Being a Dell Tech, I've seen such things happen to touchpads. Doesn't really matter if they are from Dells or other laptops. Most of the time, yes, they can be hardware related issues. Sometimes the track pad would get so warn out, it can no longer 'track' your finger properly and would make the mouse go off astray. Sometimes it can be where the laptop would be hot 'in the inside' and that heat would affect the track pad as well....since they are 'heat-sensitive' so that they could track your finger. Others can be driver related, where the driver gets corrupted, and all you need to do is to remove and re-install the latest touch pad drivers.
If it really comes to hardware related issues, the best you can really hope for is to replace the trackpad, or simply disable it and use your external mouse.
Hope that you find this useful and good luck.
I have the Dell 9300 inspiron. I run windows XP. I have a Logitech MX 610 cordless laser mouse that I use with it. I've recently noticed that the touchpad does not work correctly. I have no control the pointer. I can move around but with great difficulty. Confused if this is a mechanical problem with the pad or something else,any ideas?I'd appreciate any help with this. Thanks