- > M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air screens
- > MacBook Pro battery recall and flight ban
- > MacBook Pro (2016-2017) battery replacement
- > MacBook Air logic board issue
- > MacBook Pro display issues
- > MacBook, MacBook Pro & Air keyboard issues
- > MacBook Pro SSD recall to prevent data loss
- > Other problems with MacBooks
- > What to do if your Mac needs to be repaired
There have been a number of issues with Apple's MacBook models over the years. In some cases Apple has service programs where it will fix your MacBook for free, in other cases the Macs have been recalled by Apple due to safety issues.
We'll run through the various MacBook recalls - full details below. These service programs and recalls include the following:
- MacBook Pro battery recall
- MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook keyboard service
- MacBook Pro display backlight service
- MacBook Pro SSD service
- MacBook Pro battery replacement
We'll also explain how you can know if your MacBook Pro or Air has been recalled.
In certain cases it is crucial to get the part replaced as in the past some Apple laptops were banned from flights as they were considered to pose a fire risk.
Speaking of repairs - Apple has been forced to include a repairability score for all its products on the French Apple Store. Read about that here: Apple forced to reveal repairability of products in France. We also examine Apple repairs: price guide and how long repairs take.
M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air screens
There have been reports of cracked screens from M1 MacBook owners. Some users have claimed that the screen of the computer has inexplicably and all of a sudden cracked. Reports have been shared on Apple's support forums and Reddit, among others.
Unfortunately, users have been told by Apple support that they are responsible and that the damage is not covered by the warranty. However the company has published a support document detailing how to avoid cracked screens. More here: Apple tells users how to avoid cracked screens.
Certain MacBook Pro models have been banned from flights following Apple's recall of certain models sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Some of these MacBook Pro models are fitted with batteries that "may overheat and pose a fire safety risk," according to Apple.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has alerted airlines to the recall. This means that if you are flying to or inside America, you won't be able to take a recalled MacBook Pro on as carry-on luggage, nor will you be able to check it in as cargo.
According to Bloomberg, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued warnings about these MacBook Pro models earlier in August.
Various airlines managed by Total Cargo Expertise, including TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat, have implemented a complete ban on these laptops, with employees told: "The 15in Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 and February 2017 is prohibited on board any of our mandate carriers."
Laptops that have replaced batteries won't be impacted, according to a TUI spokesperson who spoke to Bloomberg. We assume that you would need to prove that the battery replacement has taken place.
It's not only the 15in MacBook Pro that is affected by a battery issue. Apple has also indicated that the battery inside the 13in MacBook Pro can also expand - although this is considered less of a risk than the 15in issue.
MacBook Pro battery recall program details
The no fly ban relates to Apple's 20 June 2019 voluntary recall of some 15in MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk, according to the company.
In a press release the company stated that: "Because customer safety is a top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using affected 15-inch MacBook Pro units."
The battery issue relating to the 13in MacBook Pro (detailed by Apple on its website) suggests that a component in certain 13in MacBook Pro may fail "causing the built-in battery to expand". That sounds a bit concerning, but Apple says it is not a safety issue.
The company will replace eligible batteries, free of charge.
How to tell if your MacBook Pro is recalled
If you own a 15in MacBook Pro unit purchased between September 2015 and February 2017 - known as MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) - it may be part of the battery recall. You'll be able to identify whether it's included in the recall by the serial number which can be found by clicking on the Apple Logo and choosing About This Mac.
You can then visit Apple's website here to find out if you are eligible to the battery replaced. Enter your computer's serial number on the program page to see if it is eligible for a battery replacement. If you are the switch will be free of charge.
As for the 13in MacBook Pro, the issue is with non-Touch Bar units manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017. You can enter your serial number on Apple's website to find out if your Mac is included.
MacBook Pro (2016-2017) battery replacement
This might sound similar, but this one relates to batteries that can't charge beyond 1%, rather than posing a fire risk. Less dangerous, but still extremely annoying.
All MacBook Pro models launched in 2016 and 2017, both the 15in and 13in models with and without the Touch Bar, are potentially susceptible to the issue, although Apple claims only a small proportion have actually experienced it.
Check out Apple's support document to see if you're eligible and for more details of how to claim your free replacement.
Back in 2019 Apple revealed that some 2018 MacBook Air models may suffer from a problem that may require their logic board to be replaced.
Owners who qualify for the repair program will have received an email.
The specifics of the problem are unclear, but Apple's solution seems to be to replace the logic board. While Apple doesn't have an official program for this issue, it should replace the logic board for free if its personnel determine that it is affected by the issue. This should be the case for four years from the purchase date - so it could run until 2022.
MacBook Pro display issues
As of May 2019 Apple has been running a backlight service program for 13in MacBook Pro purchased between October 2016 and February 2018. This includes the MacBook Pro from 2017.
