Apple offers replacements for swollen 13-inch MacBook Pro batteries

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited April 2018
Apple on Friday activated a new hardware replacement program targeting an issue that causes the internal battery of certain non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pro models to expand.

MacBook Pro non Touch Bar


According to documentation provided by Apple, the new replacement program covers 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar models impacted by what appears to be a battery manufacturing flaw. The company is offering free battery replacements to customers with eligible hardware.

Apple narrowed the component flaw down to a batch of MacBook Pro units produced between October 2016 and October 2017, and subsequently sold throughout the world. The exact nature of the problem is left unmentioned, though battery expansion woes are nothing new for manufacturers companies relying on lithium-ion technology.

The program covers affected MacBook Pro models for five years after initial retail sale, suggesting the program will run into 2022. Apple says hardware warranties remain unaffected by the policy update.

A number of MacBook users have reported similar issues on Apple's Support Communities forum, with some complaints referencing 17-inch MacBook Pro models last sold in 2009.

Users who believe their 13-inch MacBook Pro suffers from the described swelling issue can check eligibility by plugging in their device serial number on Apple's dedicated replacement webpage. This information can be found by navigating to Apple (logo) > About This Mac or on the underside of the computer near its regulatory markings.

Eligible MacBook Pro units can be taken to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple retail store for replacement services. Alternatively, customers can mail their device to the Apple Repair Center. Those who have already paid for a battery replacement, and believe their machine falls within Apple's eligibility guidelines, are urged to contact customer service for reimbursement.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Last year, I had a swollen battery on an older (early 2011) 13" MBP. I know it would not be eligible (and I have since traded it in anyway), but I wanted to mention this just as FYI:

    My old 13" did not hold a charge, and I knew battery was getting old, but it was mostly being used on charger at a desk, so I was not worried about the battery issue initially.

    The symptom that I ran into was that the trackpad stopped working--it wouldn't click anymore. I thought it might be a bad trackpad (hinge or something), but when I opened it up, I saw the swollen battery, which was pressing against the trackpad, preventing it from clicking. A new (3rd party) battery fixed it (and was actually fairly easy to do), but that was the sign that it was time to get a new one...

    Ended up getting a non-touch bar 13", so its good to know about this warranty program, so I can keep an eye this one!
    hexclockseanismorriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    I had to replace a swollen MBP battery several years ago (with the same trackpad problem described above), and at the time the guy in the Apple store told me it was my fault for leaving the laptop plugged in after the battery was fully charged. I pointed out to him that all of the laptops in the store were also plugged in with charged batteries, but he stuck to his story. The replacement eventually swelled too, but fortunately these batteries were easily removable, so I just took it out and gave up on batteries for that one. 
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 3 of 15
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,861member
    I had to replace a swollen MBP battery several years ago (with the same trackpad problem described above), and at the time the guy in the Apple store told me it was my fault for leaving the laptop plugged in after the battery was fully charged. I pointed out to him that all of the laptops in the store were also plugged in with charged batteries, but he stuck to his story. The replacement eventually swelled too, but fortunately these batteries were easily removable, so I just took it out and gave up on batteries for that one. 
    Hahaha...I guess the guy has never heard of a "trickle charge" to keep the battery charged while plugged in. I hope he doesn't work there anymore. 
    retrogustowatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I had to replace a swollen MBP battery several years ago (with the same trackpad problem described above), and at the time the guy in the Apple store told me it was my fault for leaving the laptop plugged in after the battery was fully charged. I pointed out to him that all of the laptops in the store were also plugged in with charged batteries, but he stuck to his story. The replacement eventually swelled too, but fortunately these batteries were easily removable, so I just took it out and gave up on batteries for that one. 
    Leaving the MBP plugged in to power continuously can wear the battery out in a fairly short time (I mean that in the sense of someone who uses their MBP as if it were a desktop computer so it just sits there for a couple of years, plugged in). That won’t necessarily cause the battery to swell but can result in a battery that just won’t hold a charge. However, over-charging is one reason why batteries swell so perhaps the guy at the Apple Store was just confusing the two.

