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Fixing Print Quality Problems for the HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 6520 e-All-in-One and HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One Printer Series

The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black ink not printing, documents with blurred or fuzzy text, ink streaks or smears, and other print quality problems.
Try the following solutions in the order presented to resolve the issue. When one of the solutions resolves the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.
HP recommends that you use genuine HP ink cartridges. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP ink cartridges or refilled HP ink cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP ink cartridges, the steps in this document might not resolve print quality issues.
Visit HP SureSupply to check ink cartridge compatibility or purchase replacement ink cartridges.
  1. Go to the HP SureSupply website.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and then make sure the country/region location is correct.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to order new ink cartridges or check ink cartridge compatibility with your printer.
Genuine HP ink cartridges can also be purchased from other retailers.
Solution two: Allow automatic servicing to complete
Your HP printer has an automatic servicing routine that can solve many print quality issues. There is nothing you need to do. The print quality should improve a few hours after you experience the issue.
If you cannot wait for the automatic servicing routine to complete, continue with the following troubleshooting solutions.
Solution three: Check the paper
Use the following guidelines to make sure that the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If it is not, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, like photo paper and other special media. Usually, the smoother side is the "print side," and sometimes the non-print side has a logo of the paper manufacturer on it.
  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the product.
    Figure : Do not use wrinkled paper
    Image: Do not use wrinkled paper
  • Use the correct paper type for your project.
    • For everyday text documents, plain paper with ColorLok technology works well. Paper with ColorLok technology is industry-standard paper that works well with HP ink.
      Figure : Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.
    • Some media may not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.
  • Store photo paper in its original packaging inside a resealable plastic bag. Store the paper on a flat surface in a cool, dry place. Load 10-20 sheets of photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.
  • Try using a different paper. This will determine if the problem is related to the paper.
 note:
Inappropriate paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts (or if the problem occurs on a copy, dirty scanner glass usually causes the issue). Do not replace cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in printout
Image of horizontal streaks
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks, or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks.
Figure : Vertical streaks in printout
Image of vertical streaks
Do not replace cartridges for vertical streaks in a printout. Instead, check the paper as described earlier in this document, or search for a document that covers this issue.
Try printing again after trying the preceding guidelines.
Solution four: Check the print settings
Follow these steps to check the print settings to make sure that they are appropriate for your print job.
Solution five: Check ink levels, and then replace low or empty cartridges
Follow these steps to check the estimated ink levels on your printer, and then replace low or empty cartridges according to the results.
 note:
Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low-ink levels, consider having a replacement ink cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace ink cartridges until print quality becomes unacceptable.
Step one: Check the ink levels
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the tray, if it is not already loaded.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ().
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Estimated Ink Levels. The control panel displays the estimated ink levels.
    Figure : Example of estimated ink levels
    Image: Example of  estimated ink levels.
    • If the ink-level graphic shows low or empty cartridges, and you are dissatisfied with the quality of your printouts, replace the cartridges now.
    • If the ink-level graphic shows full cartridges, you do not need to replace the cartridges yet. Continue to the next solution.
Step two: Replace any depleted cartridges
Watch a video or use the following steps to replace a depleted cartridge.
The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
 note:
This video shows the HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One printer, but the steps are the same for your printer.
If you have trouble viewing the video or to view the video in a different size, click here to play the video on YouTube.
If you have a defective ink cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink supplies, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies, select your country/region, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.
Visit HP SureSupply to check ink cartridge compatibility or purchase replacement ink cartridges.
  1. Go to the HP SureSupply website.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and then make sure the country/region location is correct.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to order new ink cartridges or check ink cartridge compatibility with your printer.
Genuine HP ink cartridges can also be purchased from other retailers.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already turned on. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before continuing.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot
  4. Pull the orange tab to remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
    Figure : Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap
    Image: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap
     caution:
    Make sure that you remove the orange pull-tab and plastic wrap completely before you twist the orange cap in the next step. Otherwise, ink might leak from the cartridge. When you remove the plastic wrap, the paper label on the top of the cartridge tears slightly, which is necessary to properly vent the cartridge.
  5. Twist the orange cap counter clockwise until it snaps off the new cartridge.
    Figure : Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge
  6. With the nozzle and contacts facing down, slide the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it is firmly seated.
