Wifi gone on MacBook Pro

Some weeks ago, and out of the blue, my 2008 MacBook Pro showed a strange icon in place of the usual Wifi one and - by clicking on it - was ominously reporting “Wi-Fi: no hardware installed”. Something broke.

As I was on the road at the time, I went to a local electronics store and picked up a Wifi USB dongle. While that actually works better than I expected, it does block one of the two USB ports, requires a separate piece of software to operate and gets excessively hot (heat = battery use).

I checked out
this iFixit guide to see if - by chance - the cable might have disconnected from the Airport card... but no luck. So I ordered a replacement Airport card for the laptop (setting me back €30) and used the same iFixit guide to attempt the repair. There aren’t any relevant differences between the 2008 and 2009 MacBook Pros (except for the removable battery in mine), so the guide works fine.

The guide is really quite good, though there are small issues when putting the unit back together that I would like to have seen in the guide instead of making mistakes and (luckily) finally figuring it out on my own. Such as positioning of the Airport connector cable when putting the clutch cover back on.

After getting the unit back together, I fired it up; it had saved a previous session in a hibernation file (because the battery ran out), and - of course - no new Wifi hardware was found. Not an issue, I figured - after all, the running OS had been “alive” before I replaced the card. I rebooted.

The reboot didn’t help - the hardware continued claimed “uninstalled” by the system.

reset the NVRAM. No Wifi.
I tried trashing the NetworkInterfaces.plist, which I found
here - no Wifi.
reset the SMC. Nada.

Checking the Network -> Wifi section in the System Information app clearly shows that hardware wasn’t found, only the Wifi software. On my work MacBook Pro, there is a section under “Software Version” called “Interfaces” that lists the Airport Extreme card - there is no such section on my private laptop.

It looks like the Airport card wasn’t at fault after all. Shame that. The “operation” was pretty difficult; not something I’d really want to repeat. The biggest question now is: is this a cable break issue or is there something broken on the mainboard?

I’m not sure if it is really worth the trouble... after all, I can use Wifi with that USB dongle - annoying as that is. If it is just the cable, that would be easy to replace; I haven’t found one yet on ebay, though.

We’ll see.