Fix Ink System Failure on PhotoSmarts C6100, C7100, C7200 Series Printers

by Raphael Nikolai on April 18, 2012 and Revised on May 6, 2012

in TroubleShooting

This document will help you fix the “Ink System Failure Message” Displayed on the following printers:

  • HP Photosmart C6180
  • HP Photosmart C7180
  • HP Photosmart C7275
  • HP Photosmart C7280
  • Cant Find Your Printer? – See our Ink System Failure article.

TroubleShooting Steps:

Access the Secret Menu:

  • Press and hold the “*” key.Press the “#” key and release both keys.
  • Display should say “Enter Special Key Combo”
  • Press and release in sequence the “1”, “2” and “3” buttons.

PhotoSmart c6180/C7280 keypads


PhotoSmart c7180 Keypads

Inside the Secret Menu:

    • Go to the “System Configuration Menu”. (Use arrow keys)
    • Press “OK”.
    • Display should say “Hardware failure status”. If don”t see it, Use Arrow Keys and until you see the “Hardware failure status
    • Press “OK”.
    • You should see “Hardware failure status: Clear. Press OK to clear”.
    • Press “OK”. Message changes to “Hardware failure status Cleared.
    • Press Cancel to continue”. Press cancel as many times until you see the “Welcome to Photosmart Express” message
    • Turn the printer OFF and unplug the power cable from the wall outlet.
    • Wait 30 seconds.
    • Connect the printer directly to the wall outlet, do not use any surge protector. This will allow maximum power into the printer initialization process.
  • Turn the unit on. The printer may display message “Use the power button to shutdown the printer” – All you need to do is press “Ok”
  • The printer will start the “One time Ink Initialization Process”. Allow this process to complete and do not interrupt. Once the initialization process is complete, the printer will print out a Diagnostic Page.
  • Verify printer functionality print a document or something.. Good luck!

Did We Resolve Your Issue?

If not, you’ll find more troubleshooting steps at our Ink System Failure article.

If we did, then I would like to ask you to give back to the community by commenting below the error message that you have on your printer. This will allow us to have a record of it, and hopefully help others who has the same issue.

  • Jim Aubry

    solved error message OXc19a0007. I had tried HP solution that worked in the past; i.e. removing all ink cartridges, unplugging the printer, etc. This had worked in the past, but not this time. I called HP support, told them what I had done, and they told me they had no solutions beyond what I had done. They then proceeded to attempt to sell me a new all in one unit. I have a Photosmart C7280. I am curious as to why HP technical support is apparently not aware of this “secret” menu.

    • Nikolai

      Hi Jim,

      Probably, because this is old hp stuff. Im an old school. hehehe… Most of the new printers no longer have these menus and probably new techs don’t know about these as well, and are no longer trained to do so since Hp no longer offer support to these printers, and that probably the reason why they offered you an upgrade instead.

  • Bikeservice

    Had the Error 0xc18a0101 with the HP C7280, “Ink System Failure. I followed the steps above and say a million thanks to the writer!!!!!

    • raphaelnikolai

      You’re welcome! :)

  • Dunnt

    I had the “ink system failure” message and thanks to your help was able to print once again.  I too have an HP 7280. I wasted a cartridge by following the HP instructions. I looked forever on the HP site for help.

    • raphaelnikolai

      You’re welcome.. I’m glad this post has helped two people today. 

  • wrexblade

    I had the 0xc18a0206 error on my c7180 AIO found your backlink on 
    came here found my printer did the proper reset that HP did not have, and now my printer works. Thank you so much! I love this printer and was really upset at the idea that i might have to retire it.

    • raphaelnikolai

      You’re welcome.. :)

  • Dimitrios

    Dear Nikolai,
    after the first step, nothing changed.
    After the second step, in the secret menus,
    I came further, but at the end, it didn’t work.
    I have the C6180.
    All step work but then, when I should press “CANCEL”
    until I see “Welcome Photosmart Express” it doesn’t work.
    After pressing 2 times “CANCEL”, the “ink. system failure message” appears again.

    When I turn down the unit and turn it on again,
    the printer sounds, like it would work again.
    Then the “one time ink. Init,” message appears,
    it says do not interrupt, but then, before printing the Calibration page,
    it stops, saying again: ink. system failure……”

    Do you have a solution for this?

    Dimtirios from Frankfurt Germany!

    Thank you in advance!

  • Actonranchlife


    we have an hp c7180
    The printer had not been used in several months. Prior to that it was perfectly functional.
    When we unpacked the printer and turned it on  it displayed and 
    error message 0XC18A0206

    We purchased new ink cartridges and installed them and the error message persisted.

    We followed directions from the HP web site for this error message and the problem still persisted

    after a speedy web search, we came across your website and the information relating to my printer prob.

    We followed your directions for “inside the secret menu” and this activated the  ”one time ink initialization process”

    The printer is working just fine once again !

    Thank you thank you!

