How come my laptop works for a while and then stops after I dropped it?

by on January 5, 2009

Q: Like many other people here, I’ve been stupid enough to drop my laptop and it’s stopped working. However, the symptoms are slightly different in my case.

First, the laptop: IBM thinkpad T42

Second, the fall: from a bed. So, about 2.5-3ft. The computer was ON :o( but hibernating.

Third, and last, the symptoms: When I first woke it up from hibernation, everything seemed normal, password screen, desktop, stupid life-consuming game was happily minimized, DVD in the drive was detected. Then, it all went black. So I turned it off. And since then, I’ve had several attempts at turning it back on, with mixed results. Sometimes I get through to the password screen, and it goes black. Other times, it doesn’t quite get that far. But the fan always comes on, the hard drive sounds ok (to me- but I never listened to it that closely before now).

So… any ideas about what might have happened and whether its completely dead?

I’d be immeasurably grateful for any advice.

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13 Responses to “How come my laptop works for a while and then stops after I dropped it?”
    Picked as best answer

    There is cable inside your laptop which connects the screen to the motherboard; it may have come loose when you dropped your laptop. Luckily, this kind of damage is repairable in many cases.

    It is also possible that the graphics chip in your laptop has been damaged. Sadly, the only way to replace a broken graphics chip in most laptops is to replace the entire motherboard.

    For more info on possible causes/solutions, I recommend that you read:

    Does this help?


    Hi Robert,
    Thank you very much for your suggestions. I’ll see if I can find the cable you’ve mentioned. Could take me a couple of days to get my act together though, as I’m working long hours these days.

    Oh and…

    Is there a way to test whether the graphics chip is broken?

    Thanks again!



    The same exact thing happened to me last month. I dropped my laptop off the bed, as well. When I would turn it on it would go completely black sometimes after 10 seconds, sometimes immediately, sometimes 30 minutes.. never consistent. after a couple days of this, I got the idea to remove the battery. I removed the battery and replaced it, making sure there was a tight connection, and I have not had a problem since. Apparently the jolt from the fall caused the battery to get loose.

    Just a suggestion. Its easy enough to try. Good luck!


    Hi Ed,

    If you are able to successfully log into Windows while connected to an external monitor, we can make an educated guess that your graphics chip is NOT broken. On the other hand, if you cannot successfully log into Windows while connected to an external monitor, we can make an educated guess that your graphics chip IS broken. Let me know what happens…

    PS: Brandy’s suggestion is definitely worth a try.

    Best Regards,


    Hi BrandyW!
    Thank you very much for your suggestion too. Both of your suggestions were just the kind of thing that I was looking for- frequent causes of faults following a fall.

    However, I now appear here, head held low, tail between legs, feeling slightly- no, very- embarrassed (and equally relieved!). Because last night when I started to carry out the above suggestions and opened up my laptop, the only thing that I found to be out of place was a stray piece of packaging that once contained a recent RAM upgrade. It was one of those little shiny dudes that, I would guess, protects hardware from the evils of static. Not sure how it got in there, or even whether it was actually causing the problem. But what I do know is that since I removed the foreign object, the laptop has worked perfectly (apart from one crash, while in ‘safe mode’ which confused me slightly but we’ll overlook- it’s been fine since).

    My current hypothesis is that the fall caused this little piece of packaging to move from an un-intrusive position, into one that my laptop didn’t like quite so much. For whatever reason.

    For the sake of curiosity, is it possible to access some kind of error log, so that I can perhaps see what was going on when my laptop was playing up?

    Finally I’d like to say that…

    This is my first ever use of such a forum and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how eager people are to help. Maybe I was naive to expect anything else! But thanks go to both Robert and BrandyW for their suggestions and also to the admin team for their slick running of this site.



    Hi… just to say thanks for your new suggestion Robert! I think the messages are appearing slightly out of chronological order, which is why you weren’t directly thanked in my last post.

    Anyway… as I waffled about in said post, the problem is now ‘fixed’! Hooray! Back to the ‘life-consuming’ computer game!



    Hi ‘Geeks’! :o)

    The quest is back on!! Hurrah!! To put a positive spin on things. Maybe I should have seen it coming… what can I say apart from that I was blinded by optimism..? My laptop has returned to the grave once more- the original fault is back with a vengence after 2 days of normal operation.

    Of the suggestions made so far I can eliminate the battery-connection as a cause. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the cable which connects the monitor to the next random computer-part (;o) and I haven’t had the chance to test it with an external monitor- I will deal with these things shortly (starting with a more thorough read of the (riveting) T42 manual.




    Let us know what happens with your other tests.


    So… an update regarding the tests.

    The battery is fine.
    When the machine had crashed, an external monitor showed no picture.
    I still haven’t tested the cable for the LCD screen.
    Recently, I got some ‘error beeps’… one long plus two short. This coupled with a blank screen, according to Lenovo/IBM, suggests a problem with DIMM, system board or monitor.
    I’ve downgraded the RAM to the old one that the machine came with, and it’s been working OK since… although it did crash when I tried to make it hibernate.
    For this reason, and also due to previous instances where it’s shown a temporary improvement, I’m not going to be convinced until it’s been running, without problems for a few weeks.


    Oh and… for good measure.. thanks again for your suggestions and continued interest!

    Much appreciated!



    Ok, I’ve tried all those things. The fault is still intermittant, but seems to be exacerbated by movement (of the laptop- which is of some hindrance, obviously). When the laptop crashes, it normally continues to crash shortly after being restarted until the RAM is re-seated. Then, usually, it works OK for a while. When it crashes, there is no picture on an external monitor. If it crashes during video playback, the sound continues, so the film is still playing. My theory is that it’s the graphics chip, but when I fiddle around with the RAM, i.e. by re-seating it, there is an indirect affect, which sorts things out temporarily. As for the apparent ‘movement sensitivity’, I have no credible ideas about the reason behind this… it’s just my observation… and there is a strong correlation- no I haven’t done any statistical analysis ;o)

    Do you agree that it sounds like the graphics chip is faulty? And if it’s the graphics chip, can I try anything to fix it?




    To me, it sounds more like the RAM slots than the graphics chip. It doesn’t really matter though, because the solution is the same for both problems — replace the motherboard.

    Due to the complexity of modern computer design, replacing the motherboard will be both less expensive and much more effective than trying to repair the damaged parts. According to my research, even experts in micro-electronics would hesitate to attempt repairing the damaged parts.

    I recommend that you contact Lenovo, to learn the location of the nearest authorized repair center for your laptop. If having Lenovo repair your laptop is too expensive for you, you should be able to find a replacement motherboard on eBay.

    I know that you would have preferred an easier solution to your laptop problems. But the sad fact is laptops are very fragile, and easily damaged by falls.


    Thanks for your recent post Robert. I’m inclined to agree with your diagnosis and suggested course of action.

    Thanks also to everyone else who read my post and offered advice. It was all very much appreciated.

    I am going to get in touch with Lenovo and see what they say.