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HP Officejet Pro 8600 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for HP Officejet Pro 8600 (N911a, N911g, N911n) e-All-in-One printers.
The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black ink not printing, documents with blurred or fuzzy text, ink streaks or smears, and other print quality problems.
note:
Windows operating systems only: If you are experiencing garbled, jumbled or illogical text, incomplete printouts, or missing text or graphics, go to Continuous Pages of Strange or Garbled Characters Print in Windows.
Figure : Example of garbled, jumbled or illogical text, or an incomplete print job
Image: Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout

Step 1: Reset the printer

To reset the printer, disconnect the printer from the power source, and then reconnect it.
  1. With the printer turned on, disconnect the power cord from the printer.
  2. Unplug the power cord from the power source.
  3. Wait 60 seconds.
  4. Reconnect the power cord to a wall outlet and to the printer.
    note:
    HP recommends plugging the printer directly into a wall outlet.
  5. Turn the printer on.
If resetting the printer did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Use genuine HP ink cartridges

For the best print quality, use genuine HP ink 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.
note:
Rough handling at the store or during installation can cause print quality problems with newly installed ink cartridges. If you see print problems with newly installed ink cartridges, wait for a few hours for the automatic servicing routine to complete, and then try to print again.
If using genuine HP ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Allow automatic servicing to complete

Many print quality problems with black ink, such as poor black text or issues that occur with a newly installed black ink cartridge, clear up with the printer's automatic servicing routine. In this case, there is nothing you need to do. The print quality should improve in a few hours.
  • If waiting for automatic servicing to complete resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If waiting for automatic servicing to complete did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Check the paper

Make sure the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If it is not, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
note:
To purchase paper in the United States and Canada, go to HP Home & Home Office.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, such as photo paper and envelopes. Usually, the smoother side is the "print side," and sometimes the non-print side has a logo of the paper manufacturer on it.
  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Use only clean, wrinkle-free paper.
    Do not use wrinkled paper
  • Use the correct paper type for your project.
    • 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.
      ColorLok logo
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photos, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for best results.
    • Some paper might not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.
  • Store photo paper in its original packaging inside a resealable plastic bag. Store the paper on a flat surface in a cool, dry place. Load 10-20 sheets of photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.
  • Try using a different paper. This determines if the problem is related to the paper.
note:
Inappropriate paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts (or if the problem occurs on a copy, dirty scanner glass usually causes the issue). Do not replace ink cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in the printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in the printout
Image: Horizontal streaks.
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks, or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks.
Figure : Vertical streaks in the printout
Image: Vertical streaks.
Do not replace cartridges for vertical streaks in a printout. Instead, check the paper as described earlier in this document, or search for a document that covers this issue.
If changing the paper did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 5: Check the print settings

Check the print settings to make sure they are appropriate for your print job.
If changing the print settings did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 6: Update the printer firmware

The HP printer must connect to a wired (Ethernet) or wireless network with an active Internet connection to receive updates.
Check for the latest printer updates.
  1. From the home screen on the printer control panel, touch the ePrint icon ().
  2. Wait for the printer to connect to the ePrint server. The ePrint status displays.
  3. Touch Settings on the bottom left corner of the screen.
  4. Touch Printer Update, and then touch Check for Update Now.
    note:
    Check for updates every week to make sure you are getting the most out of your printer.
If updating the print driver did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 7: Check the estimated ink levels

Use the printer control panel to check the estimated ink levels.
In general, low ink levels should not impact print quality. Your printer stops and displays a message when ink levels get too low. However, the printer might still perform a limited amount of printing in 'backup mode' at low ink levels. In backup mode, blacks might not be as dark, or printouts might be in grayscale (shades of gray with no color). Replace any low ink cartridges if backup mode printing is unacceptable.
  1. On the printer control panel, touch the Ink Level icon () or ().
    note:
    The Ink Level icon that displays on your control panel differs depending on your printer model.
    A graphic of the estimated ink levels for each ink cartridge displays on the control panel.
    Figure : Estimated ink levels displayed on the printer control panel
    Graphic: Estimated ink levels displayed on printer control panel
  2. Identify any ink cartridges that are low or empty, and then continue to the next step.
note:
Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low ink levels, consider having a replacement ink cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace ink cartridges until you are prompted to.
  • If none of the ink cartridges are low on ink, you do not need to replace them yet. Continue to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostics report.
  • If any of the ink cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step to replace them.

Step 8: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges

Replace any depleted ink cartridges, and then try printing again.

