Here are a few easy ways you can monitor the life of your toner cartridge so you can anticipate when it is time for a replacement:
- All printers keep track of the approximate remaining toner levels either on the printer display or via the printer software that is installed on your computer. Consult your printer manual to determine how to access toner level tracking for your specific machine. The printer should also automatically generate a message on the display or your computer when it is time to replace a cartridge. With most machines, you do not need to replace the toner cartridge immediately when this message first appears.
- If print quality starts to get spotty, remove the cartridge and gently rock it back and forth a few times over a trashcan to redistribute the toner powder and then reinstall into your printer. This process should keep the cartridge running a bit longer, and hopefully get through a few more print jobs.
- The most obvious sign of low toner cartridge is poor print quality. Streaking, lines or missed prints are all possible signs that cartridge replacement is imminent. If you have tried rocking the toner cartridge and are still getting poor prints, it is likely time to replace your cartridge.
- Quality issues might also be attributed to the drum unit if your printer uses a separate toner cartridge and drum. Drum units typically need to be replaced after the use of 3 or 4 toner cartridges, so if it’s been a while since you’ve replaced the drum, you might consider replacing that before buying a new toner cartridge. Learn more about the difference between a toner cartridge and a drum unit with our complete guide.