i have an inspiron 4000, and the same thing has happened to me. i took out the keyboard (and lots of other stuff), but couldn't get to the pins inside. they finally all broke off last week. i said forget it and i'm looking for an ibm.
My dell inspiron 8100 is coming onto Battery within a few mins. I've replaced 3 power adapters so far but in vain. Now I think that power pins (in the laptop) are getting short somehow after switching on. I need to open the laptop and verify it. But it seems a huge and risky task. I did try but could not figure out that how to reach to the pins back at the botton rear side. I could just take out the keyboard. Has anyone tried this before. If not, can anyone tell how if would cost (approx) if it is fixd by say compUsa or microceter. It is 3 yrs old laptop. Can't throw it due to this small problem. Also can't spend too much money on an old piece.