I fixed a laptop with WD40

May 10, 2020

This is not a joke. I knew not what to expect when opening the little fella, but WD40 turned out to be the right tool for the job. Why? well, let's get cracking, shall we?

The patient arrived in my bedroom/office/gaming area at around 14:00, showing symptoms of mechanical failure. Well, not exactly, a few days ago the owner wanted to show me there's a crack on the plastic cover and upon further inspection, the bottom part of the screen cracked and folding the laptop became scary. Nightmare fuel. You could see its insides between the screen and the front bezel and it looked like parts were flopping uncontrollably. I said I'd take a look, but in all honesty, I had no clue if I would be able to revive the beast.

Right, 14:00, my room. Step 1. I grab my precision screwdrivers (of which, the exact Philips head I needed was missing... so I had to look for my backup set). I begin by unscrewing the patient's back cover. I need to get to the screen and just figure out what's going on there. Any promise I would make now that I can fix it is vain, for I know not what is wrong. It is clear to me the hinges are covered behind several components, and I don't want break anything.

Step 2. RTFM. Fortunately there is a service manual available online (observation, keeping physical copies around is not worth the space). I Scroll down throgh pages and pages of obligatory legalese in several language until I reach page 33. That's where the back cover removal begins. The LCD starts on page 51 and lists as a requirement removing all previous components.

Step 3. I get to work, screw by screw, connector by connector. I slowly take out everything, and the work is smooth. Really, removing components on a laptop is not difficult. As long as soldering is not involved anyone can do it. I had suspected this repair would not involve soldering and I was right.

Step 4. It is time to separate the two parts of the laptop and I'm stumped by an instruction to turn the hinges. Soon I realize this is the problem. The hinges are stuck. Holding all fragile parts together I manage to move the hinge in a position where I could separate the two halves and get to work removing the bezel of the LCD.

Here's the bastard (should have checked the image quality before I continued fixing). This guy is A. Stuck and B. Actually broken off from the piece of plastic it's supposed to be fixed to. Step 5. If it's loose: duct tape, if it's stuck: WD40! And it works! After letting it dry for a few minutes I can move the hinge again. I also learn that I can adjust the tension of that screw and allow it to move easily, even if it's not properly affixed to the body of the device.

Step 6. Hang on, it's just plastic that is broken off. Parts looked broken off when I started this endeavor. A little bit of super glue can't hurt. There's nowhere it can leak from over where I need it even if it somehow melts, and I don't plan on adding a ton anyway. This should be a benign addition and scores plenty of internet meme points. WD40 + super glue in the same laptop repair job!

Step 7. Putting it back together. It is as straightforward as you can expect, as well as I test the hinges constantly after every component. They seem to hold. I did of course lose 1 screw. Lesson learned. Bring out a magnet and use it to store screws before the job starts, not only to find the missing piece afterwards.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Apparently laptops can sometimes (very rarely) be fixed with WD40 and super glue. Who would have thought.