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HP Officejet Pro K5300, K5400, and K8600 Printer Series - Troubleshooting Print Quality Issues

This document is for HP Officejet Pro K5300, K5400, and K8600 printers.

The quality of the printout or printed image is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded prints, prints without black or other colors, prints with blurred or fuzzy text, prints with ink streaks or smears, and many other problems.

Windows

Solution one: Use genuine HP cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP cartridges. Genuine HP cartridges are designed and tested with HP printers to help you easily produce great results, time after time. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP supplies. Warranty will not cover product service or repairs required as a result of using a non-HP ink supply. HP recommends that you make sure that you are using genuine HP cartridges before continuing.

NOTE: Low ink levels should NOT cause print quality problems. When the printer gets low on ink, it should generate a message.

Solution two: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure that the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If it is not, reload the product with an appropriate paper type.

  • HP papers, inks, and printers are designed to work together. Many non-HP media could be incompatible with HP inks and printing systems.

  • Use the correct paper type for your project:
    • For everyday text documents, plain paper with ColorLok technology works well.

    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.

  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides.

  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the product.

  • 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 photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.

  • Try using a different paper. Paper that does not accept ink well is also prone to print defects. HP designs ink and paper to work together.

  • Some media may not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.

Figure 1: Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing

Example of the ColorLok logo

Figure 2: Horizontal streaks in printout

illustration of horizontal streaks in printouts
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks, or other print-quality issues besides vertical streaks.

Figure 3: Vertical streaks in printout

illustration of vertical streaks in printouts
Do not replace cartridges or printheads 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.

Solution three: Check the print settings

Follow these steps to check the print settings for your print job.
  1. In the software program you are trying to print from, click File and then click Print.

    The Print dialog box opens.

  2. Select your product, and then click Properties.

    The printer Properties dialog box opens.

  3. Click the Printing shortcuts tab.

  4. Under Printing shortcuts, click the type of job you are trying to print.

  5. Review the following options, and then make any necessary changes.
    • Paper size: Make sure that the selected option matches your paper size.

    • Paper type: If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select that option.

    • Print quality: If you are not satisfied with your printed page quality, or want more densely printed prints, increase the print quality. To print more quickly, or for lighter prints, decrease the print quality.

  6. Click the Features tab.

  7. Check the Print in Grayscale setting

    • If you are trying to print in color, select Color Options, and then make sure that Print in Grayscale is not selected.

    • If you are printing a black and white image, select Print in Grayscale to fix streaking in black areas.

  8. Click OK, and then click OK again to start the print job.

Solution four: Print and evaluate a print quality diagnostic page

The print quality diagnostic page can help determine if the printer is misaligned, if the printheads need cleaning, or if the linefeed needs calibrating.

Step one: Print a diagnostic page

If you installed the HP software, follow the instructions to print a diagnostic page from Solution Center. If you installed a Plug and Play driver or other driver, follow the instructions to print a diagnostic page from the control panel.

Print a diagnostic page from Solution Center
  1. Load unused white paper (if needed).

  2. Double-click the HP Digital Imaging Monitor () on the Windows taskbar.

  3. In HP Solution Center, click Settings, and then click Printer Toolbox.

  4. Select the Services tab, and then click Print PQ (print quality) diagnostic page

    Figure 4: Select Print PQ (print quality) diagnostic page

    Screenshot selecting the print PQ (print quality) diagnostic page

    A Print Quality Diagnostics window opens.

  5. Click Print.

    Figure 5: Print Quality Diagnostics window

    Screenshot selecting Print on the Print Quality Diagnostics window
Print a diagnostic page from the control panel
  1. Press and hold the Power button.

  2. Press the Cancel button () seven times.

  3. Press the Resume button () two times.

  4. Release the Power button.

    A print quality diagnostic page prints.

Figure 6: Print Quality Diagnostics Page

Illustration of a print quality diagnostic page.

Step two: Examine Test Pattern 1

If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are not straight and connected, follow these steps to align the printer.

If you installed the HP software, follow the instructions to align the printheads in Solution Center. If you installed a Plug and Play driver or other driver, follow the instructions to align the printheads from the control panel.

Align the printheads in Solution Center
  1. Load unused white paper (if needed).

  2. Double-click the HP Digital Imaging Monitor () on the Windows taskbar.

  3. In HP Solution Center, click Settings, and then click Printer Toolbox.

  4. Select the Services tab, and then click Align Printheads.

    Figure 7: Align Printheads

    Align Printheads on the Services tab

    The Align Printheads window opens.

