Inkjets

HP’s dreaded “Ink System Failure”

HP's dreaded

The mechanical side of inkjet printing is relatively simple compared to laser printing. This makes it all the more irritating when an obnoxious error message pops up in HP’s “smart” inkjets.

There have been numerous cases of an “ink System Failure” message popping up on HP inkjets. To give an extent of the problem, typing in “HP” and “Ink System Failure” throws up 340,000 results in Google. There appears to be no clear solution. Based on what I have gathered on HP support websites and forums,

  1. It is a problem with the printhead, therefore try cleaning the printhead.
  2. Its an issue that can be resolved by simply resetting the printer.
  3. It can be resolved by replacing the printhead. However ordering a replacement printhead is mission impossible on the HP website.
  4. Its an issue related to the use of non-genuine or depleted cartridges, and can be fixed by installing new HP cartridges.
  5. It is because of cartridges having their air vents blocked.
  6. It can be fixed be replacing the CMOS battery within the printer, that keeps track of print history (Good luck with that).
  7. It can be fixed by doing a nozzle check by accessing a secret support menu.

All these solutions are conflicting, and HP Support appears to be all the more clueless. And HP rarely if ever releases firmware updates.

What makes this error all the more obnoxious is that there is no way past it. For example, you may expect an “Ink System Failure” message to only impact printing, and not the scanning function in All-in-Ones. But that is not the case here. The entire device gets bricked once this message appears.

There is a tendency for this message to appear after the first year of purchase. Built in obsolescence?

Update

I have noticed that this page is getting the highest traffic on this website. I do feel sorry for all of you stuck with bricked printers. In my case, I did not succeed in fixing the error. Instead of wasting money on experimenting with new cartridges, I ended up trashing the printer and I bought a Japanese one instead. Sadly, American electronics are now becoming synonymous with American cars. They work but……

There are several Japanese printer manufacturers. They are Canon, Fujitsu, Minolta, Epson and Sharp (Samsung is Korean). Epson has a reputation for excellent machinery, but they are very nasty about enforcing usage of their proprietary cartridges.

If you are brave enough, do consider a Continuous Ink System.

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62 thoughts on “HP’s dreaded “Ink System Failure”

  1. Thanks for your post. I stupidly installed a recycled 920 Cartridge this afternoon, and voilà, my first encounter with this message.

    So just before 9:00 pm I drove down to Staples and bought a small black cartridge (for more than I’d paid for the high-density one), but installing this new cartridge did nothing.

    UPDATE: I finally got the machine to shut up for long enough to run the cartridge cleaning function, and now the error message has stopped. However, my output is still unacceptable.

    1. :mrgreen: I have a simple all-in-one hp 1051 series printer. This how I fixed my counterfeit cartridge! REGEDIT>HKEY_USERS>>S-1-5-21-12…..>>>PRINTERS>>>>SETTINGS…>ONCE YOU ARE THERE DELETE EVERYTHING ECCEPT DEFAULT AND HP DESKJET 1050 …..SERIES REG BINARY 07 00….ECT…. HOPE THIS HELPS AND i HOPE i GAVE RIGHT DIRECTION IT WORKED FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!!TAKE THAT HP

    2. Year 2018 Still have c-7280 working
      She was being stubborn and got replaced with another and was only used for large print jobs since it took so long to fire up, with all the stories about what was wrong..
      I probably tried a few of the internet tricks and had no luck.
      The other day, I left the top scanner cover up and now it works great, never shuts down or asks any questions.

      Try it, it is easy

  2. I’ve probably bought 25 HP printers in my lifetime. Planned Obsolesence Personified.
    Einstein said, “Insanity is repeating the same error over & over and expecting a diferent result.”
    I will return the $56.00 cartridge pack to Staples tomorrow and ceromoniously beat this HP C309A with a large hammer and replace it with anything UN-HP.

      1. I’m with you. I have spent the last penny I am ever going to spend with HP. What a bunch of crap. 920c is old but it always worked fine with aftermarket cartridges. Mistakenly spent $100 on new HP cartridges and now the printer will not respond. Put the old (empty) ones back in and it works fine (except it won’t print of course since they are out of ink. I am DONE with HP.

