Yay! Thanks for the insight dwb. I cracked open the MBA and found the adujstable screw. It turns out you can adjust it with the battery in, so I fiddled with it while it was running and tried to find the sweet spot. Adjusting the screw definitely affected the frequency of the phantom clicks, and I'm pretty sure it's fixed now. Thanks a bunch!
For those of you who have this problem and don't mind opening up your laptop yourself:
- On an MBA 2011, you'll need a #5 pentalobe screwdriver to get the bottom case off, and a T5 (six-sided) to adjust the trackpad screw. I have a nice set of electronics screwdrivers with both from ifixit.com.
- Once you get the bottom case off you'll see the screw in question just to the south of the battery array, centered at the bottom of the trackpad.
- As you tighten or loosen the screw, you should be able to feel how it affects the "clickiness" of the trackpad. Too tight, and the trackpad will lock up, too loose and it will just depress without a click.
- I found that in order to get rid of phantom clicks, I wanted to get that screw as loose as possible without making it so it couldn't click at all.
- Although I'd be careful with this, you can run the MBA with the bottom case off, so you can play with the trackpad tightness live, and try to find the sweet spot.
- Also, this hopefully goes without saying if you are feeling up to opening up your computer, but make sure you have a static bracelet and are using properly. The last thing you want is to open it up and fry something important with a static discharge. You can get those from ifixit.com too, but also pretty much any computer store.
Thanks dwb and delventhalz – your guidance really helped! The only thing I'd add is a warning not to over-tighten the screw. It's easy to do so because there isn't much tactile sense that its been tightened to its intended limit. Because the screw's head is no larger than its threaded part, there's nothing to prevent it from being tightened all the way through and beyond the female threads in the chasis. In that case, it'll get stuck and you'll have to partially remove the trackpad to retrieve the screw.
Anyway, just follow dwb and delventhalz's lead, be careful not to overtighten, and you should be good to go!