while ensuring the parts are still level.
  • Put the X-axis carriage back in the printer and re-connect all the electronics.
  • Screw the top bar back on.

Be careful not to overtighten the screws on the bracket, as some users have complained that the screws and holes strip easily.

Check The Extruder Motor Bracket for Stripped Holes

If the threaded holes on the extruder motor bracket are stripped, then the screws attaching the X gantry to it won’t be able to stay in position. As a result, the X-gantry will wobble.

So, if you’re tightening the screws and you see they’re not making any headway, stripping is the most likely culprit. You can fix this in two ways.

The more expensive option is to get a new X-Axis V-Slot 2020 Carriage – Linear Rail from Amazon. These 20x20mm extrusions are made of high-quality metal, and they’re extremely stable. It comes with four in a pack.

One user mentioned that they have very clean edges and ends with a good finish.

It’s also possible to drill or tap the holes for some M5 screws, so you increase the size of the hole within the extrusion and use larger screws to hold the X-axis carriage in place.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Not Moving or Binding

If your Ender 3’s X-axis suddenly stops moving or is binding while moving, it can ruin your print. Here are some reasons why it might do this:

  • Incorrect mainboard connection
  • Faulty X-axis motor wiring
  • Loose X-axis belt
  • Frayed X-axis belt
  • Faulty X limit switch

To fix this, you can try out the following solutions:

  • Check the X-axis motor connections
  • Test the X-axis motor and its wiring
  • Tighten the belts on the X-axis
  • Inspect the X-axis belt for fraying
  • Check the X-axis’ limit switch

Check The X-Axis Motor Connections

It’s vital that the cable connecting the X-axis motor to the mainboard is correctly seated in its port.

Note: Before you start checking any of the printer’s electronics, make sure you turn the printer off.

So, disconnect the cable, check and see if the wires are correctly placed in the connector. Also, check to see if the pins in the motor’s port aren’t bent.

Next, open the mainboard, and check if the connector is in the proper spot for the X-axis motor. A common mistake most people make when assembling the Ender 3 is mixing up the connectors for the Extruder and the X-axis motors.

So, check the ports on the mainboard carefully to avoid these issues.

Test The X-Axis Motor and The Wiring

Electrical faults within the X-axis motor and its connector can lead to binding issues. To fix this, you’ll have to test the X-axis motor first.

  • First, turn the printer off
  • Remove the cable connectors from the X and Z-axis motors
  • Put the connector for the Z-axis motor in the X-axis motor
  • Turn the printer on and try and move the Z-axis through its interface
  • If the X-axis moves properly, then the motor is fine

The problem is with either the mainboard or the X-axis connector. You can check out how to test the mainboard and the connectors properly in this official video that Creality released.

Some users reported that the motor started working after removing the glue attaching the connector to the motherboard. The glue is meant to help keep the connectors in place, but it can interfere with the pins in the motherboard.

Tighten The Belts on The X-Axis

A loose belt on the X-axis can have issues with being able to grip the teeth of the motor’s pulley properly. As such, the movement on the motor won’t lead to smooth movement on the X-axis.

An excellent way to check if your belt is tightened correctly is to pluck it like a guitar string. A well-tightened belt should emit a low audible twang.

Also, a well-tightened belt shouldn’t have any slack at all. It should spring back up if you push it down with your fingers.

Modern Ender 3 printers come with a belt tensioner knob you can turn to tighten the belt easily. If yours is an old model with a regular tensioner, you can follow this video to learn how to tighten it.

All you need to do is loosen the tensioner with a hex key, pull the belt until it’s tight, then tighten it back.

Inspect The X-Axis Belt

Check the length of the X-axis belt to see if it’s stuck on anything preventing it from moving. Sometimes, the belt can end up wrapped around objects on the printer’s frame.

Also, check the belt’s teeth to see if there’s any wear that’s limiting its motion.

You can see an example of fraying in the image below. Once the belt starts fraying, it increases in length, making it harder to retain its tension.

Is my X axis belt worn or stretched out? from ender3

If you find any wear on the belt, you can remove it and replace it. This Creality Timing Belt from Amazon is a great replacement for it.

It’s made up of fiber-reinforced rubber, which means it can stand up to the tension and wear without failure. It also comes with clips that you can use to re-attach the belt to the motors.

Check The X-Axis Limit Switch

If your hotend stays in one spot, jittering and jolting, then the limit switch might be the fault. If its connections are faulty, it will remain in an always-on state, preventing the printhead from moving.

