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HP Photosmart C4400, C4500, and C5200 All-in-One Printer Series - Missing, Faded, or Dull Colors

This document is for the Photosmart C4400, C4500, and C5200 All-in-One printer series.
The product is working, but colors in the printed output are missing, faded, or dull when compared to the original.


Follow these steps in the order presented to resolve the issue.

Step one: Check the paper

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

Step two: Check the print settings

Follow these steps to check the print setting.
  1. In the software program you are trying to print from, click File, and then click Print. The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Make sure that your product is selected, and then click Preferences. The Preferences dialog box opens.
  3. Click the Paper/Quality tab.
    • Print quality: If you are unhappy with the quality of your printouts, increase the print quality. To print faster, decrease the print quality.
    • Paper Options – Type is: Click the drop-down box under Type is. If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select it rather than Automatic.
    • Paper Options – Size is: Make sure that the size displayed matches your paper size.
    • Print All Text as Black: Prints all text characters as black, regardless of the document color settings for text.

Step three: Check the estimated ink levels

Follow these steps to check the estimated ink levels.
If a refilled or remanufactured print cartridge, or a cartridge that has been used in another product, is installed, the ink level indicator will be inaccurate or unavailable.
  1. Open the HP software:
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Printer Toolbox.
    The Printer Toolbox can also be opened from the Print Properties dialog box. In the Print Properties dialog box, select Printing Preferences, click the Features tab, and then click Printer Services.
  4. Click the Estimated Ink Levels tab.
    Figure : Estimated ink levels
    A cartridge might be running out of ink even if the graphic shows ink remains 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.
    The ink levels are estimates. When the ink in print cartridges is actually low, printouts are faded or streaked. When print quality is acceptable, there is no reason to replace print cartridges. Low-ink warnings are for planning purposes only.

Step four: Print a self-test report

If the preceding steps did not resolve your issue, follow these steps to print and evaluate a self-test report to determine if the cartridges or product is causing the problem.
  1. Make sure the All-in-One is on and loaded with unused, plain, white paper.
  2. Press Setup. The Setup Menu appears.
  3. Press the down arrow button to select Tools, and then press OK.
  4. Select Self-test Report, and press OK. The self-test report prints.

Step five: Identify which cartridges printed which areas of the self-test report

Identify which cartridge printed in a specific area of the self-test report. The right and left cartridges will print the same areas of the report no matter how they were installed.
The self-test report for your product may not look exactly like the picture below.
    Figure : Sample self-test report layout (the patterns in each area may look slightly different on your report)
    Illustration of a sample self-test report with a note that yours might not look identical to the image.
  1. Printed by the right cartridge
  2. Printed by the left cartridge

Step six: Look for defects in the self-test report

If the product and 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 magenta pattern shows missing lines and the bar is streaked - the cartridge is not functioning properly
If your diagnostic page shows missing lines or streaked bars, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00256356) (in English).

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.
    Figure : Color mix
  1. Correct colors
  2. Incorrect color (yellow) - the tri-color (left-side) cartridge is not functioning properly
If one or more of the color blocks does not match its label, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00256195) (in English).

Missing colors

If any of the color patterns or bars are entirely missing, the cartridge is not functioning properly.
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 colors
  1. All colors printed - no missing colors
  2. Yellow missing - the tri-color (left-side) cartridge is not printing properly
If any of the patterns or bars are entirely missing, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00256195) (in English).

Ink smears

If your self-test report shows smeared ink, you may need to clean your cartridges.
Figure : Smeared ink
If your self-test report shows smeared ink, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00256370) (in English).

Step seven: Get additional help if you saw no defects

If there were no defects on the diagnostic page, the cartridges and product are probably working correctly. Click here to continue troubleshooting (c00974629) (in English).






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