Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm Repair

AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED[Added February 27, 2010]: After looking at the 77 page repair manual for this lens, I don’t recommend that you attempt this repair yourself. Lens optical equipment, a wave output analyzer and other specialized tools are used in the repair of this lens. If you attempt this repair yourself, you will likely never get the lens working like new.

I somehow managed to get lucky and was able diagnose the problem with my lens and repair it, with the auto-focusing, manual focusing, manual zoom and auto exposure all working again. You may not be so lucky, read the comments. I am not sure how my repaired lens would compare in resolution and sharpness with a new lens.

[Added April 30, 2009]: If you don’t feel confident doing this repair yourself, I recommend you send your lens to a Nikon Repair facility. Remember, if you are unable to repair it yourself, you will have a paperweight, a lens that might not autofocus or at least a more costly repair if you send it to Nikon.

[Original post]: Our Nikon D70 came with a “kit” lens, the relatively highly regarded AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED.

AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED Electronics

After a couple of years of non-professional use, the zoom ring suddenly became balky. Sometimes it would get stuck between 24-50mm, occasionally, it would zoom all the way to 70mm. It felt like there was something jamming the zoom mechanism, so I tried blowing Dust-Off in from the front and rear, hoping that would dislodge the offending chaff. That didn’t work.

It didn’t make much sense to me to send in for repair a mostly plastic lens that costs $350 USD new or used on eBay for $175 USD. Besides, I probably wouldn’t buy another 18-70mm lens. The Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED or the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED would be my first choices.

Loose Screw

I started at the rear of the lens and removed the screws holding the bayonet mount to the lens. The fact that there are a row of electrical contacts made me think that it was likely that the patient wouldn’t survive the surgery.

Under the bayonet ring there was a circular printed circuit board with various flex connectors encircling it. I pried all of the connectors free and unscrewed the rear element.

I eventually stripped the lens to the point where I could see the zoom mechanism and how one of the three screws mounted every 120 degrees around the body of the lens was loose. The nylon foot that it screwed into was now rattling around inside the lens. When it dropped out, I inserted it back into it’s groove and used nail polish on the screw threads to hopefully keep it from vibrating loose again. The lens was assembled with some sort of thread locker on the screw but it still managed to vibrate loose.

AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED Parts

As they say in the auto shop manuals, reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. The first time I put it back together, the zoom worked fine, but the camera didn’t auto-focus. After taking the lens apart again, I saw that the focusing prong was connected to the drive mechanism. Another hour later, it was working.

Remember, don’t try this at home.

84 thoughts on “Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm Repair”

  1. Hola leslie.. tengo un problema .. y seguramente tu puedes ayudarme.. tengo un lente nikon 18-70 af-s 1:3.5-4.5 g ed que se me estropeo.. especificamente la pieza plastica q esta en la parte baja de la foto (AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED Parts) publicada en tu blog, ahora, mi consulta es la siguiente: cual es el nombre de la pieza? ya que debo reponerla pero como no se el nombre.. no se como.. ni donde encargarla..¡

  2. Hello, according to nikon repair manual you’re fortunate not to disassemble any further since you would need calibration equipment to realign the lens if you messed with the 4th and 5th lens housing.

  3. Hello, Mr. Wong.Is it possible To explain or show how the Focusing prong is connected to the drive mechanism? Thank you in forward

  4. I had a Nikkor 18-55 get jammed up on the first day of a camping trip. The zoom ring was basically locked in place. I managed to “fix” it in the field using a pocket knife for a screw driver. The problem as best as I could tell was that the metal arms that rotated the focal lens with the zoom ring would twist and jam themselves at higher zooms. It may have been exacerbated by a knock loosening something inside.

    In the end, I pulled apart the lens and removed the metal arms. One of the screws got stripped and I had to spend 30 min scratching a slot into the head with my knife. After the arms were gone, the focal lens could be repositioned and the arms put back in and got everything reassmbled. After that I just kept the zoom below 40 and it didn’t get stuck again, but I could feel it get close as I increased the zoom.

    Here are a few tips:

    Keep all of your screws in a bowl or case or something. They are really frickin tiny.

