Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lexmark Pro901 Printhead Error- How to fix it!

Have you been struck with the Printhead Error, or very streaky prints too?

So I have had this printer for about a year and a half now, and all of a sudden the printhead error monster got me too (and I too found out that the item was backordered).  Before that, the printer had worked mostly great and was super cost effective.  Well desperate times called for desperate measures, and so I decided to take the print head out and clean it myself.  A day later (not right away mind you as it has to dry first) I have a working printer head :).  Not like I had anything to lose with my printhead error message. Try at your own risk :).  I wrote this after seeing other people would be in the same boat as me :)

1)Try the safest first
Lexmark says just to wipe the bottom back of the printhead with a cloth (this was a no go and didn't work for me).  Here is the article on Lexmark's Printerhead Cleaning

2) A little more risky
"Remove the ink cartridge from your printer and then dip a cotton swab in hot water or isopropyl alcohol and rub it against the print head (the little circles on the top you will see once your remove the ink-- there are 4). This should loosen any crusted ink. NOTE: Be careful, especially if you use isopropyl alcohol to clean your print heads, moderately good." From-  How to clean your ink cartridge-

3) What I did
I turned the print head upside down-- where the ink comes out the back (there is gold foil here),  and put two caps of isopropyl alcohol inside), then I shook it and drained it out, then repeat until I stopped getting so much ink.  I then  actually put the whole thing under hot water (this time with the printerhead right side up, so it drained out the bottom), and let it get all the ink out.  Waited a day for it to dry and tada a working print head, better than ever before :).

Unsure about getting a printerhead wet, I was... I felt a little better about getting the printerhead wet when I saw this little video (which shows that pros hydroblasting water into printer heads, so I thought it would be ok for me to do-- just skip to 10:52 to see the printhead submerged like a submarine.

Try at your own risk, and good luck :) :) :)


  1. Thank you! I just tried your method without the alcohol (only because I don't have any at home right now). So I'll let you know how it turns out after drying up.
    I hope it's only a coincidence that I recently bought generic ink cartridges. Like you I have enjoyed the low cost great performance of this printer. The only annoying thing about it is that it won't print when color ink is very low even though I select black ink only. Other than that I consider it to be one of the best electronic purchases I've made.
    Thanks again!

  2. do you know what is happening when i download this software from lexmark which promise will fix the printhead issue but only making it worst, and now the whole touch panel of the printer is blue and after disconnecting and connecting the power, the blue screen is still there, any idea on how to fix it?

    1. Mayra- I agree, I love my printer. I am glad that they finally restocked the print heads (I bought an extra print head, just in case).

      Airen-- Sorry, I have no idea how to fix this issue.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you - it worked! I have had my Lexmark 901 Pro for about a year and a half and love it! I got the print head error message several days after installing generic color ink cartridges. I ordered genuine lexmark color cartridges and installed them and it printed all black docs fine, but not the color docs. I tried everything suggested in the manual and have a dozen or more messed up test prints after the printer cleaned and deep cleaned itself. I found this page and after following your directions, the printer is good as new. I was so frustrated, that I used a small fan to dry the printhead and that worked. Interestingly enough, the new genuine lexmark color cartridges that I installed 2 days ago are now less than half full - I have only 2 usable printed color pages from these new cartridges!

  4. yeah, the deep cleaning is an ink killer :)

    I added the Lexmark Rewards Link (I think it is every 5 you get one free)

    Also, I can't believe the printheads are going for $100+ on Ebay wow!! Too bad there isn't more support for this :(

  5. I hope this works.....washed and drying now. Waited for Lexmark to get back to me after I could not solve the issue. I thought it was a software glitch and also downloaded and got nowhere, been without a printer for weeks now. So happy for the internet and people like you who help keep everyone informed! Thanks, fingers crossed.

  6. Well, I am very annoyed with lexmark. I will in fact not buy it again, don't get me wrong I love the product and print quality, however it simply isn't reliable. I have the Lexmark Interpret, one of those all in one machines that have only after third replacement of ink stopped working. I am in south Africa and the printer costs R1500 to purchase, but to replace the printer head is R1900! At least I know have the pleasure of taking out all frustrations on a printer by throwing it off the balcony, Ive always wanted to do that.

  7. NightWriting,
    Your alcohol and hot water rinse solution worked great. It only makes sense. It needed the the old "generic" ink washed out of the printhead. Didn't hurt the printhead at all. Words of Wisdom: "Don't use generic ink", it will mess up your printer. Thanks : ) Annie

  8. Didn't work for me. Did anyone have to clean it out more than one time?

  9. Am done with Lexmark. Numerous hardware and software problems. Terrible tech support, now starting to charge for solutions to THEIR software issues. Latest print head failure pushed me over the edge. For a bit more than I'd have to pay for a new print head I'm going to get a new EPSON WorkForce with their new PrecisionCore technology. Now I can take a hammer to my Pro901 get a reliable printer.

  10. Haha hammer should be solution five!!!

  11. Ya, I Completely used the alcohol,and used a cutip on the bottom where the ink comes out, and was working on it in the hot water for more then 20 mins, the wells looked dry, and look to not have any color left in them... but there seems to be what looks like a "scab" of color on the bottom where the ink comes out. I tried to get it off with the alcohol and cutip.. but no such luck. Im not sure if that is suppose to be there, or if that is my problem, and have to get a new printhead...

  12. I ended up reformatting my hard drive for various other reasons and when I reinstalled my printer the issue was solved. However, it didn't want to print again the other night and I unplugged it and plugged it back in and my document printed. lexmark ink cartridges

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  14. does anyone know how I can use this as a scanner only, I've given up on the printhead but can't seem to get by the screen that says problem with the printhead?

  15. Hi everyone, love comments, however please don't use the comments for link building with no value sites. Go write awesome helpful articles instead.

  16. Update, I have seen printer heads now on eBay for like $25 let me know if you buy one and it works :)