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HP Photosmart C4100 Series All-in-One - Uneven Darkness in Black Text

This document applies to the following HP Photosmart All-in-One products:
  • C4110, C4140, C4150, C4170, C4173, C4175
  • C4180, C4183, C4188, C4190, C4193, C4194

Issue

Black text or solid black figures in the printed output show uneven or non-uniform darkness.

Figure 1: The pattern of uneven darkness may not look exactly like the sample below

Step One: Check ink levels

NOTE: If you have installed a refilled or remanufactured print cartridge, or a cartridge that has been used in another printer, the ink level indicator will be inaccurate or unavailable.
  1. Open the Printer Toolbox. There are two ways to do this:
    • Open HP Solution Center, select the Settings menu, then the Print Settings submenu, and finally the Printer Toolbox.

    • If the HP Solution Center method does not work, open Printers and Faxes in the Windows Control Panel, then right-click your printer icon and choose Properties. Click Printing Preferences. Click the Features tab, then the Printer Services button.

  2. The Printer Toolbox opens. Click the Estimated Ink Level tab. A cartridge may be running out of ink even if the graphic shows ink remaining (see the note at the start of this section). Lines or streaks always appear in printouts when the cartridges begin to run out of ink. Replace print cartridges that are out of ink or low on ink.

    Figure 2: Estimated Ink Level window

Step two: Run the clean print cartridges utility

  1. Open the Printer Toolbox. There are two ways to do this:
    • Open HP Solution Center, select the Settings menu, then the Print Settings submenu, and finally the Printer Toolbox.

    • If the HP Solution Center method does not work, open Printers and Faxes in the Windows Control Panel, then right-click your printer icon and choose Properties. Click Printing Preferences. Click the Services tab, then the Service This Device icon.

  2. The Printer Toolbox opens. On the Device Services tab, click Clean the Print Cartridges, then follow the on-screen instructions. Up to three levels of cleaning are available. Discard or recycle the page that prints.

Step three: Clean the contacts

  1. Gather the following items to clean the cartridge and carriage:

    • Clean distilled water. Use bottled or filtered water if distilled water is not available. Tap water can contain contaminants that damage the cartridge.

    • Clean cotton swabs or any soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the cartridges (coffee filters work well).

    • Sheets of paper or a paper towel to rest the cartridge on during cleaning.

  2. Open the product cover and wait until the carriage is idle and silent.

  3. Remove the cartridge and place it on a piece of paper with the nozzle plate facing up.

    NOTE: Clean the contacts quickly so that the cartridge is not outside of the product for more than 30 minutes. If the cartridge is outside of the product for too long, the ink can dry and clog the nozzles.
  4. Unplug the product from the electrical outlet.

  5. Dip a swab in the clean water and squeeze it to remove most of the moisture. The swab should be only slightly damp.

  6. Clean the cartridge contacts.
    CAUTION: Do not touch the ink nozzles.

    Figure 3: Cartridge contacts

    Cartridge contacts
  7. Clean the contacts in the carriage, inside the product.

    Figure 4: Carriage contacts

    Carriage contacts
  8. Either let the cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.

  9. Reinstall the cartridge.

  10. Reconnect the product to the electrical outlet.

  11. Close the product cover.

Step four: Black cartridges only: remove and rest for two hours

NOTE: The following procedure does not fix missing lines or streaked bars printed by the tri-color, photo, or gray photo cartridges, or other color-printing problems. Perform the following steps only if the black cartridge has printed defective patterns or if the black text darkness is uneven and not uniform.

In the black cartridge, this problem might be caused by sediments collecting in the nozzle area. Perform the following steps to resolve this issue:

  1. Open the cartridge door.

  2. Remove the black cartridge.

  3. If the carriage has a latch, re-latch it and then close the cartridge door.

    NOTE: If the door is not closed, it cannot adequately protect the remaining tri-color cartridge.
  4. Place the cartridge on a level surface with the nozzles up (label down).

    Figure 5: Cartridge with the nozzles up

    Cartridge with nozzles facing up
  5. Allow the cartridge to sit undisturbed for two hours.

  6. Reinstall the cartridge, and then print a diagnostic page using the following steps:

    1. Load letter or A4 unused plain white paper into the input tray.

    2. On the product control panel, press and hold Cancel, and then press Start Copy Color.

    Make sure that the test patterns on the printout show a complete grid and the thick color lines are complete.

    • More than a few broken lines in a pattern can indicate a problem with the nozzles. You might need to clean the cartridges.

    • If the black line is missing, faded, streaked, or shows lines, this might indicate a problem with the black cartridge in the right slot.

    • If any of the color lines are missing, or if the pattern appears faded, streaked, or shows lines, this might indicate a problem with the tri-color cartridge in the left slot.

  7. If the diagnostic page shows no defects for the black cartridge, and if the cartridge was new, align the cartridge. To align the cartridge, follow these steps:

    1. Load letter, A4, or legal unused plain white paper into the input tray.

    2. In HP Solution Center, click Settings, point to Print Settings, and then click Printer Toolbox. The Printer Toolbox appears.

      NOTE: You can also open the Printer Toolbox from the Print Properties dialog box. In the Print Properties dialog box, click the Services tab, and then click Service this device.
    3. Click the Device Services tab.

    4. Click Align the Print Cartridges. An alignment sheet prints.

    5. Place the alignment sheet with the print side down on the right front corner of the scanner glass.

    6. On the product control panel, press Start Scan/Reprints. The product aligns the cartridges. Recycle or discard the alignment sheet.

      NOTE: You can also align the cartridges from the product control panel. Press and hold Cancel, and then press the power button. When the Check Paper and Check Print Cartridge lights are blinking, press Cancel, then press Number of Copies, then press Paper Type, and finally press Color Start.

    If the page still shows defects, go to the next step.

Step five: Replace the problem cartridge

If the problem has not been solved by the steps above, either the printer or the problem cartridge is defective. If you have not tried cartridge replacement previously to solve this problem, replace the problem cartridge now. If you have already tried cartridge replacement and it did not help, service your product.

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