Toner cartridge problems

Written by steven symes
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Toner cartridge problems
Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers use a powdered ink. (printer cartridge image by hugy from

Laser printers are known for printing quickly. The toner used in the printing process is a powder and not a liquid, like the ink used in ink jet printers. This toner powder is fused to the paper through heat and pressure. Because of this unique printing process, the problems associated with toner cartridge problems are unique as well. Some problems can be resolved without replacing the toner cartridge, while others require a new toner for the printer to function properly.

No Printing

At times, when a new print cartridge is installed, the printer stops printing or the ink appears very light on the page. Usually the problem has to do with the toner cartridge and not any other part of the printer. Pull the toner cartridge out and inspect it. Toner cartridges come with at least one protective strip to keep the toner from spilling out during transport. Some toner cartridges come with multiple strips, some of which can be almost entirely clear and hard to spot. Removing all of the protective strips will prevent the cartridge will allow the ink to flow through.

Lines And Streaks

If there are random streaks or lines on the printed page, there could be a problem with the toner cartridge in your laser printer. Check the cartridge to see of a object is stuck in the casing. The cartridge has a small door that can be pushed back. If a small pebble, paper clip, or other object becomes stuck in this door, it can cause toner to be released when it is not supposed to be, creating the lines or streaks. If the printer consistently prints horizontal lines on pages, then it could be from the toner cartridge not being inserted into the printer properly. Take the toner cartridge out and reinstall it. Be sure the cartridge is set all the way in the dock, in the printer.


Often, the sign of a leaking toner cartridge comes when printed pages have random marks on the backside of the page. The leaking toner can fall anywhere in the printer, including the feed rollers, which can also create thick, dark streaks the length of the page. If the toner is leaking into the printer, you can see toner dust if you open the printer's toner access door. Be careful when removing a leaking toner cartridge, since the toner dust will stain clothing and skin. The entire inside of the printer needs to be cleaned before it can be used again. You can vacuume the inside of the printer to remove the excess debris.

Print Drum

In many laser printers, the print drum is located in the toner cartridge. The print drum is a wearable part of the printer, meaning it will wear out over time. With each fresh toner cartridge you get a fresh print drum. The print drum is the roller that the toner is magnetically attracted to, forming the words and images that are then transferred to the paper. A worn out print drum can cause random specs of toner to be attracted to the paper, resulting in little dots spread randomly on the page. Many remanufactured toner cartridges still have the original print drum in the cartridge; the toner may be new but the print drum can be worn out.

Aftermarket Toner Cartridges

Independent quality assurance tester QualityLogic conducted tests on HP toner cartridges versus aftermarket toner cartridges. QualityLogic found from its pool of toner cartridges that many of the aftermarket cartridges had quality problems. Seven per cent of the aftermarket cartridges failed prematurely, including some that would not print at all. Twenty-five per cent of the tested aftermarket cartridges printed unusable pages more than half the time. QualityLogic found no problems with the HP toner cartridges that were not refilled, but came straight from Hewlett Packard.

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