Macbook Pro shutting off at 5% battery life

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by SolitaryHowl, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. SolitaryHowl macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    I recently upgraded my Macbook Pro (was bought in 2006) with a bigger hard-drive, more RAM, and installed Snow Leopard. (10.6.8)

    I also got a new battery because my old one was only holding 40 minutes of charge (while computer is idling) which is not enough for my uses.

    Before I go on, here are my system specs:

    Macbook Pro (late 2006)
    Mac OSX 10.6.8
    2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
    ATI Radeon X1600

    My computer shuts down when the remaining battery level is at 5% exactly. It happened with the old battery as well and before I installed all of the upgrades.

    I have tried numerous solutions, including resetting the SMC and PRAM. For both batteries I recalibrate them properly every 1-2 months. The new one only has 6 cycles on it (just installed it a couple of days ago.) and I still have this problem.

    It gives the 'low battery warning' at 10% like it should, but then it just shuts down at 5% and does not go into its special sleep mode. When it shuts down, I try to reboot it but it does not turn on -- almost like the battery is completely depleted. When I plug in the power adapter to start charging it, only then can it boot-up. But, even then, none of my work is saved like it would have been in the 'safe sleep mode'.

    Again, I already tried resetting the SMC and PRAM, but that did not work for either batteries. Please provide me with other solutions. (Oh, and obviously my Mac is out of warranty considering I bought it 5 years ago.)

    Thank you.
  2. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    On my 2006 MBP I never saw it count down past 5, well maybe down to 4 or 3 but that was it. I'd say 5 seems pretty accurate, as opposed to 20 which is when you really have a problem.

    If I recall on my 2006 nothing was ever saved automatically. A window always came up and warned me to save progress as I would lose it if I lost power. I thinks it's acting completely like it should (including not being able to turn it on if it shut itself off without being plugged in). IMO, if you're getting a good 2-3 hour charge on the battery then I wouldn't stress out about the 5% shut-down. However feel free to download coconutbattery and istat to see if they report anything different. I wouldn't stress the 5%.
  3. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Before I started having this problem, it would go into the 'safe sleep mode'. It would stay in the 'safe sleep mode' for 10 hours before it would finally die and shut down completely. But now, it doesn't do that anymore. It might have happened when I installed Snow Leopard? Maybe Snow Leopard handles batteries differently?

    Thanks for the reply. I have 'Battery Health Monitor' (similar to coconutbattery) and it reports the same thing.
  4. Dhelsdon macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2010
    Canadian Eh!
    Maybe you need to calibrate your new battery with your laptop.
  5. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    I did that. Again, this also happens to my old battery which has 400+ cycles on it (and I recalibrate it every 1-2 months). I don't think it is a battery issue anymore.
  6. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    I only ever upgraded to Leopard on my MBP 2,1 so I guess there could be a different way for SL to handle the calibration process. If resetting the SMC doesn't solve it, then I'm out of ideas.

    Did you buy the battery from Apple? Perhaps you could give them a call and see what they say.
  7. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011

    My first (old) battery came from Apple, obviously because it came with my MBP. But the newer one was a third party one (the same specs, voltage, and battery life as a new official battery.) because it was almost half the price. It just didn't have the Apple logo stuck on.

    Again, this problem happens to my old (official Apple) battery too - so I know the third-party battery isn't the problem.

    If it is just an issue with SL (which I am beginning to think is the case), are there any programs (preferably free) that will automatically put my MBP to sleep at a certain battery percentage?
  8. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    Do some research and you will find that it's generally not a good idea to run a battery that low anyway. If you're looking to keep your battery in good shape, take a few minutes to read what Apple provides on their web site.
  9. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011

    I have owned my MBP for 5 years and I already know the procedures as I have read them over and over again.

    I only EVER run the batteries that low when I am calibrating them (or recalibrating them) every 1-2 months. Any other time I charge them back up when they are around 20-25%.

    I'm just concerned the MBP shuts down prematurely (and doesn't go into hibernation to properly calibrate) and the MBP will see the new battery's life less than it should be.
  10. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    I don't know of any that will put it to sleep at a certain percentage but SlimBattery will give you a warning at any percentage you want.

    This is an interesting article to read about the hibernate vs the sleep and gives a few apps to try:

    And this thread off of macworld talks about a terminal command to enable sleep/hibernation and the wiki link explains in detail the commands.

