I managed to repair my Dell Inspiron 7352 laptop computer again today. This time, the power connector attaching the motherboard to the tip-and-ring barrel connector had come a little loose, and I had to tape it in place. We’ve had 2 Inspiron 7000 class laptops and both have had similar problems.
This touchscreen-convertible, middling-powered machine is pretty good for web browsing, accounting, and lightweight programming and system administration tasks, but it has some warts. This is the 4th time the power connector has failed in some way in either this computer or another one our family owns. The symptoms are either that it doesn’t charge at all, or that complains about not recognizing the power adapter, and that it won’t charge the battery.
The first time this happened I called Dell and wasted the usual hour troubleshooting what was obviously a hardware problem. I sent the failing computer to Dell Service for out-of-warranty repair, they charged almost $200 and it took 3 weeks to get back. Ugh!
The second time it happened I was super frustrated about sending it back to Dell again so I let the computer just be broken for months. The tip shroud inside the barrel connector had broken off. Then the other Inspiron we own broke with similar power problems. This really ticked me off, so I opened up the case and found that one of the wire leads to the barrel connector had separated.
None of the jury rigged fixes I tried was stable so I researched the replacement part, which was easy as the assembly had a part number printed on it. I found a replacement part for less than $10 on Amazon. Thanks, Dell!
Replacing this turned out to be easy and fixed the power problem on both computers. I even ordered one spare just in case this happened again.
This week the symptoms returned on one of the computers, so after jiggling the connector as much as I dared without breaking it to no effect, I opened up the chassis. I then observed that the motherboard connector was not seated firmly, re-seated it, and put a tiny rectangle of Gorilla Tape over it to hold it in place. I didn’t have to use my spare connector.
Earlier this year I had also replaced the internal fan and swapped the magnetic hard drive for a solid state drive. The hard drive was actually failing, was throwing SMART warnings and had 4096 bytes in unreadable sectors. I got to learn how to use ddrescue in the process of fixing it. It’s like getting a whole new machine when upgrades such as this work as expected.
I like having multiples of the same machine because it makes it way easier to troubleshoot and repair the systems. Dell gets both the stinkeye for some bad engineering decisions and kudos for having systems that are easy to repair.