Cartridge Error: Cartridge on Right must be replaced

If you’re getting this error on an HP Officejet 6310 or another of Hewlett Packard’s ‘All-in-one’ series of printers, then I have some bad news for you.

Your printer is broken, perhaps irrecoverably. HP cartridges have expiry dates on them (check yours) after which the printer will not accept the cartridge for use. The error appears to relate to this ‘feature’, except it is erroneous because the carts are still very much in date. It looks like a hardware error that makes it think that all carts are invalid. I first experienced this error about 6 months after buying the printer, and dilligently followed the instructions and replaced the right-hand cartridge (the black one). Imagine my annoyance when the error remained, because HP cartridges aren’t cheap.

Officejet 6310 All-in-one
Officejet 6310 All-in-one

I rang HP technical support, and after trying a few obvious troubleshooting measures, they agreed to replace the unit under warranty. A new unit arrived, I gave the old one back, put my old cartridge into it and everything was fine.

Then, a year later, the same error pops up on my replacement unit. Again I ring HP tech support, again we can’t fix it, and again they agree to send out a replacement.

Obviously there is something fundamentally wrong with the HP All-in-one series, as I’ve seen this error reported for a variety of models. In fairness to HP, their tech support responds quickly and are generally happy to replace the unit without too many questions about when you bought it. If you tell them it’s still under warranty, you’ll be ok. I personally assert that since this isn’t a wear and tear failure, but some design flaw that eventually appears regardless of how much you use it, then they’re honour-bound to replace it regardless of whether it’s in the warranty period.

If you’d like to save some time before ringing HP, try their troubleshooting tip: Hold down the 6 and # (also the ‘space’ key) keys on the printer’s keypad, and turn the printer off. Keep those keys held down, and turn the printer back on. This restores everything to factory defaults and you’ll be asked to reselect your language options. Let go of the 6 and # keys and do that. In some cases this has cleared the error, but has never worked for me. A couple of people have also reported that replacing the cartridge does clear the error, but that didn’t work for me, and I’m opposed to the idea that you’d have to junk a half-full and otherwise perfectly good (expensive) cart just to satisfy a quirk of a buggy printer.

I’ve had a look around the web for more information on this error, and there isn’t much to go on. There is a suggestion that the internal memory of the printer (and thus the memory which holds information about invalid cartridges) can be reset by removing a battery on the internal chip-board. If my theory about what causes this error is correct, resetting the memory might fix it. I’ve seen this as a successful ‘fix’ for other models of HP printer, but can’t comment on how effective (or legal) it might be. If you have any experience or feedback on this error or fixes, please leave a comment.