    Side note: if you have a MBP that has a swollen battery AND that battery caused additional damage, like breaking the trackpad and/or the top case it isn’t uncommon (though not guaranteed) for Apple to replace the trackpad and top case at no charge when you pay to replace the battery.
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 5 of 15
    I had to replace a swollen MBP battery several years ago (with the same trackpad problem described above), and at the time the guy in the Apple store told me it was my fault for leaving the laptop plugged in after the battery was fully charged. I pointed out to him that all of the laptops in the store were also plugged in with charged batteries, but he stuck to his story. The replacement eventually swelled too, but fortunately these batteries were easily removable, so I just took it out and gave up on batteries for that one. 
    Leaving the MBP plugged in to power continuously can wear the battery out in a fairly short time (I mean that in the sense of someone who uses their MBP as if it were a desktop computer so it just sits there for a couple of years, plugged in). That won’t necessarily cause the battery to swell but can result in a battery that just won’t hold a charge. However, over-charging is one reason why batteries swell so perhaps the guy at the Apple Store was just confusing the two.

    Side note: if you have a MBP that has a swollen battery AND that battery caused additional damage, like breaking the trackpad and/or the top case it isn’t uncommon (though not guaranteed) for Apple to replace the trackpad and top case at no charge when you pay to replace the battery.
    Most likely the “guy” was misinformed.  He was thinking about the older type of batteries.

    With Li Ion batteries you leave them plugged in.  Batteries have a limited number of “cycles” unplugging uses those cycles, and that reduces the batteries longevity.

    If there’s a flaw in the battery it’s going to swell regardless.

    If you had a removable battery, your best bet is to disconnect the battery after charging it 50%.  Unfortunately that’s not possible for “modern” MacBooks.  Then when you need the machine portable, plug the battery back in, charge it, and away you go.

    That’s also true if you’re storing electronic devices for long periods.  Charge them to 50% first.  

    The information is available on Apple’s website.

    Soliretrogusto
  • Reply 6 of 15
    netroxnetrox Posts: 739member
    My MacBook Pro 13" without Touch Bar was swollen and had the battery replaced. Here's the thing, I leave mine running ALL the time, plugged in in clam mode. I always use my external keyboard and trackpad. Then one day, I decided to take my laptop for my road trip and noticed that the keyboard felt weird and not clacky or clicky as I expected. The trackpad was basically nonfunctional when it comes to clicking. And I also noticed how the lids were not completely shut. Then I realized that mine was swollen! Also, I suspected there's an issue with SMC (power management) but I couldn't replicate since it was random - it wouldn't wake from sleep or lose connection to devices and so on. So I took it to Apple and they replaced it. The keyboard worked as expected and trackpad functional. But there was an unexpected issue, it crashed frequently for no reason. I upgraded my MacBook with faster and better features, basically topped out Pro and paid only the difference. And now, I am using my MacBook Pro with no issues since then. No unexpected crashes and the SMC seems to be working fine, always recognizing my devices as expected and powers down or up correctly. I suspect the MacBook 13" without Touch Bar has some internal issues.
  • Reply 7 of 15
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,806member
    I had to replace a swollen MBP battery several years ago (with the same trackpad problem described above), and at the time the guy in the Apple store told me it was my fault for leaving the laptop plugged in after the battery was fully charged. I pointed out to him that all of the laptops in the store were also plugged in with charged batteries, but he stuck to his story. The replacement eventually swelled too, but fortunately these batteries were easily removable, so I just took it out and gave up on batteries for that one. 
    Leaving the MBP plugged in to power continuously can wear the battery out in a fairly short time (I mean that in the sense of someone who uses their MBP as if it were a desktop computer so it just sits there for a couple of years, plugged in). That won’t necessarily cause the battery to swell but can result in a battery that just won’t hold a charge. However, over-charging is one reason why batteries swell so perhaps the guy at the Apple Store was just confusing the two.

    Side note: if you have a MBP that has a swollen battery AND that battery caused additional damage, like breaking the trackpad and/or the top case it isn’t uncommon (though not guaranteed) for Apple to replace the trackpad and top case at no charge when you pay to replace the battery.
    Most likely the “guy” was misinformed.  He was thinking about the older type of batteries.

    With Li Ion batteries you leave them plugged in.  Batteries have a limited number of “cycles” unplugging uses those cycles, and that reduces the batteries longevity.

    If there’s a flaw in the battery it’s going to swell regardless.

    If you had a removable battery, your best bet is to disconnect the battery after charging it 50%.  Unfortunately that’s not possible for “modern” MacBooks.  Then when you need the machine portable, plug the battery back in, charge it, and away you go.

    That’s also true if you’re storing electronic devices for long periods.  Charge them to 50% first.  

