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Am receiving message that reads, "There is a problem with printer or ink system?"

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Regarding the HP Officejet Pro 8600 printer error condition ("There is a problem with the ink system", or "Ink System Failure") which is causing a printing failure, this could either be a simple paper pick-up problem, problem with electrical connectivity between carriage and the PRINTHEAD assembly (i.e. dirty contacts or poor contact) or an internal electrical failure of the PRINTHEAD assembly. This typically does not have anything to do with the ink cartridge's themselves but we should screen out all variables until root cause is identified....


1) Plain paper should be used for testing to ensure this is not a paper sensing issue. However, depending on how much you have printed to date, there could be 'ink mist' interfering with the media sensor/sensing optics (a very common problem in the large format printer models). Let's run thru a quick checklist to ensure we cover all variables which could be causing the issue:

2) Remove ink cartridge and inspect cartridge's smart chip surface (i.e. gold contacts) - check for scratches or ink residue. Verify cartridge's smart chip position is correct - see pictures of cartridge chips at following link for reference:
- Retest printer using plain paper or a different paper type (standard bond is suggested).
- Replace cartridge if suspected to be physically damaged.
- If smart chip position looks incorrect, return ink cartridge to your refiller for evaluation and/or chip replacement.

3) Perform Tap 41 PRINTHEAD Health Diagnostics Test, along with supporting service level/diagnostic tests (service menu access procedures do vary by HP printer model, refer to HP printer diagnostics document, pages 45-47, to view normal display messages, )
Tap 41 PRINTHEAD Health Diagnostics (NOTE: applies to touchscreen printer models only):
1.Press 'Return' button (lower left side) four (4) times until 'Support' menu is displayed.
2.At 'Support' Menu, using the arrow key, navigate to the 'Service Menu', press Ok.
3.Use arrow keys to advance to the 'Special Reports' Menu. Select OK.
4.Use arrow keys to advance to the 'print mech button tap' menu. Select Ok.
5.'code = 0' will be displayed. Use arrows keys to change value to '41' (i.e. press and hold right arrow key).
6.When 'Code = 41', select 'OK'. The diagnostic test pattern will print.
7.Check the 4th line at the top of the printed report; an electrically good/stable PRINTHEAD will state "Pen Status: Pen OK".........if any other message is displayed then the PRINTHEAD may have failed and may need to be replaced. Re-seat PRINTHEAD and/or clean rear electrical contacts and repeat 'Tap 41' test to verify connectivity is not the issue.

4) To rule out printer/cartridge connectivity (assembly interface/connection) issues please ensure you have followed all steps on HP's support page - this includes PRINTHEAD removal and thorough cleaning of the electrical surfaces on the PRINTHEAD and on the CARRIAGE ASSEMBLY:

a. Remove all 4/5 ink cartridges, then remove the internal PRINTHEAD and thoroughly clean rear electrical contacts and carriage electrical contacts. Inspect ink foam ports to see if they are 'wet with ink'...this will confirm whether ink is being pulled into the PRINTHEAD or not. If the ink foam ports are completely dry (no significant amount of ink present when blotted with a paper towel, etc.), then the PRINTHEAD is likely considered too dry to support proper ink flow and subsequent printing operations. Refer to PRINTHEAD removal process at (link down below) or at the following Inkjet411 link to provide general guidance:

5) If after thorough electrical contact cleaning the problem persists, you may need to replace the PRINTHEAD ASSEMBLY (i.e. get from HP or Amazon), however, as a last ditch effort, you might want to perform a hot water flush on the PRINTHEAD:


**Typically the printhead should not reach it's end-of-life until after a minimum of 8 or more complete sets of cartridge changes. While some printheads may last 20,000+ pages others may only last 4000 pages, actual results will vary. The printhead will eventually fail in time due to an internal micro-electronics failure, due to the following leading factors: general customer print usage and printer care, printer duty cycle (i.e. # pages printed per month), printing frequency (i.e. time between each print job), print mode (i.e. draft vs. normal) and content printed (i.e. photos vs plain pages) and color mode (black and white only vs. color/greyscale printing).

Paper types used (i.e. plain paper, photo papers & matte/heavy bond papers) and paper edge curl (i.e. duration in printer and/or exposure to low relative humidity) can also quickly lead to premature printhead failures due to physical 'head strikes' of the paper edges making repeated contact with the printhead nozzle plate surfaces.


If you need to refill your HP 950, HP 951, HP 950XL or HP 951XL ink cartridges, our network of ink cartridge refill retailers (and Universities) stand behind the product and performance - guaranteed. For store locations and details on ink refill pricing:

Costco USA Ink Refill Service (465+ stores):
Costco Canada Ink Refill Service (75+ stores):
Costco Mexico Ink Refill Service (35+ stores):
Costco United Kingdom (7 stores):
Fry's Electronics (34 stores):
Best Buy Canada (13 stores)
10 Major Universities in USA & Canada*
Auchan France (7 stores)
Ink Cartridge Refill Store Map Locator:


If you are unable to find a HP 950 / HP 951 ink cartridge refill store close to you and you are trying to cut ink costs, may we suggest you try a remanufactured ink cartridge from as their ink cartridges typically have the lowest cost in the USA, have a high reliability rating, come with a 1-year warranty and provide free shipping for all orders above $20 (purchases available for US Residents only). These are original ink cartridges which have been refilled and have been electrically bench tested (where applicable) to confirm performance.

Otherwise, here is a link to all of our retail and University bookstore ink cartridge refill locations:

Please let us know if the error condition persists. For any additional questions please contact us directly:

-Thank you

Posted on Apr 07, 2015

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Have you replaced the ink cartridge? If not it may be empty. Also if you moved printer it could have shaken loose. There is a host fixes, but most common is empty cartridge. If you installed a new cart, an did not seat it correctly it can error on you.

Posted on Nov 29, 2014


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  1. Press the On button to turn the printer off.
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I have a Ink System Failure.

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Wait two minutes.
Plug the power cord into the back of the printer.
Press the On button to turn the printer on. 
Install the ink cartridges when prompted.
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