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HP Officejet 4630, Deskjet 4640 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for HP Officejet 4630, 4631, 4632, 4634, 4635, 4636, 4639, and Deskjet Ink Advantage 4645, 4646, 4648 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.

Solution one: Remove the black ink cartridge

If you just set up your printer and you notice that black ink is missing or faded on your printouts, follow these steps to remove the black ink cartridge and print only with the tri-color ink cartridge. This allows the printer to operate in single-cartridge mode, which creates composite black from the tri-color ink cartridge.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Image: Locate the slots on the sides of the printer
  3. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the ink cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
    Image: Open the ink cartridge access door
  4. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  5. Pull up on the black ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  6. Set the black ink cartridge aside, with the nozzles facing up.
    Image: Ink cartridge with nozzles facing up
  7. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  8. Try the print job again.
    • If the printer operates correctly in single-cartridge mode, let the black ink cartridge rest with the nozzles facing up for several hours or overnight, reinstall it, and then try to print again. If you are satisfied with the print quality, you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the printer does not operate correctly in single-cartridge mode or you are not satisfied with the print quality after you reinstall the black ink cartridge, continue to the next solution.

Solution two: Use genuine HP ink 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).
Purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies from the HP Store or local retailers.
HP Officejet 4630, 4631, 4632, 4634, 4635, 4636, and 4639 e-All-in-One printers.
Ink cartridge description
North America and Asia Pacific, including Japan (excluding India, China, and Indonesia)
Western Europe
Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and CIS
China, India, and Indonesia
Black ink cartridge
HP 61 Black
HP 301 Black
HP 122 Black
HP 802 Black
Color ink cartridge
HP 61 Tri-color
HP 301 Tri-color
HP 122 Tri-color
HP 802 Tri-color
HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 4645, 4646, and 4648 printers
Ink cartridge description
Latin America
Asia Pacific
Europe, Middle East, and Africa
Black ink cartridge
HP 662 Black
HP 678 Black
HP 650 Black
Tri-color ink cartridge
HP 662 Tri-color
HP 678 Tri-color
HP 650 Tri-color

Solution three: Allow the printer to rest

Sometimes, print quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 30 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 four: 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, 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, damaged, or unsupported paper can cause vertical streaks in printouts.
Examples of horizontal and vertical 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.
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.
After checking the paper, 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 five: Check the print settings

Check the print settings to make sure that they are appropriate for your 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 six: Check the ink levels, and then replace any low or empty ink cartridges

In general, low ink levels should not impact print quality. Your printer stops and displays a message when ink levels get too low. However, the printer might still perform a limited amount of printing in 'backup mode' at low ink levels. In backup mode, blacks might not be as dark, or printouts might be in grayscale (shades of gray with no color). Replace any low ink cartridges if backup mode printing is unacceptable.
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 1: Check estimated ink levels

  1. On the printer control panel, press the Home button to open the Home screen.
  2. Press the Down Arrow to select Ink Levels, and then press OK. The control panel displays the estimated ink levels.
      Image: Estimated ink levels
    1. Color ink level indicator
    2. Black ink level indicator
  • If the ink level graphic shows any low or empty ink cartridges, and the quality of your printouts is unsatisfactory, continue to the next step to replace the ink cartridges.
  • If the ink level graphic shows full ink cartridges, you do not need to replace the ink cartridges yet. Skip to the next solution.

Step 2: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges

  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Image: Locate the slots on the sides of the printer.
  3. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the ink cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
  4. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  5. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  6. Remove the new ink cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Image: Remove the plastic tape.
  7. Hold the ink cartridge at a slight upward angle with the ink cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the ink cartridge into the empty slot.
  8. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
    note:
    Insert the color ink cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black ink cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Image: Insert the ink cartridge.
    1. Insert the ink cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color ink cartridge is on the left, and the black ink cartridge is on the right
  9. Repeat the previous steps to install the other ink cartridge, if necessary.
  10. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  11. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the ink cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the ink cartridges, and then prints an alignment page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution seven: Print and evaluate a Print Quality Diagnostic report and troubleshoot any defects

Follow these steps to print, and then evaluate a Print Quality Report.

Step 1: Print a Print Quality Diagnostic Report

  1. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow to scroll to Tools, and then press OK.
  2. Press the Down Arrow to scroll to Print Quality Report, and then press OK. The printer prints the test page.
    Image: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.

