Why Is New Ink Cartridge Not Working? – Troubleshooting Guide

There’s nothing complicated about installing a new ink cartridge. When done correctly, the process involves removing the existing cartridge and pushing the new one into its place. So, why would a new ink cartridge not work?

When a new ink cartridge isn’t working, it’s likely because the ink hasn’t settled to the bottom. Also, check if it was installed correctly. Besides that, you must also ensure the protective tape covering its electrical contact is removed before installation. Dirty metal contacts on the cartridge’s chip or inside the printer will also prevent it from working correctly.

Continue reading to understand why a brand new ink cartridge won’t work and how you can resolve the issue.

Why Is My New Ink Cartridge Not Working?

A new ink cartridge should be ready for use shortly after you install it. The printer might take a few moments to sense and test the ink cartridge, but anything beyond that is abnormal.

Here are the most likely reasons your new ink cartridge isn’t working and how you can fix them to resume your regular printing tasks:

Settled Ink

What it is: Printer ink cartridges are packaged with safety in mind. Manufacturers typically pack them in boxes with bubble wrap or something similar. The packaging keeps the cartridge still and prevents any damage from external impacts.

Unfortunately, the packaging does not keep the ink inside still. That means the ink will move around and settle at different parts within the cartridge during transportation.

What happened: There’s nothing harmful about the ink moving around inside the cartridge. However, suppose the cartridge has been stored upside-down or on its side for an extended period. In that case, the ink could have settled in that position.

As a result, when you turn the ink cartridge on the right side up and install it in your printer, the ink requires some time to flow back into the correct position.

Meanwhile, the cartridge fails to work because the settled ink hasn’t moved back towards the printhead at the bottom of the cartridge.

How to fix it: You’ll need a bit of patience to resolve this issue. Firstly, place the ink cartridge right side up on a flat surface. Then, give the ink at least 5 minutes to resettle back in the correct position within the cartridge.

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Unremoved Packaging Tape

What it is: As you read above, each ink cartridge comes with plenty of packaging to protect it during shipping. That includes the box, cardboard holders, bubble wrap and more.

Besides that, ink cartridges also come with packaging tape applied onto their electrical contact or chips. Sometimes referred to as a sealing tape or plastic tab, its purpose is to protect the sensitive contacts from friction and damage.

You are meant to remove that tape before installing a new ink cartridge inside your printer.

What happened: The tape or tab attached to your printer’s contacts is pretty easy to overlook. So, it’s likely that the tape is still there even after you’ve installed the new ink cartridge.

As a result, the tape blocks the ink cartridge and printer contacts from touching each other. That means the printer can’t sense the cartridge or communicate with it, and that’s why the new cartridge doesn’t work.

How to fix it: Firstly, shut your printer off and open its ink cartridge access panel. Then, remove each new cartridge that you recently installed. 

Check them closely to ensure that you’ve removed the tape and any other packaging materials that might still be attached to the cartridge.

Lastly, reinstall the cartridge and resume your normal printing activities.

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Not Installed Correctly

What it is: All printers differ slightly in their design based on their brand and model. Those differences also include how the ink cartridges are to be installed correctly.

For example, some printers require you to pull a lever down to secure the ink cartridges. Besides that, some models might also have specific instructions for installing new cartridges and correctly seating them.

As a result, the procedures for installing ink cartridges will also be different depending on the printer brand and model.

What happened: When you install a new ink cartridge that doesn’t work, you’ll want to inspect it closely. There’s a strong possibility that you did not install it correctly.

You’ll know that’s the case if you find that the new ink cartridge is not seated correctly.

How to fix it: Firstly, remove the new ink cartridge from your printer. Then, refer to the printer’s instructions for how to install a new ink cartridge.

You’ll find the instructions for that printer model in its user manual. 

Besides that, many printer models also have instructions on the unit itself. You’ll often see the instructions near where the ink cartridges go.

Follow those instructions precisely to install your new ink cartridges correctly.

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Dirty Metal Contacts

What it is: Earlier, you read that ink cartridges have chips and electrical contacts on them. Those contacts are crucial because they allow the cartridge and the printer to communicate through electrical signals.

Aside from controlling the ink cartridge, the metal contacts also allow the printer to monitor the ink cartridge’s status and the ink levels inside.

What happened: A new ink cartridge fails to work when its metal contacts are dirty. The same is true if the printer’s contacts are also unclean. These contacts are typically dirty with dust or debris, though you might also find some ink on them.

Dirty metal contacts prevent the printer from sensing the ink cartridge. That’s why it doesn’t work despite being new.

How to fix it: You can solve this problem quickly by cleaning the affected metal contacts. Firstly, brush away any visible pieces of dust or debris. You can also use a vacuum, but you must use it on the lowest power setting available.

Rub the metal contacts with isopropyl alcohol (e.g. rubbing alcohol) for a more thorough clean. The alcohol is effective for getting rid of dust or diluting any dried ink.

There’s no need to use too much isopropyl alcohol, though. Instead, place a few drips on a cotton swab and use that to rub the metal contacts clean.

Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly, so you don’t have to worry about there being any remaining moisture afterwards.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few more questions and answers about ink cartridges that you might find helpful:

Do All Printers Take The Same Ink?

No, printer ink cartridges are not universal. Before shopping for ink cartridges, you must identify the printer model number. That will help you find ink cartridges that are compatible with your printer.

How Often Should I Replace My Cartridge?

The frequency of ink cartridge replacements is different for every user. For example, if you print many documents very often, you’ll replace the cartridge several times a year. However, a user who only uses their printer once in a while will replace the cartridge less often.

Read: Why New Ink Cartridge Says Empty When I Install It? – Troubleshooting Guide

When Should You Replace Ink Cartridges?

You should replace your ink cartridge when the ink levels are low, and the cartridge is almost empty. Buying a replacement ink cartridge allows you to continue your printing activities without interruptions.

How Do I Clean The Ink Cartridge Contacts?

You can clean ink cartridge contacts by rubbing isopropyl alcohol on them. Applying the alcohol onto a cotton swab or something similar before rubbing it onto the metal contacts is best. Keep rubbing until all dust, debris, or dried ink is removed.

Can I Print If One Cartridge Is Empty?

That depends on your printer model. Some printers will allow you to continue printing as long as some cartridges have ink. However, many models won’t allow you to continue even if only one cartridge is empty.

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