  3. I really hate this error message. It started when I changed the ink I thought I put it in wrong but when I did it a lot of times, this kept happening. Could you tell me what’s wrong in it?

    1. It’s junk just like Hp’s tech support, they wanna charge you over the phone to tell you how to fix it and to beat it all you can’t understand the damn towl head on the other end of the phone… Damn this company!!!!!

  4. I experienced this issue with my HP printer last night. I tried all the options the official HP site recommended 🙄 (apart from ordering a new print head which I wouldn’t have done anyway) and none of those worked. I then found this article in one of the forums which did clear the error for me:
    http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Web-Printing-Software/Photosmart-0xc19a0023-Ink-System-Failure/td-p/464347
    😛 I think it was the fact the cartridges were missing that made the printer rethink what it was doing. I was very relieved when the message came up about the cartridges missing. When I inserted them back in it did it’s usual long preparation as if they were new ones. It then printed fine and hasn’t missed a beat since. Note that I have always used the offical HP cartridges in the printer so it wasn’t caused by some 3rd party dodgy cartridge as some people on some forums have suspected.

    1. Mr. T! This worked! Thank you. I tried the old “hard restart” once already, but i didn’t think to take the ink cartridges out first. That worked.

  5. 😈 HP supports advice: “We’ll sell you a new one”. Replacing Print Head (see amazon) will probably not work. Printer would do EVERYTHING except print black text. Local printer repair shop got it working for $20 and didn’t require any parts. Now comes the error again after 6 months when I changed out the black cart – totally bricked – can’t even send a fax. Always gave away HP printers in good working condition when I got a new one. Not any more! Now I’m hanging on to my 5550’s for dear life.

  6. I have never used anything but (expensive) HP cartridges. I’ve had my Officejet 6600 a little over a year, put in a new black cartridge, and got this error message immediately. HP’s advice consisted of:

    Step 1. Turn it off and then on again.
    Step 2. Unplug it and plug it back in again.
    Step 3. Get out your wallet.

    It worked last week, and I don’t even use it that much.

  7. I have the HP Photosmart C7280, which had the Ink System Failure error message. It was completely locked up. I tried various old and new carts, resetting, button sequence pressing, etc etc. So, there was nothing left to do except to either tear it apart or trash it, or both. I removed the plastic on the right side (you will need a star screw bit), flipped back the processor board – no need to remove it. On the inside of the board you can find the coin battery which allows the board to keep ink usage data. Take out the battery and the printer loses its memory completely. This solved my problem and I now use reflled carts again. I left the battery out so now the printer thinks its a newborne at every single restart. No further problems.

    1. I tried this for my HP 7520. I removed a coin battery but it wasn’t on a board. Still doesn’t work. Where was the processor board in your printer?

  8. I have an error message pm
    My hp printer that is just over a yr old saying ‘inkjet not responding’ ugh called hp who wanted to charge me $190 to fix issue , are you kidding me , why does this feel like a scam by hp, I’m done !! Will now hv to go and buy new printer, will never ever buy hp products again complete scam . Was put through to someone on India who just kept repeating that it was like maintenance on a car, when it goes wrong you need to fix it, hv never been so frustrated at trying to deal with someone who just could not be more infuriating or unhelpful !

  9. thanks to all for yor comments . I have been using recycled inkc artridges for a few years. I just kept arrowing past the warnng meseage. Now I have the fatal message. I did get brand new cartrideges from Staples. But after reading your posts I will return them today and buy a new printer at the cost of the cartridges. I have eeked out everal years from this HP all-in one. It never worked correctly, It never printed photos, and it never worked wirelessly. HP tech support was spotty at best, a few years ago. Now supprt costs more than a new printer. I will never buy HP again- Lesson learned.

  10. I have an HP photosmart 7520. HP sent me a new print head and it still does not print well. Colors are all off, streaks across photos. I tried printing two photos and they had me clean the printheads twice and the new ink cart. are almost empty already. Now they are sending me a referbished one. I am not holding my breath! I wish I had kept my old printer. I read that the CISS ink system does not work well with this model as well. Do any of you know if that is correct? Does anyone know how good the Kodak printers are?