First, check whether the limit switch connectors are well seated on the mainboard and in the limit switch. Remove all the connectors to the X limit switch and test them for continuity using a multimeter using the Creality video from above.

If they are faulty, you’re going to have to replace them. You can get the Creality Limit Switch replacements on Amazon.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Sagging

X-axis sagging occurs when one side of the X gantry sits lower than the other on the Z-uprights. Most times, the sagging side is usually the side without the Z-axis motor and the lead screw.

Some of the causes of a sagging X-axis include:

  • Loose eccentric nuts
  • Uneven printer frame

Here’s how you can fix them:

  • Tighten the eccentric nuts on the POM wheels
  • Make sure the Z-uprights are parallel to each other

Tighten The Eccentric Nuts on The POM Wheels

If the POM wheels do not grip the Z uprights tightly, you may experience sagging on the X-axis. Tightening the eccentric nuts on the wheels helps keep them stable in their positions.

Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to push the X-gantry up and down the Z-uprights with your hands like this.

Gantry doesn’t seem to be square. The x axis seems to be very loose when near the bed and tight up top. I’ve been having to babystep mid print sometimes. Any fixes? from ender3

You can fix this by making sure the eccentric nut on the power supply side is tightened correctly. Using a spanner, turn the eccentric nut until it doesn’t wobble again.

If this doesn’t work, then it means the frame isn’t square. We’ll go through how you can fix this in the next section.

Make Sure the Z-Uprights are Parallel to Each Other

One mistake some users make when they install the Z-uprights is to not make sure they are parallel to each other before screwing them in. As a result, the distance between the Z-uprights at the top and bottom will differ.

This will lead to some sections of the X-axis sagging during printing.

To fix this, check if your printer’s frame is square. Some people recommend that you get an Engineering Square from Amazon to check your uprights against the printer’s base.

You can also measure the distance between the vertical frames from the top then the bottom. If the difference between both measurements is larger than 2mm, you will want to rework your printer’s frame.

Check out the video below from The Edge of Tech to learn how to do this.

They brilliantly break down how you can remove and rebuild the X gantry to make sure to make it level and even.

Upgrade to a Dual Z-Axis System

Upgrading to a dual Z-axis system can help with your Ender 3 X-axis sagging because it removes the strain that the X-gantry has on the single lead screw. Since both sides of the gantry are well-supported, they can stay level longer.

It also produces more accurate prints since there is greater stability in the printer’s Z-axis. This way, common defects like layer skipping and Z-banding are avoided.

You can buy the Ender 3 Dual-Axis Upgrade Kit on Amazon here. Most customers using it said it cut down on X vibrations giving them more dimensionally accurate prints.

Some people reported it can be tricky for beginners to assembly, but you can watch a good video tutorial to walk you through.

Check out the video by 3D Printscape showing a dual Z-axis installation guide.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Belt Rubbing

The timing belt is integral to the 3D printer’s X-axis carriage. It translates the motion of the belt to the printhead.

If it rubs against parts of the 3D printer while running, it can get frayed and fail quite easily while in operation. Let’s look at some of the reasons why it can happen:

  • Slack or poorly tightened belt
  • Hooked belt
  • Off-center belt pulley

You can fix this through the following methods:

  • Tighten the timing belt properly
  • Tweak the belt’s position
  • Use a spacer

Tighten The Belt Properly

Sometimes, the reason for a belt rubbing against the rail in the X carriage is that there might be a bit of slack. So, check the belt along its length to see if there’s any slack.

If there’s any slack in it, try and tighten the belt to see if that centers it properly. You can use the same video we referenced above to tighten the belt.

Tweak The Position of The Belt Tensioner

If the belt pulley isn’t in the center, it might be due to a bent or misaligned belt tensioner. This leads to the belt rubbing against the top right part of the aluminum extrusion like this.

How to fix? X-axis belt slides and scrapes under support railing. Doesn’t affect print quality, but will definitely shorten lifetime of belt. from ender3

You can try fixing this by tightening the nuts on the tensioner to see if it straightens out. The belt pulley is the part of the tensioner that the belt goes over.

If tightening the nuts doesn’t work, you can correct the belt pulley’s position like the user did by tilting the tensioner slightly down. For example, if your belt is in the top-right corner rubbing against the aluminum extrusion, turn the pulley downwards and outwards.

This way, the belt will get a bit of clearance from the aluminum rail. Be sure to tighten the screws holding the tensioner back.