    There was a single white wire soldered to the back plate of the lens. I accidentally broke the connection and had to strip it and twist it back onto a screw. This actually might have made things easier because I didn’t have that thing hanging around.

    Take deep breaths, try not to touch the glass.

  5. great sharing,
    My 18-70 can zoom well right now, but my autofocus is problem now.
    it would be great if David could re-upload the manual..i hope..:)

  6. My quote for a jamming zoom issue on my 18-200mm VR lens was AUD$325 (the quote cost $20, dunno how much shipping will be).

    Seems pretty rough given that’s about the price these go for on eBay – all to tighten a screw which should never have loosened in the 1st place…

  7. Fixing a stuck zoom of the Nikon 18-70mm is usually caused by a loose screw. The short-cut fix, You need to remove the screw under the rubber of the zoom ring. Then you can freely turn the zoom ring and it will disengage. Then you will you need to extend the front lens barrel. voala! you can see the screw and tighten.

    The possible reason why focus does not work is that the GMR is misaligned. The GMR sense the movement of the focus mechanism and sends to the micro controller. If the micro controller does not receive a good signal from the GMR, it will drive the motor back and forth without focus lock.

  8. did this too. fixed the zoom but like many others, autofocus is broke.
    i think it may have something to do with the last ribbon wire that you reconnect; which is a bit tricky to get back on.

  9. Salim, I am not an expert but you can send your lens to a Nikon Repair facility for a repair estimate and when you find out the repair cost, decide whether or not it’s worth repairing.

  10. Hi there My Nikkor 18-55 VR fell. I noticed that it broken open slightly area where you have the AF and Vr switches .that portion where you have these buttons sitting on , has peeled open from under neath the VR switch exposing the inside of the lens. the screw on top of the AF button is keeping it intact . What should i do ? and can Nikon Authorities repair it ?

  11. As with several others here, disassembling the lens as described here worked in terms of fixing the stuck zoom problem. One of the three screws was indeed loose and easily fixed. However, like others, once the lens was reassembled the autofocus failed to work correctly – manual focus worked correctly, but autofocus hunts from min to max range continually, never converging on the focus point. So, zoom is fixed, but focus becomes borked. Only solution is to use manual focus on the lens. I tried reseating and cleaning the cables several times, but to no avail. Would be interested to hear if anyone has any solutions. Otherwise, think carefully before attempting this fix!

  12. Same problem here with broken autofocus. Could someone send me a service manual. You can find my email on my website.


  13. It seems that the service manual that Rémi uploaded isn’t there anymore. I have a backfocus problem on my 18-70 and I’d like to attempt to fix it myself, but I’d feel a lot more confident if I had the manual (and if it seems too complicated it’d stop me from turning the lens into a paperweight). Could someone upload the service manual again?

  14. Hi!

    I am glad to found that site; I have a 18-70 too and the same Focusproblem.

    But i allready repaired a 18-55; 28-200 and some old manual lenses -> all of them are still working.
    Sad to say, i have not the 18-70 repairmanual and would be glad if you could send it to me.
    I can offer a wide range of Nikon S-Manuals and part lists (that are not in the web).


  15. ekie, you would have to find a repair manual like the one Rémi linked to in post 40. I don’t know where you would find a repair manual.

    As I said, after looking at the repair manual for the 18-70, I do not recommend doing this yourself. You’d be better off selling the lens for parts or using it until it falls apart if you can. Then try to buy a used one if you can’t afford a new one.

  16. I have a nikon 18-105mm VR, the problem is that one of the aperture blade is loosened. already sent this lens the repair shop but they qouted the repair almost the same cost of the price of this lens (used)… its been sitting in my drawer for some months now.. I wonder if you guys have any idea or know a website that show on how to disassemble this lens? Thanks

  17. So how did you repair the auto-focus then? I have exactly the same problem, i’m not new to repairing cameras, thou it was my first auto focus lense i did.
    i got it from a guy who let it fall down, so one part of the zoom was broken.
    Teardown no problem, everything fine when reassambling, but now the auto-focus just jumps from infinite to nearest range and back so…

    could you please, or someone tell me what could be wrong? for the contacts i controlled several times. should i clean them?? (maybe i had little bit of oily fingers when reassambling from the inner core of the lens…

    so please someone help me with this 🙂

    looking forward to a reply!

