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HP Color LaserJet Pro M252, M274, M277 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252n, M252dw, MFP M274n, and MFP M277n and M277dw Printers.
The quality of a printed document is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with print quality problems such as smeared, fuzzy, dark, or faded print, and loose, partially missing, or scattered toner.

Solution one: Use genuine HP toner 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).
Purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies from the HP Store or local retailers.

Solution two: Check the paper

The quality and type of paper can affect the print job. Follow these guidelines to make sure that the paper is appropriate. If it is not, load an appropriate paper type.
note:
To purchase paper in the United States and Canada, go to HP Home & Home Office.
  • Use paper that is designed for use in HP LaserJet printers. Do not use paper that is designed only for inkjet printers.
  • Do not use paper that is too rough. Smoother paper might result in better print quality.
Try to print the document again with the appropriate paper type.

Solution three: Check the print settings

Sometimes the print settings can affect the print quality. Select your operating system, and then check the print settings to make sure that they are appropriate for your print job.

Solution four: Check the toner level and replace low or empty toner cartridges

If the print is too light or faded in areas, the toner might be low. Check the toner level to determine if the toner cartridge needs to be replaced.

Step 1: Check the toner level

Select your printer control panel display type, and then follow the steps to check your printer's toner level.
note:
The toner supply level and the percentage of toner cartridge life remaining provide estimates for planning purposes only. When the toner level is low, consider having a replacement toner cartridge available. You do not need to replace toner cartridges until the print quality becomes unacceptable.
  • If the toner cartridge is not low on toner, you do not need to replace it yet. Continue to the next solution.
  • If the toner cartridge is low on toner, continue to the next step to replace it.

Step 2: Replace a low or empty toner cartridge

Follow these steps to replace the toner cartridge in your printer.
note:
The printer in these images might not look exactly like your printer, but the steps are the same.
  1. Open the front door.
    Figure : Opening the front door
    Image: Open front door
  2. Grasp the blue handle on the toner cartridge drawer, and then pull out the drawer.
    Figure : Pulling out the toner cartridge drawer
    Image: Pull out cartridge drawer
  3. Grasp the handle on the toner cartridge, and then pull the toner cartridge straight up to remove it.
    Figure : Removing the toner cartridge
    Image: Remove toner cartridge
  4. Remove the new toner cartridge package from the box, and then pull the release tab on the packaging.
    Figure : Pulling the release tab on the packaging
    Image: Pull the release tab
  5. Remove the toner cartridge.
      caution:
    Do not touch the imaging drum on the bottom of the toner cartridge. Fingerprints on the imaging drum can cause print quality problems.
    Figure : Do not touch the imaging drum
    Image: Do not touch the imaging drum
    Figure : Removing the toner cartridge from the packaging
    Image: Remove the toner cartridge from the packaging
  6. Grasp both ends of the toner cartridge, and then gently rock the toner cartridge back and forth to distribute the toner.
    Figure : Gently rocking the toner cartridge back and forth
    Image: Gently rock the toner cartridge back and forth
  7. Insert the new toner cartridge into the drawer. Make sure that the color chip on the cartridge matches the color chip on the drawer.
    Figure : Inserting the toner cartridge into the printer
    Image: Insert the toner cartridge.
  8. Push the toner cartridge drawer into the printer.
    Figure : Pushing the toner cartridge drawer into the printer
    Image: Push in toner cartridge drawer
  9. Close the front door.
    Figure : Closing the toner cartridge drawer
    Image: Close the cartridge drawer

Solution five: Print a page and troubleshoot further if necessary

Print a page from the document, and then evaluate if the print quality is improved. If the print quality is unacceptable, try to resolve specific print quality issues with the following steps.

Step 1: Print a cleaning page

The printing mechanism and printing path inside the printer might need to be cleaned to resolve issues like fuzzy print or loose, smeared toner.