Use a Spacer

The pulleys that come with Ender 3 printers have grooves bigger than the width of the belts that run in them. As a result, the belts have space to slide inside these pulleys.

By using a spacer, you can restrict the motion of the belt to a narrow groove. This way, the belt doesn’t have any space to slide to the left or right, thereby eliminating rubbing.

Another great spacer you can use for your printer is this shim from Thingiverse. You can see the white spacer underneath the bracket in operation here.

Quick belt rubbing fix! from ender5

It slides in between the tensioner and the X-gantry and effectively pulls the belt pulley back into the center.

Use Some Washers

The bolts on the belt tensioner can be the ones pushing the belt and the pulley off-center. This happens most especially when the bolts are bent.

X axis issue? Belt rubbing on corner from ender3

The user also fixed the Y-axis using the same method by replacing the thin nut on the left with two M8 washers and an M8 sprung washer.

Ender 3 x axis fix

You can get a pack of these M8 Stainless Steel Washers on Amazon.

For example, if your belt is off-center to the right, replace the left bolt on the tensioner with two regular M8 washers and a spring washer. Put the spring washer in the middle of the regular washers. If it is off-center to the left, replace the bolt on the right with the same thing.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis Grinding Noise

A grinding noise coming from the X-axis while operating indicates several issues. Some of them include:

  • Loose or grinding X-axis belts
  • Tight hotend carriage rollers

Here’s how you can fix it:

  • Tighten the belts on the X-axis
  • Loosen the rollers on the hotend carriage
  • Check the X motor connection

Tighten The Belts on the X-Axis

If the X-axis belt isn’t tightened correctly, it can rub against the aluminum extrusion leading to the grinding noise. Also, if the belt’s pulley is off-center, you’ll hear it grinding.

To fix this, check if the belt is properly tightened and in the center of the groove. If it isn’t, follow the steps in the section above to get it nice and tight.

Loosen The POM Wheels on The Hotend

If the POM wheels on the hotend carriage are too tight, you can get a bit of pitting or flat spotting on the POM wheels. As a result, you will hear the grinding noise on the rollers while they move on the X carriage.

To fix this, inspect the wheels to see if they are too tight and loosen them.

Also, inspect the rollers’ surface for any sign of wear, then replace them if detected.

Check The X-Motor Connections

Check the connections to the X-axis motor and the mainboard. If these connections are shaky, you may have a slight noise when it moves across the carriage.

You can swap the connectors on the X-axis with those on the Y-axis and test them out. If the noise persists, it might be a mainboard or motor problem.

Again, this Creality video provides a great walkthrough.

How to Fix Ender 3 X-Axis/X Gantry Not Level

The X-gantry is meant to be parallel to the Ender 3’s bed for it to be properly level. If one side lags behind the other, you might have trouble leveling the printer.

Some of the issues that can cause this include:

  • Loose eccentric nuts
  • Loose X gantry screws
  • Crooked Z uprights

Here’s how you can fix it:

  • Tighten the eccentric nuts
  • Make sure the extruder bracket and the gantry arm are flush
  • Re-align the printer’s frame

Tighten the Eccentric Nuts

If you keep on leveling the arm and one side keeps slipping down, then it might be a loose eccentric nut on the POM wheels. So, try and level the arm again, then tighten the POM wheel at that point with a spanner.

Make Sure the Extruder Bracket and the Gantry Arm Are Flush

There are two screws that attach the X gantry’s arm to the extruder bracket. The smaller of the two screws helps keep the X-gantry arm level.

When assembling the printer, you have to make sure the extruder bracket lines up perfectly with the arm. If they don’t, the extruder arm won’t be leveled after tightening it.

You can check out this video from a YouTuber named CHEP. He explains how you can tighten this crucial part of the printer while assembling it. I’ve got a timestamp in the video that takes you to the correct section.

Check if your arm is level with the bracket. If it isn’t, you might have to take it down and re-fix it.

Re-Align The Printer’s Frame

If the printer’s frame isn’t squared right during assembly, then the X-gantry won’t be level while printing. One side will always be closer to the print bed than the other while printing.

Place your printer on a level surface and check if its frame is square using an engineering square. If it isn’t, you’ll have to rework and rebuild it to ensure it is square.

X-axis issues can be quite frustrating as they can greatly impact your print quality. So, go try the fixes we’ve provided above and you should be on your way to getting great prints.

Good luck and happy printing!

Recent Posts

3D Printerly