In this post I will summarize most common laptop hardware related problems and give some suggestions how to troubleshoot or repair them.

Problem 1.
Computer doesn’t turn on at all.

When you plug the AC adapter into the laptop, there are no lights turning on at all. When you push on the power button, nothing happens. The laptop appears to be completely dead, makes no sounds, no indications of life.

Possible problem:
- The AC adapter failed and the battery has no charge left. In this case test the AC adapter with a voltmeter. If it’s dead, replace it with a new one.
- DC jack failed and the motherboard doesn’t receive any power from the adapter. In this case the DC jack has to be replaced.
- Motherboard failed. The motherboard has to be replaced, if it’s not too expensive. Otherwise get ready to buy a new computer.

Here are some tips for testing AC adapter and DC jack.

Also, make sure to read step-by-step instructions for troubleshooting dead laptops.

Problem 2.
Screen is blank.

The laptop turns on, power LED lights up, cooling fan works but nothing appears on the screen. The screen is completely black and blank. There is no image on the screen at all.

Possible problem:
- This can be memory failure. It’s possible one of the memory modules failed. In this case you can try reseating memory modules to make sure they are making good contact with the slot. You can try removing memory modules one by one and test the laptop with only one module installed. You can try replacing memory modules.
- If reseating/replacing memory doesn’t help, try removing the hard drive, DVD drive, modem, wireless card, keyboard, etc… In other words, disassemble the laptop to bare minimum and test again. If the laptop still doesn’t turn on, most likely you have failed motherboard or processor.

Read this guide for bare bone system troubleshooting.

Problem 3.
Laptop turns on and off repeatedly.

The laptop turn on without showing any image on the screen. After a few seconds it turns off by itself. Then it turns on and off again.

Possible problem:
Most likely this is motherboard failure. You can try reseating/replacing memory as I described in the Problem 2. If it doesn’t help, probably the motherboard failed.

Problem 4.
Laptop makes noise while running.

The laptop turns on and everything works fine, except it makes some constant weird grinding or rattling noise.

Possible problem:
In most cases this noise is coming from the cooling fan or hard drive. Take a closer look at the cooling fan.

If the fan doesn’t spin but the the laptop makes noise, probably it’s coming from the hard drive. Back up all personal data as soon as possible and replace the hard drive.

Also, you can remove the hard drive and stat the laptop. If the laptop still makes noise, most likely it’s bad fan.

Problem 5.
Laptop shuts down or freezes.

The laptop runs properly but after a while it freezes or shuts down without any warning. When it happens, the bottom feels hot. Also, the cooling fan runs louder than usual.

Possible problem:
Most likely this is heat related issue. It happens because the fan heat sink is clogged with dust and the processor not cooling down properly. Cleaning the fan and heat sink from dust should fix it.

Here’s how you fix heat related problems.

Problem 6.
Battery not charging properly.

The battery stopped charging properly. It doesn’t charge at all or charges only after you adjust the position of AC adapter plug inside the power connector.

Possible problem:
- Failed battery.  If it doesn’t charge completely try reconnecting the battery first. Also, try running the laptop just from AC adapter with battery removed. If it runs fine from AC adapter, most likely it’s either bad battery or failed motherboard. Try replacing the battery first.

- Failed DC power connector. If the battery charges only after you adjust the position of AC adapter tip inside the connector, most likely this the DC jack failed.

Here are some tips for charging problems.

Problem 7.
Screen light fails.

The laptop starts properly but after a while the screen light turns off. The image still appears on the screen but it’s very dark.

In some cases the screen light never starts and all you can see is a very faint image.

Possible problem:
Most likely it’s either failed screen inverter or backlight lamp (CCFL) failure.  When either one fail, the backlight stops working.

In order to troubleshoot this, you’ll need some spare parts: either new working inverter or known good backlight lamp.

Read how to troubleshoot backlight failure.

Problem 8.
Strange or garbled image on the screen.

The laptop turns on properly but has a distorted or garbled image on the screen.

Possible problem:
- The graphics card failed. First of all, test your laptop with an external monitor or TV. If you see the same garbled image on the external screen, most likely the graphics card failed.
- If the problem appears only on the laptop screen, this can be related to one of the following: poor connection between the video cable and motherboard or screen. Also can be failed video cable or screen.

Here are examples of failed video and explanations how to narrow down the problem.

Also read why display shows strange colors.

Problem 9.
Some keyboard keys stopped working.

Some keyboard keys do not work at all or type wrong characters.

Possible problem:
Most likely the keyboard failed and they are not repairable. Read how to replace the keyboard.

