Troubleshooting a Dell Printer

Updated February 21, 2017

Dell printers are very popular for both their wide range in models and low price point. However, if you find that your Dell printer is acting up, or not working the way that it should, here are a few troubleshooting tips that you can try, to get your Dell printer back in working order.

Installing New Drivers

If you have recently purchased your Dell printer, but can't get it to respond when you try to print something, you may need to install some drivers. Drivers are small programs that allow your computer to interact with the new peripheral. The easiest way to download the drivers your computer needs to interact with the printer is to insert the CD that came with your computer into the CD-ROM drive and let the installation program run. However, if you have misplaced the CD that came with your printer, visit the Dell printer support page for Internet-based driver downloads. See Resources for a link.

Ink Spotting and Splotching

If you encounter frequent spotting or splodging on your documents when you use your Dell printer, then you need to do some routine cleaning on your printer's print head. The print head area is the place where the ink cartridges are contained and moved around. To clean the print head area, simply take a dry cloth (preferably lint-free) and wipe down the bars that control the movement of the printer cartridge container. After any excess dust/ink has been removed from these bars, remove the print cartridges and clean them by lifting up the protective film on the bottom and then gently rubbing a q-tip on the bottom (without damaging the bottom of the cartridge.) Lastly, use more Q-tips to clean the cartridge module, before replacing the ink cartridges. Then try printing a test page to see if the spotting/splodging problem has subsided.

Paper Feed Issues

If you have a paper jam or the Dell printer is telling you that the printer is out of paper when the feed tray is full, then you probably have a problem with the spooler. Open the print head to expose the spooler, and check for jams. If you see some paper fibres wrapped around the spooler, turn the printer off, and then gently try to remove the paper with your hands (in the case of large sheets) or a pair of tweezers (in the case of small, winding fibres). Once you have cleared any jams, try cleaning the spooler off with a lint-free cloth, and double-checking its placement in the printer. If it seems crooked or off-centre, try looking to the sides to try and find its rightful place. You can then either "click" it into place or tighten the side screws with an eyeglass screwdriver (depending on the model).

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