  5. Click Align.

    The printer prints the alignment page.

Align the printheads from the control panel
  1. Load unused white paper (if needed).

  2. Press and hold the Power button.

  3. Press the Resume button () three times.

  4. Release the Power button.

    The printer prints alignment and calibration pages.

Step three: Examine Test Pattern 2

If any of the colored blocks in Test Pattern 2 show white lines, follow these steps to clean the printheads.

Figure 8: White lines in Test Pattern 2

Examples of white lines through black, red, and green color bars
NOTE: If there are white lines through ALL the color blocks, and also white lines through the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3, skip to the section later in this document to Examine Test Pattern 3 .

If you installed the HP software, follow the instructions to clean the printheads in Solution Center. If you installed a Plug and Play driver or other driver, follow the instructions to clean the printheads from the control panel.

Clean printheads in Solution Center
  1. Make sure the printer is loaded with unused white paper.

  2. Double-click the HP Digital Imaging Monitor () on the Windows taskbar.
  3. In HP Solution Center, click Settings, and then click Printer Toolbox.

  4. Select the Services tab, and then click Clean Printheads.

    Figure 9: Clean Printheads

    Screenshot of selecting Clean Printheads

    A Clean Printheads window opens.

  5. Click Clean.

    Figure 10: Clean Printheads window

    Screenshot of selecting clean on the Clean Printheads screen

    The printhead cleaning process begins. This process takes a few minutes. When it completes, a page prints.

Clean printheads from the control panel
  1. Make sure the printer is loaded with unused white paper.

  2. Press and hold the Power button.

  3. Press the Cancel button () two times.

  4. Press the Resume button () one time.

  5. Release the Power button.

    Cleaning the printheads takes a few minutes, and when it completes, a page prints.

  • If the page printed after cleaning shows no streaking, continue to the next step.

  • If the page shows streaks, repeat printhead cleaning up to two times. If repeated cleanings fail to solve the problem, go to the instructions later in this document to replace one or both printheads.

Step four: Examine Test Pattern 3

If any of the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3 show dark lines or white gaps where the arrows are pointing, calibrate linefeed.

Figure 11: White gaps in Test Pattern 3

Illustration of white lines where the arrows are pointing

If you installed the HP software, follow the instructions to calibrate linefeed in Solution Center. If you installed a Plug and Play driver or other driver, follow the instructions to calibrate linefeed from the control panel.

Calibrate linefeed in Solution Center
  1. Make sure the printer is loaded with unused white paper.

  2. Double-click the HP Digital Imaging Monitor () on the Windows taskbar.
  3. Open HP Solution Center, then click Settings, then Printer Toolbox.

  4. Select the Services tab.

  5. Click Calibrate Linefeed.

    Figure 12: Calibrate Linefeed through Toolbox

    Calibrate Linefeed on the Services tab
  6. An Advance Linefeed Calibration window opens. Click OK.

  7. After calibration, print another PQ Diagnostic. If there are still dark lines or white gaps in Test Pattern 3, the printer must be serviced.

Calibrate linefeed from the control panel
  1. Press and hold the Power button.

  2. Press the Cancel button () fourteen times.

  3. Press the Resume button () six times.

  4. Release the Power button.

Solution five: The Print Quality Diagnostic page shows no defects

If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report, the print mechanism and ink supplies are working correctly. There is no reason to clean, align or calibrate, or to replace printheads or ink cartridges. Instead, try these solutions:
  • Recheck the first steps in this document. Many non-HP media could be incompatible with HP inks and printing systems. HP cannot guarantee the quality of non-HP inks.

  • 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 you installed with the product, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.

Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout (graphic)
Windows 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 (c01954177).

Solution six: Replace one or both printheads

If, after repeated printhead cleaning, the Print Quality Diagnostic page shows white lines across the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 (but no white lines in the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3), one or both of the printheads will have to be replaced. The Print Quality Diagnostic page shows which printhead should be replaced.

Look at the color blocks labeled Test Pattern 2. Some of them should show white horizontal streaks (if none of the blocks are streaked, the printheads are okay).

  • Black block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

  • Red block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

  • Green block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

Figure 13: Streaked black, red, or green color blocks - replace Black/Yellow Printhead

Illustration of streaked black, red or green color blocks in test pattern 2
  • Cyan block has lines – replace the Magenta/Cyan printhead.

  • Magenta block has lines – replace the Magenta/Cyan printhead.

