9+ Common Toner Problems: Quick and Easy Fixes


Toner cartridges are essential to the laser printing process, but, like the best of us, they occasionally screw up. But common toner cartridge problems are often easy to fix once you know what you’re looking for.

The Toner Buzz toner cartridge troubleshooting guide is here to help! Here’s how to handle the most common toner problems.

Printer Cover/ Door Will Not Close

Solution: You probably have your toner cartridges installed incorrectly. Remove them and re-install them, making sure everything clicks into place as it should. This is a pretty simple toner error fix.

When installing or removing toner cartridges, it's important to follow the proper procedure to avoid issues with the printer. For more information on the differences between laser and inkjet printers, check out our article on Laser Printers vs. Inkjet Printers.

When a toner cartridge isn't installed correctly, it can cause the cover/door of your printer to not close completely, which stops the printer from working. As far as toner cartridge problems go, this one is pretty straightforward.

If the door of your laser printer still won’t close after re-installing the cartridge, double-check that you have the correct cartridge for your printer.

When replacing your toner cartridge, we recommend using an OEM cartridge to ensure the best quality and compatibility with your printer. OEM cartridges are designed specifically for your printer model and are backed by a manufacturer's warranty. 

If you're still having trouble, contact our support team for assistance. Go to Toner Buzz, type your printer model into the search bar, and make your printer toner problems go away!

HP Printer Door Image

Trouble getting the door or cover on your laser printer closed?

Opened HP Printer Door Image

Try reinstalling your toner cartridges!

Toner Runs Out Too Fast

Dealing with a low toner warning can be frustrating. If you're unsure whether the warning is accurate, you can remove the toner cartridge and gently shake it to see if it's actually low on toner.

Sometimes, the toner can become stuck to the walls of the cartridge, and  shaking it can distribute the toner more evenly and possibly remove the low toner warning. This method may also work if you're looking for a solution on how to fix the toner error on your Brother printer.

If your toner cartridge is genuinely low on toner and you're disappointed in how quickly it ran out, consider investing in high-yield or extra high-yield toner cartridges.

These cartridges contain more toner and last longer with higher page yields. For example, the HP 37A has a page yield of 11,000, the HP HP 37X has a page yield of 25,000, and the HP 37Y has a page yield of 41,000.

Shaking Toner Cartridge Image

Shake, shake, shake your toner cartridge to get a little more life out of it.

➜ Read also  HP Toner Cartridge Low? How to Override (and Keep On Printing!)

Printout Blemishes

If you're experiencing print quality problems such as blurring, streaks, or fading, it could be caused by a malfunctioning printer or toner cartridge.

While  genuine OEM toner cartridges rarely malfunction, compatible and remanufactured toner cartridges carry significant risks of malfunctioning. It's best to buy genuine, brand-name toner to avoid toner cartridge troubleshooting altogether.

Here are some possible solutions to print quality problems:

Blurry Page

Blurring, Smears, and Streaks - These issues can be caused by a defective toner cartridge or a toner cartridge not installed correctly.

To fix toner streaks, first, print several blank pages to see if it fixes the print quality. Next, try cleaning the internal components of the printer such as the laser scanner/mirrors.

If this doesn't work, re-install the toner cartridge.

If the problem persists, your toner cartridge may be defective, and you shouldreplace it.

These issues can also be caused by a defective drum unit. If reinstalling/replacing the toner cartridge is unsuccessful, replace the drum unit next.

Fading - When a toner cartridge is low on toner, fading often occurs. If this is the case, simply replace the toner cartridge, and your printouts should no longer have printer toner problems.

If your printer is not low on toner and your printouts are still fading, it could be caused by a transfer roller issue or a laser mirror that needs to be cleaned.

Blank Spots - Blank spots can be caused by a defective toner cartridge or other issues with the printer, potentially a damaged transfer roller.

If possible, inspect the inside of the printer to see if there are any visible obstructions.

If there aren't, replace the toner cartridge and see if that removes the blank spots. If it doesn't, replace the transfer roller and see if that removes them.

Color on Black and White Printouts

If you see traces of color on your black and white printouts, your color toner cartridges are likely leaking.

Replace them with genuine OEM originals to get better print quality and higher, more accurate page yields.

