Weird battery symptoms - would love help in diagnosing!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Miss Terri, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. Miss Terri, Mar 16, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013

    Miss Terri macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #1
    Hi folks,

    [Edited to change.... it's actually a 2010 MBP (but got it in early 2011 so misidentified it]

    2011 MBP 13", 2.4 ghz Core2Duo, 8g RAM, 10.6.4

    I have something wrong going on with my battery/charging. I have Googled around this morning, but can only find stuff on one or two of the symptoms, but not all of them together. Hoping you all can help. Thickening the plot, I'm traveling and only have this one computer with me, and far from Apple store (computer is my traveling lifeline!). Also, I have found that even if I take/send my computer in for repair, it's best if I understand what's going on (all Geniuses are not created equal).

    Backstory (you will see why I tell this): Last November, a single drop of condensation rolled off a cup of iced coffee and landed on my power button. I thought I got away with it, but discovered a month or so later that it was ruined (had diagnosis at Genius bar, but as it would have taken two weeks for repair, and I was leaving town, could not do it then). I have gotten by by mostly just having the computer sleep, but the rare time I do have to restart it I do it by removing the back panel and "jumpering" the two tiny silver squares (I guess playing "Operation!" as a kid DID have benefits ;))

    So, here is what happened:

    1) Before going to bed last night, I put computer to sleep and plugged it in, as usual. Battery had some charge left, but I forget how much. At any rate, it was not super low or anything.

    2) This morning, I unplugged the computer and sat back to catch up with the world. Computer was dead as a stone! Mag safe light was green. Battery indicator lights on side of computer were all flashing simultaneously when button pressed. Ugh!

    3) Just to see, I pressed the power button (which has not worked ONCE in the ten thousand times I have tried it since it was damaged). Lo and behold, the computer fired right up on one press of the button. I noticed that the white sleep light flashed five times as computer started up (not normal). The date was set back to 2000 and time etc. were all re-set as well. So it was totally dead (strange since it was just sleeping and battery was not way down when I put it to sleep).

    4) Menu bar indicates "not charging," battery indicator lights still all flash, iStat Pro says battery at 0% and must replace (health was about 75% yesterday, battery has @1,000 cycles). No unusual heat or moisture events have occurred to suddenly kill the battery.

    5) I made a fresh backup, and researched problem. Sounded like re-setting SMC would be a good idea. I did this. Nothing changed. So, all symptoms the same INCLUDING that the power button is mysteriously healed. This seems like some kind of good clue, but I don't know what (and can't find it by searching).

    So, I wonder what you experts think of this? To re-cap:

    1) [Actually 2010] 2011 MBP 13", Core2Duo, 10.6.4

    2) Apparently no battery power when not plugged in and no charging even when plugged in.

    3) Magsafe light always green, does not change on SMC reset or start up. Battery indicator lights all flash simultaneously when button pressed.

    4) Power button suddenly works perfectly, when before it did not work 100% of the time :confused:

    5) Sleep light flashes five times upon start-up, but emits none of the diagnostic tones.

    6) Computer runs normally when plugged in, but Menu bar says "not charging," iStat says battery at 0%. SMC reset did not affect problems.

    So it looks like my battery suddenly died. Is this normal? Or do they usually gradually go down (50%, 40%, etc.)?

    Does the power button healing clue mean anything?

    Again, nothing against paying to have it repaired, BUT

    a) I'm traveling, not near any Apple store, need computer daily.

    b) Even when having repaired, I find it's best to understand problem prior to taking it in.

    c) I'm handy so don't mind doing things myself (handier with tools than with software, but can follow directions).

    Thank you!

    Miss Terri
     
  2. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #2
    The 2011 MacBook Pros, whether early or late, were not Core 2 Duos, but Core i5 or i7. Additionally, the early 2011 13" MBP's shipped with 10.6.6 (and later, 10.6.7). Usually a version of the OS released before newer hardware will refuse to install on that hardware. Are you sure you have a 2011 MBP?

    The magsafe light will remain green in the event that the battery is unplugged or removed (or completely dead).

    Usually you would have some warning, like dramatically reduced battery capacity or having the battery completely give out even though the computer indicated that there was plenty of charge left. Battery warping is also a sure sign of battery failure. Then there's the age and cycle count of the battery; it used to be that lithium-ion batteries were good for around 300-400 cycles and three to four years of usage (whichever came first), but with the unibody MBP's Apple claimed that the batteries could last for one thousand cycles (and never specified the years). I don't know the life characteristics of these new batteries, but assuming Apple's claim was true, you hit the 1,000 cycle claim. However, the battery shouldn't completely die at that point, especially with no warning.