MacBook Pro backlight service program details
According to Apple affected laptops may:
- Display backlight continuously or intermittently shows vertical bright areas along the entire bottom of the screen
- Display backlight stops working completely
The problem was caused by a flex cable that is too short. MacBook Pro models manufactured after 2018 are unaffected because a longer flex cable was used.
Apple introduced this service program in 2019. In 2021 Apple extended the service program, so that it is valid for five years from the original purchase date or three years from the service program's start date (May 21, 2019), whichever is longer.
How to tell if your MacBook Pro is recalled
Apple will service qualifying laptops for free. These include:
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
To find out if your Mac qualifies click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose About This Mac.
More information is available on the Apple website.
MacBook, MacBook Pro & Air keyboard issues
There were well publicised problems with the keyboard on Apple's laptops from 2016 to early 2020. We detail those issues in a separate story here: MacBook Keyboard issues.
MacBook keyboard service program
The problem was related to the design of the keyboard of these MacBook laptops. The so called Butterfly design meant that dust could get trapped under the keys causing keys to stop working. The problem was that the whole keyboard needed to be replaced to rectify the problem.
After a lot of complaints Apple started a service program in which it would replace affected keyboards free of charge. There is more information about this program on Apple's website.
If your MacBook laptop is affected then you may experience the following issues:
- Letters and other characters repeating
- Letters or characters not appearing
- Sticky keys
If you Mac qualifies then Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair the keyboard for free, either by replacing a few keys or the whole keyboard.
How to tell if your MacBook Pro is recalled
There is a complete list of recalled Mac laptops on Apple's website. These include:
- MacBook: 2015, 2016, 2017
- MacBook Air: 2018, 2019
- 13in MacBook Pro: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 (two or four Thunderbolt ports)
- 15in MacBook Pro: 2016, 2017, 2018
To find out if your Mac qualifies click on the Apple logo in the top left and choose About This Mac.
Non Touch Bar models of the 13in MacBook Pro sold between June 2017 and June 2018 could be affected by an issue with the SSD that might cause you to lose valuable data.
MacBook Pro SSD service program details
Apple has stated that "a limited number of 128GB and 256GB solid-state drives (SSD) used in 13in MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) units have an issue that may result in data loss and failure of the drive."
There is more information on Apple's website.
How to tell if Apple will fix your MacBook Pro
The issue applies to 13in MacBook Pro units sold between June 2017 and June 2018. Apple has emailed those with affected models - assuming that they were registered with Apple.
The specific model is the 13in MacBook Pro, 2017, with two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
However, you can enter your Serial number on Apple's website (click on the link above) to find out if your Mac is eligible for the program.
Apple will fix the issue for free if your MacBook Pro is eligible. There is more information here.
Other problems with MacBooks
Below we will detail some of the other known problems with Macs, and where we are aware of fixes we will share them.
MacBook Pro popping speakers
Shortly after the 2016 MacBook Pro got into users' hands, reports of loud crackling and popping noises through the speakers started to appear on community forums. It was initially thought that, the noises only occurred if the user boots into Microsoft Windows using Boot Camp. However, one Macworld reader has commented that:
"I have a 2017 MacBook Pro and I had speakers replaced 2 times due to them popping. And I had not installed Windows, it all happened in MacOS. So it is 100% a hardware issue and not Boot Camps fault."
Some users even reported that their MacBook Pro speakers were permanently damaged by the noises when Windows was booted, which subsequently meant the speakers no longer worked then they booted back into macOS. The right speaker in particular seems to be affected in this way.
The problem doesn't appear to have gone away. Reports suggest that the 2018 MacBook Pro is also facing issues with the speakers.
There are reports on Reddit and YouTube from users who are experiencing a cracking sound from the speakers, even at a relatively low volume.
"The crackling noise is noticeable after a few minutes whilst listening to audio files or YouTube type of websites," claimed one Reddit poster who had his new MacBook Pro replaced and found that the issue remained. He suspects that it's the drivers. Other posters suspect that it's a firmware issue.
It's not clear if the crackles and pops are caused by a logic board issue or perhaps just poor audio drivers within Windows. The latter seems the most likely, although as our commenter suggested, it could be a hardware issue.
You'll know if you're affected by this issue because, obviously, you'll hear the noises described above should you boot into Windows. Interestingly, if you access Windows via virtualisation software like VMware Fusion or Parallels then the issue does not arise.
The issue with the Boot Camp drivers was addressed by a software update, so if you use Boot Camp to boot into Windows, make sure you run the latest version or use a different virtualisation app instead.
You could also ensure that headphones are attached via the 3.5mm audio jack before using Boot Camp to boot into Windows, as this will avoid the MacBook Pro's speakers being used. The crackling/pops will not be heard in the headphones. Notably, users affected by the issue report that simply turning the volume control down has no effect; the loud crackling and pops continue.
If your MacBook Pro has been damaged by the crackles and pops then you should be able to make a warranty claim with Apple.
A "small percentage" of MacBook Pros sold between February 2011 and December 2013 experienced issues with distorted video and out-of-the-blue system restarts. The problems affected 15in and 17in MacBook Pros from 2011 and 15in Retina MacBook Pros produced from 2012 to early 2013.