  18. I also have the same prob with a Nikon 18-200 lens 2 1/2 years old.I use the camera about 6 times a year for holidays Niether the lens or the camera have ever been knocked. A screw started floating about inside stopping auto focus etc. I sent it to Nikon for repair Quoted £305 SEE QUOTE- AFS18-200/3.5-5.6G DX VR ED (2007854)
    Fit new spare parts
    Repair, adjust and lubricate zoom helicoid
    Repair,adjust and lubricate focusing helicoid operation
    Check and adjust lens resolution to Nikon standard
    Clean lens elements and check infinity focus
    Check, test and clean equipment
    This job may be re-estimated if further faults are found during repair
    Labour Billable 1.25 59.63 74.53
    1C999-389-1 2nd GROUP TUBE UNIT 1 133.44 133.44
    1K631-668 3-4 GROUP CAM TUBE 1 46.14 46.14
    I contacted them asked why it would need new tube units and why has the screw come out they said its proberbly just come loose in the thread” although they had not dissmantled it to confirm they just assume that is the case If I want it back repaired thats how much I would have to pay or send us £13 & we send it back in the same condition. To me this was just poor manufacturing in the 1st place I would NEVER buy another Nikon product again or recomend any one else to

  19. Hi Leslie,
    How did you insert/disengage the ribbons from the circuit board? I’m working on a lens right now, it works fine but the images are terrible, I suspect someone may have repaired it and put an element in backwards or something!

  20. I’ve fixed my zoom also and have autofocus hunting as well. Here is a video of my problem. Hopefully someone’s had the same problem.

  21. Thanks for sharing your experience on repairing the 18-70mm. It is always rather intimitating to work on a camera lens. Now you know how to take it apart, you can clean off all the dusts collected in the lens.

    I owned a 18-70mm and I noticed it sucked in dust particles.

  22. The M/A & M switch wires (Black and Blue) came disconnected from the connectors on the plastic switch plate (NOT from the circuit board). Which color goes where? If anyone could help that would be great! Prefer not to do a 50/50 chance of picking the right place for each wire.

  23. I had problems with my Nikkor AF-S 18-200 lens manual and autofocusing. It was rather loose and floppy since the day it arrived and I was never very impressed with the autofocus. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t! At minimum zoom I always had to zoom in a tiny fraction to ensure proper focus. Ok I should have returned it but I’m the sort of twit that never complains! Recently the font of the lens that the lens cover clips into just fell off. At first I thought maybe I’d bashed it and that the 6 small screws had sheared their threads. I soon worked out that they had shaken loose as all the threads were fine! After removing my protective UV filter dust cover I was able to pry off a small black protective cover ring to gain access to the screw heads, 2 minutes later everything was properly secured for the first time in its life!
    The 2 of the 4 slightly larger philips screws at the back of the lens were also a couple of turns loose. After nipping them up all the excess floppiness dissapeared and my autofocus started working properly. Removing the font scre cover also allowed me to remove the front lens completely to give it a clean. I’m amazed that a couple of specks had somehow made it behind the main lens. I’m just relieved I didnt have to go deeper into the beast to get it functioning again!

  24. Irv’s DIY is great!

    I’d recommend using something non-metallic to pry off the zoom band. I have a box of orange sticks (get them from a beauty supply, they’re used by manicurists) and used one to get under the rubber and peel up the whole thing.

    Thanks for all the photos. They were very helpful.

  25. Thanks for posting about this fix. I had similar problems with my lens and googling solutions, I found your post.

    However, what I actually used to fix my lens was the method recommended by Ken K, as posted here by Rémi, since it sounded less complicated. It worked well for me and to pay it forward, I took some pictures and made a rough guide of what I did. I hope this helps:

  26. There appears to be too much movement in the front of the lens – is this normal? The lens focus is normal as is the zoom.

