Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers are renowned for their dependability, but from time to time, you still may need a way to troubleshoot some possible problems. Whether you’re dealing with a simple paper jam, or can’t seem to get around a pesky error message, we’ve put together a list of tips to get you through the troubleshooting process smoothly and easily without wasting hours on the phone with tech support. 

Paper Jams

Starting with the most common printer error you’ll encounter with any printer, let’s discuss how to remove a paper jam from your HP printer. Here are some possible reasons your HP printer is experiencing a paper jam: 

  • Your printer is dirty,
  • You’ve used the wrong type of paper 
  • The rollers that feed paper through your printer’s pathway are worn out

You can avoid the first two issues fairly easily by periodically cleaning your printer and making sure you load the right size and style paper. However, depending on your HP’s model, the rollers may be hard to access. In this case, you may need professional assistance removing and replacing its rollers. Whatever the cause for the paper jam, make sure you always pull the jammed paper in the direction of the paper path. Pulling it backwards can result in damage to your printer. 

Faded Print Image 

If the images you are printing are coming out looking faded, it’s usually a result of these problems: 

  • Your printer is low on toner
  • The print density is set too low
  • Economode printing is turned on

If you suspect you toner to be the culprit, simply removing the cartridge and shaking it a bit will redistribute the toner and may temporarily solve the problem. You will also need to replace your toner. If your toner is full, performing self-test will help you determine the current settings. There is typically a separate button on your HP printer that will show your current settings, or you might need to use the control panel to navigate through the printer menu and find the relevant settings.

Toner Smears

If you’re experiencing smearing on your printed pages here are the possible causes:

  • The fuser assembly is damaged or nearing the end of its life.
  • The toner cartridge is defective and releasing too much toner at one time.
  • There is a toner spill within the printer. 
  • The paper type isn’t suitable for toner

If your fuser assembly is the source of the issue, it will need to be replaced. If the issue is with your toner cartridge, you’ll want to replace it. Keep in mind, if you’re working with a color printer, you will only need to replace the cartridge that is causing problems. If you discover that the toner has spilled, simply clean it out to fix the issue.


Ghosting (in printers) happens when you print an image successfully, but a lighter “ghost-like” copy of that same image prints elsewhere. This can happen if there is an issue with the power outlet to which your printer is connected. Check to see if the issue persists when you plug your printer into a different outlet. Ghosting can also occur if certain parts of your printer, such as its drum or imaging kit are nearing the end of their life. These parts are meant to last for a certain amount of use, and need to be replaced once they hit the limit number.

50.4 Error Message

On newer HP LaserJet devices and printers, a 50.4 error message points to a problem with your power supply. Try disconnecting then reconnecting your printer to see if the error goes away. If this doesn’t take care of the problem, check to see that all of the parts of the printer are properly seated.

79 Error Message

In HP printers, a 79 error message could be a result of network problems, or it can also be caused by a failure of one of your printer’s add-on components, such as an MIO card or a RAM module print server. When following troubleshooting steps for a 79 error, go into the Start menu and open the “Printer” folder to see there are no jobs pending.  All add-ons should be removed and then added back to the printer one at a time to identify which component is causing the problem.

Printing From the Wrong Paper Tray

To fix this problem, check your application to see if it’s set to print to the wrong paper tray. If you find that it is, simply correct it by clicking on “Printer Properties” and locating the “Tray Selection” source. Also, make sure that the paper size matches that of the tray you are trying to print from.

Missing Driver for Your Operating System

With the release of new operating systems, you will need to load new drivers to your existing printers. Since not every printer has a driver for each operating system, we recommend that you consult the printer manual to figure out which printers these drivers will emulate. Some functionalities of the printer may not be available under this emulation, but it will be able to perform basic printing tasks. 

HP printers are certainly among the most reliable in the industry. But if you do run into these common issues, we hope our guide assists you in efficiently troubleshooting and fixing the existing problems.