White splotches on my laser prints.
October 12, 2005 4:03 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my laser printer, can it be fixed, how much would it cost?

I have an HP 4050n, which has developed a nasty habit of not printing on parts of the page. The splotches are repeated 3.75" apart from each other down the page. From this page, I gather that the spacing matches the Toner cartridge photo drum, but they aren't lines, they are splotches, and not black ones, but white.

I want to sell this printer to purchase a smaller multi-function device, should I sell it as-is, or get it serviced?
posted by Jack Karaoke to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
White marks could equally indicate a defect in the material on the surface of the drum. It just means it toner isn't sticking that part of the drum. It could also be dirt on there.

I would replace it before trying to sell it.
posted by cillit bang at 4:22 AM on October 12, 2005

It could also be a bad fuser, which is a $300-400 repair. You can get a new laser printer for less. Try a new toner cartridge and if that fails to help, trash the 4050N and get a new printer.
posted by Rothko at 4:34 AM on October 12, 2005

Best answer: If the spaces match the circumference of the toner drum, it's the toner. If a label is stuck to the drum you'll get white splotches.

Are the splotches all the same shape? Take the toner cartridge out, open the cover to the toner drum (do expose it to bright lights... do it in a dimly lit area) and manually turn the drum by the exposed gears on the side. Try not to touch the drum itself. You might find a defect or something stuck to the drum.

I used to fix laser printers and 90% of the time printing defects would be the toner cartridge. If you can find a "repetitive defect chart" for that printer model on HP's site or via Google, that will show you the spacings for all the various rollers. If the fuser roller is not the same size as the toner roller, and the defect spacing is the same as the toner circumference, then it can't be the fuser.

If the defects match the fuser circumference, and you're handy with tools and have an hour to spare, you can usually buy a fuser roller for $10.00 or so and rebuild the unit yourself. Just keep track of what parts go where. I worked at a company where we would rebuild the fisers with an $8.00 roller and sell the units again for $150.00.

By the way, if you're ever looking for a used printer, the last GOOD printer HP made was the LJ4. If you can find a used one, buy it. It's the Toyota Corolla of laser printers. If they made gold parts and Alpine speakers for laser printers, there would be a lot of Pimped out LJ4s.
posted by bondcliff at 6:46 AM on October 12, 2005

Yeah, since the drum is part of the toner cartridge, replacing it will also replace the drum. Looks like a new fuser is kind of expensive, so hope that's not the problem.
posted by zsazsa at 7:16 AM on October 12, 2005

(do expose it to bright lights... do it in a dimly lit area)

Should be... do NOT expose.

Also, if you're looking to sell it, try to confirm that it is the toner and sell it "as is." No sense in buying a $100.00 toner cartridge. Let the buyer do that, just make sure he/she knows he needs one.
posted by bondcliff at 7:16 AM on October 12, 2005

Best answer: You could check/post a question in the HP user support forum for LasterJets, which is hard to find if you don't know it exists, but sometimes useful.

If the spacing matches the drum, it is probably the drum, then a new toner cartridge is all you'll need. A fuser is a DIY job too, used working fusers for HP printers are always available on ebay, your model's fuser is $80 though.

Check ebay completed auctions - working it is worth about $200, as-is about $80. Give it away if you want, but it is not garbage, it isn't even recycling.
posted by Chuckles at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2005

Best answer: HP 4000 series printers are some of the most reliable I have seen...That includes the 4050. I would just chime in and suggest that you not toss it. It is a great printer, and you might miss it once it's gone!

Call a few places and see if you can get an "exchange" price on the fuser. That means that you need to return the old part for refurbishing, and it can save you considerable dollars. I don't know for sure that exchange is available to the general public (or The English Beat for that matter, heh heh), but it is well worth looking into.
posted by Richat at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2005

Mark bondcliff's answer as best - it is. I used to repair laser printers as well, eveerything he said is accurate, and I would have said it (or tried) had he not beaten me to it.

If you would like to fix any non-toner cartridge problems yourself, definitely look into buying the necessary parts directly from HP - use their Partsurfer site to track down exactly what you need, and save the markup associated with a retailer. If you are at all handy, many laser printer repairs are simple - for such a complex machine, they are really pretty modular (as far as standard wear-related maintence goes).
posted by attercoppe at 9:01 PM on October 12, 2005

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