Is it my iBook battery or something more sinister?
June 10, 2008 6:51 AM   Subscribe

iBook G4 battery is out of juice. Computer won't start up... even when AC adapter is plugged in. Is there something else going on?

I'm going to be purchasing a MacBook soon, but I'd first want to unload my old G4. It's about four-years-old and the battery, to my best knowledge, is pretty much kaput. I can't even get the computer to start up when the AC power adapter is plugged in. Is this a symptom of the battery's age or do you think there's some deeper issue here? Could the adapter port be mangled beyond repair?

I'd like to replace the battery before selling... it's still a great machine when it's up and running. But if it's not the battery, I'd rather not go through the hassle and just sell the silly thing for parts.

Any advice is really appreciated!

posted by kmtiszen to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
try searching through the apple discussions forum for the ibook. there seems to be quite a bit on this.
posted by krautland at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2008

I know next-to-nothing about computer hardware, so I'm sorry if this is all common knowledge. Anyway, my iBook was about 3 years old when the a similar thing happened. The battery was holding a charge decently enough and then all of a sudden it wouldn't hold a charge anymore. I attributed this to rough treatment because I could get the thing to turn on if I jiggled the AC connector dealie just so (but could never get the battery to charge up again). If I left the computer on a flat surface and didn't move it around at all, I could get it to stay on. It was all very "blow into the cartridge and try again."

This also coincided with me frying my logic board with coffee (it was only a little bit! I swear!). I have no idea if the two problems were related, but the guy at the Apple Store convinced me that logic board problems are costly and not worth fixing and that was enough of an excuse for me to buy a fancy new MacBook. I'd ask if the computer was resetting the date and stuff, but uhh.. you obviously can't check that.

I would check to make sure that the metal part of the adapter is completely intact. I recall my fiance's iBook dying a slow death because a bit of a previously mangled connector snapped off while it was plugged into the computer.

Provided you're near an Apple Store, you can pop in and they can test things out for you. The two different guys I saw were super nice (they didn't laugh in my face about the coffee thing) and actually gave me the time of day even though I didn't have an appointment. At the very least, they can remove some variables in the equation (e.g.: Is it your adapter that's bad or a problem with the computer itself?).
posted by giraffe at 7:35 AM on June 10, 2008

All of these machines inevitably experience a hardware failure that manifests itself pretty much exactly as you're describing. The video processor experiences a deterioration in the soldering that connects it to the printed circuit board of the main logic board. Does the machine chime? If it normally chimes at boot-up, but refuses to during these times it's not powering on, chances are good it has a failing logic board. Chances are even better that this is the case if the fan comes on full blast and the machine refuses to power off unless the AC adapter and battery are pulled from the machine.

In other words, time for a new Macbook. Good luck.
posted by hollisimo at 7:35 AM on June 10, 2008

Reset the power manager.

This seems to help with Macs that have sat around long enough to run the batteries flat. The battery may still hold charge, so hold off on buying a new battery until you try this.
posted by advicepig at 8:19 AM on June 10, 2008

I do tech support at a school with a lab of nothing but these G4 iBooks. Towards the end of the year I was losing one a week to pretty much exactly what you're describing. It isn't the battery but, if you can, borrow a known good battery and try it out. If you can get a boot up with the charged battery then you might be running into an AC adaper problem.

If not then you pretty much now have a pretty brick as it will cost more than its worth to repair. Put the repair money towards a new MacBook.
posted by fenriq at 10:05 AM on June 10, 2008

might not be useful but i'll throw it out there just in case. My G4 wouldn't accept the charger anymore (it had a bit of juice left, but it wouldn't charge). After worrying about what I should do I took it over to another room to dump my stuff onto an external hard drive in case my computer went completely kaput and magically it accepted a charge again. Every so often it does this where it won't accept a charge and now I know just to restart the surge protector it is plugged into.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 11:10 AM on June 10, 2008

Following up on silkygb's answer, let's also just be sure it is not powering up with AC. Sorry in advance if you know better.
But perhaps someone turned off the volume last time it was running. Since you don't hear the boot-up 'chime', it may seem like it's just dead.
The answer would be to give it a couple minutes until you see the screen light up.
posted by artdrectr at 7:03 PM on June 15, 2008

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