Problem 10.
Keyboard has missing or broken keys.

A key got separated from the laptop keyboard.

Problem solution:
If a key separated from the keyboard, it’s still possible to fix it.
If you have many keys missing, probably it makes sense to replace the whole keyboard.

Read how to attach a key back .

Problem 11.
Repetitive beep sound on startup.

You turn on the laptop but there is no video on the screen. Instead, it starts making repetitive beeping sound. In some cases you can “fix” the problem temporarily if you press on the keyboard keys.

Problem solution:
Most likely you have stuck keys. In this case you’ll have to replace the keyboard.

Problem 12.
Liquid spill.

You spilled something on the laptop and it’s stopped working.

Problem solution:
Liquid spills are very dangerous and unpredictable. If it happened, turn off the laptop ASAP, remove the battery and do not use it until all internal parts are inspected for liquid damage.
It’s sill possible to make it work again.

Read how to deal with liquid spills.

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146 Comments

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  1. 146
    biruk aweke Says:

    it is good explanation thanks.

  2. 145
    cj2600 Says:

    @ mohsen,
    Probably just keep an eye on it while using. There is not much you can do unless you want to take it apart and take a closer look inside.

  3. 144
    mohsen Says:

    Hi.
    I have a Vostro 3350. I was configuring a ubnt nano5 wireless antenna and i plugged the POE output to the laptop LAN port. after some times i smelled something is burning and suddenly the port smoked. i unplugged it immediately.
    Ii tested the LAN port and it is working, but how i can make sure about the health of the laptop?

  4. 143
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Rebaz,

    hi my new dell inspiron R15 5521 is not shutdown correctly when I shutdown it, the screen is off but the bottom light is not off it is make my laptop power going to 0 and then my laptop is at start up is slow however about 4 times I format my laptop but it isn’t solve so can any one help me whats wrong with my laptop is there any hardware problem?

    Try running Dell hardware diagnostics.
    Turn on the laptop and press F12 when logo appears on the screen. Select diagnostics.
    Maybe you’ll see what is failing in results.

  5. 142
    Rebaz Says:

    hi my new dell inspiron R15 5521 is not shutdown correctly when I shutdown it, the screen is off but the bottom light is not off it is make my laptop power going to 0 and then my laptop is at start up is slow however about 4 times I format my laptop but it isn’t solve so can any one help me whats wrong with my laptop is there any hardware problem?

  6. 141
    aqir Says:

    hi..my laptop produce constant sound when i turn it on…blank screen..then i need to press keypad for it to turn on properly.. already replace with new keypad but the problem still occur…FYI i’m using hp pavillion dv4 OS windows 7…please help me..

  7. 140
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Joshua,
    To me this sounds like a problem with the audio driver. I’ve seen it happening on laptops with a wrong audio driver installed. Did you search for the correct audio driver on HP website?
    It’s possible you installed the latest audio driver available though Microsoft update but need the original driver from HP website.

  8. 139
    Joshua Says:

    Sound problem in my HP pavilion g6. Both external and Headphones sounds audio at the same time.tried making speakers as default and updated audio driver. Pls urgent help!!

  9. 138
    Matthew Says:

    Dell Inspiron 17R N7110
    Windows 7 Home Premium

    None of the desktop shortcuts functioned correctly, so I rebooted the machine. During reboot the machine would display the Dell logo and the progress bar. Once the progress bar would fill up it would then go to the Windows Boot Manager and ask me to choose an operating system (only one operating system is installed – Windows 7) it would then quickly start the reboot process over again. and loop like this until I hit any key (doesn’t matter which). After that it would load windows. once windows would fully load I still cannot select any of the shortcuts, or the start menu. until I hit the windows key on the keyboard to bring up the start menu. after that everything seems to start to respond better (at least on the surface). I then replaced the HDD and installed windows 7 Home Premium to that HDD. once loaded it did the exact same things. I then took out the battery on the motherboard waited a little bit and then put it back in. Once I reset the system date and time in the BIOS and save, windows would then start to act normal again, but after a few minutes it would resume with the same problems. I then got a new battery and placed it in the motherboard. still no change. I am all out of Ideas! any help would be great! The laptop also seems to work normal for about an hour if I power it down for at least a half day or longer.

  10. 137
    Siva Prasad Says:

    Hi..Prakash Rudra

    It it very common problem in every laptop which installed with windows 8. Windows updates may cause for this issue. Solution is “Remove the battery, disconnect adapter, press and hold power button for 50 seconds. Now don’t insert battery, connect with adapter and turn the laptop on. 100% your problem will solve.

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