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  Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150 
 Date Written 
Steve Fink May 14, 2005, 09:41pm EDT Report Abuse
Problem: when I plug the laptop in or connect the battery, the num lock light turns on and the top two lights (power and battery) turn on. After a second or two, the middle (battery) light turns off. Pushing the power button does not turn the laptop on.

This laptop worked fine for me for about 2 years, then it started having sporadic problems powering up. Sometimes I would press the power button once and it would come on; other times I'd press it several dozen times, trying different angles and timings, and it would finally come on. I don't know if the pattern of lights is the same as what I described at the top of this message. At some point, it stopped turning on entirely. I returned it to my company, since it was a loaner, and they said that it was well past warranty so I was the proud new owner of a broken laptop.

I assumed the problem was the power button itself, so I took the laptop apart, took out the power button board, and disassembled the power button itself. I put it all back together and it worked flawlessly for a few months.

Recently, it stopped turning on again. The problem wasn't sporadic this time; there was nothing I could do to get it to come on. I tried taking apart the button again, but this time only succeeded in breaking off the barely-visible clips on the side of the bracket that holds the button together. On both the power button and the Dell button. Doh! Didn't help anyway -- even if I held everything together, it still wasn't turning on.

After a few times of taking it apart and putting it back together again, it suddenly started working. At this point, I wasn't even bothering to use the metal bracket of the power button; I was just laying the sticky curved thing on top of the contacts and pressing it. It turned on completely reliably. I ordered a new power button board.

A week or so later, it stopped powering on again. I replaced the power board. No change. I've taken most of it apart and put it back together again at least once, but I haven't gotten power since. The fans and board are clean, and it's quite cool now.

A probably not related problem: the Fn key stopped working entirely somewhere in the middle of all this. I'm running Linux and I did a large upgrade, but I don't know if the OS has any way to intercept that key in the first place. It's not a huge concern, I only mention it in case it's relevant.

Assuming this is fixable, one other question: I took apart the heat pipe to the CPU, and now I'm wondering if I should smear on new thermal paste. I'd rather not get this fixed only to fry the CPU.

My undying gratitude to anyone who can help me out with this! Thanks!

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Brendan Falvey May 15, 2005, 02:42am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I would be checking the battery for a start can you borrow one maybe just remove and replace to wipe the contacts to ensure there is a good contact. I would be looking very closely at the heatpipe since it would be critical to removing heat and any disturbance would need to be rectified to restore its function correctly.

batteries do have a limited life of charging cycles (about 1000?) also very sensitive to usage and treatment

Steve Fink May 16, 2005, 11:08am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I have cleaned the battery contacts, and the battery has a built-in meter that shows that it is nearly fully charged. But also, I get the same behavior whether I am using the battery or plugging it into the wall.

Brendan Falvey May 16, 2005, 05:42pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
Since it is doing it on both battery and mains your original diagnisis seems the best one we just had to eliminate it as a potential problem. I would be looking very carefully at any soldered joint associated with the power button if it is seperately mounted check all of the connections since a "dry" joint (these are ones with a frosty look at best and diffcult to find to ones with cracks that open and shut under temperature and flexure of components) can cause you hours of frustrating checking but a fair percentage of electronic failurs can be put down to this very basic fault. Had a TV with as uch a joint and took 3 weeks to find it hidden under another component.

Mike Lakkis Jun 05, 2005, 10:17pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I am having the same issue with mines and Dell says i have to replace the mother board for $800!!!

Max K Jun 06, 2005, 12:11am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I think it's a motherboard problem. It may be fixable - usually there is no need to replace the motherboard.

Send me a private message if you need your laptop repaired! Low prices, high quality!
Brendan Falvey Jun 10, 2005, 07:03am EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
Check out this thread
To view this discussion please visit the following URL:

Elena Vega Jul 11, 2005, 01:03pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I had the same problem booting up my 4150. After a long time w/ Dell tech support, we found out one of my memory slots was bad. Basically, they had me remove the memory cards one at a time and try them in each of the 2 slots and sure enough, one of the slots was bad. It probably just needs to be resoldered, so I am going to have it looked at. In the meantime, it's working just fine with one card in the one good slot.
Hope this helps!

Adam Kolak Jul 11, 2005, 01:16pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
Not another Dell problem!

Adam Kolak
Moderator, Hardware Analysis
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Mike Lakkis Jul 11, 2005, 02:46pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I tried to flip my memories and even tried using memory from another Dell laptop.
Tried removing Battery, Modem, CD, WiFi. It is not over heating, because fans are working, and after letting it rest for a while it will still do the same thing.
Tried shacking the laptop or finding a pressure point but this does not have nothing to do with the problem.

It really hard to figure out since its totally random

Brooks Tippett Aug 07, 2005, 10:21pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
I have a similar problem. My Dell Inspiron will not operate if I put a battery in it with the AC adapter. The AC Adapter shorts out as soon as I put the battery in. I have to unplug the adapter from the wall plug and the computer and remove the battery to get the computer to operate on AC power. It will also operate on a battery without the AC adapter...but obviously I can't recharge the battery. Very strange. I have tried everything I know to do:

1) Tried different AC Adapters (3 different adapters do the same thing)
2) Replaced the battery with a new one

Dell's wonderful tech support says that it is the motherboard. I have already rebuilt one Dell laptop (Inspiron 3800) with a used motherboard with great success. I am hoping there is a way to fix the power issue on this laptop without buying another motherboard. Will flashing the BIOS with a newer version help? It is currently running A03 and Dell is recommending A06 for better battery life. One catch on that - the BIOS update wants a battery and an AC adapter before it does the flash. I would appreciate any ideas or suggestions.



Brendan Falvey Aug 08, 2005, 05:41pm EDT Report Abuse
>> Re: Failure to power up -- Dell Inspiron 4150
Without knowing a bit more about the low voltage selection between battery and the AC adapter power supply i am guessing. However, on the assumption that they would reduce costs to a minimum it would be kept simple and cheap. It is unlikely that they would use a mechanical switch when the battery was inserted (but it is possible). The most likely switching would be using steering diodes. Either way i would be looking very closely at the switching/steering/selection circuit for either failure and or short circuits.

You will need to find the affected section of circuit and check it and the components out.

remember switches can be either open or short but must be capable of switching between the two states. Diodes must conduct in one direction only not both. maybe if a joint has been "dry' it may have been overheated and run between to other contacts shorts between conductors anything at all that would bypass the intended operation



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