Most people who bought their Nintendo 3DS early would have had their console for a year now, meaning manufacturers warranty with Nintendo should be up by now and many others are probably on their way out too. With the new 3DS XL on its way, you might want to double check your warranty and the condition of your 3DS before you retire it or trade it in.
A lot of people who use their console heavily will have probably noticed some wear and tear on the console by now, most noticeably on the top screen and perhaps the circle pad.
The top screen has a design flaw that causes the raised plastic border of the bottom screen to rub against the top screen when the console is closed. This originally bears itself as light vertical lines that appear on the top screen and are easy enough to rub off. After a while though these light marks become actual scratches. This is a known issue to Nintendo and they will fix it for free if your 3DS console is still under warranty. If it is out of warranty, there is a possibility they will still fix it for free since it has probably had the problem for a long time, however I can guarantee this will always be the case.
The circle pad tends to get quite a beating too and again, Nintendo will most likely fix this defect if you’re still under warranty.
The latest issue popping up is with the L and R buttons. The recent release of Kid Icarus: Uprising has caused its players to mash their L button far more than any other game has demanded so far and can cause the button to stop working. This is fixable under warranty but with many early Nintendo 3DS owners having had their console since launch, they may have to pay for their own repairs.
It is likely though that if enough people are having the same issue or similar, Nintendo will repair it free of charge since it is a design fault that their product wears out whilst playing its own Nintendo titles.
Fortunately for left-handed gamers, a Circle Pad Pro could prolong the life of your system as it reverses the controls of the game, although the extension may result with the R button being over-mashed instead.
If you do find your 3DS is in need of repairs and is still within the warranty period, you will need to produce your original receipt (I keep mine inside the original packaging so I don’t lose it) and take it back to the original retailer if you want it sent off for repairs for free.
It might be a good idea to call up the Nintedo Customer Care Centre first to get proper instructions on your options, especially if you are now out of warranty. Having spoken to Nintendo first should give you extra leverage when talking to a store about repairs. Make sure you are clear that you want a repair and not a replacement though, as that may end up with you losing all your Streetpass data and any downloaded software. It may also be hard to get your Ambassador Certificate back.