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HP Deskjet 6540 Printer Series - Print Cartridge Light is Blinking


After installing a print cartridge, one or both of the print cartridge lights on the product control panel begins to blink.

Figure 1: Left print cartridge light blinking

Figure 2: Both print cartridge lights blinking

Figure 3: Right print cartridge light blinking

One of the following error messages might appear on the computer screen:

  • Incorrect Print Cartridge

  • Incompatible Print Cartridge

  • Problem with the [Left/Right] Print Cartridge


Use the following steps in the order presented to try to resolve the issue. When the print cartridge light stops blinking, the issue is resolved.

NOTE: In the procedures below, the "problem" cartridge is identified by the blinking light. The light on the left blinks when the left cartridge is the problem, the light on the right blinks when the right cartridge is the problem, and both lights blink when both cartridges are the problem.

Step one: Remove, inspect, and reseat the problem cartridge

The print cartridge might not have full electrical contact with the product. Removing and reinstalling the print cartridge might help.

NOTE: HP cannot guarantee the quality of remanufactured or refilled print cartridges. Use genuine HP print cartridges to ensure good quality.
  1. Make sure that the product is turned on.
    NOTE: Press the Power button to turn on the product.
  2. Open the product cover and wait until the carriage is idle and silent.

  3. Open the print cartridge latch.

    1. Press down lightly on top of the latch.

    2. Pull out the bottom of the latch to unhook it.

  4. Slide the print cartridge out and inspect it.

    Figure 4: Open the print cartridge latch

    Open the print cartridge latch

    Figure 5: Slide out the print cartridge

    Slide out the print cartridge
    CAUTION: Do not touch the copper electrical contacts or the ink nozzles.

    Figure 6: Copper electrical contacts and ink nozzles

    Electrical contacts and ink nozzles on print cartridge
    1 - Copper electrical contacts
    2 - Ink nozzles
    1. Check the copper electrical contacts for debris. If any debris is evident, proceed to Step two: Clean the print cartridge and print carriage contacts.

    2. Make sure the clear nozzle protective tape has been removed.

      Figure 7: Remove the clear nozzle protective tape

      Remove the clear protective tape
      1 - Clear nozzle electrical tape
      CAUTION: Do not try to remove the copper electrical strip.
    3. Look at the number on the print cartridge label and make sure it is compatible with the product. Compatible print cartridges are listed in the product user guide.

  5. If the print cartridge is compatible, reinstall it in the product.

    1. Hold the print cartridge with the nozzles down and the copper electrical contacts facing toward the product, and then slide the print cartridge into the print carriage.

      • Print cartridges marked with a triangle go into the left print carriage slot.

      • Print cartridges marked with a square or pentagon go into the right print carriage slot.

      Figure 8: Insert the print cartridge into the correct slot

      Insert the print cartridge into the correct carriage slot
    2. Push down on the print cartridge latch until it snaps closed.

    Figure 9: Slide the print cartridge

    Slide in the print cartridge

    Figure 10: Close the latch

    Close the latch
  6. Close the product cover.

Step two: Clean the problem cartridge contacts

If the steps above have not solved the problem, clean the electrical contacts on the print cartridge and in the carriage in the printer.

  1. Gather the following items to clean the cartridge and print carriage:

    • Clean distilled water. Use bottled or filtered water if distilled water is not available. Tap water may contain contaminants which could damage the cartridge.

    • Clean cotton swabs or any soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the cartridges (coffee filters work well).

    • Sheets of paper or paper towel to rest the cartridges on during cleaning.

  2. Open the printer lid and wait until the print cartridge carriage stops moving.

  3. Remove the cartridge and place it on a piece of paper with the nozzle plate facing up.

    NOTE: If you are removing a tri-color, photo, or gray photo print cartridge, try to clean the contacts quickly enough that the cartridge is not outside of the printer for more than 30 minutes. The ink can dry and clog the nozzles if the cartridge is outside of the printer for too long.
  4. Unplug the printer.

  5. Dip a swab in the clean water, then squeeze it to remove most of the moisture. The swab should be only slightly damp.

  6. Clean the print cartridge contacts. Do not touch the nozzles.

    Figure 11: Cartridge electrical contacts

    Cartridge electrical contacts
  7. Clean the contacts in the print carriage, inside the printer.

    Figure 12: Print carriage contacts

    Print cartridge contacts
  8. Either let the cartridge sit for ten minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.

  9. Reinstall the cartridge, plug the printer back in, and close the printer cover.

Step three: Repeat reseating and cleaning steps

If the problem is not solved, repeat the reseating and cleaning procedures above.

Step four: Replace the problem cartridge

If the issue has not been resolved by the preceding steps, either the printer or the problem cartridge is defective.

Workaround: Print in backup mode

If you do not have a replacement cartridge, you can still print in ink backup mode. Simply remove the problem cartridge, and print with the remaining cartridge.

  • If you remove the tri-color cartridge, printouts will be in grayscale.

  • If you remove the black or photo cartridge, the product prints slowly and the colors in the printouts might differ.

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