Why Is My HP Printer Not Printing Clearly? [Solutions]

If you are wondering “Why is my HP printer not printing clearly?” this article will provide the reasons as well as the solutions to this problem.

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HP Printer Not Printing Clearly [Reasons & Solutions]

Your HP printer is not printing clearly due to the following reasons:

1. You are Using Non-Genuine Non-HP Cartridges

To enjoy the best print quality on your HP printer, it is recommended that you use only genuine HP cartridges. When you use non-HP cartridges, you are bound to encounter certain problems and could run the risk of voiding your warranty.

Therefore, if your HP printer is not printing clearly, confirm that you are using genuine HP cartridges. If you are not, replace the cartridges with genuine HP ones.

2. The Automatic Servicing is not complete

When you install a new cartridge into your printer, it is likely that the print quality will not be clear initially. There is nothing you can do about this since your printer will automatically service the cartridge. Hence, the print quality should improve after some hours.

3. Paper Issues

Issues with the loaded paper can cause your HP printer not to print clearly. Therefore, we recommend that you click HP Printer Not Printing Color – Ensure the Right Paper is Used and read the instructions we shared under the “Ensure the Right Paper is used” section.

4. Wrong Print Settings

If the print settings are wrong, your HP printer will not print clearly. To verify that you aren’t using the wrong settings, you need to check the print settings.

We’ve already discussed how to do this here: HP Printer Not Printing Color – Check your Print Settings under the “Check your Print Settings” section.

4. Low Ink Cartridges

The print quality is dependent on the amount of ink contained in your cartridge. Therefore, once the ink level becomes low, it might be the reason why your HP printer is not printing evenly.

Hence, you need to inspect the ink level and you can do this via the HP Solution Center. If the ink is low or even empty after you have checked, you have to replace the affected cartridge.

How to Check Ink Level via HP Solution Center

To check the ink of your HP printer via HP Solution Center, do the following steps:

Step 1: Open the HP Solution Center.

For Windows XP

i. Click on “Start”.

ii. Click on “All Programs”.

iii. Click on “HP”.

iv. Click on “HP Solution Center”.

For Windows 7 or Windows Vista

i. Click on the icon for “Windows”.

ii. Click on “All Programs”.

iii. Click on “HP”.

iv. Click on “HP Solution Center”.

A window for the HP Solution Center will open.

Step 2: Click on “Settings”.

Step 3: Go to the area for “Print Settings” and click on “Printer Toolbox”. This action will open the “Printer Toolbox”.

Step 4: Click on the tab labeled “Estimated Ink Levels”. A graphic displaying the ink levels will be shown on your computer’s screen.

  • If you see that the ink level on any of the cartridges is low and your HP printer is not printing clearly, you need to replace the affected cartridge.
  • If none of the ink levels is low, you don’t have to change the cartridge. Hence, just continue reading to find out what else you can do.
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5. The Cartridges are not Vented Properly and Seated Correctly

If the vents found at the upper part of the cartridge become obstructed or clogged, your cartridge might have issues functioning properly. This, in turn, could cause your HP printer not to print clearly.

Therefore, you need to ensure that the cartridges are vented properly and seated correctly.

How to ensure that Cartridges are Vented Properly and Seated Correctly

To ensure that your cartridges are vented properly and seated correctly, follow the steps below:

Note: The steps to perform the task might vary from model. However, the guides shared below can be applied to most HP printers.  

Step 1: Turn on your HP printer by pressing the printer’s “Power” button, in case it isn’t already on.

Step 2: Wait until your printer becomes silent and ide before you proceed.

Step 3: Open your printer’s cartridge access door. When you do this, the carriage will then move to the middle of your printer.

Step 4: Release the cartridge by pressing the release tab of your printer has one.

Step 5: Take out the cartridge from its cartridge slot.

Step 6: Inspect the area where the vent is on all the cartridges. For most cartridges, the area is on the upper part before the HP logo.

Step 7: If the orange tab is still attached to the cartridge, remove it by pulling it.

Step 8: If you find a clog in the vent, get a straight pin and remove the excess adhesive gently.

Step 9: Reinstall the cartridge into the correct slot. Ensure that the cartridge is firmly in place.

Step 10: Repeat steps 4 – 9 to examine each cartridge’s vent.

Step 11: Close your printer’s cartridge access door. When you do this, the carriage will then go back to its original position.

Step 12: Print a document.

Check if your printer is now printing clearly.

If it is not, check the next reason.

There are other HP printer not printing issues that users might encounter; read this article: HP Printer Not Printing [Issues & Solutions] to find out more about them.

6. Outdated Firmware

Outdated firmware can cause your HP printer not to print clearly. Thankfully, this issue can be resolved quickly by updating the printer firmware.

To update your HP printer firmware, click HP Printer Not Printing but Connected – Update your HP Printer Firmware, and follow the instructions we shared under the “Update your HP Printer Firmware – Step 4” section.

7. Dirty Printhead

A dirty printhead will prevent the ink in the cartridge from being released. This, in turn, will cause the printer not to print clearly. Therefore, if this is the reason behind the issue, all you need to do is to clean the printhead.

To clean the printhead of your HP printer, click HP Printer Printing Blank Pages – The Printhead is Dirty and then follow the instructions under the “The Printhead is Dirty” section.

8. Your HP Printer is not Aligned

If your HP printer is not aligned, you can align it using the HP Solution Center.

How to Align HP Printer Using HP Solution Center

Step 1: Open the HP Solution Center.

For Windows XP

i. Click on “Start”.

ii. Click on “All Programs”.

iii. Click on “HP”.

iv. Click on “HP Solution Center”.

