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HP Color LaserJet 4500 and 4550 Series Printers - Troubleshooting Print Quality Problems

This document contains information on how to determine causes and provide solutions for print quality problems with the HP Color LaserJet 4500 and 4550 series printers. Unless otherwise specified, all references in this document to horizontal or vertical directions of print quality problems refer to problems found on letter and A4-sized paper in up-and-down orientation.
Repetitive image defects
Repetitive defects are defects that occur on the page. Most repetitive defects are caused by problems with one of the following elements:
  • Developer roller
  • Charge roller
  • Cleaning roller
  • Transfer roller
  • Fuser
  • Imaging drum
  • Transfer belt
Repetitive defects distances
Consumable
Distance between repetitive defects
Color print cartridge
30 mm (1.2 inches)
Black print cartridge
37 mm (1.5 inches)
Transfer belt
40 mm (1.6 inches
Transfer roller
53 mm (2.1 inches)
Fuser
131 mm (5.2 inches)
Imaging drum
152 mm (6 inches)
  caution:
Do not expose the imaging drum to light. Be careful not to scratch or get fingerprints on the drum surface during cleaning. Do not blow on the imaging drum.
Image defect troubleshooting
For more information about a specific image defect, refer to the descriptions following this table.
Defect
Explanation
Background scatter
Banding and horizontal lines
Black lines
Character voids
Distorted image
Dropouts
Faded print or random faded areas
No image available
Ghosting
Gray streaks
No image available
Imaging drum defects
Irregular raised spots or stray toner
Light, dark, or faded print
No image available
Marbled output
Non-adhering toner
Random black spots
No image available
Sharkskin
No image available
Sunburn
Toner smear
Background scatter
  • The paper does not meet HP specifications. For more information about paper that meets HP specifications, refer to the User's Guide or to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide.
  • The print cartridge is defective. Replace the print cartridge.
  • There is excess toner inside the printer. Clean the printer.
Banding and horizontal lines
Banding occurs when solid fill areas show streaks or bands of shade variations. This can be caused by one of the following:
  • The cleaning blade on the drum can cause horizontal banding. Once the drum has printed 100-200 pages, the marks should disappear.
  • Consumables that are beyond their life.
  • Improper consumable storage.
If the problem persists, print a Configuration page to verify the life of the consumables. Replace any consumable that is past its rated life.
To print a printer Configuration page, do the following:
  1. On the printer Control Panel, press MENU until INFORMATION MENU displays.
  2. Press ITEM until PRINT CONFIGURATION displays.
  3. Press SELECT to print the Configuration page. After the process is complete, the printer returns to the READY state.
    • Banding is more visible in some halftone patterns than others. If the defect occurs only once on a letter- or A4-size sheet, try printing the pattern on a legal- or A3-size sheet.
    • Observe the following elements from the test sample:
      • Verify that the defect spans all color planes.
      • If the defect is in all color planes, does the defect produce a straight line through all color planes, or does it move from one color plane to the next?
      • If the defect moves from one color plane to the next, measure the amount it moves. This movement amount is called the "procession." Note that the print order is K-M-C-Y. Measure the procession from K to M or M to C, not K to C.
          caution:
        Do not expose the imaging drum to light for more than 15 seconds. The drum is light sensitive, and exposure to light can cause permanent damage.
Banding, horizontal
  • The imaging drum may have been exposed to light, and will need to be replaced.
  • The transfer belt may accumulate excess toner on its rollers causing a random mechanical banding. If buildup is noticed on the rollers, replace the transfer kit.
Black lines
  • The imaging drum is damaged or the waste toner collection in the drum is full. Replace the imaging drum.
  • The print cartridge is not installed properly. Reinstall the print cartridge.
  • The fusing assembly is contaminated or damaged. Replace the fuser kit.
  • The print cartridge is defective, and should be replaced.
Character voids
Use paper that meets HP paper specifications. For more information, refer to the User's Guide or to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide.
  • The surface of the paper is too rough or too smooth for proper toner adhesion.
  • The paper used is too heavy for the printer, and the toner is not fusing to the paper.
  • Printing is on the wrong side of the paper.
  • The transparencies are not designed for proper toner adhesion. Use only transparencies that are designed for HP Color LaserJet printers.
  • The humidity content of the paper is too high or too low. Try a freshly opened ream or a different type of paper.
Distorted image
  • The paper does not meet HP paper specifications or is stored improperly. For more information, refer to the User's Guide or to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide.
