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. 36
    Tejaswi Says:

    Mine is Dell Inspiron 1525.

    @ Tejaswi,

    I dont have a problem with my screen and keyboard..but the screws that connect this two parts..are coming out..and that connection between the two is broken,,i cant fold my laptop..

    Sounds like broken hinges. The only way to fix it is replacing the hinges I guess. What is your laptop model?

  2. 35
    cj2600 Says:

    @ lino,

    my acer aspire 5550 wont power on. the power button automatically lights on without pressing if the power cord is connected to the outlet. i remove the battery but no luck.

    Remove as many parts as you can. Battery, hard drive, memory. Disconnect the keyboard if you can.
    Now plug in the AC adapter again. If the problem still there and power button lights up by itself, probably this is motherboard failure.
    You can try this troubleshooting technique: http://www.laptoprepair101.com.....e-problem/

  3. 34
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Edy,

    Pls help!!! How to override bios p/word of toshiba satellite 100A laptop. Rgds. Edy.

    Did you mean Toshiba Satellite A100 laptop?
    There should be two pads on the motherboard under the memory module. You’ll have to short those pads with a screwdriver for a few second.
    Could be similar to Satellite A135. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo1gg1EZV-o
    The guy is cutting a piece of wire to short those pads. It’s not necessary. Just use a small flathead screwdriver.
    The pads might look like that: http://i125.photobucket.com/al.....BIOS_C.jpg

    In some Satellite A100 laptops the pads could be located under the keyboard. Take a look at this guide: http://techniciansguides.blogs.....sword.html

  4. 33
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Tejaswi,

    I dont have a problem with my screen and keyboard..but the screws that connect this two parts..are coming out..and that connection between the two is broken,,i cant fold my laptop..

    Sounds like broken hinges. The only way to fix it is replacing the hinges I guess. What is your laptop model?

  5. 32
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Nikkita,

    Okay the LCD screen on my laptop was broken, cracked in the corner after someone closed it with a pen on the keyboard..

    I decided to replace the screen myself.. I took it apart got the serial number and ordered the replacement screen. Installed the new screen and nothing shows up except colored portions and lines. Figured it was a defective screen and sent it back for a replacement.

    Got the replacement screen and the same thing happens!

    Am I doing something wrong? Or is it that I just keep getting defective screens?

    Maybe your new screens are not compatible.
    What happens if you install the cracked screen back into the laptop? Can you get image on the cracked screen?
    If your old screen shows image but new screens have only vertical lines, this is some kind of compatibility issue.
    Make sure your new screen has same resolution as the original one.

  6. 31
    lino Says:

    hello…my acer aspire 5550 wont power on. the power button automatically lights on without pressing if the power cord is connected to the outlet. i remove the battery but no luck. please help me…..thanks

  7. 30
    Edy Says:

    Pls help!!! How to override bios p/word of toshiba satellite 100A laptop. Rgds. Edy.

  8. 29
    Tejaswi Says:

    Hi..
    I dont have a problem with my screen and keyboard..but the screws that connect this two parts..are coming out..and that connection between the two is broken,,i cant fold my laptop..
    please help me with this..

  9. 28
    Nikkita Says:

    Help! Okay the LCD screen on my laptop was broken, cracked in the corner after someone closed it with a pen on the keyboard..

    I decided to replace the screen myself.. I took it apart got the serial number and ordered the replacement screen. Installed the new screen and nothing shows up except colored portions and lines. Figured it was a defective screen and sent it back for a replacement.

    Got the replacement screen and the same thing happens!

    Am I doing something wrong? Or is it that I just keep getting defective screens?

    Thanks..

  10. 27
    cj2600 Says:

    @ Gary,

    ive tried everything from repair screen to last known settings but no luck…diags show error 2000-0146…its a dell inspirion N5030

    It looks like error 2000-0146 could be hard drive related.
    After some research I found this thread on Dell support website.

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