  27. is this lens supposed to be kind of loose from the beginning. not as tight as tamron lenses. if you shake the lens, is it supposed to sound kind of loose

  28. Also ahppy to help! Now that I know for sure that the method actually works, I’ll give it a go… Wish me luck!

  29. Thanks to mr.leslie.wong for putting this tut together and also Rémi for posting the link to the repair manual I managed to repair my 18-70mm after reading this and through at the Rep Man.
    It took me a couple of hours but i got there in the end.
    One piece of advice to other’s who are going to try this please take your time and dont rush it.


  30. Hi,

    I have the same problem and I have found an alternative method posted by Ken K on

    “The screw to tighten is under the zoom rubber, do not take apart the lens side that attaches to the camera. Remove the rubber band for the zoom, then the one screw underneath, you can expand the lens from there and will see three screws, one will probably be loose. It takes more time to get the plastic collar lined up and to reassemble more than anything. Write if you have a question.”

    I am really not that good at putting things back together and this method looks much easier tha pulling cable out. However, it has little proof of actually being a good solution so if anyone can post some feedback on which method is best, it would be great.

  31. What is the best way to push these into their connectors? I found myself very nervous doing it as I didn’t want to rub the circuit board with anything metallic, and I also didn’t want to bend/crimp a cable. Is there a tool or something I can use?

  32. @S. grif, I think it’s the flex cable in the third photo. That’s hooked up to the motor.

    I’d make sure each connector is properly seated, but don’t over do it. The flex cables aren’t really made to be repeatedly removed and inserted.

  33. I completed this procedure (zoom great now!) and am able to manually focus, but it will not autofocus. I have checked that everything on the camera and the lens are set to autofocus, but I still don’t get an autofocus. The focusing matrix blinks red a second after I half depress the shutter release, but no movement.

    Since I’m able to manually focus, I’m assuming I have the hardware lined up, can anyone tell me what my problem might be? I suspect a ribbon cable connection, but which one?


  34. Minh, the ribbon cables slide in and have locking mechanisms. I hope you unlocked them before you pulled them out. You have to be very careful with these cables because one bad connection will cause your lens to not work.

    For example, in the second photo, the dark part of the connector on the far left slides out to release the cable. Some of the other connectors have a bar that lifts up. When you put it back together, the cable should slip in easily. Then you secure the locking mechanism.

  35. Hi I read your column, can you tell me how you re-installed the cable ribbon. I am having trouble with it.

  36. hello
    i tried to fix my autofocus and a little jam zoom,but the only thing i fix was tha zoom was a nightmare to put back the swm again,and i don´t know what i did wrong,that the focus ring stop working too,and the autofocus also stop working.the problem now is the focus,i don´t know if is possible to replace the swm motor,or if i car repair it.i dont know if i puto some ring at the oposite site,or what.any help at this time?

  37. mr.leslie.wong Says: “Ken Rockwell says it is a great lens”.

    Ken Rockwell doesn’t know squat about photography and makes totally idiotic remarks all the time. You really shouldn’t rely on his opinion.

    Other than that, I too am joining the “Jammed 18-70 Club”. Gonna try this myself, wish me luck!

    And thanks everybody for sharing your experiences in this matter. I’ll let you know what becomes of my lens 😀

  38. yes, the auto focus, sorry, full of head cold at the mo, ive read this page top to bottom, and the links to sites its offered, and i must say, it fills me with hope. Im going in for the repair at home lol, if it all goes wrong, i’ll have to save for another lens, but i feel i have nothing to loose.
    I probably did disconnect the circuit board piece putting it back together, will have another go 🙂

  39. caroline,

    If you aren’t comfortable taking it apart yourself, you can send your lens to Nikon and have them repair it. I don’t think it would cost more than £70.

    Do you mean the auto focus doesn’t respond? One of the ribbons that connects to the circuit board may be loose.

