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How do I discover potential hardware issues in a liquid-exposed MacBook Pro, other than trying to use all hardware features manually? Is there some general diagnostic test that can be run to look for hardware problems?


I spilled a full glass of regular tap water over a late 2016 MacBook Pro 13" a few days ago. I've let it dry upside down (hanging over the edge of a table) for nearly four days, and I'm happy to see it boots fine.

Two issues appeared at first: Bluetooth was "not available", and the whole system stuttered and slowed down for a few seconds when changing the screen brightness. Both of these issues disappeared on a second reboot, and bluetooth as well as screen brightness behaves normally.

From just using the computer, the keyboard, trackpad, hard drive, battery, screen, wifi, speakers, microphone, and camera all seem to work fine. But I would prefer a more systematic approach to discover any lurking problems.

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  • Have you ran the hardware test tools that Apple have? Another reason for using an Apple Tech...
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 1 at 10:01
  • @SolarMike Could you be more specific, which test tools do you mean? I've ran First aid in Disk utility and looked through System Information.
    – last-child
    Mar 1 at 10:29
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    Have you checked the Apple website? Known for lots of information, such as : support.apple.com/en-us/HT202731
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 1 at 10:45
  • Thank you, that was the type of answer I was looking for. I did not know about Apple Diagnostics.
    – last-child
    Mar 1 at 10:48
  • For what it's worth, Apple Diagnostics completed with no issues found. On reboot I'm surprised to find that Bluetooth works and the screen brightness issue appears to be gone. So quite surprisingly, there's no obvious hardware issue at all at the moment.
    – last-child
    Mar 1 at 11:09

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No general tool will work in this situation. The built in diagnostics assume the system is stable and you know that’s not the case. You need external tools and parts.

Operating a device that has liquid could damage it further. Why not have it inspected by a trained technician that can repair or ensure it’s safe to operate / validate your data recovery and backup are complete?

It’s unlikely evaporation alone can safely clean and dry Apple gear and you have likely already passed the point where corrosion is causing cascading failures at a subsystem level based on the disfunction noted.

So sorry you’re learning all this now, but this is the way to learn about electronics by experience. I do appreciate your “ This Is Fine “ attitude and approach.

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  • Thank you for engaging, but this is not quite an answer to the question. My question is if there is some diagnostics that can be run to get a good understanding of the damage. I understand that it might not be safe to operate the machine, and I've just done it to check if it works and to complete some backups. I'm expecting to replace it as I don't want to rely on it.
    – last-child
    Mar 1 at 10:35
  • How to get the data off is much easier than making a system fully reliable for full operations. You might be underestimating the cost in parts and experience needed to efficiently diagnose all the various systems alone and then that they work together correctly. I will make my “no” clear with an edit @last-child
    – bmike
    Mar 1 at 10:48
  • Are you saying that any test I run, such as Apple Diagnostics, should not be trusted, as corrosion could/will cause damage over time after an incident like this?
    – last-child
    Mar 1 at 11:07
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    @last-child this is very much the concern here. Make sure you have a complete backup, preferably also a backup of your backup. Just because the machine works now, it could die tomorrow.
    – X_841
    Mar 1 at 11:43
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    @last-child there is no software test that can diagnose the kind of damage at the board level that water exposure could cause
    – Scottmeup
    Mar 1 at 11:55

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