Short Question
Why do the keys 'stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick' when my MBP gets hot? More importantly, how can I fix it?

It is not any one key that sticks, I have had darn near every key stick on me so far. So with this in mind, I do not believe it is a problem with any one key. Also, the only time it does this is when the laptop gets hot (running Win 7 + charging = 3rd degree burns). I just starting using MacFan and so far I like it quite a bit; it is very similar to SMC Fan control for OS X.

In addition to the keys sticking at times, the track pad becomes much less sensitive and gestures do not work. I wish I could say that I only had these issues when I was on Windows 7, but I have had some of these same issues on the Mac side.

System Info
MBP Early 2008
RAM Upgraded to 4g HDD Upgraded to 500g 7200 rpm

OS X 10.6.8
Windows 7 Pro (bootcamp & parallels 6)

1) The keys do not physically stick down. They pop back up immediately.
2) On the left side of the display, roughly 1" on the bottom and tappers away to 1/4" on top, is washed out as well. It seems to get less severe when I turn the back-light all the way up, but I'm fairly sure that's not best thing to do for for it. Up until now I thought the keyboard/track pad issues were separate from the display, but based on macaco's answer it makes me wonder: Could these issues be related?

I was able to secure a new laptop for work and have somewhat retired the worn-out MBP. Thanks for all your help!

  • Does the actual button stick in the down position, or does it pop back up, while the key repeats itself? – TheWellington Aug 10 '11 at 5:00
  • @TheWellington: It pops right back up. This is probably the most annoying part because I often find my self typing several words past the stuck letter just to backspace 50+ times... – Adam Lewis Aug 10 '11 at 5:12

I suspect that this is the topcase module malfunctioning.

However, a good troubleshooting step would be to connect a USB keyboard & mouse and see if the issue continues with those external devices once the problem manifests.
This will allow you to ascertain if the topcase is at fault and/or if the issue is software based (although it seems to be hardware as you're seeing similar/related issues in OSX and Windows).

Past that I would take the machine to an Apple store or AASP where they can test the machine with a known good topcase/keyboard module to fully confirm that the topcase needs replacing (or anything else if the problem is deeper (read:logic board)). If that's what needs replacing then it's a relatively cheap repair.

  • I use USB keyboard and mouse 90% of the time with no trouble at all. The issue is often compounded when I use the built in keyboard / track pad because it is often on my lap or hard surface that doesn't allow for adequate cooling. – Adam Lewis Aug 10 '11 at 14:04
  • Adam, this definitely seems like a hardware issue. Topcase or its constituent parts would be my first thing to exchange for known good parts. – macaco Aug 10 '11 at 14:25
  • Ugh. There goes another $250. So far this is been the longest running laptop I have ever used. Maybe it's getting close to retirement.... :( – Adam Lewis Aug 10 '11 at 14:38
  • It could be a physical deterioration or unseating in the delicate, tiny ribbon cables that connect the keyboard and the display to the motherboard. In that case the parts wouldn't be too expensive but there will be a labor charge to get in and test and replace them. – user9290 Sep 30 '11 at 1:03

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