    The information is available on Apple’s website.
    Here's the link that reiterates the quoted data:

    retrogusto
  • Reply 8 of 15
    shevshev Posts: 80member
    I had to take mine in for a swollen battery, the bottom was no longer sitting level on a table top and would rock slightly. Wanted it for 5 days to replace it but I couldn’t because of work issues so will bring it back in when I’m quiet. Said they will replace the lower case, keyboard and trackpad as part of the repair and it’s all glued together as one unit.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,768member
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.

    Now, less than two years in, we have a manufacturing issue. These things happen and I'm ok with that but I've had two swollen batteries (not manufacturing issues) on laptops and could easily replace them myself. Also an iPad Nano that had a possibly defective battery (and potential safety issue) as part of an extended warranty programme.

    I hope someone at Apple and every other manufacturer with glued in batteries begins to question the practice and starts designing machines that make battery replacement less of a headache and less costly should you need to change one out of warranty.

    As things stand now with these MBPs, It seems if you have issues with the top plate, keyboard or battery, the whole piece needs replacing. Not sure if the trackpad is also affected in this change.

    If adding 1 or 2mm to the design can make things easier to replace I'd accept that over the downtime and cost (out of warranty) of the current options.

  • Reply 10 of 15
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,806member
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.
    Who made any claims that Apple wouldn't ever have any HW issues? It's a consumer electronics company FFS. Even if you bought a Rolls Royce, which isn't mass produced and very much handcrafted by today's standards, there's always a risk of someone not working. Being better doesn't mean infallible.
    macxpressStrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 15
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,570member
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.

    Now, less than two years in, we have a manufacturing issue. These things happen and I'm ok with that but I've had two swollen batteries (not manufacturing issues) on laptops and could easily replace them myself. Also an iPad Nano that had a possibly defective battery (and potential safety issue) as part of an extended warranty programme.
    1) Who, exactly, claimed this? Or are you just tilting at windmills again?

    2) What makes you think these batteries aren't readily serviceable? At this point I think we're all familiar with appliance computing and bringing in a notebook computer for service is no different than brining in a faulty iPad. I don't expect to service my iPad and I'm not particularly bothered by that.

    3) Don't you ever get tired of looking for ways to shit on Apple on an Apple site? 


  • Reply 12 of 15
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,768member
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.

    Now, less than two years in, we have a manufacturing issue. These things happen and I'm ok with that but I've had two swollen batteries (not manufacturing issues) on laptops and could easily replace them myself. Also an iPad Nano that had a possibly defective battery (and potential safety issue) as part of an extended warranty programme.
    1) Who, exactly, claimed this? Or are you just tilting at windmills again?

    2) What makes you think these batteries aren't readily serviceable? At this point I think we're all familiar with appliance computing and bringing in a notebook computer for service is no different than brining in a faulty iPad. I don't expect to service my iPad and I'm not particularly bothered by that.

    3) Don't you ever get tired of looking for ways to shit on Apple on an Apple site? 


    1. 'who exactly'? LOL. I am not going to rummage through hundreds of posts to find out who exactly. Just take my word for it.

    2. So 'bringing in a notebook computer for servicing is no different to bringing in a faulty iPad'? Really? What do you think my entire point was? That said,  If I change the battery on an iPad, do I leave the store with just a new battery or with other components also necessarily changed as a result of the design? This is a legitimate question. I have never changed the battery on an iPad.

    3. As an Apple user, I have an opinion and a right to express it. Considering my reply to this point, ask yourself why it didn't begin: "don't you ever get tired of ..." and just flip the omelette on you.
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 13 of 15
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,768member
    Soli said:
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.
    Who made any claims that Apple wouldn't ever have any HW issues? It's a consumer electronics company FFS. Even if you bought a Rolls Royce, which isn't mass produced and very much handcrafted by today's standards, there's always a risk of someone not working. Being better doesn't mean infallible.
    Ah, yes. I know that. Many people know that, but that didn't stop some here from making claims that no one could possibly verify as the machines hadn't and still haven't been on the market long enough to know.

    We also know that Apple (and other manufacturers) know the problems that lithium battery problems pose for the integrity of the rest of the machine. Apple chose to run with the design and swallow the costs in case of failure (be it a manufacturing issue or a chemical/environmental one). That is, the costs of servicing machines under warranty. Out of warranty though, Apple's design decision promptly passes those costs onto the user.

