Jump to content

HP Color LaserJet CP1518ni Printer support

Resolving Print Quality Issues

  • PrintPrint
This document is for the HP Color LaserJet CP1514n, CP1515n, and CP1518ni printers .
The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The solutions in this document might help with general print quality issues and color print quality issues.

Examples of print quality issues

The following tables contain examples of general and color print quality issues.

General print quality issues

Sample issueSymptom
Image: Blurry, fuzzy, or dark printBlurry, fuzzy, or dark print
Image: Crooked or skewed outputCrooked or skewed output
Image: Creased or wrinkled paperCreased or wrinkled paper
Image: Curled or Wavy paperCurled or wavy paper
Image: Character shadowsCharacter shadows
Image: Distorted charactersDistorted characters
Image: Dropped out textDropped-out text
Image: Dropped edgesDropped edges
Image: Dull, faded or light printDull, faded, or light print
Image: Gray shading or backgroundGray shading or background
Image: Repetitive toner marksRepetitive toner marks
Image: Streaks or vertical linesStreaks or vertical lines
Image: Streaks or vertical lines (photos)Streaks or vertical lines (photos)
Image: Toner smearsToner smears
Image: Toner smears easily when touchedToner smears easily when touched
Image: Specks or other marksSpecks or other marks
Image: Vertical white stripesVertical white stripes
Image: Water droplets on the printed pageWater droplets on the printed page
Image: Marks repeatedly appear at even intervals on the unprinted side of the pageMarks repeatedly appear at even intervals on the unprinted side of the page
Image:Solid black image  at the  top of the page repeats farther down the page in a gray fieldSolid black image at the top of the page repeats farther down the page in a gray field

Color print quality issues

Sample issueSymptom
Image: Document prints black when it should print colorDocument prints black when it should print color
Image: One or more colors do not print, or are inaccurateOne or more colors do not print, or are inaccurate
Image: A color prints inconsistently after installation of new print cartridgeA color prints inconsistently after installation of new print cartridge
Image: Colors on  printed page do not match colors on the screenColors on printed page do not match colors on the screen
Image: Inconsistent finish on the printed color pageInconsistent finish on the printed color page
Graphic: Garbled, jumbled, or illogical text.
NOTE:If you are experiencing garbled, jumbled or illogical text, incomplete printouts, or missing text or graphics, go to the Resolving Strange, Garbled or Illogical Text, Incomplete Printouts, or Missing Text or Graphics document .

Solution one: Remove any protective tape from the print cartridges

Print quality issues occur if protective tape remains on the print cartridges.
  1. Open the print cartridge door completely.
  2. Pull out the print cartridge drawer completely.
  3. Check each print cartridge and remove any protective tape.
    Figure 1: Remove protective tape from print cartridges
    Image: Remove protective tape from print cartridges
    CAUTION:Do not touch the imaging drum on the bottom of the print cartridge. Fingerprints on the imaging drum can cause print quality issues.
    Figure 2: Do not touch imaging drum
    Image: Do not touch imaging drum
  4. Close the print cartridge drawer completely.
  5. Close the print cartridge door completely.
  6. Try printing again.

Solution two: Print from a different software program

Try printing from a different software program. If the page prints correctly, the problem is with the software program from which you originally printed.

Solution three: Adjust, reload, and then change the paper

The most common cause for print quality issues is paper that is not compatible with the printer. This can result in poor paper feeding, or in poor toner adhesion. Make sure that the paper or media type meets HP's specifications.
If there is paper stuck in the printer, go to the attention light blinks and the 'paper jam' message displays on the control panel document.

Step 1: Adjust and reload the paper

  1. For the best paper-feeding conditions, make sure of the following:
    • Examine the paper for dust, lint, or signs of humidity. If the paper is dusty, too dry or too moist, replace it with fresh paper.
      NOTE:Extreme temperatures or humidity can directly affect paper quality. If you live in an area with extreme conditions, protect your paper supply by storing it in a plastic airtight container.
    • Turn over the paper stack, rotate it 180°, and then reload the paper into the paper tray.
    • Adjust the paper guides so that they are not too tight or too loose against the paper stack.
      NOTE:A small amount of skew is normal and might be noticeable when using preprinted forms. Largely crooked or skewed printouts can result if the guides are not fit snugly against the paper.
    • Make sure that the paper tray is in place, and that it is not overloaded.
  2. Try again to print.

