Thinkpad T61p Battery Failure and Replacement

My main computer system right now is a Lenovo Thinkpad T61p—type and model 6459-CTO.  I have the Advanced Mini-Dock with dual monitors, external 5.1 USB sound, parallel port printer, etc.  So when I dock, I don’t really yearn for a more powerful desktop system.  I’ve had this set-up for about a year and a half.  I also purchased the extended warranty, making for a full three years of generally well-regarded hardware protection.

A few weeks ago, I sit down to work at my docked laptop and notice a flashing orange battery light.  I’d never seen this before.  A quick check of the power manager shows an error message—also sent to my Lenovo message center.  It reads “Battery error is detected:  A battery error has occurred.  The battery cannot be charged.  Replace the battery”.  This doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  The battery charge level icon is showing 100% and the battery isn’t all that old and has been holding a charge just fine.  It sounds like something beyond normal battery wear and tear.  So, I decide to pop the thing out of the dock and see what happens—after all, I have 100% charge, right?  Well, I should have hibernated.  As soon as I undock, it immediately shuts down, acting like there is no battery present.  I get the idea now that the 100% indicator means my laptop isn’t talking to the battery and doesn’t know how much charge is left.  You’d think it would show 0%, instead.  Go figure.

Some quick web searches show that others have experienced the same problem.  Actually, Lenovo has acknowledged the problem for a few battery models and done a recall.  But, upon running their recall check tool, I find that mine isn’t one of the batteries that it is part of the recall.  From the Lenovo parts inventory of my original purchase—found at the Lenovo warranty site—the part number is 92P1132 and the FRU number is 42T4619.  The description is a “SANYO 9 CELL BATTERY FRU”.  FRU is short for Field-Replaceable Unit, I believe.  Not only that, but the extended warranty doesn’t cover the battery—it’s only warranted for one year.  Lovely.

I thought about calling Lenovo tech support and trying to get a replacement, regardless, but decided after reading other comments on-line that it probably wouldn’t have do any good, since others hadn’t succeeded in prying a new battery out of Lenovo who were in the same situation.  Instead, I bit the bullet and bought a new Lenovo battery at a decent price off of eBay.  There are cheaper no-name clones, but I don’t like to risk clones with such large-capacity batteries as are in laptops.  They cost a lot and I don’t want to have a fire—that may be just paranoid, but there it is.

I did a parts search through the Lenovo store and found that the current recommended battery for my laptop is model number 40Y6797.  There are several on-line vendors that offer the original Lenovo battery for much less than it costs when ordered directly from Lenovo.  But the price I found on eBay was better still, and the seller had received much positive feedback on this specific item.  It arrived promptly and is working great.  The diagnostic information shown by the battery status program I use says it was made by Panasonic.  This is good to know, since I read some buzz saying that the Panasonic batteries are better than the Sanyo ones—though I’d say take this with a grain of salt.  But considering my old one was made by Sanyo, I’m happier this way.  Also, the name of the battery shows as 42T4620, which looks like a FRU number and is a one-notch increment from the FRU of my old battery.  Some web searching indicates that the Lenovo part number for this battery is 92P1134.  So there you have all the numbers for both the old and new batteries.  This should be useful if you run into similar issues with your Thinkpad.

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