Ink Cartridge Refill Help Center

HP 902 Ink Cartridge Errors


Remove orange cap and insert cartridge into your printer.

NOTE 1: ‘Counterfeit cartridge’, ‘Fraud cartridge’ and ‘Non-Genuine cartridge’ alerts are COMPLETELY NORMAL for all HP 902 and 902XL ink cartridges which have been refilled and first installed into the printer. You may observe these one-time error messages after the ink cartridge(s) is initially installed into the printer – you may bypass/ignore these messages by selecting ‘OK’/’CONTINUE’, etc..



NORMAL Cartridge Errors

Your printer/computer may show an “Used HP Cartridge” message.  Press ‘OK’ to dismiss this prompt.  Additional alert messages, such as “Used HP Cartridge”,  “Non-Genuine Cartridge” or “Counterfeit”/”Fraud” may also be displayed. Press ‘OK’ or ‘Dismiss’ to bypass these prompts.

HP 564_Used HP Cartridges Installed_sm


ABNORMAL Cartridge Errors

For HP 902 / 902XL cartridge errors such as “Cartridge Problem”, “Missing or damaged”, “Cartridge Error”, “The following cartridges are not intended for use in this Printer”, etc. then the printer is not recognizing the cartridge’s ‘smart chip’ which is affixed to the rear side of cartridge or the ink cartridge’s plastic tab is not properly locking the cartridge into the printer’s PRINTHEAD assembly.



It is first suggested to remove all ink cartridges from the printer and slowly re-install each cartridge, ensuring each ‘clicks’ into place properly. You may need to gently pull out on the ink cartridge’s plastic latching tab so it extends away from the cartridge body. Reinstall cartridge into printer to see if the issue has been resolved.


If the cartridge error / detection issue cannot be resolved carefully inspect the cartridge’s chip for mis-alignment or scratches on the chip surface (i.e. refer to example photos of chip mis-alignment and scratches below). If either of these conditions are present we suggest you return the suspect cartridge to your ink refiller for chip evaluation and/or replacement.











Printer Model Troubleshooting:

HP OfficeJet 6951 PrinterHP OfficeJet 6954 PrinterHP OfficeJet 6962 PrinterHP OfficeJet Pro 6968 PrinterHP OfficeJet Pro 6970 PrinterHP OfficeJet Pro 6975 PrinterHP OfficeJet Pro 6978 Printer,


If the problem persists, then remove all 4 cartridges from the carriage. If present for your printer model, pull up on the PRINTHEAD release latch (NOTE: if PRINTHEAD is removable, latch will be located at right side of PRINTHEAD assembly – see below) and remove PRINTHEAD. Inspect electrical contacts on PRINTHEAD and on Carriage for ink residue. Adhering to manufacturer instructions, thoroughly clean the electrical contacts. Reinstall the PRINTHEAD and lower latch to secure. Reinstall cartridges and retest.Printhead


HP 6500A (HP 920s) Printhead Removal_1


Connectivity problems, between the cartridge and Printhead, include error messages such as “Unrecognized“, “Missing or Damaged“, or “Ink Cartridge Problem”. Also refer to NOTE at bottom of page. 

1. Remove ALL ink cartridges.

2. Check cartridge chip surface for ink residue/contaminants; thoroughly clean chip contact area using a water or isopropyl moistened towel.

3. Install ALL ink cartridges to see if problem clears.


An “Incompatible Printhead” or “Alignment Failed” error message is NOT an ink cartridge error, but instead a possible failure indicator of the large electronic assembly used for firing all four (or five) colors onto the paper. If you observe this message it is suggested you visit HP for recommendations on how to correct.  General HP 902 ink series printhead removal procedures are provided below for informational purposes only.

To check the electrical performance of the printhead refer to the diagnostic test for your specific printer model, click here:

HP Printer Diagnostics

HP 564 Printhead Assembly

If you encounter a severe ink cartridge error which prohibits printing, perform the recommended solutions below.   If you think the refilled cartridge might be bad, take it back to your refiller and have them re-check the cartridge.


Recommended Solutions

The contact between the ink cartridge and the printer must be clean for proper functioning.  If any dirt, ink or paper dust is on the contacts, the printer may indicate that the ink cartridge is bad.  To ensure a clean contact, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Remove and re-install the cartridge

  1. Turn the printer on; open the printer to access the print cartridges.
  2. Remove the suspect cartridge(s) from the station.
  3. Re-install the cartridges in their stations.
  4. Close the printer.
  5. Turn off the printer for 30 seconds and then turn it back on.
  6. Print a test page following your printer’s instructions.
  7. If this does not work, please proceed to step 2.


Step 2: Re-set the printer:

2.a.  If the problem has not been fixed it may be useful to perform a “hard reset”.  This can correct an electronic flag setting inside the printer telling it that the print cartridge is problematic.  Refer to your printer’s user manual or HP website for the correct “hard reset” procedure for your printer model.   Often times it simply involves turning off your printer and unplugging it for at least 30 seconds.

2.b.  Semi-Full printer reset.

2.b.1. First ensure the Home Screen is displayed (icons visible). Select the printer’s buttons in the following order to gain access into the service menu. NOTE: note the buttons are NOT illuminated:

  1. Back
  2. Home
  3. Back
  4. X
  5. Back


2.b.2. The ‘ENGINEERING MENU’ should be displayed.

2.b.3. Select ‘RESETS MENU’, press OK.