  • The printer-operating environment does not meet HP specifications. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
Dropouts
  • The paper does not meet HP paper specifications. For more information, refer to the User's Guide or to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide.
  • The printer’s operating environment does not meet specifications. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
  • The print density is set incorrectly. Change to a darker setting and retry printing.
  • The humidity content of the paper is too high or too low. Try a freshly opened ream or a different type of paper.
Faded print, faded areas, or faded vertical streaks
The message TRANSFER KIT LOW REPLACE TRANSFER KIT appears on the printer Control Panel. Print a Configuration page to verify the remaining life of the transfer belt. Replace the transfer belt if necessary.
To print a printer Configuration page, do the following:
  1. On the printer Control Panel, press MENU until INFORMATION MENU displays.
  2. Press ITEM until PRINT CONFIGURATION displays.
  3. Press SELECT to print the Configuration page. After the process is complete, the printer returns to the READY state.
    • The moisture content of the paper is uneven or too low. Use paper from a different source or from an unopened ream of paper.
    • Some areas of the paper reject toner. Use paper from a different source or from an unopened ream of paper.
    • Paper is excessively rough. Use a smoother, xerographic paper.
    • The letterhead used is printed on rough paper. Use a smoother, xerographic paper. If this solves the problem, consult with the letterhead-printing source to verify that the paper meets the specifications for this printer.
    • Paper does not meet the specifications for this printer. For more information, refer to the User's Guide or to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide.
    • The printer is operating in excessively humid or dry conditions. Verify that the printing environment is within humidity specifications. Refer to the User's Guide.
    • If a TONER LOW or TONER OUT message is displayed on the printer Control Panel, replace the appropriate print cartridge. If the problem persists, call for service.
    • Excess toner may have been deposited on the transfer belt. Use a lint-free cloth to clean any excess toner from the transfer belt surface.
    • The cap on the (ITB) lift mechanism might be missing.
    • One of the white or black bushings on the middle-front drawer has fallen off.
Ghosting
Full-page ghosting occurs when an image prints in full color on one page, but a faded copy of it is also visible on the following page.
  • Verify that the printer is plugged directly into a wall outlet.
  • Replace the transfer kit.
  • If the imaging drum is near end of life, replace it.
  • If the print cartridge is near end of life, replace it.
  • The paper used is not within specifications; refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information. Try a different type of paper.
Gray streaks
  • The paper does not meet HP paper specifications or is stored improperly. Refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
  • The printer-operating environment does not meet specifications.
  • The print cartridge is defective. Replace the black print cartridge.
  • There is excess toner inside of the printer. Clean the printer. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
  • The imaging drum is defective or at the end of its life. Replace the drum kit.
Imaging drum defects
Causes
  • Damage such as scratches or dents on the imaging drum. These usually appear as black or white marks on the page.
  • Paper dust adhering to the imaging drum. These usually appear as white marks in the dark printed areas of the page.
  • Exposure of portions of the imaging drum to light. This causes light sections in the printed output. The life of the imaging drum is shortened by exposure to light.
Solutions
Print at least four Configuration pages to determine if the defect repeats in the same horizontal orientation.
To print a printer Configuration page, do the following:
  1. On the printer Control Panel, press MENU until INFORMATION MENU displays.
  2. Press ITEM until PRINT CONFIGURATION displays.
  3. Press SELECT to print the Configuration page. After the process is complete, the printer returns to the READY state.
    • Inspect the imaging drum for scratches, dents, or other damage. Replace the imaging drum if needed.
    • If the problem is dust, remove the dust with isopropyl alcohol applied with a lint-free, static-free wipe. Attempt this only if the print defect is unacceptable and the only other alternative is replacing the imaging drum.
        note:
      In certain areas of California, air pollution control regulations restrict the use of liquid Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) as a cleaning agent. In those areas of California, please disregard the previous recommendations and use a dry, lint-free cloth. The cloth may be moistened with water if desired.
    • Defects caused by exposure to light might clear up over time. If severe, replace the imaging drum.
Irregular, raised streaks
To diagnose this print quality problem, lay the printed page on a hard, smooth surface, and feel the streaks of toner. The spots or streaks will not look raised, but will feel raised to the touch.
  • Ensure that all paper is cleared from the paper path. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
  • The fuser roller is damaged. Replace the fuser kit.
