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Common problems with HP Deskjet 600 series printers

by Tom Cumming


I have written this article based on my own personal experience with an HP Deskjet 670C printer, and a number of friends I know who own 660C and 690C printers. The 600 series of Deskjets are all based around a similar mechanical design and so most of these tips should also apply to other HP Deskjet printers that have a model number starting with a 6. However, please remember that these have only been tried out on a 660C, 670C and 690C. If your printer is still under warantee, some of these tips *will* void your warantee. If you are having problems and the printer is fairly new you would be better off taking the printer back to the shop you bought it from, or Hewlett-Packard, and get them to sort it out.


Printouts are coming out with streaky horizontal lines underneith text or graphics.

This is caused by a clogged-up print head or cartridge. You can clean the print head and cartridge in two different ways:

1) Using the "clean" option in the printer driver;
2) Using a special cleaning sheet from HP.

You should try using the printer driver's "clean" option first and use the cleaning sheets as a second solution if the first one does not work.

1) Turn on your computer and printer as normal.
2) Make sure there is plenty of paper in the printer.
3) Click on Start, point to Settings, and click on Printers.
4) Click with the *right* mouse button on the icon for your printer, and select Properties.
5) In the window that appears, click on the "services" tab.
6) Click on the "clean the print cartridges" button.
7) Click on the "clean" button. The heads will be cleaned and a test page will be printed as this goes on.
8) When the test page is completed, have a look at it, and see if the print quality has improved. If you are now happy with the print quality, click on "done". Or, if you wish to repeat the process to improve it further, click on "continue", and another page will be printed.

If you keep repeating the process and the print quality does not seem to be getting any better, then you may wish to try using one of HP's cleaning sheets.

First of all, you need to get hold of the HP Cleaning Kit. HP supply them for free: all you have to do is fill in your name and address at their website and they will post you a kit. At the time of writing, the page was at HERE but this may change, so if the previous link does not bring you to the site, goto and type "HP Cleaning Kit" into the search box.

The kit unfortunately does not work under Windows ME, 2000 or XP, so if you have one of these operating systems, you may need to find a friend that has a computer with Windows 95 or 98 on, and just hook your printer upto their machine to get this little job done.

Once you have got your kit, follow the instructions provided with it. There seem to be several different types of kit: some where they provide you with some sheets of A4 paper with "bristles" on to clean out the printer, and some where you just get sent the sticky-backed bristles and have to stick them onto a sheet of A4 paper yourself. The kits all come with a CD-ROM which will automatically run when you insert it into your CD-ROM drive. Insert the CD-ROM and it will tell you what you have to do as you go along.

Once you have cleaned the heads using one of these sheets, throw the sheet away. Do not re-use the sheet.

If the print quality has still not improved, you probably need to replace the print head. is HP's authorised spare parts supplier.


Why does my printer not pick up the paper properly?

There can be a number of reasons for this.

- Is the paper the correct way up? A lot of people do not realise that most copy-paper has one side that is slightly shinyer than the other, and this is the side that is better for printing onto.

- Do you have the paper width selector set correctly? There is a little marker at the bottom of the output tray that sets the width of the paper. If this is set too wide or narrow, the printer may not pick up the pages correctly. Also make sure that the pages are pushed as far into the lower tray as they will go, and the length adjuster is pushed up behind the pages, so that they are just touching, but the paper is not buckled.

- Is the printer being loaded correctly? Remember, the printer is only designed for up to 100 sheets of 20lb paper at a time.

- Do the drive rollers need cleaning? If you pull out the output tray from your printer, you will see that behind it are 3 large rubber wheels that grab the pages. If these are dirty, you may need to wipe them clean with a cloth to make them grab the pages reliably.

- Is the clutch actuator arm in the correct position? Open up the lid of the printer, and to the left you will see a cog facing you with a plastic arm over the top of it. The plastic arm should go right over the top of the gear and the end should sit about 1cm to the right of the gear. Pull it out to the right if it has been pushed back..