  40. I have the same problem, a loose screw in the inner casing, have asked for help on my local blog, but this seems to be a problem with this lens, it first started with a sticky zoom at 70mm, which flatly refused to extend fully after a while, then a rattle, and yesterday , the screw actually fell onto the INSIDE of the glass on the lens. Wierd. Have taken the outer casing off from the bayonet mount, unscrewed the 4 small chrome screws, but am worried about taking it further as i have never attempted to repair a lens. Now that i have put it back together again, the auto zoom doesnt respond, which i can live with quite happily, but i would love to have it back in its original state.

  41. I tried for another hour last night, still no go. I can easily get the inner ring in. The outer ring with the 18-70 numbers printed on it will not go in. There is a cylindrical chrome screw that seems to be blocking it from coming in

  42. Micheal, it’s been a while since I did this, but I think the outer ring only goes on one way. You have to make sure the zoom works in it’s range – that the numbers 18 and 70 line up with the mark.

    Try shifting the inner ring 120 degrees and see if it will go on then. I think on the outer ring there is an indentation or something to align it with the inner ring.

    Sorry I can’t remember more clearly.

  43. I had my zoom lock up on me during my cruise / vacation. I got home and disassembled everything to find that one of the screws was loose as described.

    Now I don’t know how to reassemble the zoom rings back into place. I can get the inner ring to line up with the three notches, but how do i line the outer ring up?

  44. I had my zoom lock on my 18-70 yesterday and successfully fixed the problem following your approach.

    Another site presents the complete disassembled lense:

    A suggested improvement: once the bayonet is unscrewed (4 back screws), it is easier just to untie the flat cable connectting it to circuit board at the end closest to the board. (as opposed to the other end, as suggested in your first disassembly picture). To untie, just gently lift the brown cable tightener on the board connector.

  45. i dropped my lens the other day and the only problem thank god was the black thin ring in the front of the lens ripped do you know the name of that part or a place to get a replacement for it.
    if you can help me thanks….

    and good job on your repair i love this lens its great..

  46. Sharon, sorry you were unable to fix yours lens. You might be able to find a Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR on eBay for about the same cost as repairing an 18-70. Ken Rockwell says it is a great lens. He even compares it favorably to the 16-85.

    If you can get the screws out, you still may be able to fix your 18-70. I just used a good set of jewelers screwdrivers; see the Amazon link in the comment 20. You just have to keep taking it apart and you’ll eventually see the problem. There are just a lot of parts.

  47. I have this same lens and I believe the same problem as described. I thought I had gotten a grain of sand in the outer working parts that was causing the catching/ sticking problem. I tried to clean it but after a few minutes of trying to manipulate and clean, the zoom finally stuck completely and that’s when I searched the internet for answers and found this web site. I thought that since the lens was useless to me in it’s ‘stuck’ position, it would be worth trying to fix it. I followed the instructions and was able to see and do what was described for a while.

    My problems started when I came to the instructions that started with “I eventually stripped the lens to the point where…….”. Uh Oh! ‘eventually stripped’ was not the kind of detailed instruction I needed. I continued anyway trying to strip to the lens. I stopped when I stripped the top slots in a screw that was located somewhere under the circuit board. I knew I didn’t have the tools or know-how to get a screw out that now had a circle instead of slots needed for screwing and unscrewing.

    During my attempt to reattach the parts, I also dislodged the little wires that were attached to the M/MA tab and the circuit board. At this point I found a web site that sold the repair manual for this lens. I purchased and downloaded this manual. It was no help at this point since the instructions are to take the lens apart from the lens end and not at the bayonet ring.

    I was going to discard the lens at this point so I taped the extra parts to a piece of paper and put the disengaged lens in a plastic bag. I then ordered a 18-200 lens as described above by Mr. Wong.

    An employ where I ordered the 18-200 lens called me about 7:00 pm and tried to hustle me into purchasing something to go with the lens. He also told me the 18-200 lens would not work on my D70 camera. I eventually cancelled the order which unfortunately cause much anger.

    I then looked for repair agencies to find out what it might cost to repair my lens. I found a group of Nikon Factory authorized agencies and now plan to send in the lens with all it’s parts and try the repair process. It will cost $124 plus postage of $15. Expensive, but if workable will keep me using my camera until I can afford another lens. After much research I believe I will go with the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.66 ED VR (5.3x).

