Don’t be afraid to learn something new – My experience fixing my older MacBook Pro

I am in the process of starting some new projects and was in need of a new notebook computer. I had been struggling to pull the trigger on something because I definitely consider myself a power user, but I also am a Mac user. While I use both Mac and PC about equally, for my personal uses I primarily will use my Mac. Being an Apple user comes the “Apple Tax” and I was struggling to find something that would fit my needs, and fall within the price point I had set. Due to the budget constraints I was close to pulling the trigger on a handful of PCs as they fit within the power to price equation. I didn’t end up buying one of the PCs, I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to get a Late 2012 MacBook Pro.

I was and still am absolutely thrilled. The computer is still on the list of machines that can run the latest MacOS release. It has a quad-core i7, 16GB RAM, massive SSD, and has the Retina screen. 100% win, right? Well, after getting setup, the issue arose when I started using it off its charger and the battery indicator read 80% and the computer would completely turn itself off.

I went into the system reporting tool and it said the battery was healthy, was about halfway through the cycle count, but it still wasn’t behaving correctly. Even though I knew that the computer was out of warranty years before, I called Apple and asked them about pricing for battery replacement and was politely turned away as they no longer work on the computer or stock the parts. They advised me to try a local Apple-authorized repair company.

After getting this recommendation I was provided a quote for the battery replacement and was genuinely shocked. I was about ready to start shopping for a new computer again as the cost was almost half of the budget I had for a new computer! The computer is fully capable of working, and being a strong desktop replacement for most people, but for me, I don’t need another desktop. I researched the repair and the cost that they quoted and found that most people would charge around the same price, but this was not in the budget.

I looked up the process going in, and the reason for wanting a professional to do the work was due to the battery being installed with adhesive, and lithium battery cells that were not well protected. While I am a technical guy, I had zero experience with this kind of repair and was not wanting to mess up the machine, or worst case, myself.

I finally had to look at it as something I was capable of doing so long as I was safe. There is nothing to lose with the computer if it gets damaged in the process as it was something I did not have only days before. I went to ifixit.com, found the repair guide, and ordered the battery from Amazon.

Overview of MacBook Pro battery project
Overview of MacBook Pro battery project

hindsight being 2020, I could have used some other tools, and I have since ordered much of what I could see myself needing if I were to keep doing similar repairs.

When I began the repair, I was frustrated. The adhesive that was used was incredible. The confined space around the battery cells made the process significantly more difficult than I could have imagined going in. I figured it would be sticky, but with the metal chassis and tight space, I did not anticipate it being as tough as it was. I began working some old store cards under the battery to no avail. I got some fishing line and attempted to saw through it, only to cut my hands up. I finally broke out the isopropyl alcohol and started using the cards as channels to run the liquid under the battery and started making progress. A tiny bit at a time, I would pour, push the card a bit further, pry, repeat. From there the process expedited itself.

Inside the MacBook Pro after battery replacement
Inside the MacBook Pro after battery replacement

About an hour later I had the battery out and began putting the other battery in. I plugged the power connector in, rested the new battery in it’s new home, and rested the computer on its bottom case panel and tested it.

It booted!

MacBook Pro booting after battery replacement
MacBook Pro booting after battery replacement

From there I checked the System Report out again, and see the battery indicating everything was good. Status – Good, Charge capacity, Cylces, everything looked good! I shut it back down, turned it back over, and started closing everything back up.

Original MacBook Pro battery after removal
Original MacBook Pro battery after removal

This was a very happy day for me. The computer has no reason to be discarded, and didn’t have any even before the repair, but now, it is able to be used how it was designed, and will be a huge asset for me moving forward. Many people would feel like they need to move on, invest another $2000-$3000 on a comparable new machine, when this – even 7+ years later – is a more than capable machine. Yes, it runs hot, and the graphics chip is not as capable as the new machines, it is still a heck of a computer, and for me, does the job.

I write all of this to push the the right to repair and for people to work on their technology. I love Apple Products, but as time is going on their products are becoming more and more difficult to repair. Even with the writing of this post, I will not work on an iPad. They are literally glued together and a giant piece of glass. It is unfortunate. I have a 2013 iPad Pro, and that was my laptop until I got this MacBook, and it could use a new battery – am I going to be able to do anything about it? Nope.

Research your products when they break. See if it is feasible to repair them. If it is, don’t be afraid to give it a try. If they are broken, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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