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Laptop Battery Recalls: It's not over yet

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/9/2009

In 2006, Sony issued a battery recall that affected nearly every brand of laptop available. Now a second, smaller recall has been issued. If your laptop was purchased before September of 2006, it may have a defective battery.

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    A Blast From The Past

    In September 2006, a massive laptop battery recall was announced by Sony. This recall sent a wave across the entire industry, because besides selling laptops, Sony also does a great deal of business developing laptop battery technology for sale to other countries. The battery recalls in 2006 effected laptops made by virtually every laptop manufacturer, including Apple, Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and of course Sony. In total, around 10 million batteries were recalled.

    The problem was rare, but severe. Anyone who has held a laptop on their lap for an hour or two at a time has probably felt the warmth generated by the computer and wondered if it could possibly catch itself, or something around it, on fire. In the case of the Sony laptop battery recall, that is exactly what happened. The batteries in a small number of computers caught fire or exploded. A few people suffered moderate to minor burns, and some property damage was caused by these detonating laptops.

    That however was in 2006, and the problem has since been largely forgotten. But it apparently has yet to be entirely resolved.

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    Now what? A New Round of Recalls

    It seems that not all the potentially explosive batteries were included in the previous recall. The newest recall, announced late this year, includes around 100,000 batteries, all of which were made in the same time period of the previous ten million. In comparison to the numbers of batteries originally recalled, the number is quite small. Less laptop brands are in the scope of this recall than the previous one, and it appears that most of the newly recalled laptops come from Dell, Hewlett-Packard or Toshiba. However, the laptops that are being recalled by these manufactures were not included in any previous recall, which means models previously thought safe are now at risk.

    There is some good news, though. As mentioned, these batteries were made in the same period as the batteries previously recalled, which means anyone who purchased a laptop after September 2006 should be safe.

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    Is My Laptop Recalled?

    The easiest way to find out if your laptop has been recalled is to contact the manufacturer. Keep in mind that you need to contact the manufacturer of your laptop, not Sony, the manufacturer of the batteries (unless your laptop was built by Sony). The complete list of recalled laptops does not seem to be listed anywhere on the Internet, and this is likely because the number of different models recalled is, at this point, extremely large. However, each manufacturer does have a comprehensive list of what models are affected, and this information is available online. Below are the recall programs of some of the larger companies with laptops involved in the recalls:

    Sony VIAO Battery Replacement Program

    Dell Battery Recall Program

    Apple Battery Exchange Program

    Toshiba Battery Exchange Program

    Lenovo Battey Recall

    If you find out that your laptop has a recalled battery, it is best to stop using the battery at once. The risk of explosion is low, but real, and every manufacturer will request that you stop using your laptop battery once you contact them for a replacement.

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    Managing Editors Pick: Best Laptops Under $1000