Laptop can no longer hold a battery charge
April 23, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

What does it mean if overnight my 5 year old MacBook Pro stopped working without being connected to power?

Saturday night I watched a NetFlix movie and had to download a new version of Silverlight (I mention that as the only variable involved here). Up to and through the movie, my laptop always worked fine on battery. Sunday morning I had Spotify going all day while I cleaned, so I had the computer connected to the wall from startup. The charge indicator on the plug on the side of the laptop was green all day. After about 4 hours I pulled the power out because I wanted to move outside and check email. The computer immediately shut down. I tried to restart and nothing. When I plugged it back in it started from boot up. Now the plug is always green but whenever I remove the plug the computer dies. Is this a standard 'end of MacBook life span' sign or is something else going on?
posted by spicynuts to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The battery probably developed a bad cell and you would need to get the battery replaced.
posted by dcjd at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

It seems likely that the battery has reached end of life.
posted by thelonius at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2012

Most likely you just need to replace the battery. But I would take it to the Genius Bar and have them test it first if you have one near by.
posted by spilon at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2012

Sounds like the battery may be toast or not connected, try this check:
posted by Brockles at 9:20 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Replace the battery. Consider yourself lucky you got five years out of it, as most laptop batteries lose their ability to hold a charge in 3-4 years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Very normal end-of-life for a laptop battery this age, regardless of computer make.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:27 AM on April 23, 2012

Before spending money, try to reset the SMCand see if that helps.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:27 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ok focus on the battery. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some other known motherboard or hard drive issue that would require I ditch the whole thing.
posted by spicynuts at 9:35 AM on April 23, 2012

Reason I say that is because there was no gradual decline in length of ability of the battery to hold a charge. It went from fine to dead overnight. That to me didn't sound like end of battery life behavior
posted by spicynuts at 9:36 AM on April 23, 2012

My Pbook battery hovered around 30min capacity for a while before completely dying. When's the last time it went for a long time away from a charge?
posted by rhizome at 9:44 AM on April 23, 2012

Leave it plugged in for a while and then try booting it again. Sometimes it takes a while to build up a charge, particularly if you've been using an older power cord.
posted by gentian at 9:47 AM on April 23, 2012

if you have a recent OS (Snow Leopard for sure, but Leopard might have this too): you can option-click the battery meter and it'll tell you if there's something wrong (it'll also display an X if your battery's completely dead). also, nthing your battery died - mine (in a MacBook of similar vintage) worked fine one night and then bam battery failed the next day. nothing wrong with the machine, which works fine (albeit now as a desktop). it was annoying, though, as I was supposed to be in a meeting the next day and got relegated to the iPad (which I can't necessarily do actual work on).
posted by mrg at 10:35 AM on April 23, 2012

Just chiming in to say that I, too have had Mac batteries go from fine to dead basically overnight. It's very frustrating, but it does happen. Take it to the Genius Bar to confirm. I have also had motherboards fail, and this is it what that looks like.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:49 AM on April 23, 2012

I got my Macbook Pro in 2008, and it recently had some motherboard issues... Apparently, this is a known issue for this particular series, and so I was able to get it replaced for free... wahoo! What you are experiencing doesn't sound like a complete motherboard failure like I experienced - although I could hear my computer making sounds when the power button was pushed, it just refused to boot up. What you are experiencing sounds like a power issue, and the genius bar may have a better idea of how to solve the problem. Good luck!
posted by genekelly'srollerskates at 1:31 PM on April 23, 2012

Brockle wins...full charge capacity is 0.
posted by spicynuts at 2:57 PM on April 23, 2012

Lithium ion batteries do not have that same slow decline into badness like older types of batteries. They either fail instantly because a cell went bad and tripped its fuse, or they decline very quickly to a fast death.
posted by gjc at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2012

Sounds like you've found your answer, but for others... coconutBattery is a great little app for checking your battery info.
posted by blueberry at 11:49 PM on April 24, 2012

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