2011 MacBook Pro had complained about video issues for years before Apple addressed the issue with a recall. Some MacBook owners even filed a class-action suit against Apple, alleging problems with the AMD graphics chips and the lead-free solder that connects the GPU to the MacBook's logic board were responsible for video problems and system failures.
Those affected were eligible for a free fix prior to Feburary 2016.
MacBook Pro problem with function keys
Back in 2018 Apple confirmed that the 2017 MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) was affected by a problem with function keys.
In a memo distributed to Apple Stores in June 2018, Apple wrote that it had "identified a specific population of MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports) units requiring both solid state drives and the main logic board to be replaced when either has a functional failure," via MacRumors.
The note indicates that Apple has authorised free repairs for this issue, even if the unit is out of warranty.
MacBook Pro USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 issues
There are reports that not all USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 adapters work correctly with the 2016 MacBook Pro models.
For example, unauthorised Mac repair guy and YouTube star Louis Rossmann noted in a hands-on review (warning: includes significant bad language!) that some USB-C adapters not only slowed down his 13in non-Touch Bar 2016 MacBook Pro but also appeared to slow or entirely kill the MacBook Pro's Wi-Fi connection. The adapters worked perfectly with a Dell laptop.
Meanwhile, Mac developer Khaos Tian has not only discovered that some third-party Thunderbolt 3 docks don't work with the new 2016 MacBook Pro but even got a response from somebody at Apple implying that non-Apple certified models are unlikely ever to be supported.
Buying only Apple's own USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 adapters is the obvious solution. Buying third-party adaptors or docks will probably be cheaper but, as Apple says, only those certified by Apple are guaranteed to work - and there's still relatively few of those.
If you have a Thunderbolt 3 dock that's incompatible then Khaos Tian has detailed a hack that might fix it but it's very technical in nature and not for beginners.
Apple might provide a future update to macOS Sierra to include support for non-compatible USB-C/Thunderbolt hardware but knowing Apple like we do - and coupled to the fact they have their own range of adapters - we wouldn't hold our breath waiting for a fix. To be honest, if you're affected then we reckon it's best to bite the bullet and get new Apple-approved adapters.
MacBook Pro graphics failures
Reports of failing MacBook Pros have been flooding in since 2013, with many owners of 2011 models with AMD graphics suffering from system crashes and hardware problems that have been described as "critical". After a long wait, Apple finally announced a repair programme, and we've got all the details here. For coverage of similar programmes covering MacBooks and other Apple products, read our guide to Apple product recalls & free repair programmes.
On 19 February 2015 Apple announced a repair program for some MacBook Pro models suffering from the graphics issues described below.
It was not officially a replacement program, but instead is titled "MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video Issues."
On its support page, Apple revealed it has determined "that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video or unexpected system restarts".
The specific symptoms described by Apple include distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen, no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on, and the computer restarts unexpectedly.
The products initially included in the repair program were the 15in and 17in MacBook Pro models manufactured in 2011, and 15in MacBook Pro with Retina models manufactured from Mid 2012 to Early 2013. The MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011) and the MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) and MacBook Pro (Retina, 15 inch, Early 2013). However, with the program only lasting four years kit is now too late to qualify for the repair.
The problem, first emerged in February 2013 and escalated throughout 2014 as more and more owners of the affected models began to experience issues. While playing games, watching HD video or performing another graphics-intensive task, users have witnessed their displays distorting, or sometimes going completely blank. Rebooting the machine temporarily resolves the issue, but it almost always returns.
Eventually, many users found that their MacBook boots to a blue or grey screen. Currently, the only permanent resolution is to get a replacement logic board, but that can prove quite costly without Apple Care. It's believed that overheating is to blame for the issue.
Some of the readers who've been in touch have said that Apple has replaced their 2011 MacBook Pro's logic board thanks to Apple Care, with some customers even claiming to have had their logic board replaced multiple times.
In the past, Apple has offered replacement hard drives for iMacs containing 1TB Seagate hard drives that have been known to fail, replacement MagSafe adapters, iBook logic board replacements back in 2004, and, most recently, a MacBook Air flash storage drive replacement programme for June 2012 to June 2013 models.
What to do if your Mac needs to be repaired
If your Mac is eligible for repair, you'll now need to back up your Mac laptop and then bring it to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider. An Apple technician will then run a diagnostic test to verify eligibility, and let you know how long it'll take to repair.
Note, however, that if there is other damage to your MacBook Pro that "prevents the repair" such as a cracked screen, they'll charge you for the replacement of that. Aside from that, though, the repair program is completely free (and so it should be!).
You'll be notified when your MacBook Pro has been fixed and is ready to be collected, and fingers crossed the issue will have been resolved.
Are you a MacBook laptop owner experiencing an issue? Let us know!
Wondering how many years your Mac should last for? Read: How long do Macs last?