Do I Really Need to Replace My Inkjet Cartridges?

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Hajime's printer warns that ink cartridges need replacing, but other indicators deny this. Hajime asked the Printers forum for help.

When I'm shocked by the high price of gasoline, I comfort myself with the thought that at least my car doesn't run on printer ink.

Ink cartridges are expensive, and they tend to "run out" suspiciously soon. In fact, the manufacturers seem overzealous in their desire to sell you more high-priced cartridges.

But does that mean you can safely ignore such warnings? Should you keep using the "spent" cartridges for as long as they provide the right colors?

Probably. Chances are that doing so won't hurt the printer. But follow that advice at your own risk. Before you take this gamble, consider the possible price of having to replace your printer against the definite price of spending more money on ink in the long run.

If the printer refuses to work without a new cartridge, but you can see that there is still ink inside, you can use various techniques for fooling it. You'll find an interesting one in this video, although it doesn't work with all printers (including mine). You might also search the Web for your printer's name and model number, and the word reset.

Here's what I do: I have both a monochrome laser printer and a color inkjet. Laser printing is much cheaper by the page, and that's what I use unless color is absolutely necessary.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon