What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

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Thinkpad A21m in this case, but apparently the problem isn't limited in
the IBM line.

Left the unit unplugged & unused for a couple months. Plugged it in, hit
the power button... nothing. Well, almost nothing. The only thing that
happens is the battery charge indicator lights, and the bank of 5 green
status LED's light. Then all of the status LED's go out except the one
of the far right. (I can't even tell what that symbol is supposed to
mean.) No post BEEP code, no video, nothing...

Tried it with the battery pulled using the AC adapter only, a fully
charged battery with the AC adapter, a fully charged battery without the
AC adapter... no change.

A Google search on this provides several hits about the same problem on
several ThinkPad models, but no clear indication what the problem really
is. I've seen speculation that it's a dead CMOS  battery - which some
people changed and didn't help. An "overcharged capacitor" - which
putting the computer in the 'fridge is supposed to help. (???) A glitch
in the IBM BIOS regarding the suspend operation...

Anyone really know what the problem is and what to do?


Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

charge the battery and see if that helps. I can see how the battery
being completely drained could cause a problem with the charge/power
system. Also, take the battery out and see if it will boot. There might
also be corrosion on the contacts or leakage from the battery.

Rick wrote:
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Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

AZGLI wrote:
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A miracle occurred overnight! Hit the power button and the thing
actually powered up. But it locks up all over the place - even one time
during the POST. When it does this nothing helps short of pulling the AC
adapter and the battery. After a dozen or so attempts to see how much it
would function it went back to "dead in the water" status.

FWIW the battery is cosmetically fine - no corrosion.

IBM wants $995.00 to replace the system board. But they did assure me
they would make sure everything worked for $995.00. Funny, that's
$200.00 more than I paid for the thing...

Assuming I can get the right system board (It's a 2628-PRU version of
the A21m), anyone dealt with replacing a main board in a ThinkPad
before? How hard is it to disassemble these things? I.E. any "gotchas"
in the disassembly process?


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Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

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Since I have a T22, this may not apply at all to your situation but I
have had a similar problem with similar symptoms. In the case of this
machine though the cause appears to be a sticky cover switch because
shutting and opening the laptop lid as far as possible makes the
symptoms disappear and the machine boots normally.

I haven't been using the T22 lately so I haven't persued the problem
further but I did start it up recently to test a cardbus and had the
same symptoms which went away again after exercising the lid a bit.

Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

You didn't say what else you did... but may I offer this guess.  I had a
similar problem, and it was because I had pirated the memory out of the
machine.  When I replaced the memory, it booted just fine.  So, perhaps
defective memory would cause it as well.

Also: have you checked the cmos battery?  Although I'm leaning toward the
memory.  If the sticks are still there: take them out, and re-install.  Let
us know your results.  dr
dr.news  //stores.ebay.com/better-price-wireless (not better than you
deserve, just more than you're used to)  //free.better-price.biz (for new
lines of wireless service; all carriers; the phones are almost always a

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Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

dr.news wrote:
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Nope, nope, nope. And this is what I find exasperating about the IBM
ThinkPad problem. A lot of people report the overall same problem. And
some people have success with one thing, partial success with another,
some success for a few power ups and then no success at all. Like here:


This is a stock IBM ThinkPad with all IBM provided parts - memory, hard
drive etc.

It has to be something more than a random failure since there are so
many reports about the same problem.

I've already tried every suggestion I have found. And they've ranged
from the routine to the bizarre:

IBM says to pull the battery, pull all peripherals and reseat, replace
the battery. Ok, did that: pulled the hard drive, pulled the mini pci
card, pulled the memory. Still dead.

Tried the suggested "flex the lid way open". But since the lid switch is
sitting right there above the keyboard I don't see how flexing the LCD
fully open is going to affect that switch. Regardless, I've manipulated
the switch itself with a screwdriver in case it was acting flaky - no

Put the whole thing in the refrigerator...? Well, some people say it
works. Some people say it worked once or twice and quit working after
that. That seems to point to a heat related component failure. But since
my A21m was sitting powered down for 2 months and refused to power up it
couldn't develop a heat related anything. Regardless, this didn't help.

IBM told one repair tech this was "guaranteed to work": Pull the
battery. Hit the power on button 10 times. Hold the power button down
for 20 seconds. Replace the battery. Didn't work.

Fully deplete the battery then recharge. Didn't work.

Pulled the CMOS battery. Why not? I've tried everything else. Let it sit
overnight. Didn't change anything.

Since the only status LED that comes on and stays on is the Power On
indicator, this behavior seems to point toward some failure in the power
management circuitry. But alas, this is still only speculation. I'm just
surprised that so many IBM ThinkPad's have had this problem an no one
outside of IBM has gotten the real dirt on the source of the failure.


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Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

Rick wrote:
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Don't just pull it, replace it.

Visit the Thinkpad Forums

Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

Rick wrote:
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Well, it ended up at an official IBM repair center. Their deduction is
it's either a bad main board or a bad CPU, largely because everything
else tests out ok.

IBM wants $995.00 to repair it. I paid $799.00 for it. What's wrong with
this picture? Sigh...

Anyway, once I get it back I need to crack it open to get the correct
part number for the main board. I pulled the parts list from the IBM web
site. Problem is the parts listing doesn't make any sense for this
model. It's an A21m 2628-PRU with an 8MB video system. According to the
IBM parts list the main board for a 2628-PRU model with 8MB video would
be for an A22m, not an A21m. I don't see any way to get the correct main
board part number other than cracking it open.

Are there web sites out there that deal with ThinkPad disassembly? I'll
try get the main board off EBay myself. But IBM's fee of $995.00 is just


Re: What is the problem with dead IBM ThinkPads???

I have an A20m (2628-4UU) that failed last evening with the same
symptoms that literally hundreds of others have reported over the last
few years.  Mine had been running fine, but I went to power it up and,
once it got to the Windows desktop it froze.  Powered off, then tried
powering on again.  Unit comes on when power is pressed (HD spins up,
all lights flash on, then go off except for power, I can hear the CPU
fan running).  No POST, no boot, black screen.

I replaced the CMOS battery, reseated everything, yada yada yada.  The
thinkpads.com web forums list a possible cause as a failure of one (or
both) chips in the dc-dc power section on the mainboard.  These are
the Analog Devices ADP3421JRU and ADP3410KRU ICs.  This is supposedly
due to a design flaw.  Some people also say to change three MOSFETs
(IRF-7811) as well.  Some report success, others don't.

It seems to me that by simply replacing the chips you're not fixing
the problem.  SOMETHING caused the chips to fail as there wasn't (to
my knowledge, anyway) a bad run of those chips.  Bad capacitors in the
circuit, maybe?  Bad resistors, diodes ...?  People ARE apparantly
fixing the boards, as dealers will sell you refurbished ones or will
fix your broken unit.

So, what's the secret?  Which components are routinely replaced during
the course of one of these repair jobs?

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