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MacBook Air shuts down suddenly

For a couple weeks the Macbook Air has been shutting down suddenly. It might work fine for a few hours, then the display goes black and it’s shut down.

To restart it, I have to wait a few minutes, or unplug the Magsafe and then plug it back into the computer, at which point it starts up. After the first shutdown like this, the second usually comes faster, e.g. after 15-20 minutes.

What I have done:

1) reset the SMC and PRAM.

2) used the Air with the battery unplugged; it seemed to fix the problem, so I bought a new battery, which works fine, but the sudden shutdown problem has reappeared.

3) replaced the I/O Board cable.

4) removed the internal SSD and started the Air from an external disk.

The problem persists, though.

At this point, what do you think?

I/O Board?

Thermal paste on the processor/heatsink? (The Air doesn’t get really hot.)

Or the logic board itself?

At this point I’d like to try to fix it without replacing much, due to cost.

I’ve seen in the guides that replacing the thermal paste is a fairly long procedure, but if you think it might be the problem I would try that first.

Many thanks.

Update (03/07/2020)

Ok. Here are pics from Coconut Battery and TG Pro. Thanks for any help.

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Install this app to monitor your thermals TG Pro See if ramping up the fan helps.

I also tried to do the Mac Hardware test (boot with D) and ran the extensive test, but both times the Macbook Air turned off during the test.

I originally tried to increase the fan speed, using Macs Fan Control to set a higher constant speed. But the Air shut down anyway.

OK, Lets check the battery & charger. Install this app CoconutBattery and post a snapshot of the main window 기존 질문에 이미지 추가하기

I would still install TG Pro as well as it offers better clarity on whats happening.

I used Coconut Battery right after installing and charging the new battery. Said the battery was 7300 mAh, 100% of original capacity (1 charge), condition "Good".

To check the battery, I ran a video on loop for hours and let it run out. I checked it after about 4 hours and it was still going, so I left it. When I came back the comptuer was off, but I don't know if it shut down suddenly or because the battery ran out.

I recharged the battery and found that the sudden shutdown problem persists, whether on battery power or charger.

I go back the trying to understanding whats happening thermally. Without a snapshot to review I really can't help you.

Think of it like calling the doctor telling him you have a bad cough, he asked you to take your temp to see if you have a fever and while you have it, you don't use it, and you asked again doc what should I do?

How can the doctor advice you without some data? You could have many different ailments and have no means to reduce the possibilities with such a simple test as taking your temp.

So what do you think we need here?

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Problem solved!

I disassembled the Macbook Air and removed the logic board, but after close inspection there didn’t seem to be any corrosion or liquid damage.

I removed the heatsink and found that the original thermal paste had dried up and it came away in little chunks. There was probably little cooling at all.

After cleaning heatskink and processor, and applying fresh thermal paste, the Air booted up next time and seems to be working fine. Temperatures are normal even under heavy workloads, and I haven’t had any sudden shutdowns since. It’s been a couple days now and it looks to be working well again.

Seems like a logical fix now, but I hadn’t thought of it earlier. Would recommend it as one of the first things to look for on older laptops.

Thanks for your help.

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Hi, curious as to how your Macbook is doing now - are the random shutdowns gone completely?

I’m having problems very similar to what you describe, started having random shutdowns plugged in or not, and follow up shutdowns more quickly and more frequently. I’ve tried a whole bunch of things (test different battery, reinstall OS, boot from external SSD, run in Safe Mode, commons fixes for the Thunderbolt extension shutdown issue), but nothing has worked consistently.

It’s gotten so bad that I’m about to get a new laptop (which I guess is reasonable after 9 years of good service from a mid 2012 rMBP), but I stumbled on your post and would love to hear how this is working for you and if it’s worth me giving it a shot.

Follow up to my post above:

To anyone with a similar problem checking to see if this worked - it did! (At least so far.) I replaced the thermal paste on the CPU and GPU and turned on aggressive fan controls to see if cooling was the issue, and I haven't had a shutdown in 5 days so far.

I was a little thrown off by my shutdown codes, since they never indicated any issues with CPU temperature, but it seems like CPU overheating was the issue. There is a shutdown code for CPU overheating, so a bit confusing/frustrating the system didn't list that, but glad it is working now.

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It looks like your systems fan has failed! Note the fans speed is 1998 RPM which is the off condition.

At this point I would try running the onboard diagnostics to see if we get any errors. Restart the system and press the D key alone. You may want to chill the system before you run the test.

I would also open the system up and blow out and dust buildup within the fan using a small soft paint brush and a very short blast of can’ed air, too hard a blast of air can also damage it!

Here’s the needed part: MacBook Air 13" (Late 2010-2017) Fan

And here’s the guide you’ll need to follow: MacBook Air 13" Mid 2011 Fan Replacement

MacBook Air 13" (Late 2010-2017) Fan 이미지


MacBook Air 13" (Late 2010-2017) Fan


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Thanks. I don’t know about the fan. When the problem first started happening I thought it might be overheating, so I used SMC Fan Control to keep the fan at a constant 4000 rpm, for example. The computer ran pretty cool, and I thought it might be fixed, but the shutdowns started happening again. I tried it again now and it raised the fan speed to a constant 4000, no problem. Temperature says 102-106 degrees F.

I just ran the onboard diagnostics and it said no problems found.

I’m wondering about the I/O board. In particular, the fact that the computer turns on by itself when I plug in the Magsafe adapter.

First I would stop using SMC Fan Control. I often find people misuse it so the fans are over stressed needlessly! I prefer something that only alters the fan when a thermal threshold has been achieved based on the thermal sensors Vs trying to be smarter than the system. I use and recommend TG Pro and for just $10 its worth it!

I'm happy to hear diagnostic was able to run without error. Even still diagnostics can only go so far. So I won't dismiss what TG Pro is telling us even when you force the fan to 4k RPM's

As far as the I/O board being a factor here unless you have corrosion or other liquid damage I just don't see it. If you did have some damage then I would replace it MacBook Air 13" (Mid 2011) I/O Board Otherwise I would do a bit deeper inspection of the main logic board looking for corrosion damage.

Thanks. I had a look a good look at the logic board and there's some discoloring near the fan. Might be corrosion, but I've never spilled anything on the keyboard.

In the picture above, for the Fan replacement guide, the light colored part to the left of the fan, around the screw, is "stained" a copper color. So it looks like corrosion. I hadn't noticed it before. Might be moisture, because as I said I haven't spilled any liquid on it.

Is there any way to save the logic board?

Yep! That's corrosion! And yes the logic board can likely be saved. At this point you need to find someone near you who has the skills to clean the logic board and if needed replace the damaged components.

Thanks. I checked with the person who'd been using the Air the last couple months and he says that he didn't spill anything on it, BUT he often used it to listen to music in the bathroom while showering. So that would probably account for moisture.

There's discoloring on the metal ring-shaped parts around 3-4 screwholes on the logic board. So, at this point, what?

I assume I'll have to remove the whole logic board. But then, what's the best to clean it? I have pure alcohol and demineralized water, canned air, etc.

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