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HP Deskjet 3540, ENVY 4500 Printers - Black Ink Not Printing and other Print Quality Issues

This document is for HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 3545, 3546, 3548, ENVY 4500, 4501, 4502, 4503, 4504, 4505, 4506, 4507, 4508, and 4509 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: Remove the black ink cartridge
If you just set up your printer and you notice that black ink is missing or faded on your printouts, remove the black ink cartridge and print only with the tri-color ink cartridge. This allows the printer to operate in single-cartridge mode, which creates composite black from the tri-color ink cartridge.
  1. Turn on the printer.
  2. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Figure : Locate the slots on the sides of the printer
    Image: Locate the slots on the sides of the printer
  3. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
  5. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the black cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  7. Set the black cartridge aside, with the nozzles facing up.
    Figure : Cartridge with nozzles facing up
    Image: Cartridge with nozzles facing up
  8. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  9. Try the print job again.
    • If the printer operates correctly in single-cartridge mode, let the black cartridge rest with the nozzles facing up for several hours or overnight, reinstall it, and then try to print again. If you are satisfied with the print quality, you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the printer does not operate correctly in single-cartridge mode or you are not satisfied with the print quality after you reinstall the black cartridge, continue to the next solution.
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 hp.com/go/anticounterfeit.
Visit HP SureSupply to check ink or toner cartridge compatibility or purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies.
  1. If necessary, select your country/region.
    Figure : Country/region selector
    Selecting your country/region
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to order new supplies or check cartridge compatibility with your printer.
You can also purchase genuine HP cartridges and supplies from other 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.
Sometimes, print quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 30 minutes, and then try the print job again.
If allowing the printer to rest did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.
Step 4: Check the paper
Use the following guidelines to 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.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, like photo paper and other special media. 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. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the product.
    Figure : Do not use wrinkled paper
    Image: 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.
      Figure : Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.
    • Some media may 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, damaged, or unsupported paper can cause vertical streaks in printouts.
Examples of horizontal and vertical streaks in a printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in a printout
Image: Horizontal streaks  in a printout.
If your printout contains horizontal lines or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks, continue to the next step.
Figure : Vertical streaks in a printout
Image: Vertical streaks in a printout.
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. Vertical streaks in copies can often be fixed by cleaning the scanner glass.
After checking the paper, try to print again. If the print quality is unacceptable, 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: Check the estimated ink levels
To check the estimated ink levels on your printer, go to Ink Levels on the printer control panel.
  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 print quality becomes unacceptable.
  1. On the printer control panel, press the Home button () to open the Home screen.
  2. Press the Down Arrow () to select Ink Levels, and then press OK. The control panel displays the estimated ink levels.
      Figure : Estimated ink levels
      Image: Estimated ink levels
    1. Color ink level indicator
    2. Black ink level indicator
  • If none of the cartridges are low on ink, you do not need to replace them yet. Continue to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostic report.
  • If any of the cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step to replace them.
Step 7: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges
Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
  note:
This video shows the HP ENVY 4500 printer, but the steps are the same for your printer.
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. Open the scanner lid.
  3. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
  5. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      warning:
    To avoid the risk of injury, replace the ink cartridge within five minutes of opening the ink cartridge access door. After five minutes, the carriage automatically moves to the side of the printer.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  7. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the pull tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Figure : Remove the plastic tape
    Image: Remove the plastic tape
  8. Hold the cartridge at a slight upward angle with the cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the cartridge into the empty slot.
  9. Close the lid on the cartridge slot to secure the cartridge into place.
      note:
    Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Figure : Insert the cartridge
      Image: Insert the cartridge.
    1. Insert the cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color cartridge is on the left, and the black cartridge is on the right
  10. Repeat the previous steps to install the other cartridge, if necessary.
  11. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  12. Close the scanner lid.
  13. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the cartridges and prints an alignment page.
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.
  1. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow () to scroll to Tools, and then press OK.
  2. Press the Down Arrow () to scroll to Print Quality Report, and then press OK. The printer prints the test page.
    Figure : Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects
    Image: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.
Step 9: Examine the Print Quality Diagnostic Report for defects
Review the diagnostic areas of the test page to check for defects. Defects on the report can help you identify the print quality issue, and then troubleshoot it.
    Figure : Diagnostic areas of the test page
    Image: Diagnostic areas of the test page
  1. Sample text
  2. Alignment patterns
  3. Color bars
In general, if the printer and its cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be present, unstreaked, and uniform in color. The black text on the page should not show ink streaks.
Use the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the diagnostic report. The following examples are not all-inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on the print quality diagnostic report
Defect
Example
Large font text is ragged on one end (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Ragged large text.
Irregularly streaked or faded color bars (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Streaked or faded color bars.
Ragged color bars (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Ragged color bars.
The color bars are streaked with another color (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Streaked color bars.
The color blocks have regular white streaks (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: White streaks in the color bars.
Completely missing (black) color (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Missing color (black).
