I seem to be repairing quite a few out of warranty Mac’s over the last month. I’m not particularly adept at fixing Mac’s, i’ve never been on a course, however people I talk to never believe how simple sometimes it is to fix a Mac. They always think they have a million parts, requires a soldering iron (never needed to use one yet) or you need a PhD in fixing computers to Mac them work again. This isn’t always the case. Most of the time, with the right guide, a little bit of patience, you can fix your own Mac, even the fiddly bits. Once you have all of the parts you can have your computer working within the hour. This mini guide is a list of things I have compiled to help you get your Mac working again.
Make Sure It Is Out Of Warranty/Apple Wont Fix It
The first step is to make sure your Mac is out of warranty or Apple wont fix it for free. If you want to check that your Mac is still in warranty the best place to check is Apple’s coverage site. The last thing you want to do is take your Mac apart and find Apple could have fixed it. I’m pretty sure taking your Mac to pieces will void the warranty.
If it is out of warranty and you have a major problem, check with Apple anyway. Some times they can fix your Mac for free. Checking with them shouldn’t take too long, a trip to an Apple store, or by ringing there phone number. By checking them you also get to see how much it will cost them to fix it. It may be cheaper for them to fix it than yourself, as well as this you also get a diagnosis of what is wrong. Note that Apple Care from Amazon is usually cheaper.
Diagnose The Problem
This step is either the easiest or hardest problem. There are many ways to solve this problem and it will all depend on what problem you are having. One route to finding a solution is to use Apple’s Hardware Test, a read me is found here. This may help diagnose problems relating to specific bits of hardware, although not always perfect it can point you in the right direction.
One of the best ways to help find a solution to a hardware problem is to search for it. If you have a problem with a piece of hardware, odds are, some one else has had it before you. Combined with the Apple Hardware Test you can find exactly what is wrong. Find and ask as many people as possible to narrow it down to a single component. Having help by going into an Apple store is always a bonus.
Most problems are pretty obvious to identify. If you Mac doesn’t boot, there is a logic board or CPU problem. If it boots but doesn’t run very well, it again could be a logic board or CPU, but can also be a RAM or Graphics card. Finally if you Mac boots into the desktop, but runs slow it is usually a Hard Drive or RAM issue. If it is an obvious problem such as no sound, lack of Wi-Fi, BlueTooth or disk drive, its pretty self explanatory.
Find The Solution
If you have found the source of your problem you now need to fix it. Since I am talking about hardware problems the solutions tend to be simple. Find the part that is wrong, swap over part, and then boot your Mac hoping it will work again. The best guides are from iFixit. They have sections on Powerbook’s, iBook’s, iMac’s, MacBook’s and MacBook Pro’s and Mac Mini’s. Simply find your model (there may be different parts in each model) and then the guide for what you want to fix.
There is other guides out there and it is worth searching for them if iFixit doesn’t have the one your are looking for. However on all the repairs and replacements I have done, iFixit have been exemplary.
Find The Part and Tools
Now you now what to fix and how to fix it you need the parts and tools to get the job done. From a quick Google search providers such as Powerbook Medic, for people in the USA and VIS or TheBookYard for people in the UK. It really doesn’t matter where you get them from as long as they will fit. Make sure you are buying the right part by checking part numbers. Its always worth looking at pictures to make sure they look at least right. I don’t recommend places such as eBay although you may feel otherwise. My friend has had a couple of bad experiences, so trust who you are buying from.
At this point you have to determine if the part you are buying is worth the cost. For example an Apple repair for a screen may be $400 (I have no idea i’m just hypothesizing) or $300 by doing it yourself. You now have to take the gamble, is it worth doing it myself? if the part particularly tricky or complex? Items such as screen or parts that are fiddly may not be worth doing yourself. Have a good read of the guide that you find and see if your skill level is high enough for the job in hand. Items such as logic board and cables are pretty easy since its only involves screws. Screens, on the other hand, can be a real pain and may not be worth you undertaking them. You also have to consider the age of your computer. Is paying $300 for a component worth it when you could buy a new one. Although a new one will be more expensive, in the long run you new Mac will last a lot longer. Putting a lot of money down on a 6-7 or even older make will probably not make sense.
Once you have the parts ready its also worth buying the correct tools. There is a lot of screws of different sizes in a Mac. Read through the guides to see what size screw driver you will need (iFixit are particularly good at this). My top tip is to always have the tools ready and the correct tools. There is nothing worst than having your computer in pieces and having to rush to the shops at the speed of light to get a screw driver set (personal experience talking here). Again, Amazon comes up with the goods ith Maxtech 32-Piece Precision Bit Set and Screwdriver Set for $3, even if you use it once stretching to $3 for the correct tools isn’t that much.
Once you have the parts and pieces you are ready to insert your new hardware. One top MacTricksAndTips tip, when taking out screws tape them to the step on the guide you have printed out . Then when you put your Mac back together you know you haven’t lost a screw or wondering where it goes when you have one felt over.
When you are all done you have to start your Mac up again. This is where you pray to the computing god and hope that you have replaced the right part and done it correctly. If it went well and you have diagnosed the problem correctly most of the time it will work. This is why you have to decide if replacing the part is worth it, you don’t want to spend lots of money only to find it is the wrong part and your Mac still doesn’t work, or there is bigger problems. If all is well you can continue using your Mac another day. If it doesn’t you may have installed it wrong or there may be a deeper problem at heart and professional help should be sought.
Fixing your Mac can be really simple and cheap. If you have a good grip on the problem and know what you are doing fixing a faulty component is a good way to get your Mac back up to speed. On the other hand if it doesn’t work, what you have replaced, it can be a lot of wasted money.
There is not a lot more I can write without going into massive detail on every component. This post is designed as a general guide for people who don’t no where to start. Make sure you do your research and read as much as possible. The only book I can find is Upgrading and Fixing Macs and iMacs for Dummies on Amazon, but I can’t vouch for its quality. If you have any questions or comments, please leave one using the box below.