Ten Most Common Printer Cartridge Problems

1. Ink Cartridge Cannot be Recognized - This is a common problem with Epson Printers it is to do with the fact that Epson purposefully engineer their printer software to detect non-genuine cartridges. The software is able to detect the difference between the Genuine Micro-chip on the Epson cartridges and the generic version on the compatible ones.

This can often occur when a mixture of Genuine and Compatible cartridges are used. It is recommended that with Epson printers you either use ALL generic or ALL genuine cartridges. For more detailed information on this problem take a look at the following article: Epson Ink Cartridges Cannot Be Recognised.

2. Wrong or Incorrect Cartridge Installed - This Error Message is more common to Canon and HP Printers which use a Micro Chip on the cartridge. There are several causes and the main ones are:

1. Faulty Micro Chip on the cartridge itself. The only solution is to replace the cartridge itself.

2. The cartridge is not firmly clipped into the printer causing the micro chip to not connect firmly  with the printer terminals.

3. The Micro Chip or the printer terminals are dirty. This can often occur if ink has dried on the small gold terminals which should make a good contact with the micro chip on the cartridge. Use a cotton bud and some cleaning fluid to make sure both terminals and micro chip are clean.

4. Cartridges are out of date. HP are known for this with their HP 02 and HP 564 cartridges. No doubt other HP models also use the same tactics.

5. Believe it or not many cartridges are Region Locked. I know that HP and Epson definitely do this so if your printer was purchased in one country it wont work with cartridges purchased from another country.

3. Printing has white lines or missing print - the only thing that will cause this is the print head being partially clogged. This is more common with Epson and Brother printers as they use a Piezo Print Head. Most printers will do this if left sitting around long enough as the ink in the print head dries and blocks the small holes where the ink comes out of. Poor quality compatible inks can also cause this however it still can occur with genuine inks if the printer is not used regularly. The solution is to clean the print head. See Epson Print Head Cleaning and Canon Print Head Cleaning.

4. Images are completely the Wrong Colour -  The main cause for this is either the Ink Cartridge has been installed without removing the "Breather Tape" at the top of the cartridge or else a partially blocked print head. By printing a test page you will be able to isolate which colour is not printing correctly.

Once you isolate the problem colour or colours then you can check that the tape has been fully removed or else proceed with a maintenance print head clean. (refer to your printers manual on cleaning the print head)

5. Print Head Error Message - The print head is the most delicate part of the printer so don't be surprised if a problem occurs when your printer is several years old. Canon Printers are known for the common U053 etc. messages and the only fix is to remove all cartridges, take the print head out, clean it and all of the electrical contacts and then re install it.

Leave the printer unplugged at the wall for 20 mins before powering up again. If this doesn't work then more than likely the print head is faulty. Most other printers don't have removable print heads so there is very little you can do other than to buy a new printer.

The newer Canon Maxify range of printers are known for the B504 Error message. This occurs when one of the cartridges are not sealing correctly or else there is an issue with the ink flow. When this error message appears then the printer locks itself and it cannot be opened.

Supposedly this system protects the printhead from getting damaged. Make sure that if you use generic cartridges with a Maxify printer that you don't tamper with the plastic membranes at the front of the cartridges before installing them.

6. Ink Levels not detected - This problem is common to Brother Printers when installing a new cartridge. To avoid this in Brother Printers only install a new cartridge when you are prompted to do so. Also NEVER install ink cartridges on any printer when the printer is turned off.

If your Printer is not detecting the ink level correctly after installing new cartridges turn it off and unplug it from the wall for 20 mins until the memory resets. Many Brother printers also have the option to reset ink levels manually on the actual printer menu button.

7. Ink Leaking from Cartridge into Printer - this problem is common with poorly designed compatible cartridges. Usually they are poorly molded or else the ink valves don't seal properly when installed in the printer.

Often the ink will leak out into the printer and is only detected when changing cartridges the next time they run out. Look for a reputable company when buying compatible cartridges as there is a huge amount of cheap, low quality products being sold especially online.

8. Vertical  lines on page - this is common when the Drum Unit in a toner cartridge is scratched. This can occur for a number of reasons and is not uncommon in re manufactured toners due to the Photosensitive Drum being marked and toner sticks to it and then transfers to the printed page. If this occurs replacing the toner is the only solution.

9. Vertical line on edge of page - If a vertical line appears  on the page's margin (usually the right margin) after printing several thousand pages, the drum in your toner cartridge is wearing out. The line will get wider the longer it is used. Replace the toner cartridge or if the toner uses a separate Drum then replace the Drum Unit.

10. Excessive Grey Background -  Once again this is a problem common to Laser Printers which may indicate that the Transfer Roller in the toner needs replacing. Before replacing the toner or parts of the toner try reducing the Density Setting on the printer or even using a lighter weight paper sometimes helps. If neither of these solutions work then replace the toner itself.