    As far as I know, there is no clear warning to the user at time of purchase that in case of battery replacement, the entire top case, keyboard (and trackpad?) as well as the battery will need replacing. I just know you will fluster and take that sentence out of context if you reply. "Jesus, now you are saying Apple needs to notify users of out of repair costs and make them sign a letter of acceptance" LOL. I am NOT saying that - and you know it.

    You might counter with something like 'the user doesn't need to be aware of those details as the battery will last x years'. Just like many right here said when these machines were released. Now, unless those users are able to see into the future, how can they possibly make those statements? They even said they would last over 5 years.

    Blind faith?

    Like Apple has a stellar track record with batteries, right?

    Would you accept there is reasonable doubt?

    If Apple were so confident with their battery tech they could offer lifetime warranties on them. They aren't, because they know batteries don't last forever. In a best case scenario, it will just stop working well. In a worst case scenario, it will swell and take out other components with it. It doesn't matter if you catch it just when it happens. You aren't going to escape replacing the other parts (if they are even available by then!)

    Now, why not do a survey and just ask any late 2016 and 2017 model owners if they are aware of what is involved in a battery swap on those machines?

    You don't like this line of thinking because you see it as 'pissing' on Apple. It's an opinion. You should accept it as such. It is shared by other Mac users too. It's not 'pissing' or 'shitting' on Apple, it's wanting a 'better' machine. Better in the sense that swapping out a battery doesn't require changing other components. I don't want a MBP ''appliance". Is that so hard to understand? Not at current prices anyway. If they cost the same as an iPad it might be different.




    edited April 2018
  • Reply 14 of 15
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.
    Who made any claims that Apple wouldn't ever have any HW issues? It's a consumer electronics company FFS. Even if you bought a Rolls Royce, which isn't mass produced and very much handcrafted by today's standards, there's always a risk of someone not working. Being better doesn't mean infallible.
    That is, the costs of servicing machines under warranty. Out of warranty though, Apple's design decision promptly passes those costs onto the user.
    This is not true. If a swollen battery is the direct cause of damage to the other components then Apple replaces the other components at no charge. If the computer is out of warranty the customer pays only the cost of a battery replacement (typically $129 in the U.S.). 
  • Reply 15 of 15
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,768member
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    avon b7 said:
    This is truly unfortunate but when numerous people here questioned the use of ultra glued in batteries on these models we were told in no uncertain terms by some people that this wouldn't happen because Apple had this tech under control as it were, they wouldn't need replacing as they would easily last more than five years etc.
    Who made any claims that Apple wouldn't ever have any HW issues? It's a consumer electronics company FFS. Even if you bought a Rolls Royce, which isn't mass produced and very much handcrafted by today's standards, there's always a risk of someone not working. Being better doesn't mean infallible.
    That is, the costs of servicing machines under warranty. Out of warranty though, Apple's design decision promptly passes those costs onto the user.
    This is not true. If a swollen battery is the direct cause of damage to the other components then Apple replaces the other components at no charge. If the computer is out of warranty the customer pays only the cost of a battery replacement (typically $129 in the U.S.). 
    This is interesting but there are problems.

    I have not been able to find specific information regarding these models, just Retina MacBook Pro general references and the price for those battery replacements is a whopping 199 dollars. More in Europe of course due to sales tax.

    I got this from an Apple Discussions thread dated Dec 2017.

    https://support.apple.com/mac/repair/service

    So Apple is still passing costs onto the user but not as much. 

    Then you need the parts themselves which are Apple only. When the battery on my 2006 MBP damaged the unit I could get a compatible battery but no repair because it was considered vintage. The worst thing about that problem was that I think the 2006 MBP was also subject to a warranty extension program but the period expired months before I noticed any problems. I was registered with Apple, have AppleCare on every mac I've ever had and no one from Apple so much as sent me an email informing me there was a potential issue. I can't remember if that extension was for the battery or something else.

    I still prefer 2mm more or whatever it takes on the size of the machine to  easily swap in a compatible after market battery of my choice. I think my 2011 MBP battery cost me around 50 euros. It is still my main machine but probably vintage or near vintage for Apple. There are still plenty of options on the open market though so I'm fine on batteries for that machine.

    Still, thanks for the input. It's worth knowing. Next time I'm at an Apple Store I'll to get a real price but it is far more expensive than the cost of the battery itself.


    edited April 2018
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