Repairing your own MacBook can cost more than having Apple fix it

Repairing your own MacBook can cost more than having Apple fix it

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Apple starts offering parts and tools needed to fix your own MacBook
Replacing a MacBook battery yourself costs a lot more than having Apple do it.
Photo: Apple

Apple now offers the parts and tools to fix several MacBook models. This is a hassle but lowers the cost, right? Not necessarily.

The total cost of one of the most-common DIY repairs is more than double what is to have Apple do it.

MacBook battery replacement via Apple’s Self Service Repair program is $$$$

This week, Apple added recent MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models to its Self Service Repair program. Now, anyone who wants to fix these laptops can get the repair manuals and genuine Apple parts and tools. This is a salve to “right to repair” advocates.

iFixit also offers tools and parts to fix Macs, and is naturally a proponent of right to repair. But the company has a problem with Apple’s program: A very common repair costs at least $439, while paying Apple to do the same work costs much less: $199.

The difference lies in what Apple parts are available. “At the time of writing, Apple will not sell you a replacement MacBook Pro battery,” writes iFixit. “They sell you a ‘Top Case with Battery and Keyboard.'” That part costs $527 because it includes the keyboard, speakers and more. Even returning the used unit only knocks that down by $88.

Plus, replacing the top case is a much more elaborate job than simply switching out the battery. iFixit points out that its manual to make this change involves 26 steps, while Apple’s manual runs 162 pages.

“[Apple’s] guide has you remove literally every component from the top case,” according to iFixit. “The laptop is built on the top case, so to get to it, you’ve got to demanufacture the whole thing.”

The alternative is to go to Apple’s repair site and arrange to have the work done by Cupertino’s minions. As noted, the estimated price is $199 — less than half the cost of a “do it yourself” repair.

“Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want better repairability?” asks iFixit. The company does note that Apple promises it’ll someday offer MacBook batteries as stand-alone parts. But not today.