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HP Photosmart 6520, Deskjet 6525 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for HP Photosmart 6520, 6521, 6525, and Deskjet Ink Advantage 6525 e-All-in-One printers.
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.
 note:
Windows operating systems 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.
Figure : Example of garbled, jumbled or illogical text, or an incomplete print job
Image: Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout
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.
If using genuine HP ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 2: 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 steps.
Step 3: Check the paper
Make sure 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 ink 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 ink 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.
If changing the paper did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 4: Check the print settings
Check the print settings to make sure they are appropriate for your print job.
If changing the print settings did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 5: Check ink levels
Use the printer control panel to check the estimated ink levels on your printer.
 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.
  1. Load plain, white 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 none of the ink cartridges are low on ink, you do not need to replace them yet. Skip to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostic report.
  • If any of the ink cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step to replace them.
Step 6: Replace any empty or low ink cartridges
Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
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.
  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
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.
  1. Load plain, white 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 Print Quality Diagnostic report.
    Figure : Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects
    Image of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.
Step 8: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic report for defects
If the printer and the ink cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be complete, unstreaked, and uniform in color across the width of the page. The black text on the page should not have ink streaks.
Review the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the Print Quality Diagnostic report. 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 Print Quality Diagnostic Report, the print mechanism and ink cartridges work correctly. If the issue is not resolved, return to the step to check the print settings.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report, continue to the next step.
Step 9: Make sure the ink cartridges are properly vented and correctly seated
If the vent on the top of the ink cartridge is clogged or obstructed, the ink cartridge might not work properly. If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, check that the ink cartridges are properly vented and correctly seated.
  1. Turn on the printer.
  2. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Open the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Open the ink cartridge access door.
  3. Press the tab on the front of the ink cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    • If the error message mentions a specific ink cartridge, locate that ink cartridge, remove it from the carriage, and then continue with the next step.
    • If the error message does not mention a specific ink cartridge, remove all the ink cartridges one at a time, and then continue with the next step.
    Figure : Remove the ink cartridge
    Image: Remove the ink cartridge
  4. Examine the vent area on each ink cartridge located above the HP logo on the top of the ink cartridge.
    Figure : Vent area on the top of the ink cartridge
    Image: Vent area on the top of the ink cartridge
  5. If the ink 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 ink cartridges.
  8. With the nozzle and the contacts facing down, push the ink cartridge into its slot. Press down on the ink cartridge until it clicks into place. Make sure that the color icon on the ink cartridge label matches the color icon on the slot.
     note:
    Make sure each ink cartridge is installed in the correct slot. Match the shape of the icon and the color of the ink cartridge with the slot that has the same shaped icon and color.
    Figure : Insert the ink cartridge
    Image: Insert the ink cartridge.
  9. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the ink cartridges.
  10. Make sure each ink cartridge is firmly in place in its slot. Run your finger along the top of the ink cartridges to feel for any that are protruding, and if any are, press down firmly until each ink cartridge snaps into place.
  11. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  12. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before proceeding.
  13. Print another Print Quality Diagnostic report.
If inspecting the vents on the ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 10: Clean the printhead
If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, run an automated tool to clean the printhead.
  1. Load plain, white paper in the tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon .
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Clean Printhead.
    The printer cleans the printhead and prints a test page.
  4. Check the test page for defects.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting. The following precautions might prevent the issue in the future.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected ink cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the Power button to turn off the printer. This protects the ink cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next step.
Step 11: Align the printer
If there were defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, align the printhead.
  1. Load plain, white 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 aligning the printhead did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 12: Service the printer
If you have followed all the steps in this document and your printer is producing printouts with print quality issues, service the printer.
 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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