Blinking question mark after cleaning track pad

Hi I just opened up my mid-2011 Macbook Air to clean the track pad area due to an old coke spill which I've been meaning to clean.

After the cleaning and reassembly, I am getting a blinking question mark screen. I tried safe mode which did not work due to no boot disk, same thing with disk utitily and some internet option, all no go.

Wondering what else could have gone wrong during my repair. One thing I did not do was not open one of the flaps before I pulled the connector. Could that have damaged the cable? I didn't touch the ssd, so it should still be fine. Wondering what else could have gone wrong.

Thanks

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The hard drive/IR cable is notoriously defective on this model. Go with the 2012 13" cable.

UPDATE

Sorry, I missed the fact that it was an Air.

You can use an OWC Envoy enclosure to check the stick. I'd try it with another Mac.

OWC Envoy Be careful to get the correct one.

https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/MAU3...

Exactly which cable did you possibly damage? See if will boot from an external USB source.

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I just visited the Apple store and this is what I got:

This is an Air, and the flash drive sits directly on the board and is not connected via a connector.

They wanted to replace my drive to see if it works, and if it doesn't, replace the board.

Told them I'd take it home to see if I can read the drive using another Mac. I don't even know if that is possible but I wasn't ready to drop cash without knowing what is broken. So back to square one.

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Oh... Is the only way to test the flash drive using an external usb enclosure?

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Can I create a bootable usb from an oooold iMac for my Macbook?

Out of the three cables I touched:

A. Thick plastic connector attached to the battery. (Unlikely damaged)

B. The slim one in the centre. (Maybe damaged. A tiny bit of the cable cover was damaged. I also pulled on it while the flap was locked in place.)

C. The wider one in the centre that needs to be lifted in order to open the flap. (Maybe damaged. No visible damage.)

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The minimum system for the 2011 MBA is

Pre-Installed MacOS: X 10.7

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I only have 10.5.8 on the old iMac (2008). I'll try it later tonight on another machine.

And thank you x100.

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What process did you use to clean the spill?

I would approach this more analytically, first there is rarely such a thing as a "minor" spill, first you should do a thorough diagnostic – Any MacBook that is exposed to liquid requires a thorough inspection, even a small amount of corrosion untreated can cause a system failure further down the road.

Inspect Keyboard and Track Pad for ANY corrosion or sticky residue – If found a keyboard or track pad replacement is recommended.

Inspect Main LogicBord for any sign of liquid exposure. This should be done with a high powered stereo microscope, each SMD component should be checked for any signs of damage. If damage is found logic board should be cleaned ultrasonically and damaged SMD components replaced. Here is a video of the SMD repair process.

All display connections and wiring should be throughly inspected, any sign of liquid exposure and the display replacement recommended.

Data Integrity – Data integrity should be checked and re checked. In the vast majority of cases data is not effected. If corrosion is present on SSD or HD replacement is recommended.

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@triosimple you got my attention with your superior answers. Please expand your profile so we can get to know you ;-)

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The coke spill was only on the track pad. It was working for months but I just wanted to get rid of the stickiness. I used a q-tip to remove the dried up coke on the sides, and cleaned it off with some rubbing alcohol sprayed on the q-tip.

The track pad works fine, but I'm not sure if you mean it could still be related to the machine not recognizing the ssd.

The rest of the examination sounds like the right thing to do but I have no means to such equipment nor do I know any repairshops would do that kind of work - at least I doubt there is any here (Toronto, Canada).

How would one go about doing a data integrity check?

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If the SSD is not being seen then you could not check the data integrity. By nature liquid spills are very tricky to diagnose. Was the unit open when you cleaned it?

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Originally I cleaned the liquid off the trackpad with the unit unopened. I used it for months and it was fine, just sticky.

After a few months, I opened the unit following the ifixit instructions and cleaned the trackpad. One thing I did do, which I forgot to mention, was that i used a pressure air spray can to get rid of some dust. I put it back together, and powered up and got the blinking question mark folder.

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New SSD and enclosure were ordered last week and should be arriving tomorrow.

I picked up my MBA from the repair shop that did not carry an enclosure to do a simple check, and was giving me the same thing as Apple Genius Bar, but quoting me some 60 bucks. I didn't pay them since I specifically asked them to check if the ssd was actuallly dead.

Anyway, I brought it back home and examined the logic board, but did not find any obvious damage with a magnifying glass - no stereo scope. Have downloaded the schematic and boardview files for now. Will test out the drive when the enclosure is delivered.

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Dave c will be eternally grateful.
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