Question Thinkpad T570: Issue with HDD SATA cable/connector/controller? Boot with WWAN M.2 SSD?

Sep 22, 2019
Have a 1.5 year old Thinkpad T570 (out of warranty). Recently started getting the CRITICAL PROCESS DIED intermittently and would stop detecting HDD. After a while, it would eventually detect it and work fine. Now, it doesn't detect it at all. I realize this is similar to other posts here upon research but most of them being under warranty got their MB replaced for free (not an option for me).
I have a couple of observations/questions/solutions:
  1. I tried reseating the SATA cable both at the HDD and the MB - nothing. Tried pressing down on the connector and still nothing. HDD spins but not detected. Sometimes if I lightly jiggle the connector, HDD stops spinning. I read posts of the connector soldering being loose but how can I eliminate that as a cause? Or even the cable?
  2. Tried a new SATA SSD and nothing. I thought maybe the HDD was dead.
  3. Launched Ubuntu from USB and gparted does not detect the spinning HDD or the new SSD.
So here is where I need help:
  1. Is it possible for HDD to be spinning (i.e. gets power) but not exchange data?
  2. How to eliminate a faulty MB connector as the cause? Or check if replacing cable will help (these are not available readily; ~30 day lead time). Possible for SATA controller to be damaged (if this is even possible)?
  3. My WWAN slot is available.
    • Is it possible to have the main boot drive be in the WWAN slot?
    • Looks like for T570, the WWAN drive is a 2242 M.2 SSD (SATA). Will it work even if the MB SATA controller is damaged?
I really appreciate any help or insight here. Thanks for your time.