Laser Printer Symptoms Problems and Solutions

Let’s face it printers are some of the most frustrating pieces of equipment we have in our offices. I think at one time or another we have all wanted to take one of these machines built in hell and throw it out a third floor window. Hell, I’ve even seen our tech’s pull their hair out sometimes trying to figure out why a printer is still having the same problem after the appropriate work has been performed.

With all of the different laser printers out there it’s really impossible to keep up with the different issues you could encounter, especially for the office worker who is just tying to get his/her work done. However, there are some universal laser printer symptoms that can be fixed quite easily regardless of the make or model. Even if you your self might not want to tackle some of these fixes, at least you will have an idea of what’s going on which makes it a lot easier to explain the problem to the printer tech you call. This article will identify some of the most common symptoms exhibited by laser printers and will uncover the likely sources of those symptoms.

2. Print Quality:

Poor print quality is probably one of the most common complaints we hear from our customers, here are some quick fixes for some of the most common ones:

Symptom: Fuzzy Print is usually caused by damp paper.

Solution: Try printing on freshly unwrapped paper that has not been exposed to any sort of moisture.

Symptom: The degree of black varies across the page. This is also known as horizontal variable print density. This can be caused by low toner in the cartridge. Other causes can be that the printer may not be level or it may be near a strong light source.

Solution: Remove & shake the cartridge to redistribute the toner. Move the printer to a level spot and one that is less well lit.

Symptom: Vertical variable print density is another typical issue and is sometimes called “banding.”

Solutions: The developer roller may be dirty so simply clean the connections.

Symptom: Grey Print is often the result of two likely causes, either the density setting needs adjustment or the OPC drum is wearing.

Solution: Replace the cartridge.

Symptom: A grey background or a black area of print appears grey. This is generally caused when too much toner is being applied.

Solution: Reduce the density setting

Symptom: Regularly Spaced Spots (large interval), at least 3 inches. This is generally caused by a hole or scratch on the OPC drum.

Solution: Replace print cartridge

Symptom: Regular Spaced Spots (small interval), less than 3 inches. This can be caused by toner on the fuser.

Solution: Replace fuser cleaning pad, clean fuser or replace fuser.

Symptom: Random Spots can be caused by dirt or toner spill in the device.

Solution: Clean the printer.

Symptom: Toner smears when rubbed. Most likely the toner has not been fused to the paper properly.

Solution: Check and replace the fuser.

2. Mechanical Symptoms

If the problem is not one of print quality, it’s probably a mechanical issue, here are some common ones:


Misfeeds are probably the most common mechanical issue. Sometimes the printer fails to feed the paper from the tray, sometimes paper sticks together and then causes jams. There are several causes and fixes for misfeeds which we will cover here.

  • If the paper media is not supported by the printer or the paper is too heavy, too light, or too smooth you will get jams. Correct the issue by using the correct media recommended by the manufacturer. Be especially watchful when printing labels, I’ve seen some printers that just won’t take this kind of media and causes all kinds of issues including misfeeds and gumming up the rollers.
  • If the paper is sticking together, simply remove the paper and fan the stack to reduce curling and sticking.
  • If repeated misfeeds are occurring, you may be dealing with weak springs in the paper tray. One trick that may fix this problem is to load more paper onto the tray so as to compress these springs. If this does not do the trick the springs and/ or paper tray may need to be replaced. If you need to get a tech out to do this make sure he checks the rollers while he’s there because worn rollers can also lead to repeated misfeeds.

Paper Jams

Paper jams are another annoyance we see a lot of. It happens when paper does not pass through the printer properly. Paper jams can occur when the wrong paper media is used, the paper is damp, small fragments of paper are in the paper path or the printer, or oftentimes there seems to be no apparent reason, this last reason can drive you to drink. Believe me, we do run into “no apparent reason” more times than I care to think about. But the best solution to this problem is to thoroughly have the printer cleaned out.

Skewed Prints:

Skewed prints occur when the image on the is not aligned on the page. The culprit here usually is improper paper loading. To correct this condition, remove the paper from the tray, fan the edges and reload the paper ensuring that the paper is inserted below the small catches which hold the paper.

3. Image Corruption

There are quite a few different types of Image Corruption, what we will do here is cover the more common ones you will probably run across.

The image that printed is not the image you sent from your computer. This is usually the fault of the computer, not the printer. What happened for some reason is the computer sent the wrong commands to the printer. This is not a printer issue but rather a computer issue, call the IT guy for this one.

Garbled Data is another common symptom that is normally caused by a communications error occurring when a command is sent to the printer. Best to call the IT guy on this one too but here are some possible solutions if you want to try your hand at solving. Check that the printer cable is firmly seated, reset the printer and reprint the job. Next check to ensure that the communication settings on the printer and computer are matched and then print a configuration page. If that still does not fix the problem the printer may have a faulty controller, call your printer repair tech.

Lost Characters, again usually a communication error, try following the same steps as with Garbled Data.

Wrong Font, communication error, a software error or even a missing font. Call the IT guy.

Split Graphic Image, this is when the image is split and covers two pages. Cause’s, it’s either part of the memory on the printer failed or there is insufficient memory to print complex graphic jobs. To fix you must install more memory in the printer.

Split Text, this condition is rarely caused by the printer but can occur when there is insufficient memory to print a very large number of characters. Best bet to solve this one is to install additional printer memory.

So there you have it, some very common problems with some fairly easy fixes but more importantly, knowing if its the printer or the computer is very important. If all else fails call your printer tech of choice and make an appointment for him to stop by. If your in the Northampton, Mass area you can always give Ink & Toner Solutions a call and who knows we just might be able to give you a solution over the phone. If it can’t be fixed over the phone we will dispatch our tech to your location usually the next day. We hope this has cleared up some of the mystery surround  laser printer problems.

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2 thoughts on “Laser Printer Symptoms Problems and Solutions

  1. i bot different laser ink for my HP 200 mfp color laser printer and now the printer says I’ve inserted the wrong cartridge. using a universal cf212a cartridge. how do i override the HP so it will take my cheaper ink refills? thanks

    1. Hi Janet, I don’t know of any way to override an incorrect cartridge message on this series. You will most likely need to exchange the cartridge for one that works. The main reason for an incorrect cartridge error is that the remanufacturer used the wrong microchip when rebuilding the cartridge or there is an electrical fault on that chip. It’s possible to replace that chip yourself if you were able to find the correct one on ebay or some other marketplace, there are instructions on how to do this usually on youtube. We don’t know how to replace the chips on those carts as we rely on a remanufacturer to rebuild our products for this model.

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