Conor's Blog -

Fixing Canon A-1/AE-1 Program shutter squeak/wheeze

March 03, 2020


The strange squeaky, wheezy sound coming from that secondhand 35mm SLR you just picked up from Adverts/Craiglist/local flea market? It shouldn’t do that!

In this guide I’ll quickly run you through the steps of fixing said issue. The whole process should take about 15-20 minutes of your time provided you have all of the necessary equipment on hand. I’ve carried out this procedure 3 times on friend’s cameras as well as my own Canon A-1. It’s worked every time!

Here’s the before and after so you can hear the difference in sound.

Disclaimer: If you want to be absolutely safe and sure your camera is fixed properly then it get it serviced by a professional and not on the advice of a cowboy with screwdriver and syringe.

What you’ll need

Starting off, here’s the list of things you’ll need:

  • Oil (I use some Shell Handyman Oil that I found in my shed. Alternaitevly you could buy some clock oil from Amazon)
  • Medical syringe to inject the oil (If you buy the clock oil linked above, you won’t need this!)
  • Screwdriver to remove the backplate screws
  • Spoon/coin to remove the battery door cover

(I did warn you it was ghetto…)



  • Cock the shutter to reveal the hole the oil containing syringe will go into.

  • Turn off the camera by flicking the switch on the top to ‘L’.


  • Use a spoon or coing to loosen the battery door cover on left-hand-side of the camera as it faces you.

  • Open the door and take out the battery.


  • Turn the camera upside down and remove the 3 screws holding in the bottom plate. (Be careful not to lose these, I placed mine in a spare jar lid for safe keeping!)


  • With the backplate removed, put some oil into your needle and place it into the hole as shown below.
  • Push the needle plunger down (or tap the bottom if you’re using the clock oil from Amazon) to inject a few drops of oil.


  • Repeat the step above 2 or 3 times and leave the camera upsidedown for 10-15 minutes to let the oil work its way through.
  • Put the camera back together and test the shutter. If it’s still squeaky, add a few more drops of oil and wait again. You’ll know it’s good to go when the squeak becomes a satisfying click.

Hope that helps! Happy snapping!

Written by Conor Broderick who works and takes photos in Dublin.