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HP PageWide 300, 400, and 500 Series - Troubleshooting print quality issues

Issue

The quality of printed documents or images is not as expected.
The procedures in this document can help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black not printing, smears, and other print quality problems.
Try the solutions in the order presented to resolve the issue. If one of the solutions resolves the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.

Solution one: Check for genuine HP cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP cartridges. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP cartridges or refilled HP cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP cartridges, the steps in this document might not resolve print quality issues.
  • If the print quality issues are resolved after installing genuine HP cartridges, then you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the print quality issues persist, continue to the next solution.

Solution two: Check the paper

HP highly recommends using papers with the ColorLok logo.
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.
Figure : ColorLok technology logo
  • If the print quality issues are resolved when using the recommended paper type for the job you are trying to print, then you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the print quality issues persist, continue to the next solution.

Solution three: Check the paper type settings

Make sure that the paper type settings are appropriate for the job you are trying to print.
If the paper type is not set correctly, it could cause smearing on the printed output, or the printed pages might curl.
To check the paper type settings, first select your operating system from the options below, and then follow the steps provided:
  • Windows:
    1. From the software program you are printing from (e.g. MS Word, Adobe Acrobat, etc.), click File, and then click Print.
    2. Select the printer, and then click Properties or Preferences.
      The Properties or Preferences dialog box will open.
    3. In the Properties dialog box, click the Paper/Quality tab.
    4. From the Paper type drop-down list, click More.
    5. Expand the list of Type is: options.
    6. Expand each category of paper types until you find the paper type that you are using.
    7. Click the paper type that you are using, and then click OK to close the Properties dialog box.
    8. Click Print to print the job.
      • If the print quality issues are resolved after updating the paper type settings, then you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
      • If the print quality issues persist, continue to the next solution.
  • Mac OS X:
    1. On the File menu in the software program that you are printing from (e.g. MS Word, Adobe Acrobat, etc.), click Print.
      The Print dialog box will open.
    2. From the Paper Size drop-down list, select the size of paper that you are using.
    3. Open the Paper/Quality menu.
    4. From the Media Type drop-down list, select the size type of media that you are using.
    5. Click Print to print the job.
      • If the print quality issues are resolved after updating the paper type settings, then you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
      • If the print quality issues persist, continue to the next solution.

Solution four: Check the printer driver

If you are seeing unexpected lines in graphics, missing text, missing graphics, incorrect formatting, or substituted fonts on printouts, make sure that you are using the appropriate printer driver for your product.
The table below contains information about the printer drivers that are available for your product.
HP PCL 6 driver
Default on install CD. Recommended for general office printing in Windows environments and designed specifically for HP PageWide printers. Provides the overall best speed, print quality, and product-feature support for most users. Install from the printer CD or download from 123.hp.com/pagewide.
HP UPD Postscript driver
Recommended for Adobe and other graphics-intensive software. Provides the best PostScript emulation and handling of PostScript fonts. Download from www.hp.com/go/upd.
HP UPD PCL 6
Recommended for printing across most network and server environments. Best option for administrators to configure and manage the printer. Download from www.hp.com/go/upd.
For more information on how to select the best driver for your printing needs, see HP PageWide Pro Printer Series - How to select the correct HP Printer Software (c04874544).

Solution five: Print and evaluate a Print Quality Report and then troubleshoot the defects

Printing and evaluating a Print Quality Report will help determine if you need to align the printer or clean the printhead.

Step one: Print a Print Quality Report

Follow the steps below to print a Print Quality Report.
  1. From the Home screen on the printer control panel, touch the Dashboard strip at the top of the screen, or swipe the dashboard tab downward. The full dashboard will display.
  2. At the top of the Dashboard, touch the gear icon (). The Setup menu will display.
  3. On the Setup menu, scroll to and touch Reports. The Reports menu will display.
  4. On the Reports menu, touch Print Quality Report. The Print Quality Report will print.
  5. Examine the Print Quality Report for defects.
    Refer to the table below for examples of a Print Quality Report with no defects, and a Print Quality Report that shows vertical dark lines on the color bars.
    Example of a Print Quality Report with no defects
    Example of vertical dark lines on the Print Quality Report

Step two: Align the printhead

Follow the steps below to align the printhead.
  1. Load unused, plain white paper in the printer.
    note:
    Paper with the ColorLok logo is recommended.
  2. From the Home screen on the printer control panel, touch the Dashboard strip at the top of the screen, or swipe the dashboard tab downward. The full dashboard will display.
  3. At the top of the Dashboard, touch the gear icon (). The Setup menu will display.
  4. Scroll to and touch Printer Maintenance.
  5. Touch Align Printhead to start the alignment process.
    An alignment page will print, and then a new Print Quality Report will print. Check the new Print Quality Report to see if the defect is still present.
    • If the defect is still present, or if an "Alignment Unsuccessful" message displays on the printer control panel, continue to the next step.
  6. Touch Clean Printhead Level 1, then follow the prompts on the control panel.
    After the Level 1 cleaning is complete, another Print Quality Report prints. Compare this report to the report that printed after the alignment process.
    • If the report shows some signs of improvement, but still contains defects, touch Clean Printhead Level 1 again.
      note:
      Repeat the Clean Printhead Level 1 procedure as long as the Print Quality Report is showing signs of improvement after each cleaning.
    • If the report shows no signs of improvement, and the defects are still present, skip to the final solution in this document Solution six: Contact HP for support.

Step three: Clean the printhead

Follow the steps below to clean the printhead.
note:
Cleaning the printhead might deplete your cartridges.
  1. Load unused, plain white paper in the printer.
    note:
    Paper with the ColorLok logo is recommended.
  2. From the Home screen on the printer control panel, touch the Dashboard strip at the top of the screen, or swipe the dashboard tab downward. The full dashboard will display.
  3. At the top of the Dashboard, touch the gear icon (). The Setup menu will display.
  4. Scroll to and touch Printer Maintenance.
  5. Touch Clean Printhead Level 1, and then follow the prompts on the control panel.
    After the cleaning procedure is complete, a Print Quality Report will print. Compare this report to the first Print Quality Report that you printed.
    • If the report shows significant streaks or uneven colors, continue to the next step.
    • If no defects are present on the report, then the issue is resolved and you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  6. Touch Clean Printhead Level 2, and then follow the prompts on the control panel.
    After the cleaning procedure is complete, a new Print Quality Report will print. Compare this report to the previous report that printed.
    • If the report still shows streaks or uneven color, touch Clean Printhead Level 2, and then follow the prompts on the control panel.
      note:
      HP recommends that you do not perform the Clean Printhead Level 2 procedure more than two times in a 24-hour period to avoid overflow of the service ink container. However, if the Print Quality Report shows improvement but the print quality is still not acceptable, it might help to repeat the Clean Printhead Level 2 procedure after 24 hours has passed.
    • If the print quality is still poor after trying all the steps in this document, continue to the final solution.
    IMPORTANT: If you see print quality problems that are resolved by printhead cleaning, make sure that the printer is being powered down properly when not in use to avoid these types of print quality issues in the future. Always turn the printer off by pressing the power button, and wait until the printer is idle and silent before disconnecting the power cord or turning off the power strip. If the printer is not turned off properly, the printhead could dry out.

Solution six: Contact HP for support

If the printed pages are still showing print quality defects after trying all the solutions above, then contact HP for support.

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