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A 'Cartridge Problem,' 'Cartridge Failed,' or 'Incompatible Cartridge' Error Message Displays on the Computer

  • PrintPrint
This document is for the Photosmart C4600 and C4700 All-in-One printers.
The printer does not print, the status lights blink, and one of the following errors messages might display on the computer or printer control panel:
  • 'Cartridge Problem'
  • 'Incompatible Cartridge'
  • 'Cartridge Failed'
These errors, including 'Incompatible cartridge ' can occur with genuine HP cartridges under certain circumstances. The cartridge might need to be reinstalled, the electrical contacts could be dirty, the cartridges might need to be aligned, or there could be a cartridge or printer failure.

Solution one: Use genuine HP cartridges

Make sure that the cartridges are compatible with your printer.
To purchase cartridges or check cartridge compatibility for your printer, go to HP Home & Home Office Store (US only), and then click Ink Toner & Paper .
If you are located outside of the US, follow these steps to purchase cartridges using HP SureSupply.
  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and make sure that the country or region location is correct.

Solution two: Remove, inspect, and then reinstall the cartridges

A cartridge error message might display if a cartridge does not have full electrical contact with the printer. Follow these steps to remove and then reinstall the cartridge.
  1. Make sure that the printer is on. If necessary, press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Figure 1: Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  3. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent, and then lightly press down on a cartridge to release it.
    Figure 2: Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1 - The tri-color cartridge is on the left side of the carriage
    2 - The black cartridge is on the right side of the carriage
  4. Slide the cartridge out.
    CAUTION:Do not touch the copper-colored electrical contacts or the ink nozzles.
    Figure 3: Copper-colored electrical contacts and nozzles
    1 - Copper-colored electrical contacts
    2 - Nozzles
  5. Remove any clear protective tape that still might be on the nozzles.
    Figure 4: Remove the protective tape
    Image: Remove the protective tape
    CAUTION:Do not attempt to remove the copper electrical strip.
  6. Reinstall the cartridge in the printer.
    Hold the cartridge with the HP logo on top, and then insert the cartridge back into the carriage slot. Push the cartridge firmly into the slot until it snaps into place.
    Figure 5: Insert the cartridge into the carriage
    Image: Insert the cartridge into the carriage.
    • The tricolor cartridge goes into the left carriage slot.
    • The black cartridge goes into the right carriage slot.
  7. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 6: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  8. Try to print again.

Solution three: Clean the cartridge and carriage electrical contacts

  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Distilled water (tap water might contain contaminants that can damage the cartridge)
    • Cotton swabs, coffee filters, or other soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the electrical contacts
    • A clean sheet of paper
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Figure 7: Open the cartridge access door
    Imge: Open the cartridge access door.
  3. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent, and then disconnect the power cord from the back of the printer.
  4. Press down on the cartridge to release it, and then pull it toward you out of the slot.
    CAUTION:Do not leave the cartridges outside of the printer for more than 30 minutes. If the cartridge is outside of the printer for too long, the ink can dry and clog the nozzles.
    Figure 8: Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1 - The tri-color cartridge is on the left side of the carriage
    2 - The black cartridge is on the right side of the carriage
  5. Inspect the cartridge contacts for ink and debris buildup.
  6. Dip a clean swab or lint-free material into distilled water, and then squeeze any excess water from it.
  7. Hold the cartridge by its sides, and then clean only the copper-colored contacts.
    CAUTION:Do not touch or clean the ink nozzles. Doing so can result in clogs, ink failure, and bad electrical connections.
    Figure 9: Clean the cartridge contacts
    Image: Clean the cartridge contacts.
    1 - Copper-colored contacts
    2 - Ink nozzles (do not touch or clean)
  8. Repeat these steps for the other cartridge.
  9. Clean the contacts in the print carriage, located inside the printer.
    Figure 10: Print carriage contacts
  10. Wait 10 minutes to allow the cartridge and carriage electrical contacts to dry.
  11. Hold the cartridge with the HP logo on top, and then insert the cartridge back into the carriage slot. Push the cartridge firmly into the slot until it snaps into place.
    Figure 11: Insert the cartridge into the carriage
    Image: Insert the cartridge into the carriage.
    • The tricolor cartridge goes into the left carriage slot.
    • The black cartridge goes into the right carriage slot.
  12. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 12: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  13. Reconnect the power cord to the back of the printer.
  14. Press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  15. Try to print a page.
  16. If you are still unable to print, repeat these steps to clean and reseat the cartridges. Multiple cleanings might be necessary to restore printing.

Solution four: Reset the printer

Follow these steps to reset the printer.
  1. Press the Power button ( ) to turn on the product.
  2. With the product turned on , disconnect the power cord from the rear of the product.
  3. Unplug the power cord from the wall outlet.
  4. Wait at least 15 seconds.
  5. Plug the power cord back into the wall outlet.
  6. Reconnect the power cord to the rear of the product.
  7. If the product does not turn on by itself, press the Power button ( ) to turn it on.

Solution five: Replace the problem cartridge

If cleaning and reseating the cartridge does not fix the problem, replace the cartridge with a new, compatible HP cartridge. If you need to print immediately and the quality of the printouts is not a concern, you can print in backup mode .
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.

Video of replacing a cartridge

The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
If you have trouble viewing the video or to view the video in a different size, click here to play the video on YouTube .
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
    CAUTION:If the printer is not on, it will not release the cartridges. You might damage the printer if the cartridges are not docked safely when you try to remove them.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
  3. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent, and then lightly press down on a cartridge to release it.
    Figure 13: Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1 - The tri-color cartridge is on the left side of the carriage
    2 - The black cartridge is on the right side of the carriage
  4. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging and, being careful to touch only the black plastic, gently remove the protective tape by using the pink pull tab.
    Figure 14: Remove the protective tape
    Image: Remove the protective tape
    CAUTION:Do not touch the copper-colored contacts or ink nozzles.
  5. Hold the cartridge with the HP logo on top, and then insert the new cartridge into the empty carriage slot.
  6. Push the cartridge firmly into the slot until it snaps into place.
    Figure 15: Insert the cartridge into the carriage
    Image: Insert the cartridge into the carriage.
  7. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 16: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  8. Press OK to confirm the installation of genuine HP cartridges, when prompted. An alignment page prints.
    Figure 17: Alignment page prints
    Image: Alignment page prints.
  9. Follow the instructions on the control panel to align the cartridges.

Solution six: Service the printer

These steps apply to 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.
  • If your product is out of warranty , fees might apply for contacting HP.

Workaround: Print in backup mode

If you do not have a replacement cartridge available, you can still print. Remove the problem cartridge, and then print with the remaining cartridge. If you remove the tri-color cartridge, the printouts are in grayscale. If you remove the black cartridge, the printer prints slowly and the colors in the printouts might differ.
NOTE:The Photosmart C4700 does not have an ink backup mode.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the right side of the printer. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
    Figure 18: Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  3. Push down on the top of the problem cartridge to release it, and then pull it toward you to remove it from its slot.
    Figure 19: Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1 - The tri-color cartridge is on the left side of the carriage
    2 - The black cartridge is on the right side of the carriage
  4. Close the cartridge access door.
  5. Wait a few moments for the cartridge to calibrate, and then send a print job.

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