Unsolvable MBA issue - thoughts on "Flat Fee Depot Repair?"

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by GREEN4U, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. GREEN4U macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    I have a mid-2012 13" MacBook Air that for 3 weeks has had Kernel Task using 100% of the CPU at startup with nothing running...for anytime between 2-8 hours!!! This makes the computer virtually unusable. I've tried several things (such as one home remedy found online where users moved the model identifier .plist file out of the Extensions folder, as well as an OS clean install). I've also been to 2 Genius Bar appointments where they ran their hardware diagnostics, cleaned out the dust from the back of my logic board, and tried replacing the battery (battery doesn't work and has an 'X' on the indicator but when they replaced it it still had an X, making me think it's the connection to the board that's broken). Anyways, nothing has worked.

    At the last appointment they offered me a flat fee repair where they ship it out to depot and fix everything wrong with it, for $425 or $475 (I can't remember exactly). I have a screen with several dots around the Apple logo that could use some fixing, a broken battery connector (and or mother/logic board) and this kernel task issue. I was wondering if anybody could weigh in on whether this is worth it.

    I was really against paying for the repair since I have so many expenses (I'm getting married in 2 months) but my computer is completely non mobile and on some days completely non usable. Thanks!!
  2. Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    It's really your call on whether or not it's worth it to spend that kind of dough for the repair work. Apple should guarantee their work.

    Still, everyone values money differently, so we can't really tell you what's best for you. Worse, you didn't even bother to mention what you do with the computer and the urgency of having a functional computer again (it seems that you have survived three weeks without it though).

    You also make no mention of having considered other options, such as buying a brand new model, buying a refurbished unit, or even buying a used computer.

    Personally, I'd strongly lean toward getting a genuine Apple refurb since the warranty is honored exactly like a retail box machine.

    Anyhow, good luck with your decision and congratulations on your wedding.
  3. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    Thanks for your reply Bart. I mainly use it for work (I do scientific research and teach undergrads) and wedding planning, and photo editing (I run a photography side business though business has been slow due to my schedule). I've only been able to get by for 3 weeks because usually kernel task will eventually stop using the CPU, but I have to plan my morning around not being able to use my computer.

    I was also able to get by because I figured out I could leave my laptop on at work permanently and avoid this issue altogehter (I'd only dim the screen when I went home at night). However this morning when I got to work it was slow again, even though the computer hadnt gone to sleep or shut off. That's what prompted me to revisit getting this repaired. I can work around a misbehaving computer but can't deal with it if it is indeed this unpredictable.

    I'm really wondering if people think I can get 4-5 more years of life out of this laptop if I get it repaired (and hopefully people who HAVE had their computer repaired mid-life via repair depot can weigh in). If so, the cost of the repair is worth it to me. When Kernel task stops my Air performs beautifuly like a champ and so I really don't think I need a new computer.
  4. marioman38, Jan 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017

    marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    You realize its a software issue eating up your cpu, not hardware. No way I'd pay that much. Clean OS install should fix it for sure. I mean blank start. You transfer the old data you will reintroduce the bug. Boot off a USB drive and see if it persists.

    You can also load up the free program malwarebytes to see if it finds anything malicious.

    $450+ to repair a laptop that is 4 years old and barely cost $1000 4 years ago is silly! If you use it 4 more years you will be on 8+ year old tech which is ancient in the industry.

    Go onto BHPhoto and buy a brand new 13" 8GB RAM early 2015 model MBA with no tax, free shipping, full warranty they are $949.

    I just sold my 2011 macbook air 4gb ram 256 SSD on the forums here for $300 a few months ago. You are basically spending more to fix the laptop than the laptop is even worth!
  5. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    Thanks. As I mentioned I did do a clean install into the latest OS (sierra) and it didn't solve it. Also booted in safe mode and no dice.

    Is the 2015 model really much different than the 2012, for twice the price? I don't know...also the computer was $1300, not barely 1000.

    Like I said my computer is FAST when it is working properly.

    Finally I suspect the issue is bad hardware throwing the software issue. Maybe I have a bad sensor in my battery or logic board that is causing the kernel issue. That's my best guess cause nothing else makes sense now.
  6. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    The flat-rate repair is a good option, but you do have to consider the age, and if the repair is really worth it to you.
    Talk to Apple again, and get the current rate for that flat-rate repair. I think "$425 or $475" both sound high. Should be more like about $350, but you need to find out what the exact fee is.
    When I last used that service (been about 5 years, so cost could be higher, but the service itself is the same), I sent a MacBook Pro in for a failed graphics chip. The MBPro was out of normal warranty at the time. Cost $340. The logic board, keyboard, display, with the back cover (part of the lid) and battery, all replaced. Looked new, acted new. Before I had a run-in with a glass of red wine last year, it was still working great.
    So, bottom line, Apple will replace (all for that flat fee) failed factory parts that would be replaced if your unit was still within warranty. That would not cover accidental/liquid damage, for example.
  7. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    I've seen Apple portables that have gotten wet have the "kernel_task" process run away like this. Nothing short of a hardware repair will fix it in those cases.
  8. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    Yikes I hope that's not mine. I can't recall anytime there was liquid spill. But I do remember the first time this started (it was cold in my house and I was trying to show my fiancé the guestbook I made online).
  9. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
  10. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    Although you have sent it in, I'll propose these thoughts as well.

