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13" MacBook Pro Mid 2009 Service Battery Alert

5401 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Apr 8, 2013 3:14 PM by Arhsmacdude RSS
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hotwheels 22 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Oct 20, 2012 10:17 AM

i have the above MBP and have basically been crying in my beer for the last two and a half years about battery life. i have brought it into the mac genius bar at least three times asking that they check things and each time i get some answer that basically equates to "looks OK to us".


as a new user i am aware of the fact that i originally had a bad driver from HP that would affect the computer negatively when there was a large print queue and i am aware of the fact that Parallels may drain the computer more than normal. i am also something of a power user and tend to keep open a lot of programs.


HOWEVER, i have never gotten more than 1 1/2 hours when surfing the internet or more than 3 1/2 when doing absolutely nothing (i test this by turning on after shutdown and full charge with no startup items listed).


i have applecare coverage until january.


is there anything i could or should do when i bring this in again? from my perspective this "pro" line computer has been underpowered from the get go (i put 8 GB of RAM into it after using it a year) and the battery life seems just inexcusable to me.


TIA and sorry if that sounds a bit "vinagery" because i am just trying to troubleshoot things here. computer cost me a couple of bucks and buying the pro line i thought i had things covered...

Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.4), with 64 bit Win7 in Parallel
  • Arhsmacdude Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
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    Oct 29, 2012 4:41 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    I never get more than 2 hrs battery life on mine, and now I am only getting 60-90 minutes between charges. it takes 2-3 hrs to charge it as well! i tried to visit apple with an appointment, and they left me waiting for over an hour without even noticing that I am annoyed with them...


    I have noticed that my laptop has broken down a lot more frequently than my last two macs ever did (PowerMac 6500/250, and iBook G4 [early 2004]), so I'm quite curious about why the 2009 macbook pro breaks down so often...

  • Poikkeus Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 29, 2012 10:10 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    I was also bothered by the promises of a long battery, so I investigated it systematically. Apple uses a simple equation for determining battery longeivity: I used the same criteria Apple used to gauge battery life. Monitor at half-power, no background processes going, internet on, Safari on (and on the Apple website), and Energy Saver and screensaver off. At that time, my battery was pretty fresh, but not new. Promised battery life, seven hours.


    My actual battery life: almost seven hours.


    This isn't to discredit your experience. But in order to address Apple's kneejerk response, "I see no problem here," you have to fight statistics with statistics, data with data. If necessary, hang around in the Genius Bar with a stopwatch and duplicate your results so they can't be denied. If your battery is a little older, say you'll be satisfied if it lasts four or five hours.


    If you're only getting one or two hours, I'd say that's a problem.

  • Poikkeus Level 4 Level 4 (2,775 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 29, 2012 10:59 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    If you have a service battery alert, you're in a quandry. Apple staff will say that the problem with the battery resulted from typical use, and is therefore normal. Your only option is to get the battery replaced...and then go to the Apple Store/Genius Bar with a stopwatch and an attitude. Bring a friend or two as witnesses. And try not to be surprised when the battery fails to last a couple of hours.


    If the battery test fails, I know exactly what they'll say. "Huh. Failed battery. We'll install a new one." You'll get an unending set of replacement batteries; then, they'll say it's some kind of hardware problem. None will be found. Apple staff is well-schooled not to give in to the idea that the MBP itself is the problem. In that case, you're going to have to escalate your strategy in a way that forces the Store to admit there's a problem. Don't exclude legal options. That's when management starts paying attention.


    But your first step is to get a new battery and perform a battery test according to Apple's criteria: monitor at half intensity, no background processes on, internet on, Safari on, Energy Saver off and screensaver off.

  • Arhsmacdude Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
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    Oct 31, 2012 11:27 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    i discovered that my issue was software related... apparently folding at home was causing my computer to display 'service battery' and using 100% of my cpu (100% of the time)... once I uninstalled it, my computer stopped acting weird!

  • patrickegan Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 29, 2012 1:26 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    Had the same problem "Service Battery" and wasnt getting more than 1 - 1.5 hours fortuneately my Mid 2009 macbook pro 13 was still on apple care. But you dont go to the apple store cause the "genius" there will not have a clue and is instructed not to help you. Find a local authorized apple service place in town. We have two and I get service at the counter in 2 minutes. My guy looked at it figured Ive still got apple care. Ordered me a new $200 batter and installed it the next day. Done!  BUT I still dont get more than 3 hours Oh well, Next year its time for our regular family hardware rotation. I'll get a new one, wife gets mine kid1 gets hers, kid2 gets kid1's and the oldest one goes to craigslist.

  • Arhsmacdude Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 31, 2012 2:02 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    the really stupid part of my problem was that it was some app i installed on my computer that caused my problem. I found a program called 'battery health' that tells me the age, and remaining lifespan of my battery. i found out that my battery is perfectly fine, and still has 88.6% life left (4828 mAh of 5450 mAh left), and its 3.1 years old! if my battery needs to be replaced, its $329....

  • G4V Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 13, 2013 3:40 AM (in response to Arhsmacdude)

    Hi Arhsmacdude


    Would you mind telling me what app it was that was causing the problem?


    I have very similar symptoms to those you describe on a mid-2009 mbp 17 running 10.8.2 with 8Mb of RAM (installed a few months ago myself). The battery is around 2 1/2 years old (the original was replaced after 11 1/2 months under warranty) and generally reads around 78% health and drains at an acceptable rate (but nothing like as slowly as when I first got it and - more importantly? - when I was running the 10.5 it came with) but the machine simply cuts out unexpectedly. It does this both when it is plugged into power and when on battery. When it is plugged in, it restarts itself; if on battery, it usually (always???) needs to be plugged in to restart. Either way, when it comes back up, the charge level reads as 0% (even though it may have had significantly more charge just before the failure), I get the Service Battery! message and the battery health shows as much lower than before (I have seen as low as 17% but sometimes it just drops into the 60s). After a good long charge (or two), the battery health shows in the high 70s (or even low 80s) again and the Service Battery! indicator disappears. Then, a day or so later the whole cycle repeats itself.


    I have taken it several times to my local authorised repair centre here in Leeds, UK. They have tested it extensively (keeping it over night) and have always concluded that the battery health is fine. I realise that there is a chance the problem relates to the motherboard but I am hoping it is not as this would be very expensive to replace with no Applecare cover and so I am considering replacing the battery to see what happens (even if it doesn't solve the problem, I figure having a replacement battery ready for a time when it will be needed can't harm, especially as I like the 17" screen and so plan to run this machine a while).


    However, if it is a software issue that can be resolved by simply uninstalling some software, this would be the perfect result. I have installed a number of apps and widgets over the last few months (including the Battery Health you refer to, which is useful as you say). So, please let me know which was the offending app for you in case I have installed the same one!


    One of my favourite features of this laptop is that you can simply leave it to sleep itself or fold it closed and come back to it whenever you want, knowing it will instantly fire into action. I am now almost definitely finding it dead and needing to plug it in and boot it from scratch (or from hibernate state or whatever you call it when the screen shows as kinda white and the counter has to get from the left to the right before it will respond). So, please help.

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