Note. Many of these
problems and solutions also apply to desktop computers.
1: No Power
you plug the AC adapter into a 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.
– 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. At times, there are some small ICs that can be tested and replaced
by a technician. Otherwise get ready to buy a new computer.
2: Blank Screen
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.
– 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
– 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.
The CMOS (BIOS) battery may be dead. In a laptop you may have to consult the
owner’s manual, or Google the location of the CMOS battery. Test it with a volt
meter or just replace it (they only cost a few dollars). After replacing the
battery you will have to go into BIOS and redo all the settings. In most cases, load the defaults, change
the time and date and you should be done. Save and exit.
If the laptop still doesn’t turn on, most likely you have failed motherboard or
3: Laptop turns off and on repeatedly
The laptop turns on without showing
any image on the screen. After a few seconds it turns off by itself. Then it
turns on and off again.
- 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
4: Laptop makes noise while running
The laptop turns on and everything
works fine, except it makes some constant weird grinding or rattling noise.
- 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
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 start the laptop. If the laptop still makes noise, most likely its
Problem 5: Laptop shuts down or freezes
- 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.
Problem 6: Battery not charging properly
– 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.
Problem 7: Screen does not light up
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.
- Most likely it’s either failed
screen inverter or backlight lamp (CCFL) failure. When either one fails,
the backlight stops working.
In order to troubleshoot this,
you’ll need some spare parts: either new working inverter or known good
backlight lamp. Open the screen housing and substitute the lamp with a spare.
If the lamp works, you need to replace the lamp in the display or replace the
LCD panel, if it does not work, you need to replace the inverter.
8: Strange or garbled image on the screen
The laptop turns on properly but
has a distorted or garbled image on the screen.
– The graphics chip 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 chip 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 LCD panel.
9: Some keyboard keys stopped working
Most likely the keyboard failed and they are not repairable. Replace the
If the keyboard does not correct the problem, the keyboard driver IC on the
motherboard has gone bad, or the connector on the motherboard for the keyboard
has gone bad. A USB keyboard can be used, or the motherboard repaired or
Problem 10: Keyboard has
missing or broken keys
If a key separated from the keyboard, it’s still possible to fix it. Keycaps
can be pressed back into position if they are not broken. If they are broken,
at times parts can be ordered or used parts can be implemented to repair the
If you have many keys missing, probably it makes sense to replace the whole
Problem 11: Repetitive
beeping sound on start-up
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
- Most likely you have stuck
keys. In this case you’ll have to replace the
- If the beeping is in a
pattern, such as one long and two short beeps, then you have a hardware error.
The beep code will have to be looked up to discover what hardware is causing
Problem 12: Computer won`t load Windows
but keeps rebooting in a loop. There may be a blue error screen between
booting Windows into the diagnostic menu (tap F8 key while the computer is
starting, keep tapping until the diagnostic menu comes up). Select “use last
known good configuration” and let the computer boot. If this does not correct
- Use the
“Restore to a previous date” option in the “repair my computer” option in the
diagnostic menu. Restore the computer back to a date when it was working.
SATA Hard Drive Mode setting in BIOS may have changed. The options available for the setting can be any combination of the
following: IDE, Compatibility Mode, AHCI, RAID, or SATA. Take a note of what
the setting is currently, and then try each of the other settings one at a
time. Reboot the computer each time you change the setting. Tell windows to
boot normally. If none of these settings corrects the boot-loop issue, change
the setting back to where it was. More in-depth troubleshooting will be
Problem 13: Liquid Spill
You spilled something on the
laptop and it’s stopped working.
- Liquid spills are very
dangerous and unpredictable. Turn off the laptop ASAP, remove the battery and
do not use it until all internal parts are inspected for liquid damage.
It’s still possible to make it work again. Take it apart immediately. If it was
just water, put the wet parts in with some rice to absorb the liquid. A hair
dryer can also be used to heat up the board and evaporate the liquid. It is
important to do this ASAP. If left too long, the liquid will cause the parts to
- If the liquid was not
water, I would suggest bringing it to a tech shop right away. If the liquid
dries on the motherboard, it most likely will never work again.