    • raphaelnikolai

      You welcome. Im glad it worked out. :)

  • Sasimeme

    You are awesome!!!!! Thank you so much. Secret Menue worked.  I had to do it several times but YA!!!!!

  • kwame tutush

    big thanks to you…….i had this error and i just fixed it….with your hop. BIG THANKS.

  • bernie

    Fantastic. Followed the instructions on my C7180 and worked first time.

  • Gavin Roche

    Your a LEGENED

  • RCG

    Thanks for the help with my C7280.
    This procedure seems to have cured my printer on the first try.

  • GR

    Thanks for your help with the error code: OXC18a0301 on my HP 6180 printer.
    You are amazing!! I followed your instructions for the secret menu and it worked first time. Everything that HP suggests and other websites are generic and do not work. You saved me from trashing a perfectly good printer.

  • Earl Beall

    Yes sir! Your information did the trick on my Hp C7280 all in printer

    Used the codes yor gave and it worked the first time I tried them.

    I must say that you sir, did good and I thank you for it. I have added your web page to my favorites lilst.

    Again thank you and sir enjoy the day ( you made my day just fine )

  • LBola

    This information helped me resolve the problem I had with the C7280 printer. It worked!

  • tom

    awesome!!! this worked out awesome on my Photosmart C7180!! thank you for putting off buying a new printer!!!

  • Richard

    After replacing my PhotoSmart C6180 print head that exploded with a print head from an exact same model I picked up for $6 at GoodWill, (dead by the way – main circuit board issue) I still could not get my printer to work. Next I replaced the pump assembly and ink cartridge rack. Still no go. Then I replaced the print head circuit board. Still nothing. Then I came across this secret menu post. AWESOME. After replacing the defective print head, I needed to clear the fault. Followed the instructions and my favorite printer is back online. THANK YOU!

  • Doug Cody

    Worked like a charm. Had to run 20 sheets of paper through the printer to soak up all the leaked ink, but at least I don’t need to buy a new printer now! Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Darlene Coffman

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! The secret menu worked like a charm!! You rock!! Soooo happy I don’t have to pay a high repair bill or buy a new printer!! God Bless You!!

  • Gradocorp

    Thanks, it worked. Now I don’t have to buy a new printer.

  • bella sinclair

    You are a GOD! Thank you!!!! Worked on my C7180.

  • Leanne

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. After having had a perfectly fine HP printer that just stopped working one day and we were told it couldn’t be fixed (main circuit board and they don’t make them for those printers anymore even though you can still purchase the printer at over $700!!) We bought a second hand one, C6180 off trade me as we had ink to use up. Upon getting it home it came up with the ink system failure message and I was not impressed. After trying every solution possible I came across your site and it is the only thing that worked. Thank you so much I was ready to throw the printer away and was furious we had been duped again. Your a legend keep up the great work :-)

  • François Peyrony

    Thank you, from France, very very much !!

  • disqus_1WceOTKATx

    yes, it works !!! I am so happy, saved me a lot of time and money, thanks so muc


    Sorry to say that the proposed fix did not work for me.
    My problem began with a paper jam. Following the directions given by HP to remove such jams, I removed the duplex in the back andpulled the sheet out that had jammed the apparatus, but there were two pieces of paper missing. I found one, but not the other. When I then tried to print what had jammed the machine is when I got the “Ink System Failure message”.
    I tried the fix given here more than half a dozen times, but all with no fix.
    Just before giving up I took a flashlight, removed the duplex and saw nothing in the back. I looked into the front from left to right–I saw nothing on the left, but when I looked in the far right I saw something white with lots of black ink on it wedged in on the far inside. My hand/fingers would’t fit, so I grabbed a long and narrow pliers and pulled out what was the missing piece of the jammed sheet of paper.
    My Photosmart C7280 began working again and now to be back in order and I will not have to buy a new printer/scanner/copier (I never use the fax).
    Over the 17 years I’ve printed, etc. from a computer the only times I’ve ever contacted HP is when I was out of the warranty and the only suggestions I’ve gotten when I talked to anyone at HP is to go buy a new one. Great PR. HP makes a good machine, but while I will not give a bad recommendation to someone in the market for a printer/scanner/copier, I also do not give a good one.
    Buena suerte.

  • Lisa Marie Roiter

    How wonderful! 98% of what I encountered in the process was exactly as you described, and now everything works again. I cannot thank you enough. You turned your engineering knowledge into gold by helping to ease the stress for others. GOOD ON YOU!!!!

  • Amit Dunsky

    The process went exactly as described. Thank you very much! You just save me 330$. Much appreciated.

  • volkan

    great job guys works perfect thank you :) )))

  • Zelia Pittam

    I called HP & they tried to sell me a package for £160 saying they needed to remotly re-install my driver on my HP laptop as it didnt have the software for the printer!! Rubbish as we always printed from the laptops before…
    2 Minutes later on google & i found your site & you have fixed the problem!
    Thank you Thank you Thank you.