2.b.4. Scroll to “Semi-Full Reset” and select OK to reset the printer. NOTE: For erratic printer operations, this might return the printer to normal operations.

2.b.5. Refer to diagnostic test file for additional printer model specific instructions, click here:

HP Printer Diagnostics


2.c.  Print a test page to determine if the problem has been resolved.

2.d.  If a printing-related problem persists, refer to Step 3.


Step 3: Perform Tap 41 PRINTHEAD Diagnostics Test:

If you observe substandard print quality from your printer and you have already performed ‘nozzle checks’ and multiple ‘printhead cleaning’ procedures, then activate the Tap 41 PRINTHEAD Health Diagnostics Test to check the electrical health of the built-in printhead assembly.

3.a. First ensure the Home Screen is displayed (icons visible). Select the printer’s buttons in the following order to gain access into the service menu. NOTE: note the buttons are NOT illuminated:

  1. Back
  2. Home
  3. Back
  4. X
  5. Back


3.b. The ‘ENGINEERING MENU’ should be displayed.

3.c. Select ‘SERVICE MENU’ to gain access to various diagnostic printer tests.

3.d. Scroll to ‘Special Reports’ menu and select “Print-mech button tap” menu. Enter ‘code=41’ by increasing the values using the arrow keys. When code = 41 is displayed, then select OK.

3.e. A special service test report should begin to print in black ink. Check the 4th line from top of the printed page, ‘Pen Status’ should state “Pen OK”.


Step 4: Reseat and clean the print head:

NOTE: Refer to manufacturer instructions for your printer model; the steps provided below are for general guidance only and do not apply to many of the newer printer models which do not have a removable PRINTHEAD.

4.a. Turn on the printer; open the printer to access the ink cartridges.

4.b. Remove all 4 (or 5) ink cartridge(s) from the carriage.

HP 564 Cartridge removal

4.c. Lift printhead release latch (lever) to remove printhead assembly (if removable – refer to User Manual).

Carriage Release latch (B210)

4.d. Remove printhead and clean printhead contacts. Use the damp cloth (de-ionized water or isopropyl alcohol) to wipe the electrical contacts from the bottom to the top. Coffee filters and glass-cleaning cloths work well.Do not go past the edge between the electrical contacts and the ink nozzles. Repeat this motion until no ink remains on the electrical contacts.

Printhead Removal(B210)


4.e. Re-install printhead assembly; lower the latch handle to securely lock the printhead assembly into place.
4.f. Print a test pattern to determine if the problem has been fixed. If not, refer to Step 5.


Step 5: Replace printhead.

Adhere to manufacturer’s recommendations and related troubleshooting instructions.



Severe Print Quality Issue or Missing Colors

If any streaks or missing colors appear on prints, initiate a ‘Clean Printhead’ via the printer control panel ‘Setup’/’Tools’ menu. On some printer models, the ‘Clean Printhead’ procedure will yield a test pattern – inspect pattern to ensure all colors are firing and solid bands of color appear. With other printer models you will need to select a test/diagnostic print under the ‘Tools’ menu. You may need to perform the ‘Clean Printhead’ procedure several times if the printer has been idle or rarely used.

Partially Jetting Nozzles

If missing colors or severe/poor print quality continues to be observed, then please refer to advanced corrective actions:

If you cannot identify which color cartridge is empty, print a test/diagnostic page via: 1) your printer control panel or 2) via the ‘Test Prints’ button below. A faded/missing color indicates empty. In the examples below, streaking/banding can be observed – running the ‘Clean Printhead’ can help remedy these issues.

Horizontal Banding_self test_sm HP B210 Diagnostic Print

Test Prints



For refilled HP 902 cartridges which are not in use, ensure the orange protective cap is securely attached to bottom of cartridge (covers ink spout) to prevent cartridge from drying out. CAUTION: If the internal foam is allowed to dry out then cartridge recovery may be difficult and possibly unusable. While it is normally suggested to use tank-based cartridges one (1) year from the refill date, it is recommended to use refilled HP 902/902XL cartridges within 90 days to avoid print quality issues.

HP 564_cart bottom n chips_sm HP 564 foam_merged_sm

Stop printing as soon as you notice a color is missing – continuing to print will ‘dry-fire’ the PRINTHEAD which can lead to permanent PRINTHEAD electrical damage. Immediately refill ink cartridges which are empty.

Stop Printing when a color drops out



Severe Print Quality Issues / Missing Colors

If, after adhering to all suggestions above, the printer continues to exhibit severe print quality performance and/or multiple colors are missing as observed in the printer’s self test page or print quality report, click here:

Warm (Hot) Water Printhead Flush




Printhead Life 

The replaceable or non-replaceable PRINTHEAD will eventually fail over time with usage and age. Check User Manual to determine if your printer’s Printhead can be removed/replaced.

Possible Printhead Failure? 



Advanced HP Printer Diagnostics:

To view advanced diagnostics tests for your HP printer model, click here:

HP Printer Diagnostics



NOTE: A compatible or clone ink cartridge can be problematic; the smart chip (at base of cartridge) may not provide reliable printer-cartridge connectivity once installed. Compatible cartridges are typically purchased on-line or at select retailers (i.e  sold under a different label than the regular HP cartridge packaging) and is essentially a “knock-off” ink cartridge of the HP original/genuine ink cartridge. For the best refilling experience, only use HP original/genuine ink tanks.


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