How to Repair a Squeak in a Canon AE-1

Updated February 21, 2017

The AE-1 Program, produced by Canon from 1976 to 1985, is a classic 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. Built to handle to rigours of professional use but user-friendly enough for the novice photographer, the AE-1 offers full manual control as well as an automatic setting. While the camera is known for its durability, the mechanism that controls the internal mirror has been known to dry out over time, producing a noticeable squeaking noise as the shutter is released.

Insert a coin into the small slot on the hand grip at the front of the camera. Rotate the coin counterclockwise to remove the battery compartment cover.

Lift out the battery and set it aside to avoid electrical shock while working.

Locate the two screws which secure the camera's bottom plate. Remove the screws using a micro screwdriver of the appropriate size. Set the screws aside in a plastic container.

Lift the bottom plate away from the camera body carefully. Orient the body so that the bottom faces upward and the insides are visible.

Position a gooseneck lamp so that the inside of the camera is brightly lit. Peer inside the camera and locate the bronze flywheel that controls the mirror's movement. The flywheel will be near the top of the mirror at the centre of the body.

Fill the syringe with two drops of synthetic oil. Depending on the type of syringe you're using, you'll either need to absorb the oil with the needle or remove the top to fill it.

Direct the syringe's needle toward the bronze flywheel and lower it into the open camera. Once the needle has made contact with the flywheel, lightly depress the plunger so that a single drop is deposited onto the mechanism.

Remove the syringe from the inside of the camera. Replace the bottom cover, insert the screws and tighten them with your micro screwdriver.

Replace the battery and close the battery compartment cover.

Power on the camera and fire several test shots. After several shutter actuations, the oil will lubricate the flywheel and silence the squeak.


Avoid using a natural oil in place of synthetic oil. Natural oils will harden and become sticky over time. Also avoid overfilling the syringe, as excess oil may leak out into the inside of the camera. Bring your AE-1 to a professional camera repair service if the squeak continues.


Do not attempt further disassembly of your AE-1 if you are not experienced with classic camera repair. Do not deposit more than one or two drops of oil onto the flywheel.

Things You'll Need

  • Coin
  • Micro screwdriver set
  • Plastic container
  • Gooseneck lamp
  • Synthetic oil
  • Syringe
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.