    Hopefully one of those will help you out.
  11. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Thanks, I took a look at those links and I'll try the terminal commands to see if it fixes the problem.

    (I downloaded a program called SmartSleep and it allows me to force my MBP into hibernate mode. So - if it doesn't go into hibernate mode by itself, I guess I can force it to with the program.
  12. drlunanerd, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    drlunanerd macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2004
    I have had an almost identical experience to you, so you're not alone.
    Same MBP, same age, same OS, same issues. It used to Safe Sleep reliably, then as the original battery got older it started to be unreliable, despite calibration and SMC resets.

    I've since replaced the battery with a good third-party one, and also upgraded to Lion. Both of these things made Safe Sleep work again initially.

    However after a while it started shutting down without sleeping again.
    It may need the SMC resetting again, but I fear it's a bug with this laptop and will never work consistently.

    I'm not too bothered as it's been a cracking laptop for the past 5 years :)
  13. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    It's good to know I'm not alone! But I'm not ready to give up on my MBP yet...I'm pretty sure it has a few good years left in it.

    So I entered the following command (using the root user) in the terminal:

    pmset -a hibernatemode1

    However, it gave me the following:

    "usage: pmset <options>
    See pmset (1) for details: 'man pmset'


    So, I typed in 'man pmset' and I got a whole whack of stuff (where you can find here:

    The thing that interests me the most is this blurb: " 0000 0010 (bit 1), in conjunction with bit 0, causes OS X to maintain system state in memory and leave
    system power on until battery level drops below a near empty threshold (This enables quicker wakeup
    from memory while battery power is available). Upon nearly emptying the battery, OS X shuts off all
    system power and hibernates; on wake the system will resume from hibernation image, not from memory. " from the 'pmset (1)' manual.

    I'm assuming the above would be the regular 'safe sleep' mode? How do I enable it or check to see what the hibernatemode is set to?

    I'm comfortable with terminal commands, just as long they don't break my MBP!

  14. SolitaryHowl, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011

    Okay, I figured it out.

    This is what I typed in:

    pmset -a hibernatemode 1

    and it worked. Just to check to see if it did work, I reversed the command back to what it was and typed in this:

    pmset -g

    and it gave me this:

    (This was on AC Power.)

    Now, I typed in the hibernatemode 1 command again. I checked using the -g flag and I got this:

    This was also on AC power.

    Oddly, when I typed in the -b flag, the change didn't take effect. It only seemed to work when I typed in the -a flag. (Or, maybe it just didn't show up because I'm in AC power and the setting would have been for the battery only?)

    So - I'll test this right now with my new battery and I'll let you guys know how it goes.

    EDIT: Argh! That's annoying. I typed in the -g tag on my main admin account (I obviously don't use root for my main account) and the hibernatemode is set to 0 instead of 1 like it is supposed to! Does anyone know how to change it for another account?
  15. SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Another BUMP!


    So - I ran the command in root and did a test. It still shut off at 5%. No safe-sleep even though it was enabled under the Terminal. I'm starting to think it is hardware, now, or simply something funky going on with SL.
  16. drlunanerd macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2004
    If you want safe sleep you should set hibernate mode to 3, not 1.

    Also, use the sudo command - you don't have to be logging in as root.
    I recommend you disable the root account, as per default.

    Like I said previously, I believe this to be a bug in this model of MBP. You'll have to live with it looks like.

    What you can do though to make it work is to manually sleep the laptop once the power gets low. Try it, leave it to exhaust the battery, then see if it resumes from hibernation. Works for me.
  17. SolitaryHowl, Sep 16, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011

    SolitaryHowl thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2011
    Oooh - I forgot about the sudo command. Thanks!

    I can also just switch to root using my main account via Terminal. (I type in 'su' then it asks for my password, then I can enter commands as root but not logged into root! So- sorta like sudo command. I don't think there is any difference?)

    I usually have root disabled unless I'm troubleshooting, so don't worry.

    And I'll try that method - I never thought of that. I don't think draining my battery this low, this often, is good for the battery though. Oh well.

    EDIT: Set it to hibernatemode 3 to see if it will work that way. It did not.

    I'm going to give my battery a 'rest' for a day or so (plugged into AC) before I try the manual sleep method to see if it goes into hibernate. Thanks!

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