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HP Deskjet, Photosmart 5520 printers - No black ink, wrong colors, other print quality issues

The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The following tasks help resolve missing black ink, colors are faded or do not match the original, and lines or streaks in printouts.

This document only applies to HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 5525, Photosmart 5520, 5521, 5522, 5524, and 5525 printers.

Perform the following tasks in the order given. Use the printer after each task to see if the issue is resolved.

Wait for automatic printhead servicing to complete

Your printer automatically services the printhead to keep the print nozzles clear from ink buildup and flowing smoothly.

Printhead servicing completes within a few hours after the last print job and should improve any print quality issues.

Clean the printhead

Use an automated tool to clean the printhead to restore print quality.


To prevent ink system issues, do not turn off the printer when cartridges are not installed which can damage the printer. Make sure to replace any low or empty cartridges as soon as possible, and use the Power button to turn off the printer.

  1. On the control panel, touch the Settings icon.

  2. Touch Tools, and then touch the Down Arrow .

  3. Touch Clean Printhead.

    The printer cleans the printhead and prints a test page. This can take a few minutes to complete.

    Examples of the Test Page
  4. Examine the print quality on the test page.

    • If the print quality is still unacceptable, touch Yes to clean the printhead up to two more times.


      Printheads that are badly clogged might require another full cleaning cycle. Wait at least 30 minutes before cleaning the printhead again.

    • If the print quality is acceptable, touch No. You are done.

Check for ink smears on the back of printouts

If there are smears of ink on the back of your printout, use the automated cleaning tool to clean ink smears and restore print quality.

  1. On the control panel, touch the Settings icon.

  2. Touch Tools, and then touch the Down Arrow .

  3. Touch Clean Ink Smear.

    The printer feeds one page slowly. The printer might make some noise for a minute before it is done.

Check for issues with the ink cartridges

Low ink levels, using non-HP cartridges, and clogged cartridge vents can cause print quality issues.

  1. Replace any non-HP or refilled cartridges with genuine HP cartridges. HP supplies are available from the HP Store and local retailers.

    HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP or refilled cartridges. Go to HP Anti Counterfeiting and Fraud Program for more information.

  2. Check the ink levels from the printer control panel or from the HP Smart app on your computer or mobile device.

    • If any cartridges are very low or empty, replace them with new cartridges, and then try to print.

    • If the print quality issue persists, continue to the next step.

  3. Open the door or lid to the cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage stops moving before continuing.

  4. Push in the tab on a cartridge, and then pull the cartridge from the slot.


    Do not leave the cartridges outside the printer longer than 30 minutes. Doing so can result in damage to both the printer and the cartridges.

    Removing the ink cartridge
  5. If the cartridge still has the orange pull-tab attached, remove it.

    Removing the orange tape from the cartridge
  6. Use a pin or paper clip to remove any debris or excess adhesive from the vent on top of the cartridge.

    Cleaning the vent on the cartridge
  7. Reinsert the cartridge into its color-coded slot, and then press down on it until it snaps into place.

  8. Repeat these steps to inspect and clean the vent on the other cartridges.

    If the issue persists with a specific color, replace that cartridge.

    If you have a defective HP cartridge, it might be under warranty. Go to About Original HP Cartridges for page yield and HP limited warranty information.

Check the paper, print settings, and quality of the file being printed

Make sure your print job is set up for optimal print quality results.

  1. Check the paper type and condition: Make sure the paper is appropriate for the print job and in good condition.

    • Some paper might not absorb ink as well as others, causing faded or smeared prints. Plain paper with ColorLok technology works well for text and documents with graphics. For photos, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for best results.

    • Use clean, wrinkle-free paper. Wrinkled or curled paper can cause dark, horizontal defects.

  2. Load paper according to the print side: Typically, the smoother or glossy side is the print side.

    • For inkjet printers with a rear load tray, load the print side facing up.

    • For inkjet printers with a front load tray, load the print side facing down.

  3. Check the print job settings: From the application you are printing from, click File > Print, and then click Options, Printer Setup, or Preferences, or open the Paper Type/Quality or Media & Quality menu.

    Make sure the color, paper type, paper size, and quality settings are correct for your print job.

  4. Check the quality of the photo or document: Use editing tools to improve colors, brightness, contrast, and any other appearance settings. Higher resolution photographs and graphics result in clearer prints with more accurate colors.

Align the ink cartridges

From the printer control panel, print and scan an alignment page to help improve print quality.

  1. On the control panel, touch the Settings icon.

  2. Touch Tools, and then touch the Down Arrow .

  3. Touch Align Printer to print an alignment page.

  4. Lift the scanner lid, and then place the alignment page print-side down in the bottom-right corner of the scanner glass.

    Placing the alignment page on the scanner glass
  5. Close the scanner lid, and then touch OK on the control panel to align the cartridges.

Service the printer

Service or replace your HP printer 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.


Keep a print sample that shows the problem. If the printer, ink or toner cartridges, or the imaging drum are replaced under warranty, the support agent might request the print sample.