    It could be that the battery was failing around the time that the power button problem began, and the battery's complete failure has restored its function.

    My advice would be to remove the battery from the computer (or if your computer is really a 2011 model, or some other unibody model, just unplug it). Visually inspect it for signs of warping. If it isn't warped, let it sit outside of the computer (or unplugged) for a while. With the Magsafe disconnected, reconnect the battery, and then try reconnecting the Magsafe, and see if the battery comes back to you.

    One final concern: your time and date were reset. Pre-unibody, this would have meant that the PRAM battery was having problems. With the unibody MBPs, it could indicate a different motherboard problem, which again could be linked to the battery seemingly having issues and the power button behaving oddly.
     
  3. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #3
    By the way, I see that I can get a new OEM battery, a Tri-Wing Y1 screwdriver, and a spudger from iFixit. It's around the same price as having Apple replace the battery (although only 6 mos. warranty vs. Apple's 1-year), BUT, I wouldn't have to drive 5 hours round trip to an Apple store, nor wait a week or two to send it in and get it back that way. For me that would be worth it.

    Before I spend that ~$150 though..... I still wonder about the power button symptom. Does that mean anything to anyone? I don't mind spending the money for a new battery, but I would be bummed if that wasn't the problem!

    One last question: The Tri-Wing screwdriver is listed as "Y-1" on iFixit. I have an order on deck with my usual tool supplier and they have a Tri-Wing in size #1 for quite a bit less. I can't figure out by searching whether or not Y-1 and #1 are the same size. Anyone know?

    (I already have the #00 for the case screws.)

    Thanks,
    Miss Terri

    PS: Sorry about being wordy but I hate it when people post and leave out all kinds of info so that you have to tease it out of them step by step --- so I was trying to avoid that.
     
  4. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #4
    Thanks for your reply! Let me reply to some of what you said here...

    I think you are right and my computer is technically a "2010." I got it in early 2011, so that caused me to mis-identify it. Thanks for noticing and pointing that out! I did a self double check on iFixit, which clinched it (because I have the three long screws on the back case and all the rest are identical shorter ones; the "2011" MBP's have some shouldered screws on the bottom - so three different types of screws, not two like mine.

    Okay, so that points to dead battery.

    That's what I thought. I mean yes, it's at 1050 cycles and was down to about 78% health level, but to die suddenly (while sleeping yet!) from there seemed maybe odd. I see no evidence of warping through the case (haven't taken back off to look yet).

    Maybe.... I would guess the battery was at around 85% and 800 cycles at that time. Just seems like a "meaningful" coincidence that it went from broken to healed. I thought it might be a clue to someone who understood better than me how things are wired up. I did have my computer in to a Genius at Apple who looked it all over and pronounced it healthy except for the Power Button at that time (85%/800 cycles). When he said it would take two weeks to fix the power button, and I said that was not going to work out for awhile, he mentioned about the jumpering (and to be very careful!) (Which I have been and no harm done the few times I needed to jumper it.)

    As mentioned above, it's a 2010 (but bought in 2011). I'll have to get a Tri-Wing screwdriver to remove the battery, I believe. I'll at least look at it for now (I have the screwdriver to remove the back case).

    Okay, good to know! I have used the computer daily for for over four months after the power button calamity with no problems. Also the Genius at Apple supposedly checked everything out (how much that entails, I have no idea) and only noticed the power button being a problem. But I suppose a latent problem could have surfaced (?)

    Actually, the only reason I found out about the power button problem, was I accidentally left my computer running (went to help a neighbor and it took longer than I thought) and it went into hibernate mode. I couldn't wake it up (because to do that you.... press the power button). I took it into Apple (having completely forgotten about that droplet of water since it was a month later) and they diagnosed the power button as broken, which was when the penny dropped about how it must have happened. That was three months ago. No weird battery symptoms until today though.

    Thanks for responding!

    At this point I'm happy to order the battery, Tri-wing, and a spudger and replace the battery...... as long as the power button healing symptom doesn't mean the problem is more serious and a battery wouldn't fix it.

    Miss Terri
     
  5. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #5
    Except that all the "reputable" sources I found are out of stock :(

    I'm not sure what to think of the more "mystery" sources with some mixed reviews :confused:

    Miss Terri
     
  6. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #6
    Okay, I did a few more tests:

    1) I shut the computer down, turned it over, removed the back cover, and looked over the battery. It is perfectly flat, no bulges, no signs of anything amiss. Connector is firmly seated.

