AppleCare Guide: Replacing a Faulty MacBook Battery

The adage that cars lose value the second they leave the dealership applies even more so to notebook batteries, which diminish in maximum capacity with each charging cycle. The battery in your portable Mac is almost certain to fail at some point, although with the latest integrated batteries, this could take up to a decade, depending on how you use it.

Wondering how to determine if your battery might be on its last legs, or what steps to take if it is? Continue reading to learn more.

To start, let’s look at how you can keep tabs on your battery’s lifespan. While there are many third-party tools available, I’ll discuss one in particular: the iStat Pro Dashboard widget.

This widget provides a quick overview of your Mac’s hardware status, including the battery’s “health.” This health metric is an estimate of how the current maximum charge capacity of your battery compares to its capacity when new. For instance, a 66% health reading indicates your battery can only hold two-thirds of the charge it once could.

iStat Pro after battery health check

Busted battery versus brand new battery

If you prefer not to use iStat Pro or the Dashboard, macOS offers two built-in options to check your battery’s status. One method is to option-click the battery icon in the menu bar, which will display conditions such as “Normal,” “Replace Soon,” “Replace Now,” or “Service Battery,” each indicating varying levels of battery health.

Another method is through the “Power” tab in the System Profiler application, which shows detailed battery condition and charge capacity information.

System Profiler before battery check

System Profiler after battery check

Old battery versus new battery

While the AppleCare Protection Plan generally does not cover consumable parts like batteries unless a defect in materials or workmanship is evident, Apple does provide clear guidelines for battery life.

For instance, batteries in older MacBook models are expected to retain up to 80% of their original capacity after 300 full charge cycles, whereas newer models have a much higher cycle threshold before degradation.

From personal experience, I noticed a significant drop in my battery’s health at around 240 cycles, prompting me to perform a battery calibration. Despite this, both iStat Pro and macOS continued to report declining battery health, leading to a “Check Battery” alert.

While getting AppleCare to replace the battery was challenging, being well-informed and persistent paid off. After multiple tests confirmed the battery’s failure, AppleCare agreed to replace it.

Regularly monitoring your Mac’s battery status doesn’t have to be an arduous task—a quick check weekly is sufficient.

Christina

Mary is a dedicated writer for TUAW, your go-to source for all things Apple. With a deep love for technology, Mary brings insightful and engaging content to the blog. She has a knack for breaking down the latest updates on the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, making them accessible to all readers. Mary’s expertise and enthusiasm for Apple products shine through in every article, helping readers stay informed and excited about the tech world.