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HP Officejet 4000 (K210a) and Deskjet Ink Advantage (K109) Printers - Troubleshooting Print-Quality Issues

Issue

The quality of the printout or printed image is not as expected.
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.
note:
Some of the following solutions require the full HP software. If you did not install the full software when you installed your product, click here to go to the software and drivers page, and then download and install the full feature software.

Solution one: Use genuine cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP ink or toner supplies. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP or refilled cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP cartridges, the steps in this document might not resolve the issue. To check the authenticity of your cartridges, go to the HP anti-counterfeit webpage (in English).

Solution two: Allow the printer to rest

Sometimes, print-quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 40 minutes, and then try the print job again.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

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 product with an appropriate paper type.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, such as photo paper and envelopes. 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. Use only clean, wrinkle-free paper.
    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.
      ColorLok logo
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photos, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for best results.
    • Some paper might 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 determines if the problem is related to the paper.
note:
Inappropriate paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts. Do not replace cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in printout
Illustration of horizontal streaks
Figure : Vertical streaks in printout
Illustration of vertical streaks
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks, or other print-quality issues besides 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.
After trying the preceding guidelines, try printing again.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

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.
  1. In the software program you are trying to print from, click File, and then click Print. The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your product, and then click Properties. The printer Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Click the Printing Shortcuts tab.
  4. Under Printing shortcuts, click the type of job you are trying to print.
  5. Review the following options, and then make any necessary changes.
    • Paper sizes: Make sure that the selected option matches your paper size.
    • Paper type: If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select that option.
    • Print quality: If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your printouts, increase the print quality.
  6. Click the Features tab.
  7. Under Color Options, make sure that Print in grayscale is not selected.
  8. Click OK, and then click OK again to start the print job.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution five: Check ink levels and replace low or empty cartridges

Follow these steps to check the ink levels on your product, 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.
  1. Open HP Solution Center:
    • Windows XP: Click Start, click All Programs, click HP, and then click HP Solution Center.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon (), click All Programs, click HP, and then click HP Solution Center.
    HP Solution Center opens in a new window.
  2. Click Settings ().
  3. In the Print Settings area, click Printer Toolbox. The printer Toolbox opens.
  4. Click the Estimated Ink Levels tab. The estimated ink levels display in a graphic on the computer.
    Figure : Estimated ink level graphic in the Toolbox - Black ink slightly lower than color ink
    Illustration of estimated ink levels
    The colored bars represent the estimated ink levels in the corresponding cartridge. Full color bars represent high ink levels, while color bars that approach the bottom of the bar represent low ink.

Solution six: Print and evaluate a print quality diagnostic report and troubleshoot defects

Follow these steps to print, and then evaluate a print quality diagnostic report.

Step one: Print a print quality diagnostic report

  1. Make sure that unused, plain white paper is loaded in the input tray.
  2. Press and hold the Power button () on the product control panel.
  3. Press the Resume button () three times.
  4. Release both buttons. The print quality diagnostic report prints.

Step two: Determine which cartridges printed which areas of the print quality diagnostic report

The cartridges print different areas of the print quality diagnostic report. Use the following steps to determine which cartridge printed which areas.
Example print quality diagnostic report
Example
Illustration of the print quality report
Which cartridges printed which areas
    Illustration of the areas printed by the cartridge
  1. Printed by the black cartridge
  2. Printed by the tri-color cartridge

Step three: Check the print quality diagnostic report for defects

In general, if the product and its cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be present, unstreaked, and uniform in color across the width of the page. The black text on the page should not show ink streaks.
Use the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the print quality diagnostic report. The following examples are not inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on the print quality diagnostic report
Defect
Example
Irregularly streaked or faded color bars
Illustration of streaked or faded color bars
Ragged color bars
Illustration of ragged color bars
The color bars are streaked with another color
Illustration of streaked color bars
The color blocks have regular white streaks
Illustration of white streaks in the color bars
Jagged alignment patterns
Illustration of jagged alignment patterns
Track marks or smears in the text
Illustration of track marks or smears in the text
  • If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report, the print mechanism and ink supplies work correctly. If printouts are still unsatisfactory, try these general print-quality guidelines, and then do not continue the troubleshooting steps in the remainder of this document:
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that have been enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the problem is confined to a band near the edge of a printout, use the software you installed with the product, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected cartridges out of the product for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the power button to turn the product off. This protects the cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report, continue to the next steps.

