Can bad CMOS battery cause laptop to shut down?

By fw2004
Jan 31, 2013
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  1. Hi;
    I have a 11yr old Dell Inspiron 8100 Notebook computer. It started shutting down mysteriously while working, and sometimes shuts down a second or two after powering on.
    I was planning to scrap the thing, maybe try to sell it for parts on Ebay, but decided to take one more look.
    Today I found that the CMOS battery (reserve battery) is bad. It is leaking but has not damaged anything.
    Could the fact that this battery is bad (maybe shorted) cause the computer to shut down as I described?
    Since I have the whole thing dis-assembled I can replace the battery easily. I found them on Ebay but not sure I should buy one there, since it could be an old battery that is no good.
    Any ideas?

    Thanks

    FW
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 20,732   +156

    The CPU cooling fan may be worn out and the thermal pads and paste may be seriously burned and dried out. I doubt if the laptop parts would be worth much because of the age...
  3. IvanAwfulitch

    IvanAwfulitch TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 239   +11

    A bad CMOS battery will not cause a shutdown. But a LEAKING CMOS battery can cause damage to the mainboard. If you see areas where the copper in the board is dark, or the board is discolored, it's very possible that the battery fluids have corroded the motherboard. And this could prevent a boot.

    But, since you say that your computer can sort of work, (or at least judging from the way you wrote it), the damage might not have been serious enough or maybe there is an ancillary cause is giving you these symptoms.

    Most commonly these sorts of shutdowns are heat-related, either from fans failing/being clogged with dust or from thermal compounds becoming worn out and in need of replacement. Replacement fans are easy to find on Amazon for 10 bucks, and thermal paste is a 5 dollar item.

    It might be time to weigh your options here. If you don't think there's anything you can safely do to fix it, then it's probably not worth it, and you should consider buying a new laptop and salvaging your data. But if you think opening your lappy up and applying some paste is a doable option for you and you've got nothing to lose, then it might be worth giving it a shot to try and save it if you're too attached to want to throw it away.

    11 years old is quite old, even by my standards. And my machine has been running for 5 years now. If it were me, I'd finally give in and admit maybe it's time to shelve it for good. The fact it has been running this long is admirable, but you're cutting it a little bit close in terms of the computer's life-span. Solder joints, thermal grease, wiring patterns... none of it was meant to last forever. 10 years is the outer limit for most systems.
  4. fw2004

    fw2004 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 203

    Thanks guys;
    It's probably not worth the trouble. I don't have any lost data on the HDD, as I have already connected it to my desktop and retrieved all that I need.
    I also replaced the thermal compound with Arctic Silver, and the fans are turning. The thing is, the shutdown often occurs so shortly after power up that I doubt it could be heat related.
    The last time I wanted to use the machine, it was during the week long power outage caused by Sandy. We had a generator running, but I didn't want to keep it running at night, and I could not charge the battery in my UPS, as it would not accept the generator power (need a UPS with power conditioning, or a genny with an inverter).
    Other than that, as you stated, the laptop is so old that it's not very useful for much anymore.

    FW
  5. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,596   +79

    Most of those type of batteries could be replaced if you know the right voltage. Since most were basically watch size batteries packed in a shrink wrap. Depends on what you have there. I knew my old Tecra 4000 made in 1998 still ran all the way until 2011 with no issues. Today just not worth keeping those around again. PII 266MHz and 256MB of RAM.


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