Video of replacing ink cartridges

The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
If you have trouble viewing the video or to view the video in a different size, click here to play the video on YouTube.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  2. Slip your fingers into the slot on the left side of the printer, and then pull forward to open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the left side of the printer. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you proceed.
      Figure : Open the cartridge access door
      Image: Open the cartridge access door
    1. Slot for opening the cartridge access door
  3. Push in on the front of the cartridge to release it, and then pull it toward you to remove it from its slot.
    Figure : Remove the cartridge from its slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from its slot.
  4. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging.
  5. Hold the cartridge so that the cartridge contacts are facing toward the printer.
  6. Slide the new cartridge into its slot, and then gently push it forward until it clicks into place.
    note:
    Make sure that the colored dot on the cartridge label matches the colored dot on the slot.
    Figure : Insert the cartridge into its color-coded slot
    Image: Insert the cartridge into its color-coded slot.
      caution:
    Do not lift the latch handle on the carriage to insert cartridges. Doing so could cause the printhead or cartridges to be incorrectly seated, which could damage the print mechanism and cause printing problems.
  7. Repeat these steps for other cartridges, if necessary.
  8. Close the cartridge access door.
  9. Wait until the warm-up sequence finishes and your printer is quiet before you proceed.
If replacing low ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
  1. Load plain white paper into the input tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Right Arrow () to display additional options.
  3. Touch Setup (), touch the Down Arrow (), and then touch Reports.
  4. Touch Print Quality Report. The Print Quality Diagnostics Report prints.
    Figure : Example of a Print Quality Diagnostics Report
    Image: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostics Report.

Step 10: Examine Test Pattern 1

Evaluate Test Pattern 1 to make sure the lines are straight and connected.
Figure : Example of Test Pattern 1
Image: Example of Test Pattern 1
  • If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are straight and connected, skip to the step to examine Test Pattern 2.
  • If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are not straight and connected, continue to the next step.

Step 11: Align the printhead

Use an automated tool to align the printhead.
  1. Load plain white paper into the input tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Right Arrow () to display additional options.
  3. Touch Setup (), and then touch Tools.
  4. Touch Align Printhead. The printer prints an alignment page.
  5. After the printer prints the alignment page, touch OK to return to the Home screen.
  • If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are straight and connected, continue to the next step.
  • If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are not straight and connected, skip to the step to service the printer.

Step 12: Examine Test Pattern 2

Examine the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 on the Print Quality Diagnostics report.
Figure : Example of Test Pattern 2
Image: Example of Test Pattern 2
  • If the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 do not show white lines, and are not faded or missing, and print quality is satisfactory, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 do not show white lines, and are not faded or missing, and print quality is unacceptable, skip to the step to service the printer.
  • If any of the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 show white lines or are faded or missing completely, continue to the next step.

Step 13: Clean the printhead

To clean the printhead, go to Tools on the printer control panel.
  1. Load plain white paper into the tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Right Arrow () to display additional options.
  3. Touch Setup (), and then touch Tools.
  4. Touch Clean Printhead. There are three cleaning stages. A test page (different from the Print Quality Diagnostics page) prints between each cleaning stage. Do not use this test page for analysis. Touch No when prompted to continue the next level of cleaning.
  5. Print another Print Quality Diagnostics Report to determine if the issue is resolved.
  6. Examine Test Pattern 2 on the Print Quality Diagnostics Report.
  • If there are no defects in Test Pattern 2 and print quality is satisfactory, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
  • If there are no defects in Test Pattern 2, but print quality is unacceptable, skip to the step to service the printer.
  • If there are defects in Test Pattern 2, try cleaning the printhead again.
  • If there are still defects in Test Pattern 2 after another cleaning, continue to the next step.
  caution:
Never turn off the printer when ink cartridges are not installed. To avoid issues that require cleaning the printhead or that can damage the ink system, always replace ink cartridges as soon as possible, and always turn off the printer using the Power button.

Step 14: Replace the printhead

If you have completed all of the troubleshooting steps above and are still experiencing a problem, replace the printhead.
  caution:
Wait until you have a new printhead assembly available before removing the ink cartridges. HP recommends that you do not leave the ink cartridges outside the printer longer than 30 minutes. This could damage both the printer and the ink cartridges.
If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink or toner supplies, go to Printer and Page Yield Overview, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.
If HP replaces your printhead assembly under warranty, you receive a kit with a new printhead assembly, instructions, and a full set of cartridges. You must install the SETUP cartridges that comes with the new printhead, or a cartridge error might occur.
If your printhead assembly is no longer under warranty, you can purchase a new one online.
  1. If you are in the United States, go to the HP Parts Store website (in English).
  2. Under Find your part(s), type CR322A in the Search by part number text box.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to order the printhead assembly.
If you are outside of the United States, go to HP How to Buy website to buy supplies.
If replacing the printhead did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 15: Service the printer

If you have completed all of the steps listed above and are still experiencing print quality problems, contact HP to service the printer.
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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