How Do I Repair a MacBook Pro from Hell? [Ask MacRx]

MBPro from Hell

We’ve all had the experience of a computer being a lemon, one problem after another. Here’s one story of a MacBook Pro from hell that has a happy ending thanks to a sympathetic support rep at Apple:

I have a MBP 2.4ghz – the logic board failed 6 months ago and was replaced and worked fine. Last week the battery overheated and “swelled” ruining it. It was removed and run on AC adaptor only after that. The adaptor cable was tripped on and disconnected from the magsafe. The unit would not boot on after that point. After letting it cool completely down, it started up normally. I shut it down and it would not reboot.

I figured it must be a logic board issue – no ping etc. I replaced battery and it fully charged so obviously AC adaptor is OK. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I placed entire MBP in plastic bag and put in freezer for a few hours and voila it stated normally and ran fine on adaptor and/or battery. Worked for a few hours and then shut down unit – it would not boot up. Returned it to freezer again overnight and it started normally and has run for three days – I have not shut it down again. What is going on?? Any help or direction is appreciated. Obviously, this model has had a long list of issues with video / logic board – Apple should have had a recall.

Cal

Hi Cal,

Well I’ve heard of freezing old hard drives to get them unstuck for data recovery, but freezing a MacBook Pro is a new technique. It sounds like some component is overheating in normal use and needs to be force-cooled. There is power supply circuitry inside the computer separate from the logic board, this contains the magsafe adapter. It’s possible this board or one of its components are faulty. It could be another logic board issue as well. I would bring it (again) to an Apple Service Center and have them check things out.

How old is the computer? If still under AppleCare you might push to have it replaced as a lemon, a sympathetic Apple Store Genius or AppleCare supervisor can make this happen under some circumstances.

I took it there the first time that I had issue with the original factory video/logic board problem – $1200 quote – ridiculous. It is a 2008 machine so no chance of warranty even thought the video chip unseating is common (in a green move, a switch to non lead solder) Also the Apple geniuses really are not all that swift – its not like they do a complete forensic. It is just puzzling that it runs fine without issue until you shut it down and try to restart. It will not go, then you freeze unit and away you go again. This thing needs a high building to drop it from.

The software restart process involves resets of various hardware components, this happens between the screen going blank and the chime. Something that is only needed on bootup is not responding correctly at that point, and doesn’t work until it cools down. You might try using a different AC adapter (wall charger), see if that makes any difference.

Do you have an independent Apple Authorized Service Center in your area? These shops can get both new Apple parts or used items from tradeins or vendors online. Many of these shops have very experienced techs with years in the business, it’s worth having them do an evaluation to see what’s up. I use a shop of this nature all the time in my area to supplement what the Apple Stores can provide.

What if unit is booted only on battery? That effectively eliminates the adaptor possibility, does it not? Thanks for your time. By the way, I have an Imac that has never had any issues

If it happens when running on battery only then it’s probably not the adapter, but the internal power circuitry would still still involved. iMacs have had their own share of problems, particularly white models (G5, early Intel) with both power supplies and video cards. They don’t build ‘em like they used to.

I don’t believe this – I phoned Apple and “vented” – they transferred me to customer service and they are repairing everything at no cost. Even though I had previously replaced the logic board aftermarket. New logic board, the battery (it overheated and destroyed itself a couple of months ago) and even the screen which has a few pixel issues. Basically a carte blanch. They pretty much admitted that this model was doomed from the start. Go figure.

Wow! Definitely worth making the call and standing your ground. Hopefully the repaired system will solve the problems. Have them check everything soup to nuts.

Related
  • ErinsDad

    I salute Cal on his seemingly infinite patience!  I would have done the MB-as-Frisbee thing…

  • Nlg2076

    I had the exact same MBP and they also replaced my whole compute with a brand new 2010 MBP.  It was an issue with the processor and heatsink.  The model eventually had a recall and they had to replce it.

  • Joan Parsons

    does anyone know how to get a Macbook Pro out of sleep mode? I have tried everything. The only thing that has worked (twice in nearly 3 weeks) is to hold down the cmnd alt F and O keys at the same time as the power button. When it comes on everything is fine but then when it goes to sleep it just will not come back on

  • Mike Kohler

    We have two of these early 2008 MBP’s, one with the same problem described, but the local Apple Repair Shop is unwilling to press Apple for a free repair. There is a program for replacing the GPU for free, but apparently if the logic board/ports have no power, then the techs can’t run the GPU tests from a stick, so no proof that it’s the GPU. Faulty logic board not covered. That’s not the only problem with these MBP’s, the anodizing is coming off on both, just like the issue they had with the Titanium Books. The keys are flimsy too. So by the time I replace the logic board, topcover and keyboard, it’s going to be one expensive machine. I’ll give the freezing process a thought. Would be a temporary fix though.

About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an IT consultant specializing in Apple Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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