Inspiron 8500 Won't start up

I have an Inspiron 8500. Until recently it was working great, then I started to have a problem with the computer not starting up, what I assumed was caused by the hard drive, it sounded loud (after further inspection, after removal, it has a small loose part rattling inside). I replaced the hard drive, but have not been able to install an OS because of the main problem.

The specific problem I am having is when I attempt to turn on the laptop, I press the power button, and the 3 lights on the keyboard and 1 on the hinge light up, nothing happens to the screen, and within 2 seconds, the lights shut off and the computer is off. I have repeated this dozens of times, then the computer will start and I will try to install an OS, but it freezes or something else causes me to restart the computer, resulting in the original problem.

I called Tech support, and after explaining to the guy the problems and that I was aware my system was not under warranty and that I wanted to fix it, he placed me on hold off and on for about 35 minutes while looking up the problem. Due to my lack of fluency in Hindi, I was unable to be sure if he actually understood the problem, but he was fairly certain it was a bad switch (I am pretty sure that was what he said).

I was told that for $199 I could send the laptop in and ALL problems, other than the LCD display and the motherboard would be fixed, and the computer would be sent back.

IF it is the motherboard, which I have an unpleasant feeling in my gut that is , that is an additional $299 charge.

I was hoping to find out if anyone else has this problem, and what , if any solution there is.

A reply on this board would be fine, if at all possible, an email ( arutkow@yahoo.com ) to me would be more likely to be read by me, as I have a tendency to not remember all of the places I post problems.

Thanks to all for your help,

Abram Rutkowski
0 Kudos
4 Replies

Re: Inspiron 8500 Won't start up

Hi Arutkow,
I wish I had an answer to your problem instead of the exact same problem myself. Maybe together we can rule out some possibilities and figure out what exactly the problem is.

I'm a PC repair technician with a local tech advising group. My notebook is an Inspiron 3800 (G600GT) and it is also well out of warranty. I'm running Windows 2000 Pro with a 60GB HDD, 64MB RAM, 24x CD-ROM, 802.11G NIC PC card.
My problem started when I booted it up one day and got a message just after POST saying "Error: No boot sector on hard disk". Like you, I removed the hard drive to inspect it and noticed the rattle inside. Laptop hard drives are supposed to rattle slightly though. I reinstalled the HDD, tried to boot again, and this was the first time it started to power on but almost immediately shut down.

This is what happened:
I pressed the power button, the "Power" LED on the hinge panel came on and remained lit. The HDD light flashed once, the Capslock light and the LED to the right of it (an image of a small lock with a downward pointing arrow inside it) came on and remained lit as well. After 2 seconds or so, the notebook shut itself off and the hard disk made a very short, high pitched whirring noise as though it were winding down from a high rotation speed. The monitor remained pitch black throughout and the notebook never even got to the first stage of the POST.

I had been meaning to upgrade my HDD so I bought a new 60GB and installed it. The notebook powered itself off again just like before. I tried the basic process of elimination test by removing all components except for the one stick of memory I have. Once I had added all the components back into their places (battery, CD-ROM drive, hard drive, etc) the notebook booted! I thought I had fixed the problem!

The next time I rebooted however, the problem returned. It would occasionally power up as though nothing was wrong but I couldn't discern a single thing I was doing differently between boots! Finally, it stopped booting altogether, no matter which superstitious dance I performed.

I sent the notebok to a partner for a different perspective. I got a call back that very night saying he couldn't find anything wrong with it. It started up for him every time and he couldn't reproduce the problem I was having, no matter how many times he rebooted. I got the notebook back, plugged it in, and it wouldn't power up. At that point, I started wondering if it was the outlet or the A/C current in my home!!! I even tried it at a neighbor's house and it didn't boot so I felt a bit more sane.

Here's what I've done so far:
1. Followed this official Dell troubleshooting process (and others):

2. Removed the keyboard, cleaned the interior and checked for loose connections or dark spots/burnt plastic smells, tightened all screws and connectings. Wore an anti-static bracelet throughout!

3. Removed the heatsink, cleaned it, removed old thermal grease and replaced it with Arctic Silver.

4. Replaced old hard drive (5GB IBM Travelstar) with new 60GB Fujitsu.


Here's what I haven't been able to do:
1. Ensure sufficient voltage is getting to the components that need it.

2. Check the RAM to ensure it is working, error-free, and has not been ESD'd.


Normally, I would immediately point to the RAM as the likely cause of this problem as most Inspirons require at least one DIMM be installed in order to boot. In my experience though, a stick of memory is either dead or alive. Since my notebook boots from time to time (and boots consistantly at my partner's house!), I tend to think the memory is not the problem.

As things stand now, I am leaning towards a short in the motherboard. Both my partner and I noticed that after handling the notebook it was more likely to start. I know that many Inspiron notebooks around this model number and era had battery/power/charging problems. There was even a battery recall on certain models. If whatever is causing this problem isn't covered by a recall, I don't know what I'll do. If it entails replacing the mobo, I'll sell the Inspiron (minus new HDD and PC cards) for parts on eBay. If it's something I can repair myself or have a local Dell tech do for a reasonable price, I'll even do that.

I apologize for the length of this post but I think it's important to include as many details as possible when diagnosing a PC. If anyone has any ideas, input, or has had the same problem, PLEASE feel free to add your thoughts! Your .02 cents may save Abrum and I hundreds of dollars! Good luck to everyone and thank you for your time and input!

Need PC help? Ask me!
Website: http://www.virgilturtle.com
Forum: http://www.virgilturtle.com/phpBB2/index.php
Email: virgil {at} virgilturtle {dot} com
0 Kudos

Re: Inspiron 8500 Won't start up

I posted a problem, very similar to what you both describe, under the Inspiron hard drive board.  It's titled "failure to start". I had one reply so far, which was to reseat the processor in the socket. I did it and it temporarily fixed the problem (see the threads). However, I am still plagued with the fail to start issue. If you make any headway, or have any ideas, please let me know.


0 Kudos

Re: Inspiron 8500 Won't start up

Hi and thanks for adding to this thread! My Inspiron 3800 still won't boot and is currently sitting in its case while I try to figure out what is wrong with it. I'm going to try to keep this thread running and I'll also try to compile all the links to similar threads on the Dell forum and post them here for easy cross-reference.

Here's the thread that you (Steve) started:

And here's another one:

I'm sure we would all be grateful if others would post links to similar "Failure to start" threads, both in the Dell support forums as well as in other PC/notebook forums.

Thanks again and I'll keep you all updated as best I can.

Need PC help? Ask me!
Website: http://www.virgilturtle.com
Forum: http://www.virgilturtle.com/phpBB2/index.php
Email: virgil {at} virgilturtle {dot} com
0 Kudos

Re: Inspiron 8500 Won't start up

My 600M does the same thing. Battery ran down and now I cannot charge it or even get it to boot with the charger plugged in. I get five lights (three green in the middle and two green on the right side) that stay on for a second or so then shuts down again.
Would really like to figure this one out.
0 Kudos