Figure 14: Streaked cyan or magenta color blocks - replace Cyan/Magenta Printhead

Illustration of streaked cyan or magenta color blocks in test pattern 2

If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink supplies, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies , select your country/region, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.

  1. Open the cover.

  2. Make sure paper is loaded in Tray 1.

  3. If the carriage does not move to the left automatically, press and hold the Resume button ( ) until the carriage moves to the left. Wait for the carriage to stop moving.
    CAUTION: Do not proceed until the carriage is on the left. If the carriage does not move to the left automatically, turn the printer off and back on and then try holding down the Resume button ( ) again.
  4. Lift the printhead latch.

    Figure 15: Lifting the printhead latch

  5. Lift the handle of a printhead, and use it to pull the printhead out of its slot.

    Figure 16: Pull the printhead out of its slot

  6. Before installing a new printhead, shake the printhead up and down at least six times while the printhead is still in its packaging.

    Figure 17: Shake the printhead

  7. Remove the new printhead from its package, and then remove its orange protective caps.

    CAUTION: Do not shake printheads after the caps are removed.

    Figure 18: Open the printhead and remove the orange caps

  8. Insert the printhead into its color-coded slot (the label on the printhead must match the label on the printhead latch). Press down firmly on the printhead to ensure proper contact.

  9. Pull the printhead latch all the way forward, and then press down to ensure that the latch is properly engaged. You might have to apply some pressure to engage the latch.

  10. Close the cover, then wait while the device initializes the printheads and prints the alignment pages.

Solution seven: Service the Printer

If these solutions have not solved the problem, see the steps at the end of this document to service the printer.

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.

Mac OS X

Solution one: Use genuine HP cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP cartridges. Genuine HP cartridges are designed and tested with HP printers to help you easily produce great results, time after time. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP supplies. Warranty will not cover product service or repairs required as a result of using a non-HP ink supply. HP recommends that you make sure that you are using genuine HP cartridges before continuing.

NOTE: Low ink levels should NOT cause print quality problems. When the printer gets low on ink, it should generate a message.

Solution two: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure that the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If it is not, reload the product with an appropriate paper type.

  • HP papers, inks, and printers are designed to work together. Many non-HP media could be incompatible with HP inks and printing systems.

  • Use the correct paper type for your project:
    • For everyday text documents, plain paper with ColorLok technology works well.

    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.

  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides.

  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the product.

  • 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 photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.

  • Try using a different paper. Paper that does not accept ink well is also prone to print defects. HP designs ink and paper to work together.

  • Some media may not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.

Figure 19: Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing

Example of the ColorLok logo

Figure 20: Horizontal streaks in printout

illustration of horizontal streaks in printouts
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks, or other print-quality issues besides vertical streaks.

Figure 21: Vertical streaks in printout

illustration of vertical streaks in printouts
Do not replace cartridges or printheads 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.

Solution three: Check the print settings

Check the print quality settings:

  1. Open a document and choose File, and then Print.

  2. Select the Paper Type/Quality menu.

  3. Review the following options, and then make any necessary changes:
    • Paper type: If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select that option.

    • Quality: If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your printouts, increase the print quality. To print more quickly, decrease the print quality.

  4. Click the Color Options pop-up or tab if it appears. If you want color printouts, make sure Grayscale is not selected (if the option does not appear, it is not available for the printer).

NOTE: To save these settings for future print jobs, choose Save in the Presets menu, and then name the new preset. If multiple printers are installed, open System Preferences, and then Print & Fax, and then set Default Printer to Last Printer Used.

Solution four: Print and evaluate a print quality diagnostic page

The print quality diagnostic page can help determine if the printer is misaligned, if the printheads need cleaning, or if the linefeed needs calibrating.

Step one: Print a diagnostic page

  1. Press and hold the Power button.

  2. Press the Cancel button () seven times.

  3. Press the Resume button () two times.

  4. Release the Power button.

    A print quality diagnostic page prints.

Figure 22: Print Quality Diagnostics Page

Illustration of a print quality diagnostic page.

Step two: Examine Test Pattern 1

If the lines in Test Pattern 1 are not straight and connected, follow these steps to align the printer.

  1. Load unused white paper (if needed).

  2. Press and hold the Power button.

  3. Press the Resume button () three times.

  4. Release the Power button.

    The printer prints alignment and calibration pages.

Step three: Examine Test Pattern 2

If any of the colored blocks in Test Pattern 2 show white lines, follow these steps to clean the printheads.

