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Inspiron M5030 Intermittent short

By kschaffner ·
Greetings, I should state that I have been a technician for 6 years now and have a good knowledge base for repair. Onto the issue! I have a Dell Inspiron M5030 laptop that has an odd intermittent short. Some history, last week the computer would not draw power from the ac adapter (ac adapter tests fine and tried others) but would power on and run just fine from battery. I disassembled the computer and busted out the multimeter. I traced the power from the dc jack all the way through the battery circuit and pretty much the entire board and everything checked out. I unplugged the ac adapter and hooked up the battery and traced it as well nothing seemed wrong. Upon plugging the AC adapter back into the unit it began to start charging and working as it should. I assumed (bad idea, I know ) that there was just a residual charge in a chip that I cleared with the multimeter. Now 1 week later it is doing the same thing. Traced the power and voila started charging again. There is a grey chip near the DC jack that I was getting the 19.58v on one side and not the other and the chips on the other side were getting the ~12v from the battery. Upon moving my multimeter to the other side of the chip I got a small spark and then the unit started to charge again. Do you think that this is my culprit? I have posted an image to show you where the chip in question is.

Thanks for your time!

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All Answers

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Cracked Part or Fractured Solder Filet

by TheChas In reply to Inspiron M5030 Intermitte ...

The part you are pointing to in the image looks like a capacitor. The part on the other side of it is a diode. It might be a reflection in the image, but I would inspect PL4301 under magnification for a fracture.

If the part is not cracked, I would next inspect the solder filets for the DC power jack. It does not take much of a fracture of a solder filet to make for an intermittent connection.

Not sure if Dell makes use of the switch function available in some power jacks. Could also be that the switch contacts are going bad.

Looking closer at the image, it looks like the power jack to the right of your arrow. At least 3 of the solder filets look suspicious to me. Do not attempt to repair the solder filets if you do not have the correct tools or skills. You can cause more damage.

Speaking of skills, from your description, you have an intermittent open circuit and NOT a short. Shorts **** fuses and damage parts, much like the spark you had when you shorted out a circuit with your meter probe. An open will sometimes make contact and allow the circuit to work for a while.


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by kschaffner In reply to Inspiron M5030 Intermitte ...

The part you are referring in to which looks like a reflection is actually a reflection on the PL4031 part.

The DC jack itself always puts out voltage and it doesn't fluctuate at all when moving it around while plugged in.

I've replaced a lot of jacks and that was my initial assumption was the cause due to the unit working with battery. But it wasn't that since I was getting power out of it like I said above.

This is also the first time getting a spark of the PL4301 part but I wasn't touching anything other than it. It was directly perpendicular to the part. The unit has been working fine now for 36 hours. Do you think that the PL4301 capacitor is the issue at hand?

Thanks again,


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L usually means inductor

by robo_dev In reply to Inspiron M5030 Intermitte ...

and the P designation on that board means power.

If something started working when you touched it, most likely either the part is cracked or the solder joint is. There are no big electrolytics there, so I would doubt you discharged a cap. I would start by looking at that part with a magnifier and/or touching up the solder connections.

Call me crazy, but on your photo it _looks_ like there is a crack in the solder shoulder of PL4301.

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Magnification required

by mjd420nova In reply to Inspiron M5030 Intermitte ...

The adapter jacks are subject to getting jammed, making the small built in switch intermittent. The other fault, a cold solder joint can create some strange problems, such as you are seeing. The point where your contact with the meter probe may cause the cold joint to make good contact OR the meter you're using is creating enough of a bridge to allow things to restart properly. I would suspect the cold joint to be the major problem unless your meter is one of those that loads the circuit and allows a voltage bridge, a common problem with the cheap meters.

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