Page is blank or nearly blank (possible cartridge or printhead problem)
Image: Nearly blank page.
Jagged alignment patterns (possible alignment problem)
Image: Jagged alignment patterns.
Step 10: Clean the ink cartridges
If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report, run an automatic tool to clean the ink cartridges.
  note:
To avoid issues that require cleaning, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. Load letter or A4, unused, plain white paper into the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, press the Down Arrow () to select Tools, and then press OK.
  3. Press the Down Arrow () to select Clean Printhead, and then press OK. The printer cleans the printhead, and then prints a printhead test page.
    Figure : Example of the printhead test page without defects
    Image: Example of the printhead test page without defects
  4. Review the print quality on the printhead test page.
Step 11: Align the printer
For best print quality, align the ink cartridges.
  1. Load plain white paper in the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, press the down arrow to select Align Printer, and then press OK.
    The printer prints a test page, and then prompts you to scan the page.
  3. Place the alignment page with the print side down on the scanner glass. Position it according to the engraved guides around the glass.
    Figure : Place the alignment page on the scanner glass
    Image: Place the alignment page on the scanner glass
  4. Close the scanner lid, and then touch OK.
Print another Print Quality Diagnostic Report, and examine the page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you can stop troubleshooting.
  • If these steps did not resolve the issue, and the Print Quality Diagnostic page does not show track marks or smears, skip to the step to replace the problem ink cartridge.
  • If the Print Quality Diagnostic Report shows track marks or smears, continue to the next step to clean the area around the ink nozzles.
Step 12: Manually clean the area around the ink nozzles
Do not perform these steps unless the test page or printout specifically shows smeared text or track marks. Clean the area around the ink nozzles if you see track marks or smears on the printouts.
Figure : Example of smeared text
Image: Example of smeared text
Figure : Example of text with track marks
Image: Example of text with track marks
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Dry foam-rubber swabs, lint-free cloth, or any soft material that does not come apart or leave fibers (coffee filters work well)
    • Distilled, filtered, or bottled water (tap water might contain contaminants that can damage the ink cartridges)
        caution:
      Do not use platen cleaners or alcohol to clean the area. These can damage the ink cartridge or the printer.
  2. Make sure the printer is on.
  3. Open the scanner lid.
  4. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Open the ink cartridge access door.
  5. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
  6. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  7. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the ink cartridge
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
      caution:
    Do not remove both ink cartridges at the same time. Remove and clean each ink cartridge one at a time. Do not leave an ink cartridge outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.
  8. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
    Figure : Hold the ink cartridge by its sides
    Image: Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
  9. Inspect the ink cartridge contacts for ink and debris buildup.
      caution:
    Do not touch the copper-colored contacts or the ink nozzles. Touching these parts can result in clogs, ink failure, and bad electrical connections.
    Figure : Do not touch the contacts or nozzles
    Image: Do not touch the contacts or nozzles.
  10. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water, and then squeeze any excess water from it.
  11. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
      caution:
    Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
      Figure : Clean the area around the ink nozzle
      Image: The ink nozzle and ink cartridge contacts.
    1. Nozzle plate - Do not clean
    2. Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3. Ink cartridge contacts - Do not clean
  12. Either let the ink cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  13. Hold the ink cartridge at a slight upward angle with the ink cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the ink cartridge into the empty slot.
    Figure : Reinstall the ink cartridge
    Image: Reinstall the ink cartridge.
  14. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge lid
    Image: Close the ink cartridge lid.
  15. Repeat these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzle on the other ink cartridge.
  16. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  17. Close the scanner lid.
  18. Try printing again.
Step 13: Replace the problem ink cartridge
Replace the problem cartridge if you saw defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report and the preceding steps did not resolve the issue, even if the ink cartridge is not low on ink. The problem ink cartridge is the one that printed the defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report as described earlier in this document.
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 hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.
The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
  note:
This video shows the HP ENVY 4500 printer, but the steps are the same for your printer.
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. Open the scanner lid.
  3. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
  5. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      warning:
    To avoid the risk of injury, replace the ink cartridge within five minutes of opening the ink cartridge access door. After five minutes, the carriage automatically moves to the side of the printer.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  7. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the pull tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Figure : Remove the plastic tape
    Image: Remove the plastic tape
  8. Hold the cartridge at a slight upward angle with the cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the cartridge into the empty slot.
  9. Close the lid on the cartridge slot to secure the cartridge into place.
      note:
    Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Figure : Insert the cartridge
      Image: Insert the cartridge.
    1. Insert the cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color cartridge is on the left, and the black cartridge is on the right
  10. Repeat the previous steps to install the other cartridge, if necessary.
  11. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  12. Close the scanner lid.
  13. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the cartridges and prints an alignment page.
Service or replace your HP product if you completed all preceding steps.
To see if your product is still under warranty, go to the warranty check website http://www.support.hp.com/checkwarranty. Contact HP Support to schedule a repair or replacement. If you are in Asia Pacific, Contact HP Support to find a local service center in your area.
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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