Figure 23: White lines in Test Pattern 2

Examples of white lines through black, red, and green color bars
NOTE: If there are white lines through ALL the color blocks, and also white lines through the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3, skip to the section below to examine Test Pattern 3 .
  1. Make sure the printer is loaded with unused white paper.

  2. Press and hold the Power button.

  3. Press the Cancel button () two times.

  4. Press the Resume button () one time.

  5. Release the Power button.

    Cleaning the printheads takes a few minutes, and when it completes, a page prints.

    • If the page shows no streaking, continue to the next step, to examine Test Pattern 3.

    • If the page shows streaks, repeat printhead cleaning up to two times. If repeated cleanings do not solve the problem, go to the section in this document on replacing one or both printheads.

Step four: Examine Test Pattern 3

If any of the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3 show dark lines or white gaps where the arrows are pointing, calibrate linefeed.

Figure 24: White gaps in Test Pattern 3

Illustration of white lines where the arrows are pointing
  1. Press and hold the Power button.

  2. Press the Cancel button () fourteen times.

  3. Press the Resume button () six times.

  4. Release the Power button.

Solution five: The Print Quality Diagnostic page shows no defects

If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report, the print mechanism and ink supplies are working correctly. There is no reason to clean, align or calibrate, or to replace printheads or ink cartridges. Instead, try these solutions:
  • Recheck the first steps in this document. Many non-HP media could be incompatible with HP inks and printing systems. HP cannot guarantee the quality of non-HP inks.

  • 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 you installed with the printer, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.

Solution six: Replace one or both printheads

If, after repeated printhead cleaning, the Print Quality Diagnostic page shows white lines across the color blocks in Test Pattern 2 (but no white lines in the gray blocks in Test Pattern 3), one or both of the printheads will have to be replaced. The Print Quality Diagnostic page shows which printhead should be replaced.

Look at the color blocks labeled Test Pattern 2. Some of them should show white horizontal streaks (if none of the blocks are streaked, the printheads are okay).

  • Black block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

  • Red block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

  • Green block has lines – replace the Black/Yellow printhead.

Figure 25: Streaked black, red, or green color blocks - replace Black/Yellow Printhead

Illustration of streaked black, red or green color blocks in test pattern 2
  • Cyan block has lines – replace the Magenta/Cyan printhead.

  • Magenta block has lines – replace the Magenta/Cyan printhead.

Figure 26: Streaked cyan or magenta color blocks - replace Cyan/Magenta Printhead

Illustration of streaked cyan or magenta color blocks in test pattern 2

If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink supplies, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies , select your country/region, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.

  1. Open the cover.

  2. Make sure paper is loaded in Tray 1.

  3. If the carriage does not move to the left automatically, press and hold the Resume button ( ) until the carriage moves to the left. Wait for the carriage to stop moving.
    CAUTION: Do not proceed until the carriage is on the left. If the carriage does not move to the left automatically, turn the printer off and back on and then try holding down the Resume button ( ) again.
  4. Lift the printhead latch.

    Figure 27: Lifting the printhead latch

  5. Lift the handle of a printhead, and use it to pull the printhead out of its slot.

    Figure 28: Pull the printhead out of its slot

  6. Before installing a new printhead, shake the printhead up and down at least six times while the printhead is still in its packaging.

    Figure 29: Shake the printhead

  7. Remove the new printhead from its package, and then remove its orange protective caps.

    CAUTION: Do not shake printheads after the caps are removed.

    Figure 30: Open the printhead and remove the orange caps

  8. Insert the printhead into its color-coded slot (the label on the printhead must match the label on the printhead latch). Press down firmly on the printhead to ensure proper contact.

  9. Pull the printhead latch all the way forward, and then press down to ensure that the latch is properly engaged. You might have to apply some pressure to engage the latch.

  10. Close the cover, then wait while the device initializes the printheads and prints the alignment pages.

Solution seven: Service the Printer

If these solutions have not solved the problem, see the steps at the end of this document to service the printer.

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.

Service the printer

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.

Contacting HP for service in Asia Pacific.

If you have completed all the preceding steps and are still experiencing a problem, you may need further assistance from HP to remedy your concern.

Please contact HP using one of the options found at Contact HP to obtain service.

Contacting HP for service in all countries/regions except Asia Pacific.

If you have completed all the preceding steps and are still experiencing a problem, service the product.

Determine if your product is in warranty or out of warranty. If you need help determining your product’s warranty status, go to HP’s Warranty Check Tool .

  • If your product is in warranty, Contact HP to obtain service.

  • If your product is out of warranty, Contact HP to find an authorized service provider or to setup service (fees might apply).

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