What Are the Causes of Line Streaks in Canon Printers?

By Andrew Aarons

Your small office needs to be able to rely on its printer. Whatever the style of Canon printer that you have in the office, the last thing you want is for it to print badly, leaving streaks or gaps in the pages which are printing. You may notice streaks in printing for a couple of different reasons; in any event, basic troubleshooting will have your Canon printer working properly again before long.

Low Ink Levels

If your Canon printer uses ink cartridges, you may notice streaks in your print jobs if one or several of the cartridges are low. Because the printer prints different aspects of a photo or document using different colors, one empty ink cartridge might mean that entire parts of documents won’t print. And even though you’re printing all in black, Canon printers sometimes use a combination of colors to create true black, meaning that an empty color cartridge might result in poor quality, streaky print jobs even in black-and-white.

Damaged Print Cartridge

When loading a black or color ink cartridge into your Canon printer, you may have pressed too firmly or bumped the part of the cartridge where the ink comes out, causing the cartridge to become damaged. When damaged, ink cartridges may bleed ink as the printer prints, leaving streaks of black or color across the page. Remove all of the printer’s ink cartridges and check for spilled ink on the base; if a cartridge isn’t damaged, you won’t see any excess ink spilling out of it.

Print Head Alignment

As you use your printer, the devices that hold the cartridges in place -- called print heads -- can slowly shift position, a millimeter at a time. The difference is so slight that your eye won’t notice the print heads changing alignment until there are noticeable gaps or streaks in the print job. This process occurs differently on different printers and depends on the number of cartridges used -- as some Canon printers use five different ink pots -- and the number of pages printed.

Fixing Alignment

Most Canon printer software has a built-in print head alignment test. Open your Canon’s software on your computer and click on the “Maintenance” tab along the top. Then click on “Print Head Alignment” and click “Align Print Head.” The printer will print a test sheet with a row of colored boxes. Click “Align Heads Manually” on the screen to print a second test sheet. The printer will try printing with the heads at different alignments; choose the one that looks best to you, and that has the least streaks, and enter its number into the Canon software. Click “OK” and try printing another page. You may have to repeat the process a few times to calibrate the print heads correctly.