HP’s inkjet printer ink cartridges are really expensive, so I’m always annoyed when my printer runs out. But my HP Photosmart C6180 started complaining that the cartridges are expired, prompting me to replace them before they’re even empty! I decided to look into the matter, and I’m not happy with the explanation.
How Does An Ink Cartridge “Expire”?
HP’s official ink expiration FAQ isn’t all that helpful. I came away wanting more information than the basic facts explained there:
- Most HP inks don’t expire, but those that do fall into two categories:
- HP 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 are expired as in dead and the expiration message means you must replace them immediately and can’t use them anymore. These expire based on months past warranty or since installation, whichever comes first.
- The expiration messages for HP 02, 18, 38, 70, 88, 177, 363, 777, and 801 are more like guidelines, so you can keep using the ink at risk of your warranty. It’s not clear why or when these expire.
- If the ink expires, it’s “to protect the system” from damage presumably caused by “air ingestion and water evaporation”.
- The printers listed are all a few years old. I’m no expert, but it looks like the more-modern HP printers don’t use expiring ink.
So, apparently, HP engineered their mid-2000’s ink cartridges to expire. Although I pressed for a better explanation from HP’s printer group, no elaboration was forthcoming. I guess I’m left to my own devices to figure this out.
How To Respond To The “Ink Cartridge(s) Expired” Message
If you have a printer that expires ink cartridges (and allows you to override and continue working), you have a choice to make:
- You can press the “OK” button and keep using the expired cartridge. This prevents you from wasting money on new ink when the old one still works, but HP says any damage caused as a result will not be covered under warranty.
- You can replace the cartridge with a new one and waste whatever ink remained in the old one. This preserves your warranty but wastes costly ink.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you press “OK” and keep using expired ink. Normally I wouldn’t recommend that people go against manufacturer recommendations, but this is a somewhat-special circumstance: The inkjet printer business is very competitive, with new printers heavily discounted in hopes of future ink sales. It probably make financial sense to risk damaging the printer instead of wasting the ink. The six inks in my HP Photosmart C6180 cost about half as much as an entire new printer that doesn’t use expiring ink.
Plus, the warranty on my Photosmart ran out years ago. In fact, I imagine almost everyone seeing the warnings above are no longer covered by HP’s standard one-year warranty! It’s hard to get too upset about such a short warranty period anyway, especially when replacement printers are so cheap.
Did this cause HP Photosmart Ink System Failure — Error: 0xc19a0035? I have no idea!
Although it’s incredibly wasteful to toss out a generally-functional printer, the economic angle is hard to argue. With no warranty to worry about and killer new models like the C410a costing under $225, why not just roll the dice with an expired cartridge? In fact, the D110A is currently on sale for the same $60 that buys a single set of inks for my C6180! Both of these support Apple’s new AirPrint technology, too!
So I continued the “right-arrow then OK” dance with my expired ink cartridges, and I suggest you do the same. When your printer finally dies, recycle it and step up to one that doesn’t use expiring inks.