Not sure why but applications were running slower and slower, eventually the computer would not boot up at all, just got the file folder and question mark image. A well versed mac guru said that there was moisutre damage and corrosion. We most likely needed a hard drive cable and maybe the hard drive itself, and would be very expensive to repair, well over half the cost of a new one. So I figured I had nothing to lose by taking a stab at it myself
Took the least expensive route first, replaced the hard drive cable. Other than the indicator light wire, the replacement was very easy. The conductor broke when I tried to remove it from the old HD cable, I'm sure there's a trick to removing this without damage but no helpful hints were mentioned in the replacement guide. Of course it turns out that the problem was not the cable, but the hard drive itself, which was even easier to replace. Works like new again, except for the front indicator light.
Get the hard drive cable with the bracket and indicator light preassembled, the extra 10 bucks is worth it