Question about Dell 5100cn Laser Printer

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Won't print dark black; prints in gray

Printer was making noise and vibrating under the black toner cartridge. Sounded like some gears not meshing correctly? By the time I got a new cartridge, the noise and vibration had stopped and printer was printing in light gray (colors seem OK). I wasn't using printer when grinding noise stopped or when started to print in gray so don't know if there is a cause and effect. I've reinstalled printer; downloaded new drivers. Dell Dimension 8200 and Windows XP Home. Can anyone help?

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  • jandjsampsel Nov 07, 2008

    Forgot the obvious...It's a Dell 5100cn.

  • jandjsampsel Nov 13, 2008

    I had already tried the cleaning option on the Maintenance menu before I asked for help--no success. After I posted here, I was prowling around a forum on Dell's website.



    There, I found the first steps in troubleshooting this problem from a different perspective. The Dell tech described the steps to test the motor under the cartridge carriage and check that the auger is rotating. The motor was working, but it appeared that the gear to the auger was not rotating freely; causing the gears to chatter. While I was fooling with the gears in the unit, I also pushed a q tip into the channel where the toner enters the tube assembly. I got back a gob of toner clumped to the end of the q tip. I ran a test page and the black printed normal. Not knowing what else to do, I reassembled everything. That was two days ago. The printer is working now, but I don't know if I unblocked the channel and it will continue to work, or if I just got some toner into the tube when I was manually moving the gears and pushing on the q tip.



    Either way, this seems to rule out a developer unit problem. Do you agree?



    And thank you for responding!

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I just used a strong vaccum cleaner on the phd. Remove it from the front, turning the 4 locks. and clean with the vacum cleaner at the entrance of the 4 colours. strongly on the dark one to ensure the acces is free and now it works again without any pb.

Posted on May 10, 2013

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There are a few possible causes for the light print.

The first is the easiest to try and least expensive.

If you actually had a bad toner cartridge, and the toner was not making its way down the toner tube to the developer, then you may be able to fix the issue by simply doing a developer cleaning on the black developer. What this actually does is force aggitator to move toner down the tube into the developer. You can activate this from the maintenance menu.

If this does not fix the issue, then more then likely the black developer unit itself is defective and needs to be replaced.

Posted on Nov 13, 2008

  • Cory Friedman
    Cory Friedman Nov 14, 2008

    Yes, Based on this information I would say that the problem was just lack of enough toner being moved into the developer.



    I was going to originally suggest the auger moter, but you stated the noise went away when you changed the toner, so i dismissed this thinking if there was a bad gear or moter it would not have corrected by changing the toner.



    More then likely, if you did have a "clump" of toner, it was a one time thing, and you have cleared the defect.



    Are you using genuine Dell toners, or generic "compatible" toners?

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Clicking noise


Check the printer thoroughly for any small pieces of paper caught on a roller in the printer. If your printer is making a grinding noise, you may have a loose gear or roller in the printer.


If the noises started shortly after you installed a toner cartridge, turn off the printer and pull out this toner cartridge. Look up into the printer where this toner went. Make sure that both the charge roller and the transfer roller are still seated in the printer properly.


  • The charge roller is a tan-colored or gray roller attached to the inside of your top lid. Remove the toner cartridge from your printer. Close the top lid halfway with the cartridge still out. You will see the charge roller come down as you lower the top lid. Make sure that the charge roller is installed correctly within the two black arms on each end and that the roller does spin freely.

  • The transfer roller is the black, spongy roller in the bottom of the printer, under the toner cartridge. Push lightly down on it at both ends to make sure it is seated properly in its housing. NOTE: Try not to touch the charge roller with your bare hands. It is susceptible to the oil and may cause a permanent fingerprint to remain on the roller surface.

  • When you have checked the charge roller and the transfer roller, look around inside the printer. See if you can find any rollers that look loose or broken inside. Also look for any loose shreds of paper. If you do find a loose or broken part, you printer will probably require service to fix the problem.

If the rollers look fine, go ahead and reinstall the toner cartridge. If the squeaking/grinding noise continues and none of the rollers looks out of place, try swapping out the toner cartridge. There is a small chance that the toner cartridge is causing the squeaking/grinding noise. If you have any extra toner cartridges in stock, try another toner cartridge and see if that clears up the noise. If you have another working printer of the same model, try swapping the toner cartridges. See if the problem follows the toner cartridge or stays with the printer.
If replacing the cartridge does not cause the noises to go away, there are a few other things you can do to help pinpoint the source of the noise.


If the noise continues on the main printer, try opening the rear exit door while printing. See if you can tell if the grinding noise might be coming from one of those rear exit rollers/gears. If it does sound like it is coming from the rear of the printer, again look for any loose or broken part or any small pieces of paper.


If you have added any additional feed options (like a tray 2 or 3 option, duplex option, or envelope feeder), please remove these options. Try printing a few prints without these feed options attached. This will eliminate one of the feed options as the cause. If the noise goes away when you remove the options, reattach them one at a time. If the noise returns on one specific option, a roller or gear on that option may be the cause of the noise.


Is your printer making a rhythmic THUMP - THUMP - THUMP - THUMP noise when printing? This noise is a side-effect of a feature called Envelope Enhance. The Envelope Enhance feature is built into the fuser unit of the printer to help keep envelopes from wrinkling. This sound is perfectly safe and normal if the printer is printing on envelopes.

If none of the above fixes eliminates the noise, the printer will probably need service to return it to working condition.


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I know the frustration being in IT for over 20 years working on various peripherals.
These printer MIX so that way there is a balance at the final phase. You have to purchase a magenta cartridge to get this working again. Bypassing this will make tis printer suffer and long term damage can cause a economical issue on your end in the long run.
Now if your at a critical point you can bypass but I do not professionally recommend this but here it goes.


1. Open the CP1210 Series Toolbox 2. OPEN System Settings 3. Then enable Cartridge Out Override 4. Then click apply
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Dear Folks, My colour laser is probably my most "valuable" and needed tool, next to my notebook. The black toner cartridge ran out and I replaced it. From that point on, the printing is very...


Well there are few tests you could run to make sure it's not the printer.

1. You said you already tried different print cartridges and it didn't make a difference.

2. Have you tried printing anything else? Like the windows test page? Does that come out gray as well? The reason I suggest this is because sometimes when printing a document you can set the printer settings to always print in "Draft" mode. This mode allows the printer to conserve the ink which make black look faded or gray. If you can make sure the printer settings are set to "Normal" or "High Quality" then test.

3. Also are you buying the printer cartridges from the same vendor? What I mean is that sometimes different vendors have different quality of printer cartridges. Some sell re-use/re-furbished print cartridges for a much lower price, and some sell OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for "an arm and a leg". So make sure you have a good quality print cartridges.

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