Half-Page Printouts

Half-page printouts can be caused by various issues, including problems with the paper alignment in the paper tray, a malfunctioning toner cartridge, or a defective drum unit.

Start by checking the paper guides in the tray to make sure they are properly adjusted. If the guides are not the issue, unplug both your printer and computer and restart them, then print a test page to see if the problem has been resolved.

If the issue persists, check if there are any error messages displayed that could help identify the cause of the problem. If no error message is shown, the toner cartridge may need to be replaced.

If replacing the toner cartridge does not solve the issue, try replacing the drum unit. It is worth noting that using genuine OEM toner cartridges and drum units can significantly reduce the occurrence of printing problems.

Fact: a toner cartridge has a typical lifespan of three to six months. Knowing this up front will be of great help and having backup supplies on hand is a must to a smooth office operation. It is also a good idea to keep a few basic cleaning supplies on hand and learn how to clean the printer each time a toner cartridge is removed and a new one installed.

In addition to the troubleshooting issues mentioned above, a toner cartridge has a few key components, and each one has its tell-tale signs of a problem requiring attention.

Let's take a closer look.

The Drum Unit

The drum has an internal wiper blade mechanism which scrape the excess toner off the surface as well as off the paper.

When the drum and its components are not in perfect condition then the print quality is compromised. Cheap, off brand toners can be a source of printing problems due to poor manufacturing and sub-par components.

  • When the drum unit or wiper blades are to blame, then you may find very thin vertical lines running down the full length of paper. This may be due to excess toner or some other matter getting stuck on the wiper blade.
  • If you are seeing a series of dots down the page, there may be a chip in the drum surface, commonly referred to as a pinhole.
  • Vertical smears of toner are often due to the drum being exposed to sunlight
  • Lines that look like tire tracks on the right or left side of the page is likely caused by a worn-out drum.

    Explore the difference between drum and toner in our  Drum vs Toner guide

The Magnetic Roller

The magnetic roller's job is to transfer the toner from the supply chamber to the drum. When this component is malfunctioning, you may see some or all the following issues when printing:

  • Overall printout is very light
  • Dark and light bands of print throughout the page(s)
  • Intermittent print and even complete white spaces

Early Warning of “Low Toner”

Sometimes this message is legitimate, and the actual yields on even the top-rated toners are not always as fantastic as the manufacturer promotes on the packaging.

  • AS mentioned in our previous toner problem posts, often, the toner may just need a little 'shake' to loosen up and even out the toner inside the cartridge. This will generally extend the life of the current toner a bit longer.
  • Tip: Print without color whenever possible, since black always yields more than color toners.

The Leaky Cartridge

Keep in mind the average life expectancy of 3-6 months. Bottom line, as they age, toner cartridges can start springing leaks which will cause black splotches on the printed pages, and a mess inside the printer.

Nothing fancy here - Time to remove old cartridge and install a fresh one.

The Printer Won't Print After a New Toner Is Installed

While this problem can stem from a few different root causes, most often it is simply a bit of the packaging (like a piece of tape or plastic left on) that is causing the print to malfunction.

It may even be as basic as not securing the new toner in place fully and insuring the printer is properly closed again.

If all else fails, take out the toner that is causing this error, and try a different one. Perhaps it is just a completely damaged/faulty toner that is causing the printer to say 'NO'.

Finally, don't be fooled, sometimes it's not the toner at all causing the problem. Check inside the printer itself - if it's dirty and in need of a good cleaning/dusting, it may be displaying one or more of the above symptoms typical of a bad toner problem, when all that's needed is a good clean-up job.

We hope our toner troubleshooting guide helps solve the common toner problems in your laser printer!

Somebody's got a toner leak! Get in there and clean that toner spill up!

leaking toner powder image

A dirty or old drum unit can result in these lines appearing on printouts. dirty toner drum image
Arrgh! We hate it when our toner runs out, resulting in half-printed pages! faded print image
Brother's Solutions Center can help diagnose many printing problems.

brothers solution center image

A look inside the laser printing process reveals where dirt and debris may settle. Keep those rollers and feeders clean! laser printing process
HP's Print Management Screen also helps diagnose and solve many common toner problems.

hp print management screen

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