  • If one toner color is streaking, that print cartridge has been damaged. Replace the print cartridge for the streaking color.
  • The paper does not meet HP paper specifications. Use paper that meets HP paper specifications. Refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
Light, dark, or faded print
  • The message TRANSFER KIT LOW REPLACE TRANSFER KIT appears on the printer Control Panel. Print out a Configuration page (refer to the User's Guide) to verify the remaining life of the transfer belt. Replace the transfer belt if necessary.
  • The moisture content of the paper is uneven or too low. Use paper from a different source or from an unopened ream of paper.
  • Some areas of the paper reject toner. Use paper from a different source or from an unopened ream of paper.
  • Paper is excessively rough. Use a smoother, xerographic paper.
  • The letterhead used is printed on rough paper. Try a smoother, xerographic paper. If this solves the problem, consult with the letterhead-printing source to verify that the paper used meets the specifications for this printer.
  • Paper does not meet the specifications for this printer. Only use paper that meets the paper specifications for this printer. Refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
  • The printer is operating in excessively humid or dry conditions. Verify that the printing environment is within humidity specifications. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
  • If a TONER LOW or TONER OUT message is displayed on the printer Control Panel, replace the appropriate print cartridge. If the problem persists, call for service.
  • Excess toner may have been deposited on the transfer belt. Use a lint-free cloth to clean any excess toner from the transfer belt surface.
Non-adhering toner
  • There is excess toner in the printer. Clean the printer.
  • The print cartridge is defective. Replace the print cartridge color that is not adhering to the paper.
  • The paper is too smooth. Use paper that meets HP paper specifications. Refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
  • The driver setting is set incorrectly. Change the paper type setting to heavy or glossy.
  • The fuser is defective. Replace the fuser kit.
Marbled output
Print a Configuration page and examine the color blocks at the bottom of the page. Replace the print cartridge of the color or colors that are marbled.
To print a printer Configuration page, do the following:
  1. On the printer Control Panel, press MENU until INFORMATION MENU displays.
  2. Press ITEM until PRINT CONFIGURATION displays.
  3. Press SELECT to print the Configuration page. After the process is complete, the printer returns to the READY state.
Random spots
  • The paper or labels do not meet HP paper specifications. Refer to the User's Guide or the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information. Use paper that meets HP paper specifications.
  • The printer requires cleaning. Refer to the User's Guide.
  • If the random spots are one color, replace the print cartridge for that color. If the random spots are multiple colors, replace the drum kit.
Sharkskin
Images with sharkskin have a rough, mottled finish.
  • Use paper that meets HP paper specifications. Refer to the User's Guide or the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
  • Make sure the humidity and temperature are within specifications. Refer to the User's Guide.
  • Do not use automatic duplex mode. Duplex manually or not at all.
Sunburn
Images with sunburn have streaked or blurred lines across the length of the page (side-to-side on up-and-down paper, or top-to-bottom on sideways paper). The imaging drum might have been exposed to light.
  • Print 50 to 100 pages on the imaging drum to remove the sunburn.
  • If sunburn characteristics are still occurring, place the imaging drum in a dark place for two to three days.
  • If sunburn is severe (the characteristics do not go away), replace the imaging drum.
      caution:
    Do not expose the imaging drum to light for more than 15 seconds. The drum is light sensitive, and exposure to light can cause permanent damage.
Toner smear
  • There is excess toner on the paper. Reprint the page.
  • The fusing rollers have excess toner on them. Print 5 to 10 pages to clean the excess toner from the rollers.
  • The paper does not meet HP specifications. Use paper that meets HP paper specifications. Refer to the HP LaserJet Printer Family Print Media Guide for more information.
  • The print cartridge is defective. Replace the print cartridge for the color that is smearing.
  • The fusing assembly is defective. Replace the fuser kit.
  • There is excess toner in the printer. Print 5 to 10 pages to clear the excess toner, and clean the printer, including the toner collection tray. For more information, refer to the User's Guide.
  • The transfer roller is not seated correctly. Remove and reseat the transfer roller.
  • A label or a piece of paper may be stuck to the transfer belt or a roller on the transfer belt. Remove the label or piece of paper.
Consumable part numbers
Consumable and part number
Part number
Black print cartridge
C4191A
Cyan print cartridge
C4192A
Magenta print cartridge
C4193A
Yellow print cartridge
C4194A
Drum kit
C4195A
Transfer kit
C4196A
Fuser kit 110v
C4197A

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