Help! Question about Dell laptop not charging


Over the past several months my laptop has become finicky with charging its internal battery. For awhile it would only charge up to 90%, 80%, 20%, then magically back up to 100%. Lately it was stuck below 10%, and always says "plugged in, not charging" when I hover over the battery icon. The 10% eventually whittled away to nothing and the computer would completely shut off whenever not plugged in using the AC adapter.

I bought a brand new battery, thinking it was a problem with the old one. The new battery is recognized, and did charge up twice, but for the past days has sat with the "plugged in, not charging" message.

I don't know if it's a problem with the DC jack or the motherboard. I will say that there is a slight delay when I plug the AC jack in--about 2 seconds elapse before the computer lights up and realizes its plugged in. So perhaps that's indicative of an internal jack problem? At the same time, my computer is five years old so perhaps the motherboard is just burnt out at this point.

What do you recommend? Should I investigate a dock/external battery charger? (Though I'm not sure where to find one compatible with Dell Lat 520). Should I open up the computer and check out the DC jack and motherboard? Or should I just say hey, five years is more than most people get out of a laptop, and spring for a new one? I'd rather not do that because apart from this power issue my computer works very well. Please advise me on what to do.
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  1. Best answer
    In cases like this, the first thing to do is replace the battery and see if the problems persist. You already did that, and they did, so then the next step would be to replace the motherboard as there seems to be something wrong with the charging logic. There's also a small chance that your AC adapter is damaged and not supplying sufficient power to run the unit and charge at the same time. You can test this by shutting the unit off, leaving it all plugged in, and coming back in 2-3 hours. The battery should be either fully charged or very close by that time, and so if it is not significantly further along in the charging process, you may want to find someone with a multimeter to test your AC adapter and make sure it's putting out what it says it should on the label. If that tests out fine, it would be time for a new motherboard or some kind of external charging solution.
  2. Thank you for your response. I used a multimeter and the AC adapter is putting out appropriate power, so it's either a problem with the motherboard or the internal jack. I'm thinking the latter, as I've managed to charge the battery up to 100% since posting but now it again reads "plugged in, not charging." Any other ideas please feel free to share!
  3. Best answer selected by carolynl.
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