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HP Photosmart C4200 All-in-One Series - Wrong Colors

Issue

The printer is working, but the colors in the printed output are not the expected colors. The output may look as if only one color has printed, as if a color has not printed, or as if the wrong colors have been printed.

Solution

Follow the steps below to solve this issue.

Step one: Check estimated ink levels

The ink supply level shows an estimate of the amount of ink remaining in the print cartridges. Replace the cartridge if the cartridge is empty or has very low ink level.
Purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies from the HP Store or local retailers.
note:
The HP All-in-One can detect the ink levels for genuine HP print cartridges only. The ink levels in print cartridges that are refilled or have been used in other devices might not register accurately.
  1. In the HP Solution Center, click Settings, point to Print Settings, and then click Printer Toolbox.
    note:
    The Printer Toolbox can also be opened from the Print Properties dialog box. In the Print Properties dialog box, click the Services tab, and then click Service this device. The Printer Toolbox appears.
  2. Click the Estimated Ink Level tab. The estimated ink levels for the print cartridges appear.
    Figure : HP Photosmart C4200 All-in-One series - Estimated Ink levels
    note:
    Replace any print cartridges that are very low or empty.

Step two: Print a self-test report

To check whether the product is operating correctly, print a self-test report. This report provides useful information on several aspects of the product, including the print cartridges.
  1. Load letter, A4, or legal unused plain white paper into the input tray.
  2. Press and hold the Cancel button (), and then press the Start Copy Color button ().
  3. Release both buttons. The product prints a self-test report.

Step three: Note which cartridges printed which areas of the self-test report

Identify which cartridge printed which part of the self test report, so that when defects are found on the page, you will know which cartridge is the problem.
However, different combinations of print cartridges can be installed in the printer, and different cartridge combinations print different self test report 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
  1. Printed by the left cartridge
  2. Printed by the right cartridge

Step four: 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.
In general, if the product and ink cartridges are working correctly, the patterns, which look like grids of lines, contain few or no missing lines. Also, the colors of the patterns and bars should be approximately the same as the color dots on the print cartridge label.
note:
Do not compare the colors on the diagnostic page to the colors on this Web page. Unless your monitor is calibrated, the colors are not the same. Instead, compare the colors on the page to the color dots on the print cartridge label. While the color dots might not be perfectly accurate, they are likely to be more accurate than the colors on the monitor.

Missing lines or streaked bars

If a pattern shows more than a few missing lines, or a bar is streaked, that ink cartridge is not functioning correctly.
Figure : The left cartridge shows missing lines and a streaked bar - the cartridge is not functioning correctly
If the diagnostic page shows missing lines or streaked bars, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00635953) (in English).

Colors do not match the color on the cartridge label

The color on the diagnostic 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 correctly.
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 correctly
If one or more of the color blocks does not match its label, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00635951) (in English).

Missing colors

If any of the color patterns or bars are entirely missing, the cartridge is not functioning correctly.
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
  1. No missing colors
  2. Yellow bar is missing
If any of the patterns or bars are entirely missing, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00635951) (in English).

Ink smears

If the diagnostic report shows smeared ink, you might need to clean the cartridges.
Figure : Smeared ink
If the diagnostic report shows smeared ink, click here to continue troubleshooting (c00635955) (in English).

Step five: Clean the cartridge contacts

  1. Gather the following items to clean the ink cartridge and carriage:
    • Clean distilled water. Use bottled or filtered water if distilled water is not available. Tap water can contain contaminants that damage the ink cartridge.
    • Clean cotton swabs or any soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the ink cartridges (coffee filters work well).
    • Sheets of paper or a paper towel to rest the ink cartridge on during cleaning.
  2. Open the ink cartridge access door and wait until the carriage is idle and silent.
  3. Disconnect the power cord from the back of the printer.
  4. Remove the ink cartridge and place it on a piece of paper with the nozzle plate facing up.
    note:
    Do not leave the ink cartridges outside of the printer for more than 30 minutes. If the ink cartridge is outside of the printer for too long, the ink can dry and clog the nozzles.
  5. Dip a clean foam-rubber swab or lint-free cloth into distilled water, and then squeeze any excess water from it.
  6. Clean only the copper-colored contacts
    1. Copper-colored contacts
    2. Ink nozzles (do not clean)
  7. Repeat these steps for the other ink cartridge.
  8. Lightly moisten another cotton swab with distilled water, and then squeeze any excess water from the swab.
  9. Use the swab to clean the electrical contacts in the carriage, located inside the printer on the carriage slots.
    Image: The electrical contacts in the ink cartridge slots
  10. Wait 10 minutes to allow the ink cartridge and carriage electrical contacts to dry.
  11. Reinstall the ink cartridges.
  12. Close the ink cartridge access door.
  13. Reconnect the power cord to the back of the printer.
  14. Press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  15. Try to print a page.
  16. If you are still unable to print, repeat these steps to clean and reseat the ink cartridges. Multiple cleanings might be necessary to restore printing.

Step six: 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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