No display backlight, no warranty, left IO board to blame, options?

I have a Macbook Pro (15", 2008, A1260) that a few weeks ago started showing lines all through the screen. I figured it was nVidia GPU rot, so I sent it off to Apple for free out of warranty replacement of the logic board.

When I got it back from my local Apple Store, the tech informed me that they were "unable to fix the display issues". They gave me back my Macbook with a nice new logic board, complete with a nice line-free image on the display... and no backlight! Come on, that was never the issue, my backlight was always fine!

Well, now Apple refuses to troubleshoot or fix the issue that came up while the machine was in their care unless I pay them over $300. I'm not putting that in to an old machine, so it's left to me.

The first thing I tried was replacing display's LED driver board using the instructions here. Nothing, no backlight. I replaced the whole display with a working unit from another Macbook Pro and that display didn't light up either! I switched back the displays.

Next, I took the left IO board from the working Macbook and placed it in mine. Success! My display lit up! So now I know the issue is somewhere on my left IO board. Nothing happened to it, no liquid spill, no drop. It just broke when I sent it off to Apple to get fixed.

I'm an engineer with experience soldering surface mount components. All the other features on the left IO board seem to be working just fine. Short of replacing the whole board for over a hundred bucks, if there anything I can look at replacing (or shorting if it's unimportant)? Or should I just cut my losses and grab the board I need? Or do I have more power to force Apple to do this for free than I imagine?

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Thanks for the replies. I'm going to give it a few more days, then take it up with Apple. If they don't budge, I'll take the hit and order the left IO board. The machine is worth that much just for resale.

I found a schematic online of the left IO board and began poking around. The only thing that I know for sure is that the fuse the display backlight power runs through, F9800 (thinnest part of the board, white), isn't blown. If anyone in the future has this issue, you should go ahead and check that.

There was a bunch of other logic circuitry that enables the LEDs but I'd have to power on to measure it. That's an ordeal approaching not-worth-it territory.

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This is highly unusual behavior for Apple. I've never had anything but perfect service above and beyond what was expected even to the extent of replacing a cracked $100 + screen frame on an Nvidia issue. The only time I've ever a had a problem is when dealing with an Authorized Service Provider - who are not actual Apple people but hold a license to do repair work for them. Did you contact Apple first on this or just send it in? You did get a free logic board (about $700), and we've heard from others that Apple is closing out the Nvidia free repairs as the class action law suit settled last December. You might be able to go up the chain of command and get it replaced or just count yourself very lucky on the free logic board, bite the bullet and pay $120 for a replacement I/O board.

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Apple Authorized Service Providers do not have as much leaniency as direct Apple technicians. If the system is out of warranty, and it comes in for an extention program such as the nVidia issue, then they are only compensated for replacing the logic board and nothing else. Any extra parts they are charged for. Apple direct technicians have that extra flexibility as they are not having ot pay for extra parts, they can do it by claiming customer relation.

I work for an AASP and i always contact the customer and discuss any further work if anything else is needed when replacing a part under an extention program and i see something else wrong with the system. As the labour is covered by Apple for the extention part, they normally only have to pay the price for the additional part.

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pierrej, please expand your profile, especially as to your location, it would be nice to direct someone to an AASP we know! Do you know if they are still honoring the Apple internal KB article EM80 Campaign?

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profile now setup, i've been wanting to do it for a while but never had the chance. your comment pushed me to finally do it. as for the EM80 campaign, according to the Repair Extension Programs that i have to follow as an AASP, the REP for iMac G5 power and video problems closed as of December 15, 2008. it's possible that direct Apple locations can still do it, but as an AASP, without authorization from Apple through a CS code, i cannot perform the repair.

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I contacted Apple again and they insisted the display was broken (and would not seriously consider my left IO board suggestion). That needless display replacement would be at least $300. Rather than fight this more (and wait weeks for the repair), I told them politely that I would be repairing it myself. I ordered the board from iFixit.

It makes me sad to have my first negative experience with Apple. Oh well. Thanks for the help.

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I would contact Apple Customer Relations and tell them that during the repair of the motherboard for the nVidia GPU issue, that the tech damaged the left IO board and they didn't replace it.

As for if there is something that can be replaced or resoldered in place, i don't know the part enough to tell you. Somebody else here will be able to tell you exactly what part on the left IO board to look at. Personally, I would just replace the left IO board as you will at least know that it will work as you have already tested that way.

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If you short the fuse, you will create a fire. If you are actually an engineer, you should know better than to suggest this. Shorting fuses used to be something that you would never do under any circumstances. I see at least 3 boards per week where people tried to short fuses and it failed. I see many where they did successfully without causing fires. Please don't do this.

http://www.rossmannsupply.com/blog/?p=32

Replace that component. You should be just fine.

Update

edit, I did not see your response where you stated you've already found F9800.

There are two ICs on the main logic board that control the backlight voltage for the left I/O board, a driver chip on the left I/O board next to F9800, and a fuse.

Can you please let us know which exactly was bad on your model?

Lastly, sometimes these fuses blow but still show continuity on some meters because it is not fully disconnected, just high impedance. I see this happen often. It could not be fully blown.

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Louis,after replacing the blown left io board (the original one didn't recognize the power supply), my screen lost its backlight. so I got two broken IO boards. Could you please point to what is a driver chip and where is F9800 and the fuse? Hope I could build a working one out of these two...

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@Serjio, looks like Louis Rossmann has not been active for 2 years. You should consider to ask your own question.

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