PC card reader broken - Can anything be done?
November 25, 2007 1:51 PM   Subscribe

My (secondhand) Sony Vaio PCG-V505DC2 laptop's PC Card slot isn't recognizing any cards put in it (I've tried three, all of which I know work). I know it's not a driver problem because all of the cards worked until recently, when they started working only intermittently before stopping working at all. Can this be fixed in any kind of cost-effective way, preferably by myself?

When they're plugged in, nothing happens; the "power" light on the ones that have them doesn't activate.

I'm not terribly afraid of opening the laptop and doing some very basic fiddling, but I'm not good enough at soldering to do anything really involved. Sony wanted something on the order of $150 just to look at it, which is out of the question. Is there anything that can be done?

The laptop is running Windows XP Professional, has a 2.0 GHz processor, 40 GB hard drive, 512 MB RAM, though I doubt it's particularly relevant.
posted by likedoomsday to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
First, if you haven't already, try uninstalling the card reader itself in the device manager and letting it discover and reinstall, checking for updates from Sony, etc. If it shows up, but still doesn't work, you'll have to dig deeper.

If you're not afraid of opening the machine, take a look at the PC Card assembly - if you look at this one, you'll see the connector tab coming off the right side. Check to make sure that's seated well in the main board, and if you can look inside the card slot, check that all the pins are straight, none broken or bent. if any are, than a replacement part like this should help, if everything looks good, it's a crapshoot then whether the assembly is bad, or something on the motherboard. There's lots of places online that advertise cheaper repairs than Sony, lots advertise '$149 including most parts' or something similar, but I can't personally recommend any one more than another.
posted by pupdog at 2:29 PM on November 25, 2007

It's probably NOT the cards, but it may still be worthwhile to see if they work in a second laptop. Once you confirm (independent of your current laptop) that you have a working PCMCIA card (you are talking about PCMCIA cards, right?) then you can begin troubleshooting the laptop.

I'd start by removing the drivers for the PCMICA controller under your hardware settings in Windows. Then shut down & restart, allowing Windows to re-install the drivers.

If that doesn't fix the problem I'm not sure what I would do next? Probably make sure you have the latest motherboard bios and windows drivers from Sony.

The last thing I would do (or first depending on how much time you are willing to waste) would be to do a fresh re-install of Windows. That's a bit extreme though.
posted by wfrgms at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2007

Oh yeah, I didn't think that you could be talking about a card reader ... but my advice above applies equally.
posted by wfrgms at 2:31 PM on November 25, 2007

wfrgms, I should have been clearer - when I said 'card reader' I did mean the PCMCIA slot (PC Card, cardbus, any one of the dozen or so names the industry wanted to call it). On this particular laptop it seems to be an assembly that connects to the motherboard (there's a braket holding it down) instead of directly on teh board, so tit might be more easily repairable - still looks like $65 or so is as chaep as they come online.
posted by pupdog at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2007

Would it be too inconvenient to pack along an external card reader? They are less expensive than the estimated $65 for replacing your internal reader.
posted by bonobo at 4:38 PM on November 25, 2007

Response by poster: This is the PCMCIA/PC Card/CardBus slot I'm talking about, not a flash card-type reader, so an external card reader won't help. Thanks, though.

Now it seems to be recognizing my cards again, but if it stops I'll be sure to try some of the suggestions in here that I haven't yet. If there are more suggestions out there, I'd definitely still like to hear them. Thanks, everybody.
posted by likedoomsday at 5:48 PM on November 25, 2007


I know it has almost been a full year since your inquiry has been published, but if you see this thread could you answer me: did your PC Card slot just start working again on its own, or did you follow one of the methods for repair suggested above? I have been having the same problem with the same exact computer, but so far I have had no luck in repairing (the only method I have tried so far is re-installing/updating the driver for the slot). Any info would be appreciated as I really need to get my slot working to be able to put a wireless adapter in so I can free up my USB connections.
posted by Jibba at 1:33 AM on September 16, 2008

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