Trackpad clicking by itself (MBA Mid 2012) [SOLVED]

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by BadCash, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. BadCash macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2016
    For the past 6 months or so my Macbook Air 13" mid 2012 has been having some issues with the trackpad. Sometimes when I move the cursor, or click, it "clicks by itself". This results in me dragging stuff unintentionally, or (most common) double clicking when I really only single clicked. I have always had the "tap to click" feature turned off, so that is definitely not the issue here. The problem is that when the issue occurs, its as if the trackpad acts as tho "tap to click" is enabled.

    When it first started happening about 6 months ago I read up on it and tried some remedies:
    1. Pressing hard on the corners of the trackpad - helps a little bit sometimes, but usually only for a minute or so.
    2. Adjusted the screw (inside the computer) at the front of the trackpad. This actually seemed to help a lot for about 5 months. But now it's back with a vengeance!

    There's obviously no Apple Care or anything, so I guess having Apple troubleshoot and replace stuff is going to cost me. As a desperate measure I bought a trackpad from AliExpress for about $20, figuring it would be interesting to see if it would even work. It arrived today and looked very promising, identical to the original except for the placement of some of the components. Unfortunately, after installation the computer wouldn't even respond to pressing the power key :(

    So now I'm back to the original trackpad, and all out of ideas. I've seen some replacement kit from the US for about $200, but I don't know if its worth trying it? After all, the problem could be somewhere else, right? Maybe I should just accept that I've had 3 solid years with my MBA, and order a new one... What irritates me about that is the fact that my previous laptop (Acer Travelmate) cost about the same as a MBA 13", but lasted a good 6 years... and is still going strong, although sluggish as h**l! Not sure what the normal life expectancy for a MBA is? 3 years seems quite short.

    Ironic that the main reason I went from PC to Mac was the amazing trackpad... and now it's worse than a 10 year old Acer :(
  2. Daniva, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    Daniva macrumors member


    Sep 7, 2013
    It could be the battery (if swollen) that pushes on the trackpad

    Did you replace the battery with a not original? Slightly unscrew the battery screws
  3. BadCash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2016
    Yeah I've seen that posted everywhere. Looking at the battery pack it doesn't look swollen at all. Just for fun I tried putting 4 layers of electrical tape on the chassi beside the trackpad, hoping it will lift the battery half a millimeter or so from the trackpad. I also adjusted the adjustment screw about 1/3 of a turn clockwise to see if it helps. The trackpad definitely feels different, there is much less travel when I "hard click" on it now. Too early to tell, but the past 30 minutes or so I have only had one or two ghost clicks, so it might be an improvement.
  4. windowpain macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2008
    I was about to suggest that it was the battery, the I saw the top comment.
    I have seen this problem a few times (in MacBooks and MacBook pros) and it had always been the battery.

    If you can take it out and lay it down flat on a table (or other flat surface) a swollen battery will 'wobble' and it is easy to see if it is not in its original shape.
    I forget exactly but I think the MacBook Air battery is in four different sections, likely one (or more) is deciding to swell.
    You could even pull the battery and try it on mains power and see if the problem goes away.
    The ifixit site is a good resource.

    I am still using my base model late 2010 MacBook Air, so they can last (if you are lucky.)
    Not the fastest thing in the world, but does the job.
  5. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Even though it doesn't appear swollen, it may be, and it is enough to cause the issue. Try and put a ruler on the side of the battery, and see if it doesn't sell a bit in the middle, which coincidently is where the trackpad is. It is a *very* common explanation for this issue.
  6. BadCash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2016
    I took out the battery and had a look. I wouldn't say that it looks swollen, rather that the plastic frame is a bit bent down in the middle (we're talking 1/2mm max). But the battery cells themselves look perfectly flat and don't protrude above the frame. Anyway, I tried running the computer without the battery and at first I thought i was better, but then it started misbehaving again. So then I tried fiddling with the adjustment screw again. 6 months ago when the situation improved I turned it 1/3 of a turn clockwise, so I tried turning it a bit more clockwise. It felt different but the ghost clicks and double clicks didn't stop. So then I tried turning it anti clockwise, and it seemed to improve. At first about 1/3 of a turn anti clockwise from its original position (I had marked it with a pen on the screw and chassi), but there were still some ghost clicks. So I figured "what the heck", and I actually turned the screw two turns anti clockwise - at this point the trackpad wouldn't click at all. So with the computer running and the back cover off, I adjusted the screw until it was just clicking again. So far so good - it definitely seems to be an improvement! Will keep you posted on the progress.
  7. andreyush macrumors 6502


    Oct 24, 2015
    How many cycles the battery has and what is its health ?
  8. BadCash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2016
    It's at 293 cycles, and it says "Service battery" in the battery menu. HOWEVER, this has been the case for the last two years. After having the laptop for one year it was at like 250 cycles for some reason. I guess I was using it a lot on battery for like an hour or so a time and then charging it, sometimes multiple times a day. The past two years I have rarely used it on battery, but the times I have it has lasted about 3 hours or so which is not that bad. So I have zero respect for the "Service battery" message - as I said it's been saying that for two years now and I still get 3 hours out of the battery, and if there is any "swelling" it's not even visible to the naked eye. That being said, I'm considering getting a new battery anyway - just hoping I can get the cause of the trackpad issue resolved first.

    So yesterday I adjusted the adjustment screw for the trackpad quite radically counter clockwise, running it without the battery installed for half the day. Things were working perfectly - no more false clicks! I then decided to put the battery back (the weight balance of the laptop without the battery is no good, I had to support the back of the screen with my coffee mug :) ). But just for fun I put 4 layers of scotch tape on the chassi on both sides of the trackpad, right where the battery frame touches the chassi. This seemed to lift the battery about 1/2 - 1 mm, so there is now definitely good clearance between the battery and the trackpad. No problem getting the bottom cover on either. Things are still working good - probably mostly due to the adjustment screw, but perhaps some benefit from the battery lift as well, although I don't think the battery has had much to do with the issue in my case. From the other forum posts I've come across while searching for a solution, it seems the most common battery swelling symptom is problems getting the touchpad to register clicks, not that it registers clicks/double clicks by itself, which is the problem I've been having.

    Thanks for your replies, if things go bad again I'll post an update.
  9. BadCash thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2016

    The trackpad behaved for a couple of weeks with the new adjustment, then started misbehaving again.

    However, I have now managed to resolve the issue totally it seems, by simply replacing the trackpad with a refurbished one from AliExpress for $20, as well as a new cable also from AliExpress. Since replacement I have not had any issues with the trackpad. On first inspection I was skeptical to the trackpad I got delivered - it had some bruisings on the bottom side of the glass, and I was sure that it would impact performance. It did not - it's working beautifully over the whole surface.

    I also noticed something completely different - before replacement, my computer would wake itself up from sleep now and then, just to go back to sleep almost immediately. This started happening a long time ago, about the same time the trackpad started acting up in the first place. Since the wake ups were always "Wake due to EHC1/HID Activity" in the power logs, I suspected something with the trackpad and/or keyboard. Eventually I just got used to it and forgot about it. But I did a test - right before replacing the trackpad I saved the logs, and sure enough the computer would typically go to sleep and then wake up again in 5-30 minute cycles. After replacing the trackpad however, it sleeps just like me - 8 hours straight.

    Will be back here if I run into problems again, otherwise consider this solved!

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