Buying and installing spare parts for the Mac

November 20, 2008

I’m quite happy with my MacBook Pro 15″ (Core2 Duo, late 2006 model), but recently the left cooling fan started to make grinding noises at medium RPMs. It’s fine and quiet at 2000 RPMs and it makes the normal noise when it’s maxed out, but in between you think you’re operating a coffee mill and not a laptop. I figured the fan’s ball-bearing is shot and I better have it replaced before it grinds to a complete halt. However, Apple’s 1 year warranty is long over, as is the extended warranty (2 years) that dealers have to give for all electronic items in Germany. So this might turn out to be more expensive than expected. In addition to that, I’d have to take the laptop to the local Apple dealer and repair shop which takes time, not to mention that I’d be without my main computer for two or so days. All that just for a simple operation that I could just as well do myself.

(Also, the local Apple dealer in Dresden isn’t exactly my favourite shop anymore. They used to know my name when I walked in the store, now their sales staff almost makes you apologize for disturbing their coffee break. Typical German service for ya, but certainly nothing I want from a shop selling premium computers. Way to scare off a previously regular customer! But I digress.)

Having decided to do the operation myself, I wondered where I could get the spare part from. That’s when I found out about Apfelklinik, an operation by one Michael Kliehm, selling brand spanking new spare parts for Macs (with warranty!). I wrote him an email ordering the part, wired the money via PayPal and two days later I had a new fan for my MBP. I installed it this afternoon with the help from the excellent iFixit website which has detailed instructions and photos for pretty much all repairable and exchangeable parts. Here’s a (rather crappy) shot I took with my camera phone half way through the operation:

Fan repair

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7 Responses to “Buying and installing spare parts for the Mac”

  1. Florian Schulze Says:

    I also replaced a fan in my early 2006 MBP. I didn’t find Apfelklinik back then, so I ordered from iFixit. Wasn’t exactly cheap, but well worth it, it also took more than 2 days to arrive :)
    Thanks for sharing that link!

  2. philikon Says:

    I didn’t realize iFixit were selling parts as well. That’s brilliant, especially for people in the U.S. Europeans might enjoy a speedier delivery from Apfelklinik.

    Concerning the price, they seem pretty much identical. iFixit wants $49.95 for a fan which amounts to roughly €40, the same that Apfelklinik charged me. (I still had to pay German VAT on top of it so it was €48 in total, but since it’s a business expense I get the VAT back.) At €2.20, the shipping was quite cheap as well.

  3. Martin Says:

    40€ für einen verdammten Kühler? Das ist ja mal die übelste Abzocke, von der ich je gehört habe (wobei ich jetzt eher Apple als Apfelklinik die Schuld für den hohen Preis anlaste). Ansonten feine Sache, vor allem schön zu wissen, dass die Notebooks von Apple nicht mehr so versiegelt sind wie früher (iBook und so…).

  4. philikon Says:

    Martin: Ja, die Ersatzteile sind nicht billig, aber das ist in der Tat eher Apples Schuld. Auf der anderen Seite könnte es auch schlimmer sein und gar nicht reparabel oder nur für den Fachmann.

    PowerBook und MacBook Pro waren eigentlich schon immer recht reparaturfreundlich, wobei das neuste MBP nochmal angenehmer in dieser Hinsicht sein soll. Zumindest kann man die Festplatte ohne größeren Aufwand tauschen.

  5. Florian Schulze Says:

    Naja, ich hatte noch Zoll und Fracht, alles zusammen ca 80 Euro.


  6. The same happened with my MBP first gen (early 2006 I think). The left fan started to make a very loud noise and I decided to replace it myself. Problem was that getting spare parts in Brazil for a MBP is quite impossible. Decided to import from powerbookmedic.com. I got the fan 3 days later and the installation was really easy….
    One week later, the right fan went down and atm I am running it with only the left fan…just waiting something else to break so I can buy everything at once and pay the shipment costs once as well.

  7. Balazs Ree Says:

    I am not a mac expert (and don’t use one), but recently bumped into some article that suggest the fans to be cleaned on a regular basis with an air duster, preferably every two month but at least twice a year. I suggest this to everyone, since I am cleaning my notebook’s fan this way, the operational temperature went down significantly.

    I am not sure if it helps the malfunctioning MAC vents, but it may improve lifetime.


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