How to Bypass an HP Photosmart Printer Cartridge Error

By Elizabeth Mott

Refilling an inkjet cartridge is not as easy as refilling a fountain pen.
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Inkjet printers can command eye-poppingly low purchase prices, but their buy-in cost advantages disappear when you add in your investment of ink cartridges over the printer's lifespan. That investment becomes even more expensive when inkjet manufacturers, such as HP, produce cartridges that no longer print after they reach a specific age. However, some HP Photosmart printers include secret override procedures you can use to bypass those devices' ink-expiration warnings.

Understanding Ink Policies

Some HP inkjet printers use cartridges with encoded expiration dates. These cartridges stop working after a specific time interval, relative either to when you install them or to the warranty date printed on their packaging. HP Photosmart printers affected by this ink-expiration policy include an override procedure that enables you to continue using past-date cartridges. However, HP warns that expired ink may damage your device's printhead, which will void any remaining warranty coverage on the printer itself.

Overriding Expired Ink

Each HP printer that includes an expired-ink override procedure, including the Photosmart series, provides instructions on how to perform the override in at least one of three ways. You may see a warning message on a built-in display, identifying both the problem and the control-panel keys to press to continue printing. Printers that lack display screens may show a pattern of blinking indicator lights that point to the keys to press. The user guide that accompanies your HP Photosmart device may also provide instructions on how to perform the override.

Bypassing Ink System Failure

If you continue to print with out-of-date cartridges, your HP Photosmart may experience an ink system failure that lacks any obvious override procedure. Some Photosmart printers include a hidden restoration sequence that can bring these devices back to life. The key-press operation involves a complex ink initialization made up of multiple key presses, followed by unplugging the printer from electrical power for 30 seconds. After you plug the printer back in, it completes a one-time procedure that removes the hardware failure. Although using expired cartridges can void your warranty, if you experience an ink hardware failure for other reasons while your printer remains under warranty coverage, you can contact HP support for the proper override procedure for your Photosmart model.

Other Considerations

Refilled and remanufactured ink cartridges offer a tempting bargain when you compare their more modest cost to the price of HP's new cartridges. Whether you consider buying a refill kit and recharging your cartridges yourself or purchasing from a refill service, you must balance the savings against the prospect that faulty refilling causes damaging leaks or that inferior ink lowers the quality of your output. Likewise, overriding the expiration dates on HP cartridges may look like a money-saving proposition, unless and until it compromises the working life of your hardware.