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Dell Latitude Laptop loses power when physically moved

Posted on 2014-01-16
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I have a Dell Latitude laptop computer (almost 3 years old) that frequently loses power.  It does best when it is sitting still on a stable surface such as a desk.  However, when I attempt to move it it often loses power and dies.  I hear a short little whistling sound which I think is the hard drive shutting down.

Upon restart, I get the black and white screen saying that windows did not shut down properly, and asking if I want to start in safe mode, or start normally.  I always start normally, and once Windows boots up, I don't receive any other messages regarding any software/driver issues etc...  I've checked the critical event logs, and it's not shutting down due to an overheated processor.  I've also run some memory diagnostics and no issue there.

Yesterday I completed a fresh re-install of the OS (Win7Pro), and still encountered the problem multiple times after the install.

Does anyone have experience with this?  Is it just faulty hardware and I'm out of luck?
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Question by:Matt Johnson
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by:remmett70
ID: 39785466
How far is it being moved?  Sounds like it is losing power when being moved.
 
Is the battery good?
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Expert Comment

by:Surrano
ID: 39785499
We've had a similar issue with D830. It turned out to be the metal frame (a thin band actually) underneath the keyboard. Part of it bent from horizontal to vertical position; causing the wireless card to fail (since it happened above the wireless card). Imagine the same thing happening at a more crucial place, e.g. around the battery cabling.

This happens very easily and not trivial to detect. My only clue was that the keyboard, while removed easily, was pretty hard to fit back to its place. When I fixed the bent part of the metal, both the keyboard went in like knife through butter and the wifi worked like charm.

Another possibility is overheat. Once we found a 2mm thick layer of domestic dust (looked like a cloth) right inside the vent grate.
Use CPU-Z and GPU-Z to monitor your system temperature and clocks.
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/SysInfo/GPU-Z/

Finally; does this happen when you are on battery power, AC power or both? it may help us figure out.
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Author Comment

by:Matt Johnson
ID: 39785623
It happens on both A/C and battery power.  Far more frequently on battery power, but my suspicion is that is only because I move the machine around more frequently on battery power.

It doesn't have to be moved very far, and it's inconsistent.  sometime if i just pick it up 2 inches off the table it will crash, other times I will move it all over (shake lightly) to try to make it crash, and it wont do it.

As far as I know, the battery is fine.  I don't think it's a battery issue, because I was able to replicate the problem with the battery completely removed from the machine, running purely on A/C power.

Regarding CPU temp, I too was suspicious of that, and I have had the notebook crash due to an overheated CPU, and I know that because it shows up in my logs.  However, I've also monitored the logs after some of these crashes and there's no record of an overheated CPU.
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by:Surrano
ID: 39785689
I wouldn't exclude the possibility of this past overheat causing permanent damage in the motherboard (or cpu for that matter). Try Dell diagnostics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avbZHNtV528

Also, you may try memtest86+ that is present on most recent Linux install / live cds.
Try to disable cpu cache if you can and see if it improves the situation.
Remove all but one RAM modules if there's more than one to see if crash is related to one module or to one socket only.
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M Roe earned 167 total points
ID: 39785717
I had a D830 that had a screw come loose inside the laptop.  If you moved it it would shut off.  I shook the laptop and heard the screw.  Finding it was a pain but when I did everything worked great from that point on.

Mike
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by:nobus
nobus earned 167 total points
ID: 39787941
as you see from the above, best open the laptop and inspect it - or have a shop look into it
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Author Comment

by:Matt Johnson
ID: 39794338
I opened up the laptop as far as I dared to do myself.  Took the whole front and back panels off, and gave it a close look.  I could not see anything abnormal.  After putting it back together it has crashed again at least once.  I'm still not able to "make" it crash, which doesn't help solve the problem.  

Oddly it crashes most consistently when I just close the screen and it goes into hibernate mode.  Sometimes it crashes right away, often later, but when I get it back out (the next day, or days later) it almost always boots to the error screen that says it wasn't properly shut down.

I have not run the recommended memory test at this point.  I will try to do that this week.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 39794363
i doubt it's a memory problem, it looks more like a bad contact, or short
have a shop look into it
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Assisted Solution

by:Surrano
Surrano earned 166 total points
ID: 39794910
Technically I'd take it into the shop as well. But I'm the curious type and that's why I can understand if mattej1 really wants to solve the issue himself (herself)
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by:nobus
ID: 39796179
>>  I opened up the laptop as far as I dared to do myself.  <<   did you turn it over, to see or hear anything moving?
did you see any possible loose cable or contact?

>>  Oddly it crashes most consistently when I just close the screen   <<  this often points to a broken lcd cable, or the connector coming loose  -verify both
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Author Comment

by:Matt Johnson
ID: 39831735
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

It seems consensus is to take it to a shop, which makes sense to me.  However the problem is not persistent enough at this point to merit spending the money to do that.  I am deleting the question.
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by:nobus
ID: 39831736
since that was suggested -  may i ask why you don't hand out points?
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