Liquid damaged MBP works with external keyboard/mouse - salvageable?

I was given a Macbook Pro that is liquid damaged (with what liquid, I'm not sure). It still boots up and the OS seems to run normally, but there is no response when you 'click' the trackpad (though you can move the cursor around the screen) and the keyboard has some faulty keys (volume up/down do not work, ESC key lowers volume, etc).

With a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the computer runs normally.

I took it to a shop and had them run a diagnostic - they said that the upper case and trackpad needed replacing, and basically it wasn't worth the cost of them fixing it. They also said that replacing those two things was no guarantee that the problems would be fixed - they said it may be the logic board.

My thoughts are that if the computer works fine with an external keyboard/mouse, it's an indicator that the logic board and memory are most likely fine. Am I wrong in this assumption?

I would like to try replacing the upper case/trackpad, and probably upgrade the RAM to 8GB while I'm inside. But before I drop ~$500 on parts, I would like to know if my reasoning is sound, or if there's a more-than-likely chance I'm throwing $500 bucks down the drain.

Any advice, thoughts, information is extremely appreciated. Thanks!

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After less than $200 in parts and tools and 2 hours of nervous assembling and disassembling, the computer is fixed!! Thanks Ifixit!

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Both you and the shop have some misconceptions.

While I'm sure the shop wanted an escape clause in case the damage had gotten to the logic board the fact your keyboard and track pad does function is a good sign the damage is localized in the Uppercase.

In your case the fact an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard works doesn't mean the logic board is not damaged as the internal keyboard & trackpad connections are independent of what the USB or Bluetooth connected devices.

Once you open things up you should then be able to tell how much damage is present and if you need to do some cleaning (distilled water & Isopropyl alcohol). You might be able to fix the trackpad saving you some money. I wouldn't waste the time pulling the keyboard apart. Good Luck

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In other words, an uppercase replacement will most likely work for you: MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Mid 2009 Upper Case Replacement

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Thanks for your time and advice Dan!

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