Printing photos

Beware buying remanufactured ink cartridges

Written by Gail Bjork

Ink cartridges made by a printer manufacturer can be very expensive so it’s tempting to buy remanufactured cartridges instead. Think twice before you do.

Ink cartridges made by a printer manufacturer (Original Equipment Manufacture) can be very expensive so it’s tempting to buy remanufactured cartridges instead. While remanufactured ink cartridges may not void the warranty of a new printer, the savings may not be worth the cost.

A vendor usually refills used OEM cartridges and resells them as compatible to a name-brand printer. Studies have shown that refilled cartridges have higher failure rates than OEM cartridges. They often print fewer pages and cause problems such as streaking and leaking.

Such was my experience lately when using a family member’s printer. They had installed remanufactured ink cartridges that leaked onto the print head, printed poorly and showed that the cartridge was almost empty even though it had just been installed.

When contacting the seller, I was surprised at their response. The cartridges were bought through Amazon, and none of the following was listed in the description. They wrote:

“If the cartridges are not being recognized by your printer or if it is not printing properly, please try the following troubleshooting steps:

  1. Please try cleaning the contact points (circular copper dots) of the cartridge with rubbing alcohol using a non-abrasive tissue or cloth. Let the rubbing alcohol to dry and then try re-inserting it into your printer.
  2. If the problem persists after returning the cartridge to its cradle, you will want to reset your printer.  This can be done by turning off your computer and your printer with the cartridges installed.  Unplug your printer and leave your machines off for 2 minutes.
  3. Please use your printer control panel or computer software to perform a print head cleaning 2 times. 
  4. If the issue persists, perform a ‘deep clean’ cycle.

“Additionally, if you notice that the ink gauge displays low or no ink level, DO NOT be alarmed. This is very common because you are using a Re-Manufactured cartridge. Note that these cartridges have been fully re-filled. Unfortunately, there is no way to reset the ink level to FULL again due to original CANON design.  Therefore, you may receive low empty/ink level indications and messages. These are NOT accurate. When sending a print job, if you are prompt with an empty/low ink message, you can simply bypass the message by pressing and holding down the STOP/RESET or RESUME button for 10 seconds and then releasing it. It should now continue printing.”

Personally, I don’t think it’s worth using remanufactured ink cartridges. I stick to buying cartridges made only by the manufacturer. Yes, they are more expensive but they’ve never leaked or clogged the printer head.

Buyer beware.

Related reading: cheap ink cartridges

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • Thank you Larry for sharing your experiences. Like you and others, I’ve found that OEM cartridges deliver the best performance and are least prone to clogging.

  • Years ago I started using cartridges from well-recommended remanufacturers. In about a year, 3 quite new printers of different makes died from head problems that would not clean up. In new printers since then, I have used only OEM carts and have had not a single problem.