    Figure : Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge
  7. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door
Solution six: Print and evaluate a Print Quality Diagnostic report and troubleshoot defects
Follow these steps to print and evaluate a test page.
Step one: Print a Print Quality Diagnostic report
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ().
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Print Quality Report. The printer prints the test page.
    Figure : Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects
    Image of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.
Step two: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic report for defects
In general, if the printer and its cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars on the test page should be present and unstreaked. The black text should not show ink streaks. The example in the previous step shows a test page with no defects.
Review the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the test page. These examples are not inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on a Print Quality Diagnostic report
Defect
Example
Irregular streaks
Image of irregular streaks.
Faded color bars
Image of faded color bars.
Missing color
Image of a color missing.
Color bars with regular white streaks
Image of regular white streaks in the color bars.
Jagged alignment patterns
Image of jagged alignment patterns.
  • If you do not see defects on the test page, the print mechanism and cartridges work correctly. Do not continue the troubleshooting steps in this document. If printouts are still unsatisfactory, try the following general print quality guidelines.
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that are enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the issue is confined to a band near the edge of a printout, use the software you installed with the printer or another software program to rotate the image 180 degrees. The problem might not display on the other end of the printout.
    Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout (graphic)
    Windows only: If you are experiencing garbled, jumbled or illogical text, incomplete printouts, or missing text or graphics, go to Continuous Pages of Strange or Garbled Characters Print in Windows
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the test page, continue to the next step.
Step three: Make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly
If the vent on the top of the cartridge is clogged or obstructed, the cartridge might not work properly. Follow these steps to make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  2. Open the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    • If the error message mentions a specific cartridge, locate that cartridge, and then remove it from the carriage, and then continue with the next step.
    • If the error message does not mention a specific cartridge, remove all the cartridges one at a time, and then continue with the next step.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
  4. Examine the vent area on each cartridge located above the HP logo on the top of the cartridge.
    Figure : Vent area on the top of the cartridge
    Image: Vent area on the top of the cartridge
  5. If the cartridge still has the orange pull-tab attached, pull to remove it.
    Figure : Orange pull tab
    Image: Orange pull tab.
  6. If the vent is clogged, use a straight pin to gently remove excess adhesive from the vent.
      Figure : Clean the clogged vent with a pin
      Image: Clean the clogged vent with a pin.
    1. Clogged vent
    2. With a straight pin, gently remove excess adhesive from the vent
    3. Unclogged vent
  7. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the cartridges.
  8. With the nozzle and the contacts facing down, push the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks into place. Make sure that the color icon on the cartridge label matches the color icon on the slot.
     note:
    Make sure that each cartridge is installed in the correct slot. Match the shape of the icon and the color of the cartridge with the slot that has the same shaped icon and color.
    Figure : Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge.
  9. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the cartridges.
  10. Make sure that each cartridge is firmly in place in its slot. Run your finger along the top of the cartridges to feel for any that are protruding, and if any are, press down firmly until each cartridge snaps into place.
  11. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  12. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before proceeding.
  13. Print another test page.
Step four: Use an automated tool to clean the printhead
Follow these steps to run an automatic utility to clean the printhead.
 note:
Never turn off the printer when ink cartridges are missing. Make sure that you replace any missing ink cartridges as soon as possible to avoid print quality issues and possible extra ink usage or damage to the ink system. To avoid issues that require cleaning the printhead, always turn the printer off with the Power button on the printer itself.
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the tray, if it is not already loaded.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ().
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Clean Printhead. The printer cleans the printheads and prints a test page.
  4. Check the test page for defects.
    • If you do not see defects on the test page, the print mechanism and cartridges work correctly. Do not continue the troubleshooting steps in this document.
    • If you see defects on the test page, try the second-stage cleaning option that the printer offers. If you still see defects on the test page, continue to the next step.
Step five: Align the printheads
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ().
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Align Printer. After the alignment, a message displays on the printer control panel that tells you the alignment status.
    • If the alignment is successful, you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the alignment is unsuccessful, continue to the next solution.
 note:
Keep a print sample that shows the problem. If the ink cartridges, printhead, or printer is replaced under warranty, the support agent will request the print sample. If the printer is returned to HP, the print sample must be returned with the printer. Place the sample in the output tray when you package your printer for shipping.

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