How to Fix the Power Cord to My Dell Laptop That Time

About: We have enough!

These instructions show how to fix the power cable to a Dell Vostro laptop, when it will plug into your computer but won't charge your battery or register as plugged in at all. This particular cause and solution haven't been covered online yet.

All i needed for this was
- sharp blade
- (cutely colored) electrical tape
- piece of lace, or anything abrasive (like my old boss' personality- OHHHHHHHH!)
- vinyl letters (semi-optional)

Step 1: The Problem

The charger to my Dell Vostro laptop stopped connecting to my computer reliably. It got worse over the course of a few weeks: at first it would connect if i gave a jiggle, but by the end i had to find the perfect position and then like breathe in another direction in order for it to stay connected. At one point i sat an anvil on top of it to keep it connected! Then for 2 days i couldn't get it to realize it was plugged in at all, not even for a moment- how would i know if anyone updated their livejournals! A recent embroidered creation of mine came to mind. (photo below)

The part of the cable that responded to coaxing was the part that plugs into the computer, and the first few inches of wire beyond. The adapter fit normally into the computer, not loosely at all.

Past experience fixing my phone charger told me that the thumbelina (thumb-sized part you plug into the device) had probably strained the wire over time and the wire had broken inside, without any visible damage to the rubber outside, as is the way. I figured i'd fix it cause "not like it works now! as long as i'm not super aggro about it, i can't make it any worse!"

Step 2: Knifin' Around

I complained, then i searched online to see if people had done this before. They had. You can see their postings if you search words like "laptop cable," "repair," and "Dell." Basically they all had problems in the same spots on the cord: spots where the cord attaches to a heavier element. Spots like the thumbelina and the next few inches of cord. But none of these how-to's told how to find where the problem was, so for a second i was all DDDD-: cause i should tell you, my knowledge of electronics is way caveman. I'm just really confident and get pissed when companies don't fix products they know are faulty.

After trying to pry the thumbelina down the cord a ways without slicing it, i got fed up with that waste of time and sliced it. My ex boyfriend who rules at this stuff told me that the little part that looks like a honey dipper, that every cord has, the "strain relief," used to be functional but is not only not functional on modern products, but a problem spot for like all electronics with cords that get moved a lot! God that makes me so disgruntled.

Step 3: Continuing to Knife Around

Then i sliced the cord "the right way" to see if i could find a break in the wire. What i found was not an obvious break in the wire like i was expecting, but this scary kind of confusing wire that i never even knew about! It was many delicate wires spiraling around a core that seemed to have another wire inside. (The internet told me that this is a "coaxial" wire.)

How the eff would i know where the break was?! So I stared at it and feared it for a few days. Look at that baloney, what the hell right? It might as well be a magic eye.

Step 4: Spoiler Alert: It Was Just Soldered Cheaply

I decided to start with the thumbelina, since i could see all of it. There were 2 solder points that i could see, and it was all sealed with very pliable, translucent, molded plastic.

I pried some of the plastic away and one of the solder points just sort of lifted off! Convenient! There was all this dirtiness there, so i scraped the crud off the solder point with an x-acto knife, and buffed the crud off the thumbelina with a piece of lace.

Step 5: Testing It

With a rubber glove on, I pinched the broken solder point really hard and plugged it in. Green battery light! Thank goodness i hadn't gone messing with that cool hypnotic cord right away!

Step 6: Letting Success Get to My Head

Thing was, if i let up on the pressure even a tiny bit, the light went out. So i took a pair of pliers to pinch it as hard as i could. The moment the pliers touched the thumbelina metal there was a spark and the LEDs went out- both the battery light LED on the laptop and the plain LED on the transformer.

You all though i was like DDDD-: before! You should have seen me then! I was like "Oh no now i'm gonna have to come crawling back to that guy at Staples who i said "fuck" to (oh yeah, i looked to temporarily buy a new cable at Staples but it was $108 so i said, "Whoa, fuck that i'd never pay that much"). Now i'd be lucky to only spend $108 cause my computer is probz fried!

I started like smelling everything, trying to see if i'd fried my computer or the adapter or both. But duh i had no idea what either of those things smelled like to begin with, so my imagination ran wild! So wild that i even tried unplugging the cord and plugging it back in, which worked wildly well! Green lights all around! Boy was that lucky.

Step 7: Not Including My Trip to Staples, and the 4 Days of Fearing, This Probably Took a Total of 20 Minutes

I'd planned to solder the point back where it belonged but realized I don't have flux. So I just electrical taped it all down really tightly (including the thumbelina casing I removed in step 1, cause what else am I gonna use it for).