For the last two items, if you cannot see what I am talking about, pictures are available at HERE . The above is a summary of all the suggestions that HP give for this problem - however, I found that on my 670C, these suggestions did not help. I eventually found that the problem lied in the little piece of cork on the base of the input tray, which is squeezed against one of the three rollers at the bottom to grab the paper and feed it into the printer. Over time and heavy use, the cork had become squashed, and was no longer squeezing the paper hard enough between it and the roller. So, I just covered the cork in several layers of masking tape, to give it an extra couple of millimetres of height, followed by a layer of electrical tape to give it a nice smooth, shiny surface, and now it works beautifully.

To get at this cork, you have to remove the output tray first (just pull it!) and you will see it at the back. Then move the paper selector to the right, and this will expose a little catch on the left which allows you to remove the base of the input tray.

Alternatively, if you wanted to do this a little bit more professionally, you could always take this plate to a musical instrument repairer! Clarinets, saxophones, flutes etc are all covered in little cork pads just like this one, which also need replacing from time to time, so I am sure he/she would be able to do it for you, far cheaper than it would be to send the printer back to Hewlett Packard.

You may also find that the three feeding rollers can become too smooth-surfaced over time, so that eventually not enough friction is produced between the roller and the page, for the paper to feed in. This can be alleviated by rubbing the rollers with a nail-file, or there is a kit available for a small fee to do this job at .


Why do printouts come out either squashed or stretched in the horizontal direction?
Why does my printer's printhead crash into the side of the printer sometimes?

This is caused by a damaged encoder strip.

Turn the printer on and lift the lid up on the top. You will see that running just behind the metal bar that the print head runs along, there is a plastic strip with little black lines on it - called the encoder strip - running from one end of the printer to the other. The black lines are "read" by a light sensor in the print head, so it can tell at what position along the width of the printer it is located. If any of these lines are damaged, or the strip gets dirty, this can interfere with this and the print head will sometimes move too far left or right and distort the printout.

To fix this, first of all you need to get the strip out. To do this:

1) Turn the printer on.
2) Lift the lid open.
3) Wait for the printhead assembly to move to the middle of the printer.
4) Unplug the printer from the mains.
5) Now, push the printhead as far as it will go to the right.
6) On the far left end of the encoder strip, you will see it is attached to the printer by a little metal catch. With one hand, pull that catch inwards to slacken off the strip, and then with the other hand, unhook the strip from the catch.
7) Slide the printhead to the left.
8) Unhook the encoder strip from the other end. Note that at this end, the catch is not flexible.
9) Now just pull the encoder strip out of the printer.

Once you have got it out, you may find that you can fix this problem just by cleaning the strip and replacing it. Or, if it is badly damaged, you may need to buy another one. Again, the place to go for parts is Then, follow the reverse of the process above to replace the encoder strip. Then turn on the printer and allow the print head to return to it's home position, and turn it off again.

NB: Do not leave the encoder strip outside the printer for long. When you unplug the printer when it is turned on, to get the strip out, the printhead is not in it's home position. If it is left like this for too long, the print cartridge may dry up.


Why does my printer make a loud clattering noise whilst in operation?
Why are there minor horizontal blemishes in my printouts?
Why do my printouts look fuzzy and out of focus?

These problems can usually be solved by lubricating the print head and the bar that it runs along. To do this, you need to buy some dielectric greese spray. You can buy this at your local electronics store, or Maplins Electronics ( sell it, catalogue number RH31J, called "Silicone Grease with PTFE".

Once you've got some of the suitable spray:

1) Turn on the printer.
2) Open the lid.
3) Wait for the printhead assembly to move to the middle of the printer.
4) Unplug the printer from the mains.
5) Attach the "straw" attachment to the spray can.
6) Spray a little bit of greese either side of the print head, in the area around where the bar goes through the printhead.
7) Slide the printhead to one side, and spray all along the metal bar.
8) Slide the printhead to the other side, and spray along the bit of the bar you missed.
9) Push the printhead to the right.

Then, leave it for a few hours for the solvent to evaporate and the greese to settle. Then, turn the printer on and off again to get the print head back to it's "home" position, and then try again.


Lastly I would like to mention the site again: as well as the roller cleaning kit I have already mentioned, it also has a CD-ROM service manual for all HP inkjet printers.


Copyright © 2001-2006 © Copyright Karl Davis.

No part of this site may be reproduced in any format.All documents author acknowledged are copyright retained by the author.

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