Step 2: Change the paper

  1. Change the paper to a high-quality paper that is compatible with your HP laser printer.
    • If you are experiencing curled or wavy paper , the paper might be too light, too thin, or too moist.
      Replace the paper with fresh, dry paper, or change the paper type to one with a heavier basis weight.
    • If you are experiencing creased or wrinkled paper , the paper might be too textured, too thin, or too moist.
      Replace the paper with fresh, dry paper, or change the paper type to one with a heavier basis weight or a smoother texture.
    • If you are experiencing distorted characters , the paper might be too glossy or too textured.
      Change the paper type to one with a matte finish or a smoother texture.
    • If you are experiencing faded text , dropped-out text , or toner scatter , the paper might be too moist, too thick or too glossy, and is resisting the toner.
      Replace the paper with fresh, dry paper, or change the paper type to one with a matte finish or a smoother texture.
      NOTE:Small amounts of toner scattered on the paper is normal for laser printing. If large amounts of toner scatter occur, the paper might be resisting the toner. Some paper manufacturing processes can cause paper to reject toner.
  2. Try again to print.

Solution four: Check the printer environment

The product environment can directly affect print quality and is a common cause for print quality or paper feeding issues.
  1. For the best possible print quality, make sure of the following:
    • Move the product away from drafty locations such as open windows or doors, or air conditioning vents.
    • Make sure the product is not exposed to high temperatures or extreme humidity.
      • Very dry (low humidity) conditions can increase the amount of background shading .
      • Very wet (high humidity) conditions can fog up the laser scanner optics, cause drop-outs , cause uneven dark, light or fuzzy print , or leave water droplets on the printed page.
    • Remove the product from confined spaces such as a cabinet.
    • Remove anything blocking the top vents. Make sure that there is good air flow throughout the product, including the top.
    • Protect the product from airborne debris, steam, grease, or other elements that can leave residue inside the product.
  2. Try again to print.

Solution five: Check the printer connections

Devices attached between the computer and the product, or between the product and the wall outlet, can sometimes interfere with communication to and from the product. This can result in character shadows, areas of fuzzy or dark print, or toner marks. To resolve this issue, follow these steps:
  1. Connect the product directly to the computer.
  2. Connect the product directly to the wall outlet.
  3. Try again to print.

Solution six: Clean inside the printer

During the printing process, paper, toner, and dust particles can accumulate inside the printer. Over time, this buildup can cause print quality issues such as toner specks, smears, or marks. To resolve this issue, follow these steps to clean inside the printer using ToolboxFX .
NOTE:This solution might require the full HP software. If you did not install the full software when you installed your printer, right-click the following link to go to the Software and Drivers page to download and install it now.
  1. Open ToolboxFX .
    • Windows XP: Click Start ( ), click Programs , click HP , click your printer, and then click HP Color LaserJet CP1510 Series ToolboxFX .
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon ( ), click All Programs , click HP , click your printer, and then click HP Color LaserJet CP1510 Series ToolboxFX .
  2. Click the Device Settings folder, and then click the Services page.
  3. In the Cleaning Mode area, click Start to begin the cleaning process.
    A page feeds through the printer slowly. Recycle or discard the page when the process ends.
  4. Try printing again.

Solution seven: Check the driver settings

Try to resolve the issue by adjusting the print driver settings.

Step 1: Check the default printer

  1. Open the Printer or the Printers and Faxes window.
    • Windows XP : Click Start , and click Printers and Faxes .
    • Windows Vista : Click the Vista icon ( ), click Control Panel , click Hardware and Sound , and then click Printer .
    • OS X Mavericks (10.9) : Click the Apple menu, click System Preferences , and then select Printers and Scanners .
  2. Find your printer, and check whether it is selected as the default printer.
    • If the product icon appears with a green dot for Mac- or a checkmark ( ) for Windows, skip to the next step.
    • If the product icon does not appear with a green dot for Mac- or a checkmark ( ) for Windows, right-click the product icon, and then select Set as Default Printer . For Mac, click the Default Printer drop-down box, and then select your printer.
NOTE:If the wrong driver is selected during software installation, toner marks or smears might show on the printed page.

