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Why is My Printer Printing Faded Text? Troubleshooting Laser Printers

You’d imagine a peripheral almost as old as personal computers would work flawlessly. And yet, it seems like we’re still running into the same printer problems since the early 1950s. It’s as if the tech isn’t quite there, ya know?

Here’s something you’re bound to ask during the life of printer ownership…

…why is my printer printing faded text?

Well, there are many causes of this frustration and several solutions. This article is a sort-of round-up covering the most common fixes. So, if you’ve got lots to print and currently held up because of the darn printer (again) then dig in!

Why Is My Printer Printing Faded Text? Start with the Obvious

Sometimes the solution to your problem is the most obvious. In this case, let’s start with a few things that could cause a printer malfunction BEFORE printing.

Check the Power

Laugh all you want but check the power to the printer:

  1. Check the connection to the wall
  2. Check the connection to the printer
  3. Check the cord and if it’s faulty

Go through and verify the connections work. Look for the lights on the unit or power cycle it, ensuring it’s functional. It could be the power strip, too, if you have it hooked to on — so be sure to include that in the test.

Old, Damaged Supplies

Ink has a relatively short shelf life so if you’re using ones that have been sitting then that may be the culprit. Toner lasts longer but can settle and compact, slowly degrading its print quality, too.

Old supplies can cause a few problems:

  • Dirty, damaged, or dried-up print heads or rollers
  • Defective cartridge components

Consider ordering new print supplies for a quick and easy fix. You can skip the expensive OEM supplies, too, by using aftermarket cartridges. You can learn more here and no it won’t void your warranty.

Low Ink or Toner

Maybe you got ahead of yourself and didn’t realize the cartridge was low.

You will usually get an alert like:

  • Window pop-up saying you’re low on ink when printing
  • A pop-up displaying cartridge ink or toner levels
  • An alert from print management saying you should order supplies

Whichever way you managed to figure it out — it’s clear why the print is faded. Get new supplies, swap the cartridge, and start printing again.

Fix the Print Mode

Your faded prints may have resulted from either:

  • Changes to the print density
  • Being set to a ‘draft’ or ‘save’ mode

You can access these features in the print driver or options. Set the options back to default if they appear changed, and then do a test print. If this solved the issue then you’re good to go!

Reset the Cartridge Positioning

There’s a chance the cartridge became jostled and unseated. In this case, the print head/roller isn’t connecting as it should with the page. This could cause degradation to the print, resulting in a faded appearance.

This one is pretty easy:

  1. Turn off the printer
  2. Access the print cartridge
  3. Remove it from the printer
  4. Reinsert it into the printer
  5. Power the unit back on

As expected, print a test page to diagnose the problem. If everything looks good then there’s nothing else to worry about!

Does the Printer Prints Blurry Still? Try These Other, More Advanced Fixes

The obvious solutions should fix things when you’ve got a printer printing blurry. But, sometimes you need to get a little more involved. Check out the advanced fixes if you’re adamant about getting the printer working.

Clean the Print Head or Cartridge Drum

Touching and prodding the cartridge isn’t ideal as you could cause more damage. But, if you’ve got nothing to lose or it’s on its last legs then cleaning the print head or drum could fix the issue.

For an ink cartridge:

  1. Check if there is blockage where the ink comes out
  2. If so, wipe away the ink blockage using a damp cloth
  3. Dry the area and reinstall the cartridge into the machine
  4. Run a color print test page to see if it fixed the problem

For a toner cartridge:

  1. Pull the cartridge out of the machine
  2. Remove the cartridge from its larger unit if needed
  3. Either:
    1. Clean the drum roller with a cloth and rubbing alcohol
    2. Slide the cartridge’s tab back and forth a few times
  4. Reinsert the cartridge into its larger (drum) unit
  5. Run a test print and see if things are working again

Check for damages while doing these steps, too. If it looks like the unit is too damaged then you may need to bite the bullet and buy new supplies.

Reset the Cartridge Chip/Sensor

Many modern ink and toner cartridges come with a print chip. This chip tells the printer when supplies are running low. Yet, you’ll notice a good 10 to 20% of supplies leftover in the cartridge if you were to open them up.

Are printer chips a conspiracy to make you buy more supplies? Some think so. OEMs say it’s to protect your printer and have even put DRM on them to control prints. Either way, low supplies could disrupt the print quality.

There are a few ways to reset ink/toner levels:

  • Block the sensor with a piece of tape
  • Replace the chip with a third-party chip

Sometimes you can shake the cartridge, too, and get a bit of extra life from it. Or, disabling the print management software can sometimes work, too.

Get in touch with a third-party, aftermarket supplier for chips if you go this route. Their tech support should have the know-how to walk you through this. Plus, you could use the opportunity to order the chip for a few bucks.

A Solution for When You’ve Given Up

Junk it.

Just kidding!

This post gave solutions answering, “Why is my printer printing faded text”. But, if these haven’t solved the issue then it’s likely time to call the pros. Let them handle it while you get back to the important stuff.

So, that’s one problem solved for your business operations…

…what about all the others you’re bound to run into?

We’ve got answers for those, too! Check out our business guides and tutorials here on the site. You’ll find tons of great info to help overcome anything that pops up when running a business.