    I feel Mr. Wong must have some previous experience or at least knowledge with electronic work and very steady, probably small hands to have been so successful with his repair of the 18-70mm. lens. I am not sorry I tried to repair mine because it was unusable, but I was not successful and thought I should share my experience.

    If anyone is interested in purchasing the repair manual, the web site is :

  48. Thank Mr Wong for your tips on removing the lens to fix it. My favourite lens’ auto focus stops working recently. I can only work on manual mode only. Any advices for me in this case.
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  49. Edgar,

    I recommend that you let Nikon clean the lens if the dust is bothering you that much. The 18-70mm lens is relatively inexpensive to replace had my surgery gone wrong. That is less so with the 18-200mm.

  50. How do you unscrew the front lens?? There is a ring that needs to be unscrewed on my 18-200mm VR…I need to remove it because I can see dust under the front lens..

  51. I have the same problem with my lens and my friend help me last night to disassemble the lens and found the same culprit which is the loose screw. During the first re-assembly the autofocus keeps hunting and upon re-inspecting the flex cables 1 cable was re-inserted not right. After fixing the cable the autofocus is ok now. My lens is working again from 18-70. Thanks for sharing.

  52. I have the same trouble than Gary. Autofocus motor works but it is absolutly not smooth and it works with steps and it can’t correctly focus. It seems that the motor is not responding as the electronic wants. I need advices …

  53. Hello i have dissasembled the 18-70 to remove severe dust deposits and im having a horrible time getting the motor ring in the right place. Im not sure why because i feel like im putting it together like i dissassembled it. When i get it all together the inside of the lens around the motor squeeks and seems like there is resistance during autofocus operation. Please help me i have a photo shoot this weenkend Thanks.

  54. Virginie, if you mean the rings that include the zoom ring, there are some notches that it has to engage. Look at the inside the zoom ring. I think there are three of them around the barrel of the lens. IIRC, there is only one correct way to put it on.

    You can see one of the notches in the third photo in the upper right corner. It looks like a single-side arrowhead, pointing toward the top-center edge of the image.

    I remember it was a pain to line up correctly.

    Be very careful not to bend the ribbon cables.

    Good luck.

  55. I have some trouble reassembling the lens
    I can’t seem to screw the 3 plastic rings back in place. Any tips on how to reassemble?

  56. Thank you very much for this report.
    I had a lot of dust in my lens. And three big dust particles were visible in all images taken at wide angle. They showed up as three unsharp darker spots, much bigger than those from sensor dust. Because this was very annoying I was brave enough to disassemble the lense. And it worked while it was very tricky to clean the lenses itself.
    The lens is almost clean inside now and there are no spots at wide angle any more. All is working fine.
    So I think it was worth the trouble.

  57. cw, in the third photo, those contacts are part of the Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for focusing. There is a 2 or 3mm tab that has to engage with one of the many layers of the rings. When you take it apart so one of the lens elements behind the front element drops out, you’ll see it.

    Good luck.

  58. Noticed this too, as said in the article, you have to re-assemble the autofocusing mechanism. If it falls out of place, it is a nightmare to reassemble. I’m still trying. For me, it even smeared the inside of the lens.. 🙁

  59. Thanks. I did all these to tighten the screw and put everything back. Now the auto-focus is not working.

  60. Thanks for the guide and the pics!

    Actually, it is not necessary to strip away the optics at the back of the lense. You just have to remove
    1) the back, held with 4 small chromed screws.
    2) The aluminum ring, held with three black screws

    Then the focus ring and the plastic outer casing will come off.

    Then remove
    3) the circuit board, held with one small screw and
    4) the outer mechanism, held with three black screws.

    Now you should be able to access the loose screw.

  61. Thanks for the instruction. I tried and encountered the same problem: auto-focus. Would you please describe it more in detail?

  62. Our company has tried the 18-200 nikon zoom, and it is the most troublesome of all.
    all of our family of Nikon zooms have failed us; of course we do dirty work in the desert, but these lenses cannot take the dust at all.

  63. Hi,
    I read your note on repairing the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm lens and sat down and took mine apart and fixed it. Thanks for the information.


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