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HP Deskjet D4145, D4155, D4160, D4163 and D4168 Printers - Missing, Faded, or Dull Colors

Issue

The printer is working, but colors in the printed output are missing, faded, or dull in comparison to the original.

Solution

Step one: Check the paper

Verify that the paper type is appropriate for the project. If the paper is too fibrous, the ink applied by the printer might not fully cover the print surface.

Step two: Check the print settings

  1. In the software application you are trying to print from, click File and then click Print. The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Verify that your printer is selected and then click Properties. The printer Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Click the Printing Shortcuts tab.
  4. In the What do you want to do? menu, select a task.
    The What do you want to do? menu lists most printing needs, but you might need to modify some of the options.
    Options on the Printing Shortcuts tab include:
    • Print quality: If you are unhappy with the quality of your printouts, try increasing the print quality. To print more quickly, try decreasing the print quality.
    • Paper type: If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, choose it rather than Automatic.
    • Paper size: Make sure this matches your paper.
    Additional options: click the Basics tab, then click Advanced Features. The Advanced Features window opens.
    • Ink volume: Adjusts the amount of ink printed on a page. For lighter images (less ink), drag the slider to the left. For darker images (more ink), drag the slider to the right. The lighter the ink volume, the faster the printout will dry.
    • Dry time: Provides extra drying time for slow-drying printouts. Drag the slider to the left for less drying time, or to the right for more drying time. The printer will hold onto the printout until the dry time has elapsed.

Step three: Check the ink levels

note:
If you have installed a refilled or remanufactured print cartridge, or a cartridge that has been used in another printer, the ink level indicator will be inaccurate or unavailable.
  1. Open the Printer Toolbox.
    1. Open HP Solution Center.
    2. Click Settings.
    3. Click Print Settings.
    4. Click Printer Toolbox.
    note:
    You can also open the Printer Toolbox from the Print Properties dialog box. In the Print Properties dialog box, click the Services tab and then click Service this device.
  2. Click the Estimated Ink Levels tab.
    Figure : Estimated ink levels - both cartridges low
    note:
    A cartridge might be running out of ink even if the graphic shows that there is ink remaining in the cartridge. Lines or streaks always appear in printouts when the cartridges begin to run out of ink. Replace print cartridges that are out of ink or low on ink.
    note:
    If the print cartridges were used before they were installed in the printer, the estimated ink levels will not appear on the Estimated Ink Level tab.

Step four: Print a self-test page

If the steps above have not resolved the issue, print and evaluate a self-test page to determine if the cartridges or printer is causing the problem.
  1. Open the printer Toolbox.
    1. Open the Printer Properties dialog box.
    2. Click the Features tab.
    3. Click the Printer services button. The Toolbox is displayed.
  2. Click the Print a Test Page button, and then follow the onscreen instructions.

Step five: Note which cartridges printed which areas of the self-test page

You must identify which cartridge printed which part of the self-test report, so that if you find defects on the report, you will know which cartridge is the problem.
Note though that different combinations of print cartridges can be installed in your printer, and different cartridge combinations print different patterns. Your self-test report may not look exactly like the picture below, but the right and left cartridges will print in the same areas of the report no matter which cartridges are installed.
    Figure : Self-test report layout (the patterns in each area may look slightly different on your report)
  1. Printed by the left cartridge
  2. Printed by the right cartridge

Step six: Look for defects

In general, if the printer and print cartridges are working properly, the patterns (which look like grids of lines) should contain few or no missing lines. None of the colors should be missing and the colors of the blocks at the bottom of the page should match the labels below each block. Also, there should be no streaks of ink on the report.

Missing lines or streaked bars

If a pattern shows more than a few missing lines, or a bar is streaked, that print cartridge is not functioning properly.
Figure : The left cartridge shows missing lines and a streaked bar - the cartridge is not functioning properly
If the diagnostic page shows missing lines or streaked bars, click here to continue troubleshooting.

Color mix

The color blocks at the bottom of the self-test report are printed by the tri-color (left-side) cartridge only. These blocks have labels describing the color they should be. If the color of any of the blocks does not match its label, the left-side cartridge is not functioning properly.
note:
If there are no specific color blocks refer to cyan, magenta, and yellow for mixing.
Figure : The color of one of the left cartridge bars is very different from the color on the cartridge label - the cartridge is not functioning properly
If one or more of the color blocks does not match its label, click here to continue troubleshooting.

Missing colors

If any of the color patterns or bars are entirely missing, the cartridge is not functioning properly.
note:
If you are printing in reserve mode, without all the cartridges installed, the patterns associated with the missing cartridge will also be missing.
    Figure : Missing color - the yellow pattern and bar is missing from example 2 below
  1. Good test page
  2. Yellow pattern and bar missing
If any of the patterns or bars are entirely missing, click here to continue troubleshooting.

Ink smears

If the self-test report shows smeared ink, you might need to clean your cartridges.
Figure : Smeared ink
If the self-test report shows smeared ink, click here to continue troubleshooting.

Step seven: If you saw no defects

If no defects appear on the diagnostic page, the cartridges and product are probably working correctly. Click here to continue troubleshooting (c00635950) (in English).

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