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Fixing Print Quality Problems for the HP Photosmart Premium TouchSmart Web C309n All-in-One Printer Series

This document applies to the HP Photosmart Premium TouchSmart Web C309n All-in-One Printer Series.
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:
Some of the following solutions require the full HP software. If you did not install the full software when you installed your printer, click here to go to the software and drivers page, and then download and install the full feature software.

Solution one: Use genuine HP 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 automatic servicing to complete

Many print quality problems with black ink, such as poor black text or issues that occur with a newly installed black cartridge, clear up with the printer's automatic servicing routine. There is nothing you need to do. The print quality should start improving in a few hours.
note:
Cleaning the printhead uses more ink than the automatic printer servicing.

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 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 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 previously in this document, or search for a document that covers this issue.

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 from which you are trying to print, click File, and then click Print. The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your printer, 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.

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

Follow these steps to check the ink levels on your printer, 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 : Example of estimated ink level graphic in the Toolbox
    Illustration: Estimated ink level graphic in the Toolbox.
    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. 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 Device Services tab.
  5. Click Print a Diagnostic Page, and then click Print Page. The print quality diagnostic report prints.
    Figure : Print quality diagnostic report example
    Image of a print quality diagnostic report

Step two: Check the print quality diagnostic report for defects

In general, if the printer and its cartridges work correctly, all the color bars are present, unstreaked, and uniform in color across the width of the page. The black text on the page does 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
Large font text is ragged on one end
Illustration of ragged large text
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
  • If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report, the print mechanism and ink supplies work correctly. If printouts are still unsatisfactory, do not continue the troubleshooting steps in the remainder of this document; instead, follow these general print-quality guidelines:
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Enlarging images too much without changing the resolution might cause fuzziness or blurriness in the printout.
    • If the problem appears in 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°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report, continue to the next steps.

Step three: Make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly

If the vent on the top of the cartridge is clogged or obstructed, the cartridge might not work properly. Follow these steps to make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly.
  1. If the printer is not already on, press the Power button to turn it on.
  2. Open the top cover.
    Figure : Open the top cover
    Image: Open the top cover
    The carriage moves to the center of the printer. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
  3. Press the tab on the front of one of the cartridges to release it, and then remove it from its slot.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridgeImage: Remove the cartridge
      caution:
    Do not lift the latch to the side of the carriage to remove the cartridge. Doing so might result in incorrectly seated cartridges.
  4. Examine the vent area above the HP logo on the top of the cartridge.
    Figure : Vent area on the cartridge
    Image of the vent area of the cartridge
  5. If the 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. Reinsert the cartridge. With the cartridge contacts facing the printhead, slide the cartridge into the empty slot. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks firmly into place.
    note:
    Make sure that each cartridge is installed in the correct slot. Match the shape of the icon and the color of the cartridge with the slot that has the same shaped icon and color.
  8. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the cartridges.
  9. Make sure that each cartridge is firmly in place in its slot. Run your finger along the top of the cartridges to feel for any that are protruding, and if any are, press down firmly until each cartridge snaps into place.
  10. Close the cartridge access door.
  11. Try the print job again.

Step four: Clean the printheads

Follow these steps to run a utility to clean the printheads.
  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 Printheads ().
  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. The following precautions might help avoid the issue in the future.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the power button to turn the printer off. This protects the cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If the issue persists, continue to 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 print quality diagnostic report.
  1. Load plain white paper in the input tray.
  2. Open HP Solution Center:
    HP Solution Center opens in a separate window.
  3. Click Settings ().
  4. Under Print Settings, click Printer Toolbox. The printer Toolbox opens in a new window.
  5. Click the Device Services tab.
  6. Click Align the Printheads.
    The product aligns the printheads. When the alignment is complete, the product prints an alignment page.
    Figure : Example alignment page
    note:
    Mechanical noises during and after alignment are normal.
  7. Recycle or discard the alignment page.

Solution seven: Replace the problem cartridge

If none of the preceding steps resolved the issue, replace the cartridge that corresponds to the defect on the print quality diagnostic report. For example, if one of the magenta color bars is defective, replace the magenta cartridge. Use the following steps to replace the problem cartridge.

Step one: Replace the problem cartridge

  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Open the cartridge door. The carriage moves to the center of the printer. Wait until the carriage stops moving before continuing.
  3. Press in the tab on the front of the cartridge, and then pull it up and out to remove it from its slot.
      caution:
    Do not lift the latch to the side of the carriage to remove the cartridge. Doing so might result in incorrectly seated cartridges.
  4. On the replacement cartridge, pull the orange pull tab straight back to remove the plastic wrap.
    Figure : Remove the plastic wrap
    Illustration: Remove the plastic wrap
  5. Twist the orange cap counterclockwise to snap it off the cartridge.
    Figure : Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
    Illustration: Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
  6. With the cartridge contacts facing the printhead, slide the cartridge into the correct slot. The color-coded icons on the cartridge and in the printhead indicate the correct slot.
  7. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks firmly into place.
  8. Repeat these steps for each cartridge that you want to replace.
  9. Close the cartridge door. The carriage moves to the right side of the printer.

Step two: Align the printer

Use the following steps to align the printer.
  1. Load plain white paper in the input tray.
  2. Open HP Solution Center:
    HP Solution Center opens in a separate window.
  3. Click Settings ().
  4. Under Print Settings, click Printer Toolbox. The printer Toolbox opens in a new window.
  5. Click the Device Services tab.
  6. Click Align the Printheads.
    The product aligns the printheads. When the alignment is complete, the product prints an alignment page.
    Figure : Example alignment page
    note:
    Mechanical noises during and after alignment are normal.
  7. Recycle or discard the alignment page.

Solution eight: Replace the printhead

If you have completed all of the troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing a problem, contact HP to replace the printhead.

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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