Step 2: Check the scanner glass for dirt and smudges

Specks of debris can collect on the scanner glass and white plastic backing, which might affect performance or cause specks or dots on the printed pages.
If the scanner glass and backing need to be cleaned, follow these steps:
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • A clean, lint-free cloth or any cloth that does not come apart or leave fibers
    • Distilled, filtered, or bottled water (tap water might damage the printer)
    • A chamois or a cellulose sponge
  2. Press the Power button to turn off the printer, and then disconnect the power cord from the electrical outlet.
      warning:
    You must disconnect the power cord to avoid the risk of injuries or electric shock.
  3. Open the scanner lid.
  4. Moisten the cloth, and then clean the scanner glass and the white plastic backing underneath the scanner lid.
      caution:
    Do not use abrasives, acetone, benzene, ammonia, ethyl alcohol, or carbon tetrachloride on any part of the printer; these can damage the printer. Do not place liquids directly on the glass or platen. They might seep and damage the printer.
  5. Dry the glass and white plastic parts with a chamois or a cellulose sponge to prevent spotting.
  6. Connect the power cable to an outlet, and then press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  7. Try to print again to see if the issue is resolved:
    • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
    • If the issue persists, continue to the next appropriate step or the next solution.

Step 3: Inspect the toner cartridge for damage

Check the toner cartridge for damage if there are issues like toner smears on the printed pages.
  1. Remove the toner cartridge from the printer, and then make sure that the sealing tape has been removed.
  2. Grasp both ends of the toner cartridge, and then gently rock the cartridge back and forth to distribute the toner.
    Figure : Gently rock the toner cartridge back and forth
    Image: Gently rock the toner cartridge back and forth
  3. Check the memory chip for damage.
  4. Slide back the cartridge cover to expose the imaging drum.
      caution:
    Do not touch the roller (imaging drum) on the toner cartridge. Fingerprints on the imaging drum can cause print quality problems.
    Figure : Slide back the cartridge cover
    Image: Slide back the cartridge cover
  5. Examine the surface of the imaging drum on the toner cartridge.
    • If you see any scratches, fingerprints, or other damage on the imaging drum, replace the toner cartridge.
    • If the imaging drum does not appear to be damaged, close the cover, and then reinstall the cartridge in the printer.
  6. Try to print again to see if the issue is resolved:
    • If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
    • If the issue persists, continue to the next appropriate step or the next solution.

Step 4: Check the EconoMode settings

If the entire page is too dark or too light, check the EconoMode settings. HP does not recommend the full-time use of EconoMode. If EconoMode is used full time, the toner supply might outlast the mechanical parts in the toner cartridge. If print quality begins to degrade and is no longer acceptable, replace the toner cartridge.
note:
This feature is available with the PCL 6 print driver for Windows. If you are not using that driver, enable the feature with the HP Embedded Web Server.
Follow these steps to check the EconoMode settings:
  1. From the software program, select the Print option.
  2. Select the printer, and then click Properties or Preferences.
  3. Click the Paper/Quality tab, and then locate the Print Quality area.
  4. If the entire page is too dark, use these settings:
    • Select the 600 dpi option.
    • Select the EconoMode check box to enable it.
    If the entire page is too light, use these settings:
    • Select the FastRes 1200 option.
    • Clear the EconoMode check box to disable it.
  5. Click OK, and then click OK to print the job.

Solution six: Other ways to improve print quality

If there are no defects on the last page you printed, the print mechanism and toner supplies are working correctly. There is no reason to clean or replace the toner cartridges. Instead, try these tips to improve the quality of your print jobs:
  • Repeat the first steps in this document to make sure that you are using genuine HP toner cartridges and the appropriate paper type for your print job. Certain paper types might be incompatible with HP printing systems, and HP cannot guarantee the reliability of non-HP toner cartridges.
  • Make sure that the printer is operating within the environmental specifications listed in the printer's Warranty and Legal Guide.
  • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that have been enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
  • If the problem is confined to a band near the edge of a printout, use the software that you installed with the printer, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not display on the other end of the print job.
  • Try to print the same image or text from a different software program.

Solution seven: Service the printer

If the problem persists, the printer might require service. Contact HP to set up service or to find an HP authorized service center.
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.
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.

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