How to fix Missing or failed printhead error [HP Printers]

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • HP produces a number of color inkjet all-in-one printers. Their most popular line is called Officejet. 
  • Depending on your HP printer model, make sure the printhead latch is securely closed or that the cartridges are firmly installed.
  • If a printhead error still shows, reset the printer and update the drivers.
hp officejet printhead missing or failed

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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. But why does this happen and what triggers it? Don’t worry, we’ll try to cover everything in the solutions below.

What causes printheads to fail?

A hardware issue is generally responsible for the printhead appearing to be missing. The printhead is a specific hardware component whose role is to house ink cartridges and over time, it can get affected by clogs, especially if you don’t use the printer that often.

Uneven stripes, spots, or other forms of bad printing on the page indicate you must be dealing with clogs and thus, a good gleaning should get the cartridges up and running again.

But there is more to it. The printhead can also be loose or the cartridges incorrectly identified, so you should carefully go through the troubleshooting steps below in order to tackle every possible suspect.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that printheads (like pretty much every piece of hardware) have a limited life expectancy and if nothing seems to work, you might have to replace them altogether.

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These are some resolutions for the Missing or failed printhead error on HP OfficeJet printers.

How can I 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.

This message error is closely related to these other issues reported by users:

  • The printhead appears to be missing – Unless the entire physical printhead is actually removed, this error should be fixed by resetting the printer. 
  • Missing or failed printhead HP 8610 – Open the front panel from the left. The printhead will position itself on the far left. Pull the latch up and check the printer for any damages or leaks.
  • Missing or failed printhead HP Officejet 8620 – The solutions presented apply to any Officejet model from HP. 
  • HP Officejet 6700 premium printhead – Access to the printhead is done by lifting the upper body, including the scanner part. 
  • HP Officejet 6600 missing or failed printhead – This issue appears on the 6600 model as well. Start with the easier option of updating the driver and resetting the printer. 
  • The printhead appears to be missing not detected or incorrectly installed – The most common text error that is displayed on the small screen on HP printers. All of the solutions in the article apply. 
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • The error means that either the printhead is loose or the cartridge was not correctly identified. Use original cartridges and see if they are installed properly according to the user manual.

  • Taking out the cartridges and carefully cleaning them as shown in this article is the best choice. Make sure everything is properly connected so pay close attention to this article.

  • It could mean that the cartridges are clogged due to infrequent use or improper storage conditions. Use the built-in tools to clean the heads.

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