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Strange Battery/Charging Situation. What could be wrong?

by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 6:07 AM PST

This morning as my laptop was plugged in and charging, I noticed my battery power seemed to be draining, but it showed it was charging. I unplugged the AC adapter and plugged it back in, and then it didn't show it was charging and the lights weren't on.

I tried unplugging and plugging it in, checking connections, and using different outlets but I just couldn't get it to work.

I brought it to Radio Shack and they tested my AC adapter for me and told me there isn't a problem with it. I plugged it into my laptop then and the charging lights were on.

I went home and plugged it in, and the charging lights were on again. I turned the computer on and noticed that the battery power was draining, even though it said it was charging.

So what I've got is an AC adapter that apparently works, but won't get the laptop to hold a charge, PC Health Monitor told me that my battery was fine, and my laptop runs on its own without the AC adapter plugged in.

The lights only show that the laptop is charging sometimes (most of the time it doesn't) and even when it shows it's charging, it appears only to drain more. Is this a problem with the soldering for the pin coming lose? What could it be?

I'd really really appreciate any help, as I use the laptop for full time school and I need it repaired as soon as possible, but I don't have a lot of cash to go trying out new parts (but from what I understand, it doesn't seem to be the battery itself or the charger itself that's causing the issue).

By the way, it's a Toshiba L505, not under warranty anymore, and the laptop itself works perfectly fine when on (just a charging issue I'm having).

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Ok, let's go over the basics.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 26, 2011 6:28 AM PST

Your average laptop comes with a 300 cycle battery or about 18 months. Not only do cycles matter but age. If the battery is uses daily I see such failures in all of two places. (Battery and motherboard.)

But here's the real problem. Owners don't want it to be any of those issues. They always hope for it not to be that even when you present them with the life span of the battery. Many didn't grasp this until the next year or two after they use the battery all the time. After they get to buy a battery that's when I find most to have learned to keep it on AC as much as possible.

Beyond that, no shop I know will let you use a battery for a test to see if that's it. If you need to know why it's simple. 1. If you did let them test with it, they would not want that battery but a new one. So the shop would have to have 2 batteries. 2. It happened at a friend's shop that the customer claimed the new battery was theirs and threatened to call the cops or sue. Sadly this meant the end to stocking batteries or letting folk try out batteries.

Bob

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I'm a little confused at your response.
by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 6:50 AM PST

You think it may be the battery, but the battery doesn't appear to be the problem. PC Health Monitor said it was in good condition (and I know that this doesn't mean everything but it can mean something), and it doesn't shut off if I unplug the AC. If it was the battery alone, I think the AC would at least be able to keep the battery from dying more, but it's not preventing that. And if I take the battery out and try to run it on the charger (I haven't tried this when the charging lights were on, but I don't think it would make a difference), and try to turn the laptop on, it won't turn on.

Maybe it could be a problem with a connection to the battery?

And I wasn't planning to go to a shop and ask to try their battery, because I'm still not convinced that's the issue (not because I don't want it to be, but because signs aren't pointing to it being the battery, from what I've experienced).

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Sorry for the typo.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 26, 2011 6:56 AM PST

Let's say it's the connection. Since no shop or depot will fix that you are looking at a new motherboard.

My view on the connection is that it's not that since the battery test passed. Again, with 300 cycle batteries and failures JUST LIKE THE ONE you noted I know not to rule out the battery. If there is something I'd wish for is that it would just fail and not haunt the owner with bizarre behaviors.

Too bad you can't find a battery to try out. My story is to explain why you rarely get such service today.

I've been in the repair biz (now out!) since before the PC. My background is electronics design and after some thousands of issues like this my first checks are (a) is it the maker's charger (why later) (b) swap the battery and hope.

Because of lawsuits and liability some makers won't charge the battery if a non-maker charger or non-maker battery is used. I hope you can understand why.

Bob

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Thanks for clarification.
by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 7:05 AM PST
In reply to: Sorry for the typo.

What makes you think that it could be the motherboard possibly? I'm just curious about this.

Could it not possibly be something like the pin? That SEEMS, anyway, like one of the most common reasons (aside from a dead battery and broken cord), but I don't know if that problem would display the particular problems I'm having. I don't know if a pin issue would allow the battery light to sometimes be on, and to say "charging" even if it's not. If I wiggle the cord where it plugs into the computer it does wiggle a lot, but the pin is still centered, and I can't compare to how much it would wiggle before this issue came about.

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Added information:
by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 7:12 AM PST

I'm running my laptop on Vista, and I found that if the battery isn't charging you can go into device manager and uninstall all battery related items and then search for them again. Would this be a safe option for me to try? I only have a few minutes left (probably) if I decide to turn my computer on to try something, as the battery is at 4%, which is also strange, because usually it will die when it's as low as 12%; it almost seems like having the ac adapter plugged in, when the battery lights show, charges it somewhat but not enough? I don't know, it's strange to me.

When I plugged the AC adapter in and it would show it was charging but wasn't, I noticed the fan wouldn't go on (the fan always goes on for a few seconds after I plug my laptop in to charge).

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What makes me think this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 26, 2011 9:44 AM PST

Ready? "Prior experience."

Since I've been around the block a few times, owned repair shops (past tense as I sold them) this is all from experience and what we do to sniff out what part.

I feel for you, I really do but it won't help by wiggling too much. If wiggling didn't help, wiggling more usually breaks something.

--> How deep are you into electronics and repair? Why I ask is if you were going to fix this you would own things like a Volt meter, solder iron and maybe a few basic tools. Many want a diagnosis which I can give but (again) most just don't want to know what it is usually. That's why I share the issues about 300 cycle batteries and more.
Bob

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More
by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 11:06 AM PST

I wanted to know what issues you relate to it being a motherboard problem. I know that you think it is because of your experience.

I found out that though the pin isn't lose, the part around it moves from side to side. So I'm thinking that it is, in fact, a broken DC Jack. I talked to my friend's dad who also has experience in repairing computers, and he didn't think it could be the battery, and probably not the motherboard. I'm going to try to meet up with him tomorrow or Friday to see if, after seeing it in person, he still believes the DC Jack is the problem.

Thank you for your assistance. I may be back to post if that was the problem (or if it wasn't), as a help to other people who may have the same issue.

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Let's say it's the DC jack.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 26, 2011 11:33 AM PST
In reply to: More

Now that's something you can google. Type this at google.com

LAPTOP JACK REPAIR

It's something I've done too many times to count. But I have deep doubts about it since without fail the laptop with this issue will not power up with or without the battery.
Bob

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I have googled laptop jack repair
by Arriiah / January 26, 2011 12:32 PM PST

Why would a laptop with a charging issue not power up on battery power? The only time that I could understand this happening is if the battery is already dead and the charger isn't working. I'm just trying to understand.

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This is why.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 27, 2011 1:15 AM PST

This is why at the shop we would pop in a new battery. Analysis of why some old battery didn't work costs too much.

Also, if the new battery didn't work, failure analysis of the charging circuit costs more than the entire laptop. While it is possible for me to do that (I have a background in missile electronics failure analysis and more) what you are asking for is in the 5 figures to answer. Maybe more.

Bob

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Problem Fixed
by Arriiah / January 27, 2011 11:08 AM PST
In reply to: This is why.

My dad's friend, who has a lot of experience with laptops and computers, took it apart and found that it was in fact a lose soldering where the laptop plugs into the computer. They didn't catch it at first, but did. He re-soldered it and the laptop is charging again.

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