Question from Alice S.: I went to buy new ink cartridges for my Canon MP495 printer, and while searching for the right cartridges I happened to notice that the store also sells refilled ink cartridges.
The prices of the refills were about half the price of new ones so I decided to give them a try. When I got home I installed the refilled cartridges and began printing several documents that I really need to get printed.
At first everything was fine, but after a few pages had been printed an error message popped up on the screen telling me the printer was out of ink and that I needed to order more. I know that both cartridges have plenty of ink, so why is the computer telling me otherwise?
Rick’s answer: Alice, your printer really has no way of knowing how much ink is left in the cartridges, even when they are new. The amount of remaining ink isn’t really measured at all. The printer simply keeps a running count of all the pages that have been printed, and when that count reaches a certain number it is simply assumed that the cartridge is out of ink.
Once the printer assumes that a cartridge is empty, it stops printing and instructs your computer to display an “Out of Ink” warning message. And as you found out, once that message is displayed the printer will refuse to print again until you replace the cartridge.
Here’s the kicker Alice: The “empty cartridge” status information isn’t stored in the printer. It’s stored in the cartridge instead. That’s why installing a new ink cartridge “resets” the ink level to full.
But there’s a problem. Even though we can refill an empty ink cartridge, there is no way to reset the ink level associated with that cartridge back to full. Therefore, when you install a refilled cartridge the printer is going to think the cartridge is still empty even though it’s actually full.
That’s the bad news. Now the good news…
You can easily bypass the “Out of Ink” error dialog box by pressing the Stop/Reset button on the printer and holding it for 5 seconds. That will clear the error message and you’ll be able to print to your heart’s content.
Just be aware that you won’t receive any kind of notice when your refilled cartridges actually do run out of ink. You’ll know when that happens however because the printed pages will begin to look odd due to missing colors.
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