Battery bulging/swelling issue

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by mpb2000, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. mpb2000 macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2008
    I am having in issue with the battery of my black macbook, purchased in late 2008. Operation is fine; it still holds plenty of charge. Recently, I noticed that the battery was sticking out beyond the underside of the case. The battery pack casing was actually bulging out/being deformed. I did a quick google search and found this to be an all too common problem. The individual cells inside the battery have their own enclosures that expand with use, as the rechargeable battery cells give off a gas. When the individual cell enclosures expand, the force the battery pack case outward in turn. In many cases, the expansion also occurs on the other side of the battery pack, causing problems with the trackpad.

    Others with the same problem had different experiences when dealing with Apple. Some received new batteries, no questions asked (Consumer Reports is one example). Others were told they would have to buy a new battery. After talking with Apple on the phone and at a genius bar, I fell into the later category. All the Apple employees I dealt with recognized the issue and they had all seen it before. One person I spoke with on the phone said they had had the same conversation hundreds if not thousands of times before, but the response was always the same: this is normal behavior; buy a new battery.

    As an engineer who works with rechargeable batteries frequently, I know this is not normal behavior. It is normal behavior for this (poor) design, but that is different. The individual battery cell packs do not have enough space to accommodate the gas byproduct, so they bulge outward. I would obviously not expect my battery to hold the same charge it did when it was new, but I do expect the battery pack to have the same shape now as it did then, and to not damage my computer.

    On top of that, Apple wants me to buy a new battery that will ultimately have the exact same problem, seeing as this is normal behavior. This amazes me. I have had PC laptops far longer than I have had my macbook that never experienced this "normal" behavior. (Prepares for "then why don't you just go buy another PC?" comments)

    Another thing I realized was that batteries are not covered by AppleCare. So, even if this had happened within my AppleCare window (which has obviously expired), Apple would not have replaced the battery.

    Has anyone had this problem recently? With which macbooks/macbook pros? Since this is "normal," I'm afraid the new macbook I was considering buying will have a battery that will do the same thing. Apple seems like they are setting a very bad precedent.
  2. brop52 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2007
    How many cycles has the battery gone through?
  3. NewAnger, Jan 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013

    NewAnger macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2012
    Denver Colorado
    This is very common with these MacBook batteries. I too have a 2008 black MB where the battery started swelling last year. The Apple forums have all kinds of posts where other owners have swollen batteries. Apple will not replace them now of course since they are so old.

    Mine has 218 cycles. I never replaced it but have removed it. My black MB is just used as a desktop for iTunes movies so I doubt that I will ever replace the battery.

    Some people have bought new batteries from Apple and have had swollen batteries after lower then 100 cycles all over again.

    I have owned my 2010 MB for a year now and it does not have this problem. I ave also owned two MBPs in the past and neither one of them had the problem. It appears to be mostly a problem with the older MBs such as the 2008 black and white MBs.
  4. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    It's pretty common and it's an in-built safety mechanism.

    If it happens whilst under warranty AND at less than 300 cycles, they'll replace it - otherwise the battery is just exhausted and you need to buy another one. They cover faulty batteries, but not consumed ones.

    I hate to say it - but they're completely right that it's normal behaviour for an EOL MacBook Battery
  5. evanmav macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2011
    Okay so I just had this situation happen to me and I was unfortunately also told this is normal and to buy a new battery. My "swollen" battery was causing my trackpad not to work. So I brought it to a different apple store and told them I was having trackpad issues because of my swollen battery. They ran some tests and walla new battery no questions asked for free under my apple care. Without applecare good luck! It just matters which genius you get and what store you go to. I went to a mall apple store because I thought they would be more willing to help me out then a local one.

    It's so weird because at the first store I got the same response as you so I was like well let me try going to another store and they had no problem at all with helping me out. The guy even asked me what happened at the other store because he saw I had went to a different store and he didn't even care. he just went back and said yeah your battery is swollen we'll fix it right away! So good luck!
  6. scott.n macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2010
    Same thing happened last year with my late 2007 MacBook. I bought a new battery.

    B&H had the best prices if I recall.

    Newer MacBook batteries are rated for 1000 cycles. ( I've only ever heard of the bulge affecting the older 300-cycle batteries.

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