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

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Affiliate Disclosure
Share this article:

  • 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. 
  • Most problems related to a printer are software related. Check out the Printer Error section for guides on fixing the common issues. 
  • We really enjoy the endless devices that can be connected to a computer. That's why there's an entire section dedicated to peripherals. Check it out. 
hp officejet printhead missing or failed
To fix various PC problems, we recommend Restoro PC Repair Tool: This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues and remove viruses now in 3 easy steps:
  1. Download Restoro PC Repair Tool that comes with Patented Technologies (patent available here).
  2. Click Start Scan to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click Repair All to fix issues affecting your computer's security and performance
  • Restoro has been downloaded by 0 readers this month.

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

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

Restoro Scan
Click Start Scan to find Windows issues.
Restoro Fix
Click Repair All to fix issues with Patented Technologies.
Run a PC Scan with Restoro Repair Tool to find errors causing security problems and slowdowns. After the scan is complete, the repair process will replace damaged files with fresh Windows files and components.

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. 

FAQ: Learn more about HP printheads

  • What does missing or failed printhead mean on HP printer?

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.

  • How do I fix the printhead error on my HP printer?

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.

  • What does it mean when HP Printer Says problem with printhead?

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.

idee restoro Still having issues? Fix them with this tool:
  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated Great on TrustPilot.com (download starts on this page).
  2. Click Start Scan to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click Repair All to fix issues with Patented Technologies (Exclusive Discount for our readers).
Restoro has been downloaded by 0 readers this month.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2019 and was revamped and updated in June 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Was this page helpful?
Thanks for letting us know! You can also help us by leaving a review on MyWOT or Trustpillot.
Get the most from your tech with our daily tips
Tell us why!
  • Officejet 8610. I got this a while back and killing the power solved it for a few weeks, but now its permanently there.
    Only use genuine HP inks and only had to buy them once and so its had plenty of use as the inks have lasted a hell of a long time to be fair.
    Just bought an envy but its dire and so I decided to have another go and I just cannot resolve it… The carts and the head was taken out and fully cleaned properly and they are fitted in properly and its made no difference?
    Please dont make me have to keep using this envy junk cos I am hating the thing in just a week of owning it.