why does my d400 random shut off

Dell Dell latitude d400, d500, d600, d80...
January 12, 2011 at 00:35:14
Specs: Windows xp 32x, d400. 1g ram
hello. i have had my dell d400 laptop for years and years. for the last 6 months or so it has been randomly shutting off. i have spent countless hours of trial and error and research to fix this. and nothing has worked. i know for a FACT its not over heating. and my ram is working perfectly. its not a virus. my power supply works perfect. what happens is. i turn it on and it will shut off at random times . even when its been on for 5 seconds. sometimes it will run for a week and be fine. i can run CPU intensive things on it and it is fine. then BAM. turns off. it has no rhyme or reason too it that i can tell. the fan works fine. it wont over heat but sometimes when it turns off i cant turn it back on for a few seconds. after a while it would not turn back on at all and the caps lock would blink. so i replace a ram stick and that seemed to fix it. and my laptop started to run faster for a while. then 5 hours later. it shuts off randomly again. and now it wont turn on for longer than a few seconds. can somebody please give me something new to try ? anything?

its running win xp btw. currently running 1g stick of ram.

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January 12, 2011 at 09:32:37
How are you determining the CPU is not overheating ?
Are you examining the current CPU temp in the bios when you have problems ?

You have not mentioned replacing the main battery.

Laptop no video (or video problems), and battery, AC adapter, power jack T shooting.

See response 1:

If there is nothing wrong with your AC adapter or it's connection and the jack in the laptop.......

Laptop main batteries usually work as they should for a year or so, then they begin to rapidly deteriorate. From what I've seen, by two years they cannot be charged to anywhere near their full capacity, and it gets worse after that.
They often develop internal shorts when they are older. If the battery gets HOT rather than just warm after you have attempted to charge it for at least a half hour, or after you have been using the laptop for a while with the AC adapter plugged in, it's definitely internally shorted and you must replace it. Internally shorted batteries getting too hot have been known to cause the laptop to catch on fire.

Tips about battery charging problems on Dell laptops - may apply to other makes.
See response 3 in this by iTech:

Installing (a) different ram module(s) should not have made any difference (unless doing that increased the total amount of ram) , unless you were experiencing ram errors previously.

See response 2 in this - try cleaning the contacts on the ram modules, and making sure the modules are properly seated:

For a laptop, or netbook, you must remove both its main battery and AC adapter before you do that.

For a brand name computer, see the Owner's or User's manual if you need to - how to remove or replace the ram is usually in that - it may already be in your installed programs. If you can't get into Windows, it may be on a disk that came with the computer, or you can go online and look at it or download it - it's in the downloads for your specific model.


Some ram manufacturer's modules do not strictly adhere to the JEDEC standards that most mboards bioses use to determine ram settings.
In that case, the ram settings in the bios Setup that the bios has automatically chosen may not be correct.
Check the ram settings in your bios - the ram voltage, and the ram timing numbers - those should be the same as for the specs for the modules themselves. Often the ram voltage and timing numbers are printed on the label on the modules.

If the voltage setting or timings settings in the bios are different from the specs for the ram, change them in the bios. The timing numbers must be as close as you can get to the same, or slower timings (higher numbers = slower) - you won't notice the difference the slower settings make.

If you have a mix of different modules
- don't mix ram that different voltages are specified for - the bios will force the ram to use the lowest voltage, if "by spd" or similar is used (default settings) - ram that a higher voltage is specified for is more likely to not work properly in that situation.
- the bios settings must be those for the slowest timing settings of all the modules, or slower (higher numbers = slower).

If you do a ram test, do that AFTER having tried cleaning the contacts and making sure it's seated properly.

Test your ram.

If you want to try a memory diagnostic utility that takes a lot less time to run a full pass than memtest86 does, this one is pretty good - Microsoft's
Windows Memory Diagnostic:
Windows Memory Diagnostic is limited to testing only the first 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM.
It can be toggled (press T) to do a standard or a more comprehensive set of tests - use the default 6 test one first - if it passes one pass of that, use the latter one. A few of the tests in the latter set are intentionally slower.
If you don't have a floppy drive, see the Quick Start Information at that Microsoft link for how to make a bootable CD of the Windows Memory Diagnostic (you need Windiag.iso - you don't necessarily need to use the program they mention to add it to the CD).


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January 12, 2011 at 09:35:42
already did that but thank you. main battery is fine. it random shuts off when using AC and main battery. ram is fine. the plugs are fine. already ran memtest. so none of that is the problem. i have seen online this is a big problem for this kind of laptop.

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January 12, 2011 at 09:49:41
See the part in response 1 starting at:
"Some ram manufacturer's modules do not strictly adhere to the JEDEC standards that most mboards bioses use to determine ram settings."

If there's nothing wrong with those bios setting for the particular ram you're using, then your problem is probably caused by a mboard problem.

It might be this problem -

Some mboards develop this problem - electrolytic capacitors were installed on them that were not properly made, and they fail eventually - the mboard manufacturer didn't know they were improperly made at the time the mboard was made.

Open up your case and examine the mboard to see if you have bad capacitors, and/or other findable signs of mboard damage .

This was the original bad capacitor problem - has some example pictures.
History of why the exploding capacitors and which mboard makers were affected:

What to look for, mboard symptoms, example pictures:
Home page that site
- what the problem is caused by
- he says there are STILL bad capacitors on more recent mboards.

Pictures of blown capacitors, other components, power supplies, Athlon cpu's, etc.:

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January 12, 2011 at 10:00:55
thank you so much for that detail. after much hardship and time. i worked my way through everything to your last advice. and it was faulty motherboard but the fault was so slight it was hard to see. thanks for all that

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January 12, 2011 at 10:54:07
broke out the soldering iron. after about 15 minutes i put it back together. running it through hell to see what happens. no shut off so far

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January 12, 2011 at 12:35:05
i have exhausted all options. and all suggestions. and it still is doing it. just goes CLICK and off. took off the heat sink and noticed that the stuff they put on between the sink and the CPU is almost non existant in the very middle. and burnt looking.

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January 12, 2011 at 14:24:45
found the problem. a sing burnt pathway in the cpu... one in a million

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January 12, 2011 at 16:27:30
You shouldn't use a soldering iron willy-nilly - cold solder connections on mboards are relatively rare, and if you had that problem you would have had it years ago - it just doesn't happen spontaneously after years of use.

" .....the stuff they put on between the sink and the CPU is almost non existant in the very middle. and burnt looking."

Not good. That probably would have been done wrong by someone other than someone at the factory.

"found the problem. a sing burnt pathway in the cpu."

That may be directly due to there being no thermal compound in the center. That's the hottest part, where the core circuitry is.

If you replace the cpu with one that is the same part number, and install thermal compound properly, the problems may be gone

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