Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return

Posted by Muks_C 
Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 27, 2012 08:48PM
Posted by: Muks_C
hi all,

on january 12th i took delivery of a laptop from it's a Lenovo Thinkpad E520. it's charging port is on the right hand side, near the back. about 4 weeks ago i had it on my bed charging, resting on the padded case i store it in when not in use. i wanted to pick it up and sit on the bed then use it on my lap, but instead of picking up the laptop itself, then sitting down, i picked it up by the case it was resting on and as i turned to sit down, it slipped off the case and landed on the floor, right on the charging socket. the screen was open so it's a miracle it didn't crack, but the charging wire went into the port a bit, cracking the charge port housing on the laptop, and making a tiny 4mm crack in the black plastic housing just above it. i thought i had definitely killed the whole thing but it stayed on and continued to work. but now the charge wire socket didn't 'click' into place anymore when charging, it just sat in there and could fall out if moved.

anyway, apart from that it's worked perfectly since then until yesterday. i had 2 external hard drives connected to it, one mine and the other my friend's. we were transferring files from his drive to mine, and after about 30 minutes of transferring, the whole thing just instantly shut off. so i switched it on again and it loaded to desktop. the just as i was starting to use it, i heard a small click sound and it shut off instantly again. i couldn't restart it again for a few minutes, but then it did start up and again, just as it had loaded to desktop, i heard the click and it shut off again.

it wouldn't start up again, but i had noticed before it shut off last that there was more than 50% battery charge, but i plugged the charger in anyway. the little green LED next to the charge port lit up showing it was charging, but it wouldn't switch on.

a couple of hours later i tried again, no switch on and no green LED anymore.

today no response whatsoever.

what options do i have? if i talk to Dabs or Lenovo, if a technician looks at it they will probably recognise that it's been dropped, so i can't claim that it's a manufacturing fault.

and if i say i dropped it, they will say they're not obliged to fix or replace it.

i could go through my home contents insurance.

does this sudden failure sound like it could have been caused by the drop? or could it be due to the transfer of a large amount of data between 2 external hard drives? after a drop, would it work for 4 weeks, then stop working?

any advice is welcome. thanks.

RIP Jules, never to be forgotten. #KeepFightingMichael

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2012 08:51PM by Muks_C.
Re: Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 27, 2012 10:09PM
Posted by: gav
First off, give the retailer a ring. If they won't hear anything, then try contacting Lenovo directly. Point out that you've dropped it and ask if they'd look at it anyway. The worst they can do is say "no".

Unless you've something like a short in a USB socket, then I highly doubt it's USB-related, unless the connection to those ports were cracked in the drop, but it's highly unlikely - they're normally soldered in pretty damn well, and often glued in too.

I think the most likely issue is one with the power socket itself, or perhaps the CPU/GPU heatsink has been slightly dislodged, and the CPU/GPU is overheating.

I've seen it in laptops where the CPU overheats, the laptop shuts down, then it won't turn back on again until the chip has cooled down, which sounds like what's happening to you. If that's still the case (the laptop is still switching on for consistent short time) then it should be a relatively simple and cheap fix. It will void your warranty, but then I can't see Lenovo taking the laptop back anyway, as I'd imagine they'd just cite damage from a fall, and I think that's fair enough to be brutally honest. You'll need to take the laptop apart (see the guide I link to below), remove the heatsink/pipes and clean up the thermal gunk, apply some new thermal gunk, then reinstall the heatsink. You'll need something to remove the gunk - 100% alcohol or some thermal paste cleaner, and if you don't have a tube of paste hanging around, you'll need a drop of thermal paste too. If there are any pads between the heatsink and a chip, just leave them as they are - you won't need to remove or replace them.

I've just replaced a power socket in a Dell laptop, and had to desolder the socket on it. In some previous laptops I'd looked at they just had the socket 'loose' in the laptop, sliding into a little recess and then using wires to connect it to the motherboard. Sadly not that one - one of the issues with good build quality I guess!

Looking at pictures of the Thinkpad Edge jacks, it appears they too are soldered to the board, but if you're happy taking a laptop apart and desoldering and soldering, then feel free to attack it yourself. All you're going to do is lose a couple of quid buying a new jack from Ebay. If you feel it's getting the better of you, then reassemble it and send it off to a company to do the job for you. To my knowledge, the Dell one I did was the first proper soldering I'd done since high school, and I can't even be sure I did any soldering at high school, as I certainly can't remember it, so if you've any soldering experience at all, you should be fine. You will need a solder sucker though.

If you do decide to tackle it yourself, then there's a service guide here which will show you in a step-by-step manner how to strip your laptop down. It won't go into replacing the jack, but it'll get you to the point where you can get to it.

Most annoyingly, looking at that guide, it appears that your laptop has a "DC-in sub card", which will be a card which can be unscrewed and disconnected from the motherboard, so in theory you could just replace that card, rather than soldering a new socket in, yet it doesn't give a model number, so I can't search for one. I'd imagine somewhere would have such items, but I'd guess you'd need to see the card to see a model number.

Otherwise, there are companies which offer to replace jacks for you. Personally, I'd try reseating the heatsink first.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2012 10:15PM by gav.
Re: Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 28, 2012 12:35AM
Posted by: loren
I had a Toshiba laptop that got hard drive damage from an impact. It worked intermittently for a few days before going dark completely. Mine had no external damage though, so I sent it in and Toshiba repaired it free.

Even if yours has obviously been dropped I would go to the manufacturer first - presumably you'll have to pay for repairs but I imagine they will do them, and without invalidating your warranty.
Re: Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 28, 2012 08:51AM
Posted by: Muks_C
thanks for the info guys.

Gav, it won't start up at all anymore, not even for a short time. the charging LED doesn't come on either when plugged in, it's completely bricked. so it might not be an overheating or dislodged heatsink issue.

so you advise firstly i should contact, and if i get no joy from them then go to Lenovo? i don't mind paying a reasonable amount to get it fixed by them, but if they start saying more than a couple of hundred then i wouldn't be too keen. i would rather send it to experienced repairers too, rather than attempt it myself and mess it up any more.

are there people out there who just do this kind of thing for any laptop, independent repairers?

RIP Jules, never to be forgotten. #KeepFightingMichael
Re: Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 28, 2012 11:52AM
Posted by: gav
Yeah, definitely sounds like the jack then.

I'd be certain Dabs won't give you any joy, but like we say, it's worth a shot. As said, follow that up with Lenovo, who you may have more joy with.

There are companies that do it, though I've no experience of them. Do a Google search for Lenovo jack repair and choose "Pages from the UK". I'd guess you'll struggle to find reviews of such stores, as repairs will be fairly unique cases. I think you'd be looking at around £50-60 for a repair, as it's quite a bit of work to disassemble a laptop.
Re: Broken new laptop - advice on repair/return
Date: February 28, 2012 04:43PM
Posted by: danm
...or do the pikey thing; replace the plastic case trim and return to dabs.

Jenson drives it like he owns it; Lewis drives it like he stole it
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