  11. I share your frustration!
    My HP Photosmart Plus B209a worked well under Windows 7 (32 bit), even with refilled black ink catridges. Suddenly, it failed me, informing me of an ‘incompatible ink catridge’. I the uninstalled the wicked device and tried to reinstall it, using the Original CD. To no avail; it encountered driver problems. Installation was aborted and a ‘Runtime Error’ was displayed. I used HP’s website wizard to reinstall: same problem regarding the cartridge.
    I then bougt a brand new cartridge and placed it. Nope! Same result. I followed their advice to remove all catridges and clean the printhead.
    It did not work, for the scumbags ‘forgot’ to mention in their ‘advice’ that a complete set of 4 new cartridges are needed for use with my ‘new’ printhead.
    Why should I spend serious money on this when there is no guarantee that the printer will work as it should?
    I am looking for an Japanese (Canon or Brother) printer instead. HP will NOT be on any future shopping list!

    1. I am here because I am trying to resolve that problem, I put in a new cyan cartridge and it won’t print but a dribble, several cleanings didn’t help.

  12. No blue printing. Replaced ink–no change.
    Searched web–No solution. Lots of folks having same problem. HP no help. I suspect update trashed printer to sell new printers. Anyone ever repair this problem?

  13. HP Photosmart C7280

    My own “ink system error” ONLY appears after the printer has been on and unused for about 4 hours.

    It then requires I cycle the power (off and on)

    It THEN scolds me saying that someone turned it off improperly.

    It THEN works for another 4 hours…sometimes.

    Lately, I have to do all the steps above AND ALSO, uninstall the printer on my computer and then “ADD” the printer all over again like it’s a new printer.

    This allows me to use the printer for a few hours.

    Note: If I turn OFF the printer before it has sat, lonely, unused for approx 4 hours and thrown the ink system failure message at me, then it’s fine. It will work when I next turn it on.

  14. Same issue with my hp b110a. Used always with non-HP cartridge always same type, never any problem. Just kept replacing chip of the install cartridge. Got this error msg after last replace. Cleaning printhead, aligning chip, nothing helped. Re-setting printer also did not. I used to try with copying a sheet, not printing. Easier. Solution was to lift the plastic ribbon on the top of the cartridge more than instructed, practically removed. The idea came from that it started to work, and went wrong when arrived to area with high cover (white text on black background) – looking at result I got the impression the ink become short. After removing plastic ribbon re-setting it works. I still can not print page with high cover but for normal text it is OK. I guess either the cartridge is not perfect (will not open another just to test the option) or simply my 5th re-set was better than previous ones.

  15. I have a HP Officejet Pro X451dn.
    Today I received 0xc6fd0613 error. Unplugged and reseated the ink cartridges, still no change.
    The printer is less than a year old and still has the original reduced capacity ink cartridges, so it has not been used a lot.
    Today 7/10/14 I did a online chat with HP. “[Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:35 PM] — Automatically generated message:
    Welcome to HP’s Live Chat! A technical support representative has received your support request and will be with you in approximately 2 minutes”
    Then after 50 minutes…
    “[Thursday, July 10, 2014 2:26 PM] — Automatically generated message:
    A Support specialist, Reema C has been assigned to your case.”

    Reema asked question like how many pages had been printed and the firmware version. I said I could not tell because I could not get past the error msg, but it has less then 2,000 pages.

    After about 45 minutes it was determined “The printer needs to be serviced”
    Then “I shall arrange an onsite service for you to replace the printer.
    When I asked if it was going to be a new one, I was told it would be a “refurbhished” one, but “The same warranty would be transferred to the replacement printer.”

    HP’s support has gone way down hill!
    I use to have great experience with them, now not so much. Looks like they might have off shored their professional support services.

    1. Same for me here with the HP support in germany. X451dw printed less than 900 pages! It first came up with 0xc6fd0713 and no USB function. I could print some perfect pages from time to time until the error came up again. Now 0xc6fd0813 pops up and the printer is dead. no function at all.

      The “professional business support” offers only a “refurbished” one in an unknown condition. They said this clearly on the phone.