Step 2: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic Report for defects

Review the diagnostic areas of the test page to check for defects. Defects on the report can help you identify the print quality issue, and then troubleshoot it.
    Image: Diagnostic areas of the test page
  1. Sample text
  2. Alignment patterns
  3. Color bars
In general, if the printer and its cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be present, unstreaked, and uniform in color. The black text on the page should not show ink streaks.
Use the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the diagnostic report. The following examples are not all-inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Defect
Example
Large font text is ragged on one end (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Ragged large text.
Irregularly streaked or faded color bars (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Streaked or faded color bars.
Ragged color bars (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Ragged color bars.
The color bars are streaked with another color (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Streaked color bars.
The color blocks have regular white streaks (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: White streaks in the color bars.
Completely missing (black) color (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Missing color (black).
Page is blank or nearly blank (possible ink cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Nearly blank page.
Jagged alignment patterns (possible alignment problem)
Image: Jagged alignment patterns.
  • If you do not see defects on the test page, the print mechanism and ink 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 3: Align the printer

  1. Load plain white paper in the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow to select Tools, and then press OK.
  3. Press the Down Arrow to select Align Printer, and then press OK. The printer prints a test page, and then prompts you to scan the page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, see the next step.

Step 4: Use an automated tool to clean the printhead

Follow these steps to run an automated tool to clean the printhead if you found defects on the test page.
note:
To avoid issues that require cleaning, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. Load letter or A4, unused, plain white paper into the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow to select Tools, and then press OK.
  3. Press the Down Arrow to select Clean Printhead, and then press OK. The printer cleans the printhead, and then prints a printhead test page.
    Image: Example of the printhead test page without defects
  4. Review the print quality on the printhead test page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you can stop troubleshooting.
  • If the printhead test page shows track marks or smears on the back of the page, continue to the next step.
  • If the printhead test page shows track marks or smears on the front of the page, skip to the step to clean the area around the ink nozzles.

Step 5: Use an automated tool to clean ink smears

Follow these steps if the test page or printout shows ink smears on the back of your printout.
  1. Load plain white paper in the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow to scroll to Tools, and then press OK.
  3. Press the Down Arrow to scroll to Clean Ink Smear, and then press OK.
  4. Print a test page.

Step 6: Clean the area around the ink nozzles

Important: Do not perform these steps unless the test page or printout specifically shows smeared text or track marks. If you do not see these defects, continue to the next solution.
Image: Example of smeared text
Image: Example of text with track marks
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Dry foam-rubber swabs, lint-free cloth, or any soft material that does not come apart or leave fibers (coffee filters work well)
    • Clean sheets of paper
    • Distilled, filtered, or bottled water (tap water might contain contaminants that can damage the print cartridges)
        caution:
      Do not use platen cleaners or alcohol to clean the area. These can damage the cartridge or the printer.
  2. Press the Power button to turn the printer on, if it is not already on.
  3. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Image: Locate the slots onthe sides of the printer.
  4. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the ink cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
    Image: Open the ink cartridge access door.
  5. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  7. Place the ink cartridge on a piece of paper with the ink nozzles facing up.
  8. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water.
  9. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
      caution:
    Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
      Image: The ink nozzle and ink cartridge contacts.
    1. Nozzle plate - DO NOT CLEAN
    2. Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3. Ink cartridge contacts - DO NOT CLEAN
  10. Either let the ink cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  11. Hold the ink cartridge at a slight upward angle with the ink cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the ink cartridge into the empty slot.
    Image: Reinstall the ink cartridge.
  12. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
    Image: Close the ink cartridge lid.
  13. Repeat these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzle on the other ink cartridge.
  14. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  15. Close the scanner lid.

Step 7: Print another Print Quality Diagnostic Report

Print another test page to verify print quality.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution eight: Identify and then replace the problem ink cartridge

If you are still not satisfied with the print quality, follow these steps to identify and replace the problem ink cartridge.
If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink or toner supplies, go to Printer and Page Yield Overview, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.
note:
Replace the problem ink cartridge, even if it is not low on ink.

Step 1: Identify the problem ink cartridge

  1. Review the test page you printed in the previous solution.
  2. Check the text and color blocks on the test page.
  • If you identify any defects with the black text on the page, the black ink cartridge is the problem.
  • If you identify any defects with the colored blocks on the page, the tri-color ink cartridge is the problem.

Step 2: Replace the problem ink cartridge

  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Image: Locate the slots on the sides of the printer.
  3. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the ink cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
  4. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  5. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  6. Remove the new ink cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Image: Remove the plastic tape.
  7. Hold the ink cartridge at a slight upward angle with the ink cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the ink cartridge into the empty slot.
  8. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
    note:
    Insert the color ink cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black ink cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Image: Insert the ink cartridge.
    1. Insert the ink cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color ink cartridge is on the left, and the black ink cartridge is on the right
  9. Repeat the previous steps to install the other ink cartridge, if necessary.
  10. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  11. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the ink cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the ink cartridges, and then prints an alignment page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next solution.

Solution nine: 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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