Out of Toner My Ass!

My laser printer recently died.  It stopped at page 93 out of 103 of the document I was printing.  The display said my printer was out of toner.  I picked up the last page.  It looked perfect.  Not a hint of fading.  At this point I’m getting suspicious that my printer thinks it is smart when it isn’t.

So I open the toner cartridge and give it  shake and load it back in the printer. The toner display light goes back out for a second, but not before I can finish my print job.  I take out the toner cartridge again and listen as I shake it.  It’s got a fair amount of toner left that I can hear sloshing around.

So rather than accept what my printer tells me.  I investigate on the internet.  I unfortunately didn’t remember to bookmark the site and I can’t see to find it again otherwise I would post it here.  Yet basically I discover Brother laser printers are infamous for showing they are out of toner before they really are out.  The solution to many more pages of fine looking text is to simply put black electrical tape over the optic sensors on the side of the toner cartridge.  I find some black electrical tape.  I investigate the cartridge and find the sensor.  I cut one small piece of tape and put it on then I load it back in the printer.

The toner light is now out.  I do a print job.  It looks great.  To test my theory I show my wife and cover up the page numbers.  Which one was printed last?  She says “I cant’ tell.”  Exactly, my point.  Out of toner my ass!

So the moral of this little tale is don’t believe what people or machines tell you if it sounds wrong to you.  Often when planning an early retirement I hear people saying ‘You can’t do that.’  I just think to myself, why not?  If my printer is that dumb, why should I believe much from people that thought I would accept a stupid light on my display telling me to buy something?  The world doesn’t revolve around buying more stuff or having the most money in retirement.  Just remember to be smarter than the out of toner light.

10 thoughts on “Out of Toner My Ass!”

  1. Don’t get me started on printer ink… I have a perfectly good Canon inkjet printer that will refuse to print anything (including B&W docs) because I’m out of YELLOW INK! The black ink cartirdge was only a month old at that time, but my printer doesn’t care.

    There is software to reset the ink counters, but of course it doesn’t work for my particular model.

    Damn you Canon!

  2. Some printers (higher end HPs for sure: I’m an IT guy, and we use them almost eclusively at work) have a setting at what percentage of toner remaining it will stop printing. I’ve found the factory default to be as high as 10%. If you have a toner rated for 5000 pages, that’s an amazing amount of printing left. Check your manuals, or online knowledge bases for your printer to see if you can change these settings for yourself.

  3. Oh ya, there’s alot out there that gives erroneous information to make you come back to the store. I learned that with my toner as well. I also learned (the hard way) about my ’04 Corolla. The check engine light came on. I was preplexed as it wasn’t overheating, the oil level was fine and the engine wasn’t making any funny sounds. After $69.99 (plus tax) at Toyota to have the diagnostic computer hooked up, it was the gas cap not sealing correctly. What a load of crock!

  4. I love how you turned this episode into a lesson about early retirement. Bravo!

    For the record, black electrical tape ranks right up there with duct tape IMHO.

  5. Here is another problem with these inkjet printers, they like to clean themselves. They regularly spit out ink into a wastebin, to keep from drying out. So while you are spending your fortune filling your printer with ink, you would be even more surprised to know that your ink is being wasted, before you ever print your first page. Also leaving your printer on, will cause it to clean itself as well, so if you are not using your printer, save your ink and turn the printer off!

  6. There is no need to cover the sensors on the toner cartridges on high end laser printers. The toner out message can be over-ridden in the printer menu allowing you to print until all the toner has been used.

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