Step four: Clean the cartridges using an automated utility

Follow these steps to run a utility to clean the cartridges if you found defects on the print quality diagnostic report.
  1. Open HP Solution Center:
    HP Solution Center opens in a new window.
  2. Click Settings ().
  3. In the Print Settings area, click Printer Toolbox. The printer Toolbox opens.
  4. On the Device Services tab, click Clean the Print Cartridge(s) ().
  5. Click Clean to begin the process.
    note:
    Mechanical noises during the cleaning process are normal. A test page prints when the cleaning process finishes.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, see the next step.

Step five: Align the printer

Follow these steps to open the printer toolbox and align the printer, if you found defects on the extended self-test report.
  1. Make sure that unused, plain, white paper is loaded in the input tray.
  2. Open HP Solution Center:
    • Windows XP: Click Start, click All Programs, click HP, and then click HP Solution Center.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon (), click All Programs, click HP, and then click HP Solution Center.
    HP Solution Center opens in a new window.
  3. In HP Solution Center, click Settings ().
  4. In the Print Settings area, click Printer Toolbox. The Printer Toolbox opens.
  5. Click the Device Services tab.
  6. Click Align the Print Cartridges ().
  7. Click Align. The product prints a page of patterns.
    Figure : Example of the alignment page
    Image of the alignment page.
  8. Review the page of patterns, and then answer the questions that display on the computer.
note:
For best print quality, HP recommends that you align the cartridges each time you install a new cartridge.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, see the next step.

Step six: Clean the area around the ink nozzles

Follow these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzles on the cartridges. You need to complete these steps only if you noticed track marks or smears in the text on the print quality diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
  1. Press the Power button () to turn on the product.
  2. Open the cartridge door.
    The carriage moves to the center of the product. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
    Figure : Open the cartridge door
    Illustration of opening the cartridge door
  3. Press down on the problem cartridge to release it, and then pull it out of its slot.
      caution:
    Do not remove both cartridges at the same time. Do not leave a cartridge outside the product for more than 30 minutes.
    Figure : Example of removing the tri-color cartridge
    Illustration of removing the cartridge
  4. Place the cartridge on a piece of paper with the ink nozzles facing up.
  5. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water.
  6. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
      caution:
    Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
      Figure : Clean the area around the ink nozzle
      Illustration of cleaning the area around the ink nozzle
    1. Nozzle plate - DO NOT CLEAN
    2. Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
  7. Either let the cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  8. Hold the cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the product, and then slide the cartridge into its color-coded slot until it snaps into place. Make sure that the icon on the cartridge matches the icon on the slot.
    Figure : Example of inserting the tri-color cartridge
    Illustration of inserting the cartridge
  9. Close the cartridge door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge door
    Illustration of closing the cartridge door
  10. Try printing again.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution seven: Replace the problem cartridge

Follow these steps to replace the problem cartridge if you saw defects on the print quality diagnostic report. These steps are only basic instructions for installing a new cartridge. If you prefer detailed steps, click for here for step-by-step instructions on replacing the cartridges (c01786075) (in English).
  1. With the product on, remove the old cartridge.
  2. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging.
  3. Remove the pink pull-tab from the new cartridge.
      caution:
    Do not touch the copper-colored electrical contacts or the ink nozzles on the cartridge. Doing so can cause bad electrical connections, clogged ink nozzles, or poor print quality.
  4. Hold the cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the product, and then slide the cartridge into its color-coded slot until it snaps into place. Make sure that the icon on the cartridge matches the icon on the slot.
    • Insert the tri-color cartridge in the slot on the left.
    • Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
  5. Follow the steps in Solution six, Step five of this document to align the product.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution eight: 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.
Service or replace your HP product if the issue persists after completing all the preceding steps.
Go to Contact HP Customer Support to schedule a product repair or replacement. If you are in Asia Pacific, you will be directed to a local service center in your area.
To confirm your warranty status, go to HP Product Warranty Check. Repair fees might apply for out-of-warranty products.

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