Fire Hazard Prompts Gigantic Dell Laptop Battery Recall

Computer maker Dell today said it will recall 4.1 million laptop computer batteries because of a potential fire hazard. It's reportedly one of the largest consumer electronics recalls in history.

The lithium-ion batteries being recalled are installed in 2.7 million laptops sold in the United States and 1.4 million sold overseas between April 2004 and July 18 of this year, Dell said.

"Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could cause a risk of fire," Dell said in a statement. The comapany said the overheating was caused by a manufacturing defect in batteries made for it by Sony.

Customers may continue to use the laptop computers safely by turning the system off, ejecting the battery, and using the AC adapter and power cord to power the system until the replacement battery is received, the company said.

Models Affected

The recalled batteries were sold with the following Dell notebook computers: Dell Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810; Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400, E1705; and Dell Precision M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710.

The batteries were also sold separately, including in response to service calls. The words "Dell" and one of the following are printed on the batteries: "Made in Japan" or "Made in China" or "Battery Cell Made in Japan Assembled in China," Dell said.

Dell urged customers to visit the firm's Web site beginning at 1 a.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time Tuesday or call toll-free at 1-866-342-0011, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT. Dell is headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin.

In past instances of battery recall, Dell and the CPSC urged consumers to stop using the laptops' batteries until they received a replacement. Lithium-ion batteries also are used in cell phones, camcorders, digital cameras and other consumer electronics products.

Dell said it is cooperating with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in conducting the recall. The federal agency described it as the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, according to published reports.

According to the CPSC, lithium-ion batteries have been cited in recalls of other laptop models, including computers from Hewlett-Packard and from Apple Computer.

Other Recent Laptop Battery Recalls

Dell made other voluntary recalls of 22,000 laptop batteries in December 2005, 284,000 in 2001 and 27,000 in 2000, according to the CPSC.

Dell reported six instances in which laptops overheated and caused fires since December of last year, although no one was injured in any of the incidents, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported today.

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