    • raphaelnikolai

      You are welcome. Im sure that HP is a good company. I used to work there before, that’s why I know this stuff. It’s just that you are no longer in warranty and their free technical support no longer apply to your printer. Most of their techs probably are no longer trained to support older printer models.. Anyhow, Im glad to be able to help you.

  • julius

    thank you for the key…i’m amaze…from philippines

  • Charlynn Cordray McCarthy

    Thanks!! One of my issues has been resolved. Now I need to figure out why the black in is leaving spots all over the paper and the colors are not coming our correctly

  • Guest

    You are the BEST!!! This worked on my first try. Thank you so much:)

  • Maryellen Boccia Kirincic

    Thank you so much!! I used the secret menu and it worked after only doing it one time. You are the BEST!!

  • Jon

    Thank you so much for the information. It helped my c7280 get back to work.

  • june

    My c7280 prints now but there is no red on the test page. is there a fix for that.

  • Sam

    Amazing, the only solution that actually fixed my printer’s problem, just as I was about to give up and send it flying out the window. Thank you guys…

  • Lee

    I did not follow the last few steps but my printer is fixed finally after two years. Thank you!

  • Keeta

    Awesome!!! Thanks so much for the people that take the time to post fixes like this.

  • Beth Downs Antram

    The Secret Menu worked!!! I had to reinstall the HP Software & Driver package for my photosmart C7250 all-in-one. Once the installation was complete, rebooted and everything is working just fine!!!! Thank You :) !!!!!

  • Bob Burwell

    I have a C7280 All in One printer that has stopped printing and
    displaying this message Ink System Failure has failed unable to print or
    copy–Error code 0xc18a0106. The Secret menu process fixed this. Note my printer gets used a lot, minimum of a dozen pages daily, so don’t know why it would cut out like this. Anyway, thanks for the fix – I like this printer and wasn’t looking forward to shopping for one that I would like as much.

  • George

    I am impressed from your service as the secret menu worked perfectly on my C7280. I am so happy that the printer works again. Thank so much

  • Carol Hope

    Unbelievable! It worked! You are so kind to make this information available for the benefit of everyone. Your instructions were perfectly clear, even for a non-techie like me — a little old lady! I can’t thank you enough. Hugs and kisses!

  • Jim Prevo

    This and a similar instruction elsewhere did the trick. I did find some mis-information on the Internet. Thank you for posting the right instructions!

  • susan

    also one step to check first before doing all this is check to see if the power cable has come loose from the machine or outlet. I had that happen to me. When I removed the two sided printing jigger in the back in order to clear a jam I had somehow caused the power chord to come loose. I didn’t know it until I went through all the steps above & went to unplug as suggested when mere touch of the chord made it come back on after my powering it off. The machine worked fine after that & no more ‘ink system failure’ notice. Thank you for this article, it was very helpful & I learned a lot.

  • Ken Gresko

    Thanks so much for your suggestions. I already went out today to look at new printers after purchasing a jumbo pack of HP color cartridges at Sam’s. Worked like a charm.


  • Cheryl Cherry Wylde

    I have a HP all in one C7250 . The error code was 0xc18a0001 and the above worked for me after nothing else would! Thank you so much to whoever wrote this article! Very helpful!

  • sandip ingole

    thanks done the applied the solution it solved my printer problem

  • Ricardo

    Sorprendente la ayuda para solucionar el problema…. muy agradecido por la solucion dada la verdad muy ingeniosa y util a la vez… GRACIAS

  • Kris

    And the Audience is on their feet!!! HOOOORRRAAAAAYYYYYY, fix the issue without, althoug it did not do the one time ink initialization process, the diag. was great, thanks again, today you are my HERO :)

  • Tiffany

    Thank you, this fixed my printer, I was so mad because I just bought a brand new ink pack for it $55.00 and then this happened. I was afraid I was going to be out a lot of money and this saved my bacon.

  • Debbie Bayles

    I have C6180 HP photosmart with error 0xc18a0306 ink system failure, tried twice the steps provided still not working. Running Windows7 xp 32bit. Have older model D505 dell laptop. any suggestions what i can do to fix this, really need my printer working! Thank-you be waiting for reply

  • Mary D

    Finally!!! I’ve been trying all kinds of remedies and this is the only one that worked. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! You Rock!!!

  • Debbie

    Hi I have a C6180 printer that recently stopped printing colors. I just replaced all the cartridges hoping that maybe it was a defective cartridge causing the problem. That did not help. I do not get error messages, just crazy patterns on the print out for the self test. horizontal bars and only black and magenta colors work. I tried the above process but when I turned my printer back on it didn’t seem to go through an initialization process – is that becuase it didn’t actually have an error message? I’m being told by HP reps they can’t help me because it’s no longer supported printer. Appreciate any advice! THis has been a workhorse for me and I’d rather not replace it!

  • Mikkel Bo Nielsen

    Excellent – worked first time (HP C7180 – 0xc18a0007) – unbelieveable that one have to find this information on a third party sites – shame on you HP!