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HP Photosmart 7520 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for HP Photosmart 7520 and 7525 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 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, damaged, or unsupported paper can cause vertical streaks in printouts.
Examples of horizontal and vertical streaks in a printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in a printout
Image: Horizontal streaks  in a printout.
If your printout contains horizontal lines or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks, continue to the next step.
Figure : Vertical streaks in a printout
Image: Vertical streaks in a printout.
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. Vertical streaks in copies can often be fixed by cleaning the scanner glass.
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 the 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.
From the home screen of the printer control panel, touch the Ink icon . The current ink levels display.
Figure : Example of estimated ink levels
Image: Estimated ink levels displaying on the control panel.
  • 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 low or empty ink cartridges
Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
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. Turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure : Opening the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  3. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before you continue.
  4. 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.
    Figure : Removing the ink cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot.
     note:
    Never turn off the printer when ink cartridges are missing. Make sure 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.
     caution:
    Do not lift the latch to the side of the carriage to remove the ink cartridge. Doing so might result in incorrectly seated ink cartridges.
  5. Repeat the previous step until you have removed all of the ink cartridges from the printer.
  6. Remove an ink cartridge from its package, and then pull the orange pull-tab straight back.
     caution:
    Make sure you remove the orange pull-tab and plastic wrap completely before you remove the orange cap in the next step. Otherwise, ink might leak from the ink cartridge. When you remove the plastic wrap, the paper label on the top of the ink cartridge tears slightly, which is necessary to properly vent the cartridge.
    Figure : Removing the new ink cartridge from the plastic wrap
    Image: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
  7. Twist the orange cap counter clockwise until it snaps off the new ink cartridge.
    Figure : Removing the orange cap from the new ink cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge.
  8. With the nozzle and contacts facing down, slide the ink cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it snaps into place.
     caution:
    Do not lift the carriage latch handle to install the ink cartridges. Doing so can result in incorrectly seated ink cartridges and printing problems. The latch must remain down to install the ink cartridges correctly. Make sure the colored icon on the ink cartridge matches the colored icon on the slot.
    Figure : Inserting the ink cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge.
  9. If the ink cartridge does not snap into place, remove the ink cartridge from the carriage. Gently bend the tab away from the ink cartridge, and then reinsert the ink cartridge into the carriage.
     caution:
    Be careful not to bend the tab out more than 1.27 cm (0.5 in). Moving the tab too far might damage the ink cartridge or cause the tab to break off.
      Figure : Bending out the ink cartridge tab
      Image: Adjust the ink cartridge tab
    1. Bend the tab away from the cartridge
    2. Do not bend the tab more than 1.27 cm (0.5 in)
  10. Repeat the previous steps until you have inserted all of the new ink cartridges into the printer.
  11. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Closing the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  12. When you insert a new ink cartridge, the printer automatically prompts you to align the ink cartridges. Touch OK on the printer control panel to complete the alignment.
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.
  1. Load plain, white paper in the input 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: Example 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 all-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. 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. Make sure the printer is on.
  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. With the nozzle and the contacts facing down, push the ink cartridge into its slot. Press down on the ink cartridge until it snaps into place. Make sure that the color icon on the ink cartridge label matches the color icon on the slot.
    Figure : Insert the ink cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge.
  8. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the ink cartridges.
  9. 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.
  10. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  11. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before proceeding.
  12. 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 U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the input tray, if it is not already loaded.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon .
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Clean Cartridges.
    The printer cleans the printhead and then prints a test page.
    Figure : Example of test page
    Image: Test page
  4. Check the test page for defects.
     note:
    There are three cleaning levels. Complete all three if necessary. If the printhead is badly clogged, it might require another cleaning cycle. If so, wait 30 minutes before you perform all three levels of cleaning again.
  • 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 input 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: Replace the printhead
If you have completed all of the troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing a problem, replace the printhead.
 caution:
Wait until you have a new printhead assembly available before you remove the ink cartridges. HP recommends that you do not leave the ink cartridges outside the printer longer than 30 minutes. This could damage both the printer and the ink cartridges.
If replacing the printhead did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 13: 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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