How to fix the Missing or failed printhead error


Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
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The “Missing or failed printhead” error is one that arises for some HP printers. That error message appears on the printers’ control panel displays and states, “The printhead appears to be missing, not detected, or incorrectly installed.” As a consequence, users can’t print anything. These are some resolutions for the “Missing or failed printhead” error on HP OfficeJet printers.

How can Users Fix the “Missing or Failed Printhead” Error?

Reset the HP Printer

  1. First, try resetting the HP printer. To do that, switch on the printer if it’s off.
  2. Then remove the power cord from the back of the printer.
  3. Thereafter, unplug the power cord at the wall.

    HP printer and power cable Missing or failed printhead

  4. Wait a few minutes, and then plug the printer’s power cable back in the wall socket.
  5. Plug the power cable into the back of printer.
  6. Then switch the printer on.

Reseat the HP Printer’s Printhead

  1. Some users might need to reseat the printer’s printhead. To do that, users will need to open the cartridge access door by pulling the slot at the left of the printer forward.
  2. Pull the power cable out from the back of the printer to unplug it, which will ensure that the carriage will not move in any way.
  3. Next, lift the latch up on the right of the carriage.
  4. Pull the printhead slightly out of the carriage, but don’t completely remove it from the carriage.

    An HP printhead Missing or failed printhead

  5. Then place the printhead firmly back into its carriage so that it’s fully seated.
  6. Remember to flick the carriage latch down before closing the cartridge access door.
  7. Then users can insert the power cable back into the printer.
  8. Turn the printer on.

Clean the Ink Cartridge

Cleaning ink cartridges might also resolve the “Missing or failed printhead” error for some users. To do that, remove the ink cartridges from the printhead. Gently wipe the cartridges’ copper contacts with a lint-free cloth and distilled water. Then dry the cartridges with a dry cloth before inserting them back in the printer.

ink cartridge Missing or failed printhead

Update Printer Firmware

  1. Make sure the printer has the latest HP firmware. To do that, open the Software and Driver Downloads page for HP printers in a browser.

    HP software and drivers page Missing or failed printhead

  2. Click Printers, enter the required model number, and press the Submit button.
  3. Expand the Firmware category on the printer’s software page.

    HP firmware Missing or failed printhead

  4. Click Download to save the firmware listed there to a folder.
  5. Open the folder that includes the downloaded firmware. Then open the firmware file to install the latest firmware.

Replace Non-HP Cartridges

If none of the above resolutions work, uses might need to replace their cartridges. That’s especially the case if they’re non-HP cartridges. Make sure the replacement is a genuine HP cartridge pack.

HP printer and cartridges Missing or failed printhead

Those are some of the fixes that might resolve the “Missing or failed printhead” error. However, some users might need replacement printheads. Users with printheads covered with warranties can get printhead assembly kits from HP with which they can install both new printheads and cartridges.

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