Step 2: Check the paper type, print quality, and color mode settings

  1. In the Printer or the Printers and Faxes window, right-click the product icon, and then click Printing Preferences .
  2. Click the Paper/Quality tab.
  3. In the Type is drop-down list, click the paper or media type you are using.
    • For thinner paper, select Light or Thin .
    • For thicker paper, select Heavy or Thick .
    TIP
    HP does not recommend the use of heavily textured paper, extremely thin paper, or paper with a basis weight heavier than 90 g/m2 (24 lb).
  4. If you are experiencing the following issues, change the settings in the Type is drop-down list to adjust the fuse temperature.
    TIP
    Unlike ink printers, laser printers use heat to fuse a plastic toner to the surface of the paper. Make sure that you use heat-resistant paper, and labels and envelopes that use adhesives compatible with the heat and pressure of the product’s fusing process.
    Paper is curled or wavy
    • Decrease the fuse temperature. To do this, click Light , Thin or Transparency .
    • Use the archive print feature to improve toner fusing. To do this, click Archive or Bond .
    Printout has areas of fuzzy or dark print, or toner scatter
    • Increase the fuse temperature setting. To do this, click Heavy or Thick .
    • If this does not resolve the fuzzy, dark print, or toner scatter issues, use a lower basis weight or thinner paper.
  5. If you are experiencing the following issues, change the settings in the Print Quality area.
    Entire page is too dark
    Click 600 dpi from the drop-down list.
    Select the EconoMode check box.
    Entire page is too light
    Click FastRes 1200 from the drop-down list.
    Click the EconoMode check box to clear it.
  6. If the document is printing in black when it should be printing in color , click the Color tab, and then click the Print in Grayscale check box to clear it.
  7. When you finish changing the settings, click Apply , click OK , and then close the Printing Preferences window.

Step 3: Check the print density settings

  1. In the Printer or the Printers and Faxes window, right-click the printer icon, and then click Properties .
  2. Click the Device Settings tab.
  3. If you are experiencing the following issues, change the Print Density settings.
    • Printout has areas of gray shading or a gray background
      Decrease the print density setting. To do this, slide the bar to the left .
    • Printout has light, dull or faded areas
      Increase the print density setting. To do this, slide the bar to the right .
  4. Click Apply , click OK , and then close the Properties window.
  5. Try the print job again.
    If these steps do not resolve a light, dull or faded issue, a print cartridge is almost empty. Skip to the solution to identify and replace the problem print cartridge .

Solution eight: Print a diagnostics page

Follow these steps to print a diagnostics page to test the hardware.
  1. On the printer control panel, press the OK button to open the menus.
  2. Press the left or right arrow button ( ) until Reports appears on the control panel display, and then press OK .
  3. Press the left or right arrow button ( ) until Diagnostic Page appears on the control panel display, and then press OK .
    The printer prints a diagnostics page.
  4. Inspect the L-shaped color alignment bars at the top and at the bottom of the diagnostics page. There should be equal spacing between the lines, with no overlap, and each color should be distinct from the others.
    Figure 3: Example of the diagnostics page
    Image: Example of the diagnostics page
    1 - L-shaped color alignment bars
    Example of how the color alignment bars look when the calibration is correctExample of how the color alignment bars look when the calibration is incorrect
    Image: Example of the color alignment bars when the calibration is correctImage: Example of the color alignment bars when the calibration is incorrect
    • If the configuration page prints correctly , try printing again. If you are still experiencing print quality issues, see the next solution.
    • If the configuration page does not print correctly , skip to solution to calibrate the printer .

Solution nine: Restart the printer and the computer and try printing again

Consider bookmarking this page on your Web browser, so that you can reference it after restarting the computer.
  1. Flip the power switch to turn off the product.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. Flip the power switch again to turn on the product.
  4. Try again to print.

Solution ten: Calibrate the printer

Follow these steps to calibrate the printer.
  1. Open ToolboxFX .
    • Windows XP: Click Start ( ), click Programs , click HP , click your printer, and then click HP Color LaserJet CP1510 Series ToolboxFX .
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon ( ), click All Programs , click HP , click your printer, and then click HP Color LaserJet CP1510 Series ToolboxFX .
  2. Click the Device Settings folder, and then click the Print Quality page.
  3. In the Color Calibration area, select the Calibrate Now check box.
  4. Click Apply to calibrate the printer.
    NOTE:Calibration might take two to three minutes. Do not turn the printer off during calibration.
  5. When calibration ends, try printing again.
    • If the issue is resolved, stop troubleshooting.
    • If you are still experiencing print quality issues, repeat steps 1 through 5 in this solution. You can recalibrate the printer as many as three times. If, after three calibration attempts, you are still experiencing print quality issues, see the next solution.

Solution eleven: Identify and replace the problem print cartridge

Follow these steps to identify and replace the problem print cartridge.