    2) Next, I disconnected the battery (removed connector). That made the battery indicator lights go from all flashing to one flashing (like when it is super low).

    3) Next, I started it up with the battery disconnected (still plugged in). The power button STILL works perfectly (weird!). Computer started up, menu bar showed an "X" where the battery should be (that makes sense). I plugged the battery in and the "X" remained. Battery indicator lights went from one flashing back to all flashing.

    4) I shut it down, unplugged it, disconnected the battery, reconnected it, plugged it back in, and started up again. Power button STILL works perfectly, and now Menu button is back to "not charging" and battery indicator lights all flash. Of course I had to re-set date and time, etc. Apparently this computer has no "little battery" that maintains that.

    So.... conclusions.

    1) Battery is either dead or computer thinks it is dead for some reason.

    2) This happened suddenly and for no known reason (no drop, no liquid, no 200ºF trunk storage, etc.).

    3) The battery failure (if that is what it is) cured a broken power button that had been 100% non-functioning since November of 2012, and was also diagnosed by Apple as non-functioning. The power button now works 100% of the time whether or not the battery is connected to the computer.

    It's that last thing that weighs on my mind. Because I can't find any legitimate seller (iFixit, etc.) that has a new battery in stock, I would have to go to an Apple store to get it fixed. That's a 5 hour round-trip. Before doing that I would sure like to know if the "healed" power button is a clue that something else is going on.

    I'm hoping someone here will read this and might know of some obscure circuit or something. Like I said, no problem replacing the battery if that's the problem. But given the amount of effort and money (well over $200 including gas), I would like to resolve the weird power button symptom first (as in, does it even fit in with the idea of simply a dead battery?) (and can a battery go from 76% to 0% overnight while the computer sleeps?)

    Thank you!
    Miss Terri
     
  7. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Location:
    US East Coast
    #7
    Problem is fixed, so I thought I would update for any future searcher(s).

    I didn't really find anything conclusive here or on the general web about the potential battery/power button connection. Figured the battery was dead, but that healed power button seemed so weird!

    I looked up online how to replace the "non user replaceable" battery, and it looked trivially simple, with my just needing one more odd screwdriver I don't have (Tri-wing Y1). And wasn't too expensive for the battery. But EVERY legitimate place was out of stock, and the only people who had it had like 3-star reviews, some batteries sent out were used, died prematurely, etc. Not too exciting.

    So I called an Apple Store that was a bit over two hours away. That was painful (looong conversation, they had one, they had to order one, no they had one, etc.), but I eventually found out that they had a battery in stock (although they were not allowed to hold it, even if I had a Genius Bar appointment), and one last service appointment in two-and-a-half hours. I hustled buns and made it! They checked my battery with a diagnostic tool (on screen, which I looked at too) and yep.... deader than a doornail. Reason the light was green is that it WAS fully charged. Capacity: basically nothing. Although oddly, the health level was still 73%. I guess 73.01% is death (?!)

    So they took it around back and put in a new battery. Of course I'm wondering what's going to happen to the power button? Because since sometime in November (not sure EXACTLY when it died, as I seldom use the button) it has been 100% broken. And I've pressed it a million times! But ever since the battery died it has worked 100% perfectly :confused: I mentioned this to the Genius who was working on my computer, and he said "Well that could be true I guess," but had no specific knowledge of a connection.

    He brought it back out and.... new battery, 0 cycles, 99% healthy..... and ..... the power button still works! So there must be some odd connection between the battery and the power button and it never was "the errant droplet" of condensation?! (I never did have proof they were connected, but just figured they must be.) Anyway, back in business.... whew! Of course I looked at all the new computers while I waited.... couldn't really decide what I would get even if I had to get one, so I'm glad I don't have to right now! Also glad I did not send this one out for power button repair back in November (which is over $200, takes two weeks, and replaces the whole top case). I wonder what would have happened if I'd done that, given this?

    I also had three missing feet replaced - the small black saucers. I kind of thought they might just have a few lying around or whatever. But no, they are $10 each. Ow, when you need three, but.... kind of like missing hubcaps without them. Oh well, it's done.

    Anyway, back in business. Maybe I'll treat the 'ol gal to an SSD now :D Off to research which one(s) are now considered "safe and easy" (I'm not a good early adopter).

    Miss Terri
     
  8. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hawaii, USA

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