How do I replace the hinge/clutch cover?
Mine happens to be cracked and I would really like to replace it. Is there a guide on how to, anywhere?
It is technically possible to remove the clutch cover on the Retina MacBook Pros but it is a difficult repair, as the clutch end caps are adhered to the display a bit and have small plastic clips that often bend or break.
On top of that, sourcing a replacement clutch cover would likely require eBay or some other method as I don't see the part listed as a replacement part on iFixit.
To the point, you'd first need to remove the display;
After that, you'd need a Spudger using the point end to lightly remove the two plastic end caps on either side of the clutch.. This is the hard part as they often break or bend and if they do, they will not sit correctly most times when you attempt to put them back on. (It should be noted though that the clearance on the top case and these pieces is tight, and some people don't mind the clearance actually helping hold the piece on)
Then holding the display with the apple logo towards you and the display pointing away from you (up side down so the clutch cover is at the top), you can carefully slide the clutch to the right, similar to any Non Retina MacBook pro and remove it carefully once the clips are disengaged, This takes some very careful work. Reverse to put the new clutch on, and carefully seat the end caps into their proper spot, then reinstall the display!
So I just did this repair. After following the instructions to get the display assembly off of the body of the laptop the next thing to do was figuring out the how the cover would come off.
Like the first poster stated the end caps are adhered with glue and also have a small ball on them that fits into a socket on the clutch cover. The best way to get this off is to place the tip of a spudger in the gap between this small end cap and the clutch cover on the bottom edge of the display. After prying out the bottom part of the end cap the top part with the adhesive is easier to get off. I used a little heat just to make it all go a little smoother.
After taking off both end caps the entire clutch cover needs to be slid towards the side of the display with the air-port and camera cables. It takes a little bit of work but it is manageable. After the old one is off I had to reseat the air port antenna because one of the brackets had come loose and caused it to protrude down, breaking my clutch cover to begin with.
Assembly was the reverse of all the steps. Use the cut outs in the display to line up the clips with where they need to go. I bent a couple of mine out of shape on the first try but using a case opener tool I was able to get them lined up and slid the clutch cover back on. The end caps are a little tricky to get back on. For me they clipped back together the best when seated the end opposite the ball and adhesive before pushing the ball back into place. Make sure that everything sits flush and perpendicular to the edge of the computer before putting the display back onto the case since if its a little off it will rub or get jammed. It is worth taking the extra time to get everything back the way it should be.
Below is the cover I ordered off amazon. Make sure the one you order is for your model number and I like to find items fulfilled by amazon because I've found the sellers that take the time to stock things at Amazon's warehouse are more reputable than ones who ship from china. Also FBA gets prime shipping which is really nice.
Make sure you have a good set of tools, like the Pro Tech Toolkit, and the skill to use them. All the work you will be doing is very delicate and in a sensitive area. If you damage the things under the clutch cover you can loose wifi, bluetooth, ect. Mainly just go slow and make sure your doing everything as carefully as possible. You don't want to destroy a $400 display assembly trying to replace a $15 cover.
Overall I think it was worthwhile doing the repair. The new cover is doing a better job of keeping dust and dirt out of the antenna area and it just looks way better.
It took me about 20 minutes to figure out how to remove the end caps, and about 5 seconds to remove the other one once I figure it out.
I think the best thing you can do is take a very small flathead screwdriver and try to wedge it in between the end cap and the hinge. Then, just gently and rhythmically rock back and forth, prying up more and more each time.
I was able to remove both end caps with only a couple scratches on the paint near the edges. But hey, cosmetic wear is worth it if the display works, right? ;)
Thanks for the help, guys!
It’s really not that hard to replace if you follow the guides here on removing clutch covers from Unibody MacBook Pros (Late 2008 - Mid 2012). As for the black plastic end caps, heat them up or pry carefully with a spudger and they will pop out. they are plastic so the have some give/bend. then just use a spudger or plastic pry tool to carefully dislodge the clutch cover from the tabs locking it in and wiggle it carefully back and forth until you have it removed. repeat from a spare cracked screen to get a good donor clutch cover. You can buy a cracked complete screen assembly on ebay for very cheap and just use the clutch cover from that. You could even put the broken one back on the cracked screen assembly and then sell it again on eBay for parts and basically break even (minus any listing fees).. Win win.
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