Peripherals forum

General discussion

Time to replace ink Carts?

by Mailman / February 2, 2009 5:45 AM PST

I have an HP Photosmart C6380, and it has been telling me I need to replace some of the ink cartridges. I have been ignoring the warnings and, for several weeks now, I have been printing both text and photograph pages with perfect quality. So I'm wondering if this is just the best they can do in monitoring the ink levels, or if there is a more nefarious motivation behind this "premature" warning to replace the carts.


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No nefarious action involved
by Willy / February 2, 2009 5:58 AM PST

The warning is done on a time frame where the ink is still present. Meaning, its becoming low and allowed to be run for awhile, you will have some ink, but it will become empty. If allowed to become empty it may dry out the ink cart to cause damage or need other corrective attention. You will get a feel for your needs how and when to replace the ink cart.

tada -----Willy Happy

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What does that mean?
by Mailman / February 2, 2009 6:32 AM PST
"If allowed to become empty it may dry out the ink cart to cause damage or need other corrective attention."

Does this mean I should replace the carts when I first get the warning? Or do I figure on getting a certain number of pages after I get the warning? And will it damage my printer if I wait too long to replace them?

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You'll notice the printing is missing a color or uneven
by Steven Haninger / February 2, 2009 7:09 AM PST
In reply to: What does that mean?

and that's when you replace the cartridge and hit the print button again. There's no need to replace it when the ink is just low but, rather, I'd consider the warning as a need to stop by and pick up a new cartridge and have it handy. Much will depend on how many pages you print over time or if you print in large batches occasionally. I'd never stock up on cartridges just because the office supply store is giving a few bucks off on weekend special. You may end up with your printer dying and be stuck with several cartridges you've paid for but cannot use. Just keep one spare. If you print enough to use a cartridge monthly, go get a new one right after replacing the old.

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Ok, that's good.
by Mailman / February 2, 2009 7:30 AM PST

I guess running a cart dry won't harm the printer. Thanks for the help, guys.


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Up to you
by Willy / February 3, 2009 12:08 AM PST
In reply to: What does that mean?

Continued firing of a empty inkjet nozzle will damage it. The ink cart becomes useless or simply truly disposable. If you're still using the ink cart, missing ink dots will appear and/or dropout or lessen merging of inks for best outcome. Modern inkjet printers are no longer true monochrome when placed into that mode. The color side still outputs just to keep those ink pathways, "freshen" otherwise non-use maybe clogged or repeated cleaning cycles be done.

As for replacement, you have time to run out and get other ink carts. As you noticed you still get some ink output for sometime, but don't expect this to last. Frankly, you've been warned of pending low ink status. You won't damage the printer, its the ink cart(HP and others) that gets effected. I suggest, if you use the photo-printer for alot of photos don't push it during this low ink status as you may find you'll be out of ink before its finished. Photo output places the most demand and usually gobbles ink like crazy.

tada -----Willy Happy

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This particular printer.....
by Mailman / February 3, 2009 12:24 AM PST
In reply to: Up to you

....has 5 cartridges. Two black, one of them photo black. (Don't know the difference.) Then the other 3 are magenta, cyan, and yellow. I'm not really concerned with harming the carts, I just don't want to harm the printer. My main question was about the timeliness of the low ink warning. It seems to be very early, seemingly to stampede one into replacing the cart ASAP. But, maybe I'm just too paranoid. LOL!

Another peeve of mine with this printer is that anytime the printer is shut completely down, it has to print an alignment page when it is powered up again.

On the positive side, it is completely wireless. It has to be operated through my wireless router. And this thing works perfectly. I really like using this printer.

Thanks very much,


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Quality matters
by Willy / February 3, 2009 12:36 AM PST

You have a photo printer thus the need for alignment. You'll see the difference if it was out of alignment and a waste of ink to boot. The two blacks, probably one is more "archival" for photo demands. The other more text output or simpler black output, IMHO.

Since, inkjets offer color that's their main selling point plus being at your local desktop. Understand, in the days of the 1st inkjet the HP100, it was simple, black only(10mm), slow but offered to provide output locally and "quietly" fairly quickly when compared to a dot matrix popular at the time. Now, newer inkjets are fast, photo quality, great color, great ink quantity, different papers, and overall still cheap to buy maybe not operate. Wink adios -----Willy

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Damge to HP printer by running dry?
by Jelly Baby / February 13, 2009 7:08 PM PST

It's an HP - any damage caused by the ink "drying out" is dumped in the bin when the new cart and print head is installed.
With Epson printers - I'd try to avoid running them completely dry to avoid the endless purging to get ink back to the heads, which wastes all the other colours as it purges them all. But with HP - I just let it run dry. The most you'll loose is a sheet of paper when it fails to print properly. Unless you are printing lots of sheets at a time, the "replace" warning is probably time enough to order a new cartridge.

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Ask them
by Dango517 / February 13, 2009 3:00 PM PST
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HP Ink running dry
by jrap30 / February 14, 2009 12:36 AM PST

Most of the answers are correct. Since HP/Leximark and now Cannon all have cartridges...which is a tank of ink plus the print head, the only damage would be the print head...which is rectified by a new cartridge. Cannons, Brother and Epson with seperate print heads may get damage. For Cannon you can always buya new print head. Epson- you may still need to send the machine in....and therefore expensive.

As for is this the best the manufacturer can do. Most users do not understand this simple point, just because it is a computer peripheal does not mean there is an in depth, diagnostic capability to give you an accurate reading. The ink level is just a estimate by the printers software based on number of pages you printed. No actual measurement of ink. That would involve sensors, maybe optics that would increase the cost of the printer, ink cartridges etc.

Once the low ink warning is receive, go buy the ink and wait until you have broken lines, characters or missing colors.

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Wait until weird printing happens
by pamelad / February 15, 2009 2:54 PM PST
In reply to: HP Ink running dry

Like jrep, I wait until I see broken lines, characters or missing colors to replace my cartridges. I have a Canon F20 printer, and before that had another Canon and an HP. With all, the low ink warning happens way before these symptoms appear with plenty of time to get a new cartridge, and I don't think there is any harm done to the printer in waiting until you see poor print quality. But at that point, replace the cartridge promptly.

Cartridges have limited shelf life even sealed in their packages, so you don't want to buy them too far ahead of time before you'll use them. Six months is a good rule of thumb, but of course this depends on how much printing you do and the age of the cartridge when you buy it.

Ink-jet printers seem so inexpensive considering all they do. I suspect the printer manufacturers make a whole lot more $$ on the cartridges, kind of like the razor manufacturers do. Cheap nice razor, and they make the main money on replacement blades. I don't blame them and I am certainly not bashing Canon or HP or for that matter, Gillette. Smart business models, although not always good for the consumer.

I think the printer manufacturers err on the side of telling people to "replace your cartridge" sooner rather than later. A lot of people probably do that, even when the cartridge is still good for a bunch of prints.

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