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Troubleshooting HP LaserJet Printers With Image Defects Chart

Visual chart to identify and troubleshoot common HP laser printer image defects.

Image defects are defined as image abnormalities such as repeating specks, bands, or streaks down (or across) the page. Most defects can be traced to damaged rollers, broken gears, dirty mirrors, defects in the toner cartridge, or other common causes

This article describes the process of solving image related problems and clarifies the brief steps in the HP Image Problem Solving Table. Skip to the "circled" number from the table for a clearer understanding of the recommended action. If that action does not cure the image problem, return to the Image Problem Table for the next action step. If you have reached Step 14 (Call for Service), consider calling your local service company for help.

The numbers below correspond to the numbers in the right column of the Image Problem Table.

HP Image Problem Solving Table Instructions: 1.Closely examine the image problem. The Chart suggests solutions and defines them by name. 2.Locate the image problem by description or icon at the top of the chart. 3.Proceed down the column under your problem image to the first data mark (O). 4.Go to the right to the step number in the black circle on that row. 6.Do the action suggested for that row number. If you need more details, locate the "circled" step number in the next section. It will describe how to do what is listed in this step.  7.Return to the chart for more steps if the problem is not resolved.
HP Image Problem Solving Table Instructions: 1.Closely examine the image problem. The Chart suggests solutions and defines them by name. 2.Locate the image problem by description or icon at the top of the chart. 3.Proceed down the column under your problem image to the first data mark (O). 4.Go to the right to the step number in the black circle on that row. 6.Do the action suggested for that row number. If you need more details, locate the "circled" step number in the next section. It will describe how to do what is listed in this step. 7.Return to the chart for more steps if the problem is not resolved.

1) Try again, see if the problem goes away.

Always double check the symptoms of the problem. If some one else has told you what has happened, run a test print of your own. Do your own diagnosis. Sometimes the image problem changes for the better. For example, if a small quantity of toner dropped from the toner cartridge due to mishandling, things may clean up after a few prints or so. If the problem remains or worsens, go back to the Image Problem Table for the next step.


2) Adjust print density. (light prints, background, shading, ghosting)

Each HP LaserJet has a print density adjustment. For best image quality, this adjustment should be set to the value recommended for the toner cartridge used. Improper print density settings could result in poor image quality: light printing, background, or gray shading over the entire page. Using a mid density setting of with a graphics quality toner cartridge could cause ghosting, a condition in which extra toner deposited on the page transfers onto the fuser roller, hen back on to the page again.

To override printer console settings, set the print density from your P'C through the printer driver or printer control panel. The manufacturer sets the value to the middle setting as a default. Selecting the print density by this means is beyond the scope of this book. We suggest that in either case you may need to see your PC or software manual for details.

Always use the recommended print density setting as specified by the cartridge manufacturer. If unknown, select the midrange for the next test. Try again and see if the problem goes away. If not, return to the Image Problem Table for more ideas

3) Try standard bond paper. (ghosting, lines, streaks, voids, light prints, background, shading, creasing, wrinkles, other defects)


Using paper for which the machine was not designed might create print defects. For example, preprinted letterhead produced using low temperature toner leads to ghosting as the page moves through the printer fusing assembly. When ordering letterhead, stationery, envelopes, or other preprinted media, make sure your commercial printer knows you will be using this in a laser printer.


Paper stock, made for other than laser printer use, might not accept toner well over part or all of the page. Fading, spotty images, voids or dropouts, light image formation, repeating defects, are among the possible defects related to improper paper Thin paper stock, envelopes, overhead film, and other nonstandard media could create other problems like creasing, wrinkling, folding or others.

Printers with straight-through paper paths such are more tolerant to a wider variety of media. In fact, some HP laser printers enable users to alter the fuser temperature for certain media other printers can't handle.


Moisture in paper produces voids or blank areas where the image should be formed.

Be prepared to test a machine exhibiting such problems using standard bond paper, fresh from a newly opened ream. Remember paper plays an important part in the process. Be alert to changes in paper supplies, especially preprinted stocks.

If the problem remains after running fresh paper, return to the Image Problem Table for more possible causes of the symptom encountered

4) Ensure cartridge seal is out. (fading streaks, white lines, blank pages, light prints)

OEM cartridges and those from quality remanufacturers are sealed to prevent toner leakage during handling and shipping. Instructions in the packaging shows you how to remove the seal before installing the cartridge. Ensure the toner cartridge seal has been removed before calling for help.


Protect yourself from loose toner when removing the toner cartridge seal. Hold the cartridge over a trash basket. Firmly grasp the seal and pull steadily away from the cartridge until the seal is about to drop. While steadying the cartridge in one hand, keep your distance as the seal drops from the cartridge. Discard the seal. After the seal has been removed, gently rock the cartridge before installing it into the machine. See solution Step 6 on for more details.


5) Gently rock to cartridge and reinstall. (fading streaks, white lines, light prints)

Faded printing, voided bands, white lines and other defects indicate that the toner cartridge might be running out of toner. By gently rocking the toner cartridge, toner spreads out on the developer roller more evenly, resulting in a more even image. Be ready to install another toner cartridge because this is only a temporary solution.

Before installing a new toner cartridge, remember to gently rock the cartridge after removing the cartridge seal. See details under Step 4)

For other possible causes of these print defects, see the Image Problem Table

6) Try Another Toner Cartridge. (lines, streaks, light prints, shadi