Step 1: Identify the problem print cartridge

Follow these steps print a Print quality troubleshooting page to identify which print cartridge is causing the issue.
  1. Open ToolboxFX .
  2. Click the Help folder, and then click the Troubleshooting page.
  3. Click Print , to print the page.
    The page prints five bands of color, which are divided into four overlapping sections. By examining each section, you can isolate the problem to a particular print cartridge.
    Figure 4: Print quality troubleshooting page bands
    Image: Print quality troubleshooting bands.
    1 - Yellow
    2 - Cyan
    3 - Black
    4 - Magenta
    • If a mark or line appears in only one section, replace the print cartridge that corresponds to that section.
    • If a mark or line appears in more than one section, replace the print cartridge that matches the color of the mark or line.

Step two: Replace the problem print cartridge and try printing again

These steps are only basic instructions for installing a new print cartridge. If you prefer detailed steps, go to the how to replace the print cartridges document .
  1. Remove the old print cartridge.
  2. Remove the new print cartridge from its packaging.
  3. Remove the orange, plastic shield from the bottom of the new print cartridge. Do not remove the protective tape from the print cartridge yet.
  4. Insert the new print cartridge into its color-coded slot.
  5. Pull the tab on the left side of the print cartridge straight up to completely remove the protective tape.
  6. Wait until the printer is idle and silent, and then try the print job again.

Solution twelve: Service the printer

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.

Causes

Review the following tables for possible causes of print quality issues.
SymptomCauses
Character shadowsPaper quality is poor
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Crooked or skewed outputPaper fed incorrectly due to paper type or poor paper quality
Media guides are too tight or too loose
Color does not print at allColor mode is not selected in the software program or printer driver
Correct printer driver is not selected in the software program
Product not correctly configured
Colors not printing or inaccurateSealing tape still on the print cartridges
Print cartridge is damaged
Paper quality is poor, likely due to extremely high or low humidity
Color printing inconsistently after installing new cartridgeThe product is set to override the Replace <Color> Cartridge message and to continue printing
Another print cartridge is damaged
Colors on the printed page do not match the colors on the screenColors on the computer monitor might differ from the product output
Software program might interpret extremely light colors as white or extremely dark colors as black
Paper quality is poor
Curled or wavy paperPaper quality is poor
Paper is too thin
Fuse temperature is too high
Toner fuse setting needs adjusting
Distorted charactersPaper quality is poor
Paper is too glossy or too textured
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Dropped edgesPaper quality is poor
Dropped out textPaper quality is poor
Paper is too thick or too glossy and is resisting the toner
Print cartridge is almost empty
Print cartridge is damaged
Paper path is dirty
Dull, faded or light textPaper quality is poor
Paper is too thick or too glossy and is resisting the toner
Print cartridge is almost empty
Print cartridge is damaged
Print settings need adjusting
Paper path is dirty
Finish on the printed color page is inconsistentPaper path is dirty
Paper too rough
Fuzzy, blurry, or bold areasPaper quality is poor
Extreme humidity conditions
Product is exposed to environmental conditions
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Print settings need adjusting
Print cartridge is damaged
Gray shading or backgroundPaper quality is poor, likely due to extremely high or low humidity
Paper tray is not correctly in place
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Print settings need adjusting
Print cartridge is damaged
Marks repeat on unprinted side of pagePaper path is dirty
The fuser might be damaged or dirty.
Toner smearsPaper is too glossy and is resisting the toner
Print cartridge is damaged
Toner specksPaper is too thick or too glossy and is resisting the toner
Print cartridge is damaged
Paper path is dirty
Streaks or vertical linesPrint cartridge is almost empty
Print cartridge is damaged
Paper path is dirty
Streaks or vertical lines (photos)Print cartridge is almost empty
Print cartridge is damaged
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Repeating imageSoftware settings need adjusting
Power surge might have affected the product
Order of images printed might affect printing
Repetitive marks at even intervalsPaper path is dirty
Product is not connected directly to computer or wall outlet
Vertical white stripes or bandingPrint cartridge is almost empty
Print cartridge is damaged
Scanner is dirty
Water droplets on the printed pageExtremely high humidity
Wrinkled or creased paperPaper fed incorrectly
Media guides are too tight or too loose
Paper type is too thin, too textured, or too moist
Media path is obstructed
HP Color LaserJet CP1518ni Printer

HP Support forums

Find solutions and collaborate with others on the HP Support Forum