Checklist for Laser Printer Quality Issues


Poor Print Quality

Regardless of a quality of a printer, eventually the wear and tear of frequent printing will begin to rear its ugly head. When problems with print quality start to appear, it can be useful to try a quick checklist of the most common fixes.

Overall Quality Issues

  • Take out the toner cartridge, and shake it, redistributing the toner powder evenly.
  • Clean the inside of the printer with a slightly damp towel.
  • Make sure the paper is appropriate for your printer. (i.e. Laser paper for a laser printer)
  • Replace the cartridge with a new one.

There are a few specific reoccurring quality issues that can be extremely frustrating, but might be a quick fix.  Here are some of the most common:

Vertical Fading or Streaking Lines

  • Toner might be low, so take out the cartridge and shake it.  If this doesn’t work, try replacements.
  • The print density could be too light. Adjust the print density within the printer settings and try again.

Random Spots of Fading

  • The paper may have spots of moisture, or it may just be a bad batch of paper.  Try a few different sheets, or open a new ream to see if the quality improves.
  • Check the transfer roller.  If you are comfortable cleaning it yourself, go for it.  Otherwise, just order a replacement roller.
This video demonstrates how to replace the transfer roller in a Dell laser printer:

Vertical Black Lines

  • The drum, which typically resides within the toner cartridge, may be scratched.  If this is the case, replace the entire cartridge assembly. If the drum is a separate component, replace it.
  • If the lines are smeared, check the rollers for scratches, or replace the fuser.

Excess Toner

  • Check the paper guides and rollers for extra toner.  Clean them off with a cotton ball or swab and a bit of rubbing alcohol, then try printing again.
  • If the excess toner is just loose on the paper, the fuser may not be heating it correctly, and may need to be replaced.

By consulting the different sections above, you may be able to quickly diagnose and resolve your print quality issues. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference, and for more extensive cleaning, see Deep-Cleaning Laser Printers.


Robyn Warner
Robyn Warner has been writing since she learned how to hold a pen. She wrote her first book of poems before the age of 10. Though creative writing is her preference, she is enjoying life in the technical blog world. Robyn’s goal in her 30s is to use her writing to inspire fellow cancer survivors and have a job that gives her the flexibility to live anywhere and never wear shoes.

One Response to “Checklist for Laser Printer Quality Issues”

  • […] Whichever you select, be sure to run at least one test page.  Make sure the coloration is correct and rub your finger over the print.  No toner should come off on your finger if the fuser is set to the correct temperature.  If you set the temperature only for a specific type of paper, make sure to set it back before switching back to standard paper. If the problem you are having continues after you have tried adjusting the temperature in both directions, it may be that your fuser is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced. You may also wish to try our Check List for Quality Issues. […]