    Would you buy it on eBay for that price or from a friend if it were pristine? That's what you're doing- basically, buying a MBA of that age and spec for 475. Considering all the issues, big and small, it could be a good value.

    As you have already sent it in, I wish you great fortune in the repairs, and I wish you and your new wife-to-be many years of happiness!
    --- Post Merged, Jan 19, 2017 ---
    P/S/ After a very brief search online, I would say $475 is fair for the machine. Buying one online would be about the same or a tad more, so getting yours fixed "like new" seems reasonable.
  11. thomasareed macrumors member


    Aug 24, 2015
    If you truly did a clean reinstall and still saw the problem after, it's probably hardware, as others have pointed out.

    However, I find some people say they did a clean reinstall without really understanding what that means, and it turns out they didn't really do that after all. A clean reinstall would involve erasing the hard drive and reinstalling the system from scratch, not restoring everything from a backup or reinstalling the system on top of the current system.

    If you actually did a clean reinstall, and you saw the same problem before you had reinstalled any third-party software, then it's definitively a hardware problem. However, if you didn't do a truly clean reinstall, or if you installed a bunch of software immediately afterwards and before observing the problem, it could still be a software problem, most likely caused by some bad third-party software.
  12. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    Thanks for the further replies.

    Yes I "truly did a clean install." I know what that means. I did it in the Apple Store with the Genius and lost all my data, which is one more reason I was inclined to send it in; I literally had nothing left to lose.

    Regarding the argument whether it's worth spending $500 on 4-year old tech, I still firmly believe it is and here's why: the current MacBook Airs are virtually the same as 4 years ago (we can thank Tim Cooks lack of ingenuity for this). In fact last time I checked the current $999 version has a weaker processor than mine (I could be wrong though as I'm no specs buff). So I don't feel like I'm losing out on much.

    Now if this were a 4 year old MacBook Pro, I might do it differently.
  13. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010

    You didn't mention RAM/CPU/Storage of the unit so it is hard to compare but Best Buy has 13" MBAs on sale this week $200-off. 8GB/128GB is only $799. And if you could've gotten $200 for your current MBA, that would bring it to within $125 of what you're paying for repair.
  14. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    You're a good salesman. $799 is a good price, but i did my research and a non working mid-2012 is worth $0 from Apple. Even if I did qualify it's a gift card from Apple which I have no care for. But really the only thing I'd be getting from a new MacBook Air is a 12 hour battery vs my 6 hour battery. Is that worth the extra $125? Not to me since I'm trying to save money. Anyways I could probably buy another battery in 4 years, if needed, for that price.
  15. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    I didn't suggest that you would get money from Apple. Sell it privately. I'm always amazed at what people are willing to pay for used Apple products. Obviously it's your decision. For me, I couldn't see spending $475 to repair a 5 year old computer. Sometimes one must spend a little more to actually "save" money. :)
  16. GREEN4U thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2010
    What you and I aren't agreeing on isn't that I don't think my MacBook Air is a "5 year old computer"...if it is then you have to call the NEW Macbook Airs 5 year old computers because they are virtually the same. And then you're implicitly calling many people in this forum fools for buying old technology (that you call new) and I don't think they'd like that...
  17. Bart Kela, Jan 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017

    Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    New MacBook Airs use newer processor technology, even if the external design is the same. And after a while, Apple stops supporting old processor/GPU architecture with macOS. A MacBook Air 2012 is a five-year-old computer internally. That's what really matters.

    I have a Mac mini 2010. It is the next one on the chopping block in terms of getting dropped from macOS compatibility regardless of the fact that it looks like the most recent Mac mini.

    Getting your MacBook Air 2012 fixed back to factory condition in 2017 doesn't change the fact that the underlying technology is from 2012. It might be a newly repaired computer, but it won't be a new computer.

    The other difference in different vintage notebooks is battery life. Newer models of the same product line tend to use less power, so a MacBook Air 2016 will have a longer battery runtime than a MacBook Air 2012.

Share This Page