How to Repair an IBM Thinkpad

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How to Repair an IBM Thinkpad

After a period of time, any laptop needs at least a small repair. Repairs are usually costly due to the hours a technician needs to dedicate, so owners can save a lot of money if they repair their own laptops. Some repairs are simple, other are a bit more complicated, but none are impossible for the average user. With a few helpful tips and some basic knowledge in electronics, users can diagnose and repair almost any computer problem. An IBM Thinkpad is not a basic machine, but its advantage is its size. The average Thinkpad is not that small, so users can easily work on them without worrying about absolute precision.

Prior to Start

The first thing users should do is to turn off the power before attempting any hardware repairs. Shut down the machine, unplug from the power source and remove the battery. To be safe press and hold the power button to drain any residual electricity in the laptop's capacitors.

Additionally, users should make sure not to introduce any water to the electronic parts. Keep the hands dry or use gloves at all times. Water can both corrode and short-circuit any electronic component. If there is dust on the components, do not try to blow it away as the breath contains moisture and can cause more harm than good. Instead, use a can with compressed air to remove dust.

Keyboard Repair

The amount of use a keyboard serves over the years makes it one of the first things to break down. The keyboard also suffers from spills, dust accumulation and other harmful exposures, as it is the working surface of the laptop. Users need to remove the keyboard prior to attempting any repair. The screws on the bottom of the Thinkpad hold the keyboard in place, so users need to unscrew them first. Afterwards, flip the laptop over and use a prying tool to loosen it. Lift the keyboard gently, locate the ribbon cable underneath and remove it from the motherboard's end.

If the keyboard is sticky, soak and wash it with warm water and detergent to dissolve all undesirable substances between the keys. Leave it to dry for a few days and install it only when it is completely dry. Avoid risking additional damage by tampering with the keyboard. If the keyboard is unresponsive or if one cannot effectively wash it, the next logical step is to replace it.

Replacing RAM Memory

If the RAM memory is causing trouble, there are two ways of approaching the problem. Depending on which model is in question, the Thinkpad comes with or without a separate RAM lid. When the Thinkpad has a separate RAM lid, users should unscrew that section, push apart the retaining clips on the RAM and replace the module. If the Thinkpad has no separate lid for the RAM, the procedure becomes more difficult. In these scenarios, users usually need to take the laptop apart, as it is located under the keyboard.

Replacing HDD or Upgrading to SSD

Normally, a hard disk drive needs to be replaced before it stops working permanently. The drive lies right under the back lid, so users need to unscrew it to gain access. An additional screw might be holding the drive in place, so do not try to force it out. Find a replacement drive with the same dimensions. This is important, as any component in a laptop is a tight fit. Those that wish to upgrade to SSD should first examine if the motherboard can support it. If unsure, check the laptop manual for instructions.

Repairing the CPU

With dust accumulation, the processor starts to lose its ability to regulate its temperature. This can make the computer slow down in an effort to cool off, which can ultimately lead to a CPU failure.

To remedy this, users can attempt to clean the excess dust from the CPU cooler. This procedure is not as easy as it sounds. Users need to disassemble the Thinkpad, remove the RAM, remove the BIOS battery and unscrew the various guards placed on the processor and its cooler. Then they can clean the cooler with a can of compressed air and try the same thing on the processor. In situations like these, it is highly probable users need to renew the thermal grease between the CPU and the cooler. The grease comes in small tubes and is inexpensive, but its effects are instantly visible when applied.

How to Buy Thinkpad Replacement Parts on eBay

There are many Thinkpad generations and a huge number of different replacement parts you can acquire online.


's large network of vendors can provide almost any part you might need. To locate offers on the parts you need, simply use the search bar on any eBay page. Type in the name of the part along with the word '


' as a query. See the descriptions on each item, and find the one that fits your model. The subcategories and the filters help narrow the list. Consult

eBay's Deals

page as well. Spare parts are not that common, but you might get lucky and find an offer on laptop batteries.

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