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Dell Precision M4400 Laptop turns on for seconds then shuts off

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Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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March 15, 2013 7:42:41 PM

So I have read many similar forums on this but none with my exact blinking lock code. The background is I was simply using my laptop when the screen froze and started making all kinds of beeps so I hard shut it down. Then when I tried to restart it, it will act like it's turning on and the fan starts spinning and then it turns off. This whole act lasts for like 3 seconds. Also after it shuts down, the caps lock button blinks 23 times before staying lit. I want to check all other issues before deciding it's a bad mother board. I heard bad memory modules could cause this so I took out one and tried starting again. Same thing. Then I took out the second one and replaced it with a brand new memory module and it now lasts like 10 more seconds before shutting down. Even with the 10 extra seconds nothing appears on the monitor to do any BIOS checking steps. Now after it shuts down, the caps lock and scroll lock stay lit while the num lock flashes 23 times before staying lit as well.
a c 248 D Laptop
March 15, 2013 7:48:36 PM

Hi :) 

Sounds like a temperature problem.... does it run for longer if left to cool down overnight ?

All the best Brett :) 
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March 15, 2013 7:48:59 PM

oh and by the way, it was now just turning on then off, on then off repeatedly until I removed the power in case that gives anyone any ideas.
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March 15, 2013 7:50:52 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Sounds like a temperature problem.... does it run for longer if left to cool down overnight ?

All the best Brett :) 


Hi Brett,
Well it didn't this morning and this started to happen just yesterday.
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a c 248 D Laptop
March 15, 2013 7:51:18 PM

Hi :) 

Go into Bios (if you can) and tell us what temp it is ??

All the best Brett :) 
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March 15, 2013 7:59:45 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Go into Bios (if you can) and tell us what temp it is ??

All the best Brett :) 


Oh I left out some information that is useful. I plug in my power supply and the LED on my laptop does not light up to show that it is being charged. It is not the power supply though since I tried another one that I know works. And Brett can't even get that far :( . Nothing will come on the screen.
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a c 248 D Laptop
March 15, 2013 8:02:14 PM

Hi :) 

Test the genuine power supply with a VOLTMETER...

All the best Brett :) 
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March 15, 2013 8:12:58 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Test the genuine power supply with a VOLTMETER...

All the best Brett :) 


Do you mean like check the wall outlet? I just checked that and the output of the power supply with a voltmeter and it seems to be working.
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Best solution

March 15, 2013 8:37:33 PM

vpursley said:
The background is I was simply using my laptop when the screen froze and started making all kinds of beeps so I hard shut it down. Then when I tried to restart it, it will act like it's turning on and the fan starts spinning and then it turns off.

vpursley said:
Oh I left out some information that is useful. I plug in my power supply and the LED on my laptop does not light up to show that it is being charged. It is not the power supply though since I tried another one that I know works. And Brett can't even get that far :( . Nothing will come on the screen.

Sounds like the DC input on your laptop died and it switched over to running on battery. If your screen brightness setting under battery power is the same as for AC power, a lot of times you will not notice when this happens (e.g. the power plug falls out). The laptop switches over to battery and slowly drains it. The laptop beeping like crazy was the low battery warning. With older batteries a lot of times Windows will go straight from the warning to a shutdown, which would be consistent with the freeze you experienced (laptop tries to dump memory to a hibernate file, and the disk activity prevents you from doing anything).

If the DC input is busted, your battery is not being charged. And since it is drained, the laptop is only turning on for a few seconds - long enough to detect the drained battery and shutting off.

Easy way to test if this is what's happening is to try to start the computer without a battery. Test the output from the AC adapter with a voltmeter as Brett suggests. You plug the adapter into a wall socket, then touch the voltmeter leads to the outside and inside of the plug which goes into the laptop. You should get a reading of around 19 V (whatever is written on the brick). Once you've confirmed the adapter is working properly, plug it into the laptop. Remove the battery and try starting the laptop on just AC power. If it doesn't start at all, then most likely the DC input is busted.

If this is the problem, good news is it can usually be fixed. Sometimes a pin in the power jack has come loose or broke off. Sometimes the internal transformer (for converting 19V from the AC adapter to 12V, 5V, and 3.3V) has blown. So fixing it just involves swapping those parts, not an entire motherboard replacement.

Bad news is you have to pretty much disassemble the laptop to get to these parts, so you're looking at a high labor charge. And the M4400 is pretty old. It may be difficult to get the parts. Worst case the transformer will be built into the motherboard, and there's no way to fix it without swapping the motherboard.
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March 15, 2013 9:30:24 PM

hmmm now that is something I have yet to hear as an option. Thank you Solandri. I will look into that. And yes I have tried powering on without the battery and it lasts the 10 or so seconds before shutting down so it does still start but I will look into this nevertheless.
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April 7, 2013 3:18:31 PM

vpursley said:
So I have read many similar forums on this but none with my exact blinking lock code. The background is I was simply using my laptop when the screen froze and started making all kinds of beeps so I hard shut it down. Then when I tried to restart it, it will act like it's turning on and the fan starts spinning and then it turns off. This whole act lasts for like 3 seconds. Also after it shuts down, the caps lock button blinks 23 times before staying lit. I want to check all other issues before deciding it's a bad mother board. I heard bad memory modules could cause this so I took out one and tried starting again. Same thing. Then I took out the second one and replaced it with a brand new memory module and it now lasts like 10 more seconds before shutting down. Even with the 10 extra seconds nothing appears on the monitor to do any BIOS checking steps. Now after it shuts down, the caps lock and scroll lock stay lit while the num lock flashes 23 times before staying lit as well.


vpursley said:
Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Sounds like a temperature problem.... does it run for longer if left to cool down overnight ?

All the best Brett :) 


Hi Brett,
Well it didn't this morning and this started to happen just yesterday.


I have had the m4400 since it came out about 6 years ago. This same problem happened to me twice in the last 6 years and has JUST happened to me again yesterday. The first 2 times Dell replaced the motherboard (they stated that was the reason why it wouldn't turn on). Each time they replaced the mobo, it worked fine. Now that I'm way past the 4 year warranty, I have to take it somewhere and hopefully it won't cost much to replace again. If not, guess I'll have to save my pennies to go shop for a new laptop.
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