For Windows 7 or Windows Vista

i. Click on the icon for “Windows”.

ii. Click on “All Programs”.

iii. Click on “HP”.

iv. Click on “HP Solution Center”.

A window for the HP Solution Center will open.

Step 2: Click on “Settings”.

Step 3: Go to the area for “Print Settings” and click on “Printer Toolbox”. This action will open the “Printer Toolbox”.

Step 4: Click on “Align the Print Cartridges”.

Step 5: Click on “Print Page”. Your printer will now print an alignment page.

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9. Defective Cartridge

If any of the cartridges is defective, it could be the reason why your HP printer is not printing correctly. Therefore, you need to take out the cartridge and examine it for damage.

Sometimes, the defect might not be visible. Hence, you will have to print a Quality Report or a Quality Diagnostic Report. We have shared how you can do both already in this article. Therefore, we recommend that you read the “4. Faulty Cartridge” section of this article.

From the report, you will be able to determine which cartridge is defective. Once you have discovered the defective cartridge, replace it immediately.

10. Defective Printhead

A defective printhead can also prevent your HP printer from printing clearly. Therefore, if none of the solutions we’ve provided so far fixes the problem, then you need to check the printhead and replace it if necessary.

You can get a replacement printhead for your printer from the HP Parts Store. Alternatively, you can get it from a reliable store such as Amazon.

Note: Before you remove the printhead from your printer, ensure that the new printhead has been delivered to you. This is important because it is not recommended to leave your cartridge outside your HP printer beyond 30 minutes after removing them from your printer. Doing so could damage your cartridge and your printer as well. 

How to Replace HP Printer Printhead Assembly

Do the following to replace your HP printer printhead assembly.

Take out the Cartridges from your Printer – Step 1

To take out the cartridges from your HP printer, do the following steps:

Step 1: Turn on your HP printer by pressing the printer’s “Power” button, if your device is not powered on already.

Step 2: Open your printer’s cartridge access door. This action will cause the carriage to move to the middle of your printer.

Step 3: Release the cartridge by pressing the release tab of your printer has one.

Step 4: Take out the cartridge from its cartridge slot.

Step 6: Repeat steps 3 and 4 to remove the other cartridges.

Take out the Printhead from your Printer – Step 2

To take out the printhead from your HP printer, do the following steps:

Step 1: Raise the handle of the latch on the carriage. Ensure that you raise it completely until it can’t go any further.

Step 2: Lift and remove the printhead from the carriage.

Clean the Printer’s Electrical Contacts – Step 3

Most printhead assembly replacements are packaged with pre-moistened wipes. These wipes can be used to clean your HP printer’s electrical contacts.

These contacts are found in your printer and are responsible for connecting and passing information to your cartridge to release the ink. Hence, if they are dirty, they won’t be able to perform this function properly. Therefore, cleaning the contacts is important, especially after replacing the printhead.

To clean the electrical contact using the pre-moistened wipes, ensure that you wipe the contacts from the top to bottom while maintaining a single direction. Wiping the contacts in any other manner can cause damage to your HP printer.

Once the wipe gets dirty, discard the one in use and use a new one.

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Insert the New Printhead into your Printer – Step 4

To insert the new printhead into your HP printer, do the following steps:

Step 1: Take out the printhead from its package.

Caution: Ensure that you don’t touch the copper electrical contacts. You shouldn’t scratch the contacts on any surface or on your printer.

Step 2: Handle the printhead upright while ensuring that the colored icons are facing upward.

Step 3: Place the printhead into your printer’s cartridge.

Step 4:  Bring down the handle of the latch carefully.

Load your Printer with Plain Paper – Step 5

To load your HP printer with plain paper, do the following steps:

Step 1: Place your printer’s output tray in its open position.

Step 2: Move the input tray’s paper width guides to its furthest position.

Step 3: Place the paper stack into your printer’s input tray. Ensure that the print side is facing down.

Step 4: Move the input tray’s paper width guides to the sides of the paper stack. Ensure that the guides do not squeeze the paper.

Step: Pull out the tray extender on both your input and output trays.

We recommend that you also read this article to learn more about how to feed paper into an HP printer.

Insert the New Cartridges into your Printer – Step 6

To insert the new cartridges into your HP printer, do the following steps:

Note: A common mistake that most folks make is to reuse the former cartridges with the new printhead. Doing this might harm the printhead and even your HP printer.

Step 1: Turn on your HP printer by pressing the printer’s “Power” button, if your device is not powered on already.

Step 2: Open your printer’s cartridge access door. This action will cause the carriage to move to the middle of your printer.

Step 3: Take out the new ink cartridge from its packaging.

Step 4: Remove the orange cap.

Step 5: Slide the cartridges into their correct slot. Ensure that it snaps into place.

Caution: Don’t raise the handle of the latch on the carriage when inserting the cartridges. If you do that, you might cause the printers not to seat correctly which could lead to other problems.

Step 6: Repeat steps 3 to 5 for other cartridges.

Step 7: Close your printer’s cartridge access door. The printer’s carriage will return to its original position when you do this.

Align your Printer – Step 7

After you have loaded paper into your paper and have completed all the steps so far, press “OK” on your printer’s control panel. This simple action will cause your HP printer to print an alignment page automatically to align the newly installed cartridges.

If your HP printer is not printing correctly after doing all that we have shared so far, it could be an indication of a more serious problem such as a hardware problem. Therefore, you need to contact HP Customer Support for further assistance. They should schedule a date to repair your printer.

We advise that you keep a sample of your printer’s print job to enable them to determine what the problem is and how it can be fixed. 

The solution shared in this article can also fix the HP printer not printing full picture and HP printer not printing good quality issues.