      The professional HP is gone with agilent. Oh wait I mean keysight. 😉

  16. The ink levels were running low on my 8600 but it was still printing so I hadn’t replaced them yet when all of a sudden I got an ink jet system or printer head failure coming up (one message on the printer screen and two different ones on my computer … ). I’d already had a printer head failure whilst in warranty but was now 3 months out of the 1 year warranty.

    I went through tech support, who declared it was the ink system and could only put me through to their sales team, who would do their best to look after me, given the disappointing performance of the unit. “Doing their best for me” turned out to be to try to sell me the new version of the 8600 (which funnily enough, they don’t make anymore) – the 8610 – for the standard price quoted on their webstore, because it included a 3 year warranty that you couldn’t get elsewhere. That is, until I pointed out the same deal available on another website, for almost £20/ US$ 30+ cheaper, which they reluctantly agreed to match …

    I’m now waiting for my new printer, and time will tell whether HP were wise to extend their warranty to 3 years. I’m certainly not holding my breath!

  17. I just bought the HP Photosmart 7520 because it would use the same ink cartridges as my old printer, since I had stockpiled when I found a sale. I was getting a message about there being a problem with the printer or ink system. Called HP Support as it is still under warranty. They told me to plug it directly into the wall outlet, not using a power strip or surge protector. Apparently there is a surge protector built in and then using one generates error codes. Honestly? I still don’t believe this and wonder if unplugging and plugging it back in actually was what fixed the problem. But it works. And I am waiting for it to fail again because this is kind of a shady issue and solution. But in the meantime, check your installation instructions and if it says to plug it directly into the wall, I guess that is what you should do!

  18. 👿 Officejet 6600 – Copies beautifully, but can’t get past the “non-hp cartridges…” message when trying to print with refilled hp inks. Have wasted multiple hours trying to defeat this arrogant HP engineering bunch of incompetents. This is definitely my last HP printer! I don’t have that much time to waste.

  19. I have an Officejet Pro x451dw with the error 0XC6FD0213 and after contacting HP they are send a tech for a full printer replacement. There is a span of S/N that HP has flagged that they will replace the printer even if out of warranty.

    1. Can you give a source that HP has a span of S/N flagged. My x451dw has the same mysterious failure within the first year.

      Thanks!

  20. I noted your bias… “I ended up trashing the printer and I bought a Japanese one instead. Sadly, American electronics are now becoming synonymous with American cars. They work but……” hate to tell you, first myth is a fully American Car, 2nd there is no difference in quality… advertising keeps you believing the myth. Sad

  21. HP Printers are NOT American made. They are made in China… and cheaply. Got the “printer or ink system” error message and have the Staples extended warranty that was supposed to be for two years from the date of purchase (2/2013). Now Staples claims that the OEM warranty was only 9 months and my extended coverage expired 11/2014… bastages…

  22. Hello,

    I did experience the same type of nightmare with my “HP Photosmart 3210”. Note this is not the cheapest model and it was always fed with genuine HP cartriges. I got a message “empty cartridge”, bought a new set (50 €) ans still get the same message after replacing! Nothing works anymore (scanner…) and I found no way to restart this piece of …
    The failure happens the day I had to print my flight ticket just before vacation. I nearly miss the plane because of it ! Of course no support from HP in any way. I now make sure I buy nothing from HP anymore. They have so far missed the whole company server and workstation replacement market and this is only a start.
    I am not trying to find a fix anymore but I am just wondering which brand is likely to be any better ?

  23. This worked for me! Nothing else did:

    HPRepDude : Follow the below steps on the front panel of the All-in-One printer:
    HPRepDude : A. – Press and Hold the “Print Photos” & “Red Eye Removal” buttons. Release both buttons. Display should say “Enter Special Key Combo”
    B. – Press and release in sequence “Red Eye Removal”, “Print Photos”, “Red Eye Removal”

    HPRepDude : Let me know the result.
    Customer : display says “enter special key combo”
    HPRepDude : Press and release in sequence “Red Eye Removal”, “Print Photos”, “Red Eye Removal”

    Customer : support COxxFN0723BR
    HPRepDude : May I know the exact message that you got?
    Customer : uiaux
    Support
    COxxFN0723BR
    HPRepDude : Okay.
    HPRepDude : Please perform the below steps:
    HPRepDude : 2. Press and release the right arrow button until the display says “System Configuration Menu”. (on C8100 use Touch Screen)
    3. Press and release the “OK” button.
    4. Display should say “Hardware failure status”. If not there already, Arrow Key over to “Hardware failure status

