Cartridge Recognition Issues: What Printer Users Should Know

If you have been using a printer for a few years at least, you must have experienced cartridge recognition issues at some point. Irrespective of the make or model, it is one of the most common issues faced by printer users worldwide.

The problem generally occurs when you:

  1. Install a new printer cartridge
  2. Install a compatible printer cartridge
  3. Install a remanufactured printer cartridge
  4. Try to get a refilled ink cartridge to work

For instance, when you want to cut down on printing costs by using affordable compatible HP printer cartridges, your printer may refuse to recognize the printer cartridge that has actually been designed as per OEM specifications and engineered to work with a specific printer model.

Yes, refilling inkjet cartridges at home is a bad idea but high-quality compatible and remanufactured inks and toners that have been tested for both performance and page-yield should work without a hiccup.

How to Identify a Cartridge Recognition Issue?


When you replace printer cartridges, cartridge recognition issues can be identified by on-screen errors such as:

  • Ink or toner is not compatible
  • The printer does not recognize the cartridge
  • Cartridge not recognized
  • Cartridge(s) locked – its common in HP printers
  • Cannot install cartridge(s)
  • No cartridge installed
  • The printer cannot detect cartridge(s)
  • Low ink or toner – even when it’s a new cartridge

These errors can be generated by printer software on your computer screen or appear on the printer’s display screen. In some printer models, flashing warning lights or beep sound can alert users about cartridge recognition failure.

In most cases, you won’t be able to print anything until the problem is resolved.

What Are the Main Causes of Printer Recognition Issues?


Listed below are some of the most common causes of printer recognition issues:

1. Cartridge Not Installed Properly


It is possible that you have not inserted the replacement cartridge properly in its designated slot.

If a cartridge is not aligned properly or in case the printer sensor cannot read the chip on the cartridge, your printer may not detect it.

2. Firmware Updates from Printer Manufacturing Companies


Printer manufacturers push firmware updates, often without your knowledge.

Technically, such updates are released in order to update the printer software to make it safer and more effective but printer manufactures also use firmware updates to discourage the use of compatible and remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. It is their business model to keep selling you expensive OEM cartridges.

You can turn off printer’s firmware updates as a preventive measure or rollback changes if there has been an update already and you are staring at a printer recognition issue right now.

3. Internal Memory Reset Function Did Not Initialize


A printer is expected to reset its internal memory pointer as soon as you insert a new ink or toner cartridge. At times, a printer fails to do so and continues to read a replacement cartridge as an old (empty) cartridge.

You may need to turn your printer ON and OFF to resolve this issue. Remember to unplug your printer as well. In some cases, the problem may be due to dust buildup on metal contacts. So, you will need to wipe the contacts with a lint-free cloth.

4. Protective Strips Have Not Been Removed


In case you do not remove protective strips, typically made of plastic, attached to a printer cartridge, your printer will not detect it.

5. Magnetic Chip


Nowadays, many printer manufacturing companies add magnetic chips to their OEM cartridges in order to discourage people from using refilled ink cartridges.

In remanufactured printer cartridges, such magnetic chips are reset so that your printer recognizes them as ‘new’ but in case of DIY or Costco refills, magnetic chips are not reset. So, you may not be able to resolve a printer recognition error in case of refilled cartridges.

6. Contact Points Are Damaged


Your printer may fail to recognize a replacement cartridge if its metal contact points are damaged or covered with grease, dirt, dust, etc.

7. Incorrect Cartridge


Whether it’s an OEM, remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge, the ‘cartridge number’ should be an exact match for your printer model.

Final Words


The good news is that you can fix cartridge recognition issues on your own. You can read our post on ‘how to clear error codes caused by a new ink cartridge.’

We have also shared information on common ‘troubleshooting methods’ you can depend on to continue using compatible and remanufactured printer cartridges. Millions of printer users all over the world are doing it already. You, too, can.