Then I charged my computer in ways you never thought possible.

A while later I looked at the cord and the green light turned off. I attributed this to that I've manipulated physical objects with my mind before. In addition, it may have been cause it was just taped in place, and also maybe cause the battery was fully charged and that somehow matters now. Anyway, I just gave the thing a break cause it'd had a big night. If the success reverses I'll let you know.

Plenty of things are better than you, but your laptop cable's not one of them (probably)!

Step 8: 9 Months Later...

I figured i'd give an update on how it's been holding up.

Well, it's been great. After a couple months, the cord would occasionally not carry power to the laptop. I figured the electrical tape had stretched out so i wrapped a rubber band around the thumbelina/tape and it worked perfectly. When the same thing started happening a few months later, i was like, "No sweat," and added another rubber band. The laptop cord was also like, "No sweat," and has kept it coming.



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    16 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 6

    The reason it sparked is because you shorted the circuit with the metal pliers. Be careful and never work on live circuits! Cheers for the fix though

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I may have inadvertently shorted the laptop plugin end by checking with a voltmeter with amp setting - though the charger still works, as in this instructable. I wonder, is it a re-setting fuse? I imagine that may happen often enough for that to be a concern as anything pliers-shaped could short it.


    4 years ago

    Next time don't swear but otherwise I like it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I learned a really easy and simple trick to fixing this:

    It's really simple and easy. All you need to do is unplug the charger wire, twist it to give it some tension and then plug it back in. Viola! it works. However, if it doesn't work, then it could mean you need a new battery.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tips. I will try this on my semifunctional charger. Just a piece of advice: Use a solder gun to solder the wire. The way you have it now is not safe! I mean safe for your laptop and all the circuitry, b/c if you move your laptop often and if the wire moves, there could be a momentary disconnection and sparks and etc...


    8 years ago on Introduction



    8 years ago on Step 8

    Thank you very much for helping me fixed my broken HP adapter cord, I really appreciate it. It is a good thing I came across this site.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My laptop doesn't even have this problem but your instructable is so well written and funny that I read it all the way through. Thank you :)


    Loved the emo reference in step 3 " The right way" ...lmao. Sorry, just made me chuckle is all :P Inspirons were the same way, too.. I guess. I had to buy a replacement, only I bought one of those iGo cords with the 2 yr warranty ( what NOW Dell ??) But I think I'll go and see if this was the case with my old cord and try to find the spot. If it was the case then this ible just helped me out tremendously :D ...thanks ! Oh, and for those who are thinking of buying a computer through Dell Preferred Account online ( aka "the plan from hell") , then do yourselves a favor and just save up and buy one from the store. They charged me around 29.99% on my account and after 3 years of paying the minimum payment I only made a dent of about 100 dollars and still owed 1300. Ended up having to go to a BANK and get a loan to reduce the APR. So yea, it's not for those who can only afford a minimum payment. Good instructable btw, could save people the cost of buying a $70+ cord ;)

    1 reply

    Yeah, the inspiron is not a computer for image editing, gaming or anything, with a Windows Experience Index graphics and gaming graphics subscore of 3.5, which is... "basic performance while running high-end graphical games" says Windows Team blog of the graphics card that can't get more than 10 frames/sec in Source engine games on the lowest settings possible. They don't list the 1525 in the replacement battery selection section of the site, either, which means I have to spend 3 days communicating with Dell employees and web pages to find out anything about powering it, really bad when it only gains a charge when it feels like it, which is about once every one or two months. The end also doesn't stay in the computer's port, which means I have to have the power brick on a stand else it shuts down. When I get home I'm trying this to see if it's the secret to my laptop charging.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    He, I've had a broken wire. I found the crack by laying the cable flat so that it worked, and then grabbing segments and bending them to see any change. I finally found it, cut off the segments, and soldered and joined the two ends. It was the power cable to a perfectly good pair of Altec Lansing speakers, and someone had thrown it away.

    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing that. Speaker wire has been a fragile bit of mystery to me. I keep all my old headphones with dreams of fixing them one day, maybe now i'll actually do it!


    9 years ago on Step 7

    Hey great, i'm so glad to hear that! It's not actually that hard past the initial fear of cutting the cord, right? It rules that you gave it a shot. If more people fixed these they wouldn't be charging $100 for them anymore!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Why does an apparently bright and intelligent 24 year old women have to use language like you do here, to get her point across. Otherwise, an excellent ible. But. get some solder with flux for the next repair.