    HPRepDude : 5. Press and release the “OK” button
    HPRepDude : 6. Display should say “Hardware failure status: Clear. Press OK to clear”.
    7. Press and release the “OK” Button. Message changes to “Hardware failure status Cleared. Press Cancel to continue”.
    8. Press and release the “CANCEL” button as many times as necessary, so that, either the “Welcome to Photosmart Express” screen appears, or, the “Ink System Failure” screen appears. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO PRINT AT THIS STAGE.
    9. Using the Power Button, turn the unit OFF and unplug the power cable from back of the printer and wall outlet.

    HPRepDude : Make sure that you perform steps from 2-9 and let me know the result.
    Customer : Ok. It all went like the steps said and it is now powered down and unplugged.
    HPRepDude : 10. Wait 30 seconds for the power to get discharged and then plug the power cable into the wall outlet first and then into the back of the printer
    11. Turn the unit on. The printer may display message “USE POWER BUTTON TO SHUTDOWN THE PRINTER” followed by “PRESS OK TO CONTINUE”. Press OK.
    12. If the printer has already initialized, then go to the next step. If not, the printer will start the “ONE TIME INK INITIALIZATION PROCESS”. Allow this process to complete and do not interrupt. Once the initialization process is complete, the printer will print out a Diagnostic Page.
    13. To verify printer functionality print a SELF TEST PAGE.
    HPRepDude : Please perform all the above steps from 10 to 13 .
    HPRepDude : Let me know the result.

  24. Don’t go thinking the Japanese printers do any better. My Canon printer displayed a “print head error” and now I’m unable to use it. Tried all kinds of fixes to no avail. Online search showed this inkhead problem to be widespread to Canon printers, so much that there is a class action lawsuit. I was thinking about getting an HP and then saw that they also have printhead problems too. Is there any printers out there that are decent?

  25. it is monopoly role for hp company, nowadays many printers having facility for refill or ciss system compatible. but hp is not accept for that…. in my business i need to refill or ciss system is more competible in market. hp printers are not for business it is only for office or company

  26. I’m leaving this comment to help someone who has an ink system failure message with the Officejet Pro 8600 and to tell them how I got buy it using the non-approved HP ink cartridge that you can buy cheap on the internet as I did.

    I could not get them to work for the life of me. Then sent wife out to buy Genuine HP Cartridges and she came back and I installed them and it worked great. Then removed them and replaced with the non-hp and they were accepted. Trick? Don’t let the genuine or setup ones run out before you try and replace. If you do, then simply take your new ones, replace them and then after printer is working swap for the non-genuine. So…me? I just have a set of expensive genuine HP ones sitting with cellophane tape over the ink port and next time I need them I will just do the swap.

    1. Maybe this would also work, don’t reject the extended guarantee. Since the machines don’t last that long, you can keep replacing them with new ones, cause they cost more than they are worth to repair. Of course the main problem seems to be the proprietary ink, if not used, discredits the guarantee. Since the Ink costs more than replacing the printer, it’s a gotcha any way you turn. Just another scam it seems. I’m for making America great again.

  27. HP 7520.. What a joke.. is all I can say about this printer. I could not afford $75 a week for ink,, as my wife likes to print everything she sees on the web..
    So I started to refill the ink tanks like I had done with all the other printers since the late 1980s with zero problems. This idea for chips is just a rope and chain idea.. If they spent as much effort to build a good printer and make a person a slave to there ink we would have a good product. I gave up trying to refill and got $200 worth of real HP ink.. even they require constant shaking ,, reinstall, and clean contacts 3 or 4 hours every time I need to replace ink.. Totally pissed off and will never by another hp product. Daniel

  28. my understanding is that they updated the firmware on (at least mine) the 8610 on March 5th. Today was the first day to replace cartridges and now won’t run with a NON-HP cartridge. Is that even legal? I didn’t agree to that. I agree to the original terms of service which did not include this firmware sneaky update that has pooched my printing. Class action lawsuit perhaps?
    Tracy in Toronto.

  29. DO not waste your time or money on an inkjet printer, unless you like colored fingers. Buy a Laser printer. You can get a really good HP mono laser for a pittance and a color laser is not much more. The whole inkjet industry is one big ripoff with no concern for the ecology of our planet. It is a disgrace. It should tell you something when a set of inks is more than a whole new printer with inks.

  30. Does anybody know of a trick to force the printer (C309g) to skip the one-time initialization step? I don’t even want to print with this thing, just want to use it as a scanner, but because the ink is too low the initialization process never finishes.

    Helpful tip for HP – you used to make great printers. My two old Laserjet 5P printers are still cranking along, probably the best computer-related products I’ve ever bought. I have bought other HP products (including the C309g) based on that quality. But deliberately designing an all-in-one printer to become completely useless just because the ink is low is a good way to lose your loyal customers.

  31. I read lots of responses for this dreaded printhead failure and read two where people tried a new or different power cord and got the printer working, again. I got the dreaded failure, too, and decided to try a different power cord from another HP 6600 printer and lo and behold…..IT WORKS! So first try a new power cord.

    1. When you say “power cord” do you mean the cable you plug into the wall and power supply, the power supply to the odd shaped printer connector or the whole lot ?

  32. hi just had this happen,thing it might be bug in software, tried fitting thine photoblack in large black slot did not work, then got printhead fault.
    hp said out of date and no repair. get new one.
    Will now keep away from hp, and use another make.

  33. I have an B110a and I get error code 0xC19a0003.
    There is a Youtube video showing how to get into the printer internal software. It’s interesting and the method does work. However you can scroll through 11 problem areas and see if any of them work and reset the printer. So far I have failed, but give it a try.
    When I have finished this saga, I will take the printer to the rubbish tip and hurl it in! Will then get a non hp printer – the cheapest I can buy.

      1. Do yourself a favor, Ken. Go out and buy a color laser printer. I fought with ink jet printers for years, Epson, Canon, HP. If you use them a lot, they are great, but the ink tanks are so outrageously priced that you will very soon be up to the price of a laser. I have owned a Dell 3110cn color laser that has been absolutely bullet proof for around 15 years now. I have refilled the toner carts with no problem, and I no longer have red blue and yellow fingers. I cannot tell you the hours of my life that I wasted screwing around with ink cartridges that the manufacturers have engineered to be land fill waste. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to planet earth. People actually throw away printers when their ink runs out, because they can buy a whole new printer for cheaper than a set of new carts. Where the EPA SHOULD step in, they never do. One more moronic government agency.

  34. I have an HP Photosmart 3210 AIO that one day just decided to stop printing anything using the 2 magenta colors. Went in to the special maintenance menu – and the color test prints all colors so the ink carts and system are working fine – printing the report from the standard menu on the printer, no magenta. Have never received the print system failure message since owning, but after going through the procedures for resetting, it shows up. Only thing I have yet to try is removing and/or replacing the CMOS batter. Really shady for HP to engineer obsolescence into great equipment, I have loved this thing since I got it, best printer I have owned, besides an older Photosmart 7550 that they stopped updated drivers for at Win XP – still have the printer working perfectly, but without access to the advanced features, Won’t be buying any more HP printers, thinking about getting that new Epson that has the refillable tanks built in.

  35. Looks like the purpose of HP printers is selling ink cartridges and any printing or scanning that results is an accidental byproduct of the sales snowjob needed to get you to buy it.

    So … that’s it. Game over for HP. They no longer make products, they well ink resale devices.

    Glad we didn’t let Fiorino anywhere NEAR the whitehouse if this is her idea of an “American Company”!

  36. Has anyone tried putting in new printheads? I tried the solution which resets the printer into new set up mode. With the printheads in, I am getting the message ‘Missing Printheads’. Should I take this as a sign I need new printheads? They aren’t cheap but I hate throwing things away, when it’s not necessary. I had cleaned the printheads shortly before putting in all new cartridges, because the printer instructed me to do so. Then I got the Oxc19a0027 Ink System Failure message that wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried, until now. Now, I’m at this new impasse. To buy the new printheads or not??

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