asked Feb 17, 2007 at 12:36pm
Hp HP LaserJet 6P

HP Laserjet 6p with Amber Error Light Lit Only

Hi! I have an HP Laserjet 6p that was on its way out to the dumpster when I rescued it. The person throwing it out couldn't tell me any specifics other than it just "quit working". I know that sometimes when the lights flash on printers, you can reset those "maintenance requests", and the printer will work again. Of course, you should also replace the part too if possible and correct the reason the error came up. Anyway, when I turn it on, the amber colored error light is the only light lit. I know the other lights are working because the initially flash on when the printer starts. The printer does not try to pick up any paper from either tray. However, the gears toward the back of the printer will spin briefly. Supposedly this is a recoverable error so I have checked that the top is closed, toner is in place, and that there are no paper jams. Paper sensor at front and near exit roller also seem to be in working order.

I removed the black plate held in place by one screw that is under the toner cartridge. No paper there either.

I have also held down the cancel button (button closed to the back of the printer and above the error LED) while turning the printer on. All the lights will light up. I continued to hold the cancel button for over a minute to hopefully "erase" anything if this was some type of maintenance request that needed to be cleared.

Any other suggestions as to what may be wrong? By any chance could it be a bad toner cartridge? How likely would that be? Even so it is still in place so the printer should sense that the cartridge is at least in place.

Also, can someone tell me how to do the engine test? Perhaps I misunderstood what I read and saw. I've seen a diagram that seems to suggest it's inside the formatter (same side as panel buttons), and one had to remove the seven screws with an Allen wrench to get to it. The first problem is that I could only remove three of them. The others won't budge. Also, is there a button? Do you stick something in that hole? I couldn't see anything where the diagram said it's supposed to be. If it is behind this formatter, is there any way I can get to it without removing that formatter since all screws can't be removed?

I think I also saw where it is possible the whole fuser assembly is bad? Could I tell by looking at it? The rollers looked OK though the red/brown looking one had some black stuff on it. I had taken it out to check an optical sensor and that flag.

Is there any other way to bypass the printer doing those initial checks? Since it is not in a "ready state", I can't even print a test page.

Please help. I have researched for hours and am at a loss.


I don't know where you did all that research, but it certainly couldn't have been in the Reference section (link is up above the forum), which has photos showing the sensors and the engine test location. Pretty much everything else you ask about on your post is covered somewhere in the tens of thousands of posts on the forum, all easily accessible in the search box.
by moe on Feb 17, 2007 at 2:07pm Add comment

First of all, my post is very clearly titled regarding what it's about so people wouldn't have to read through the post to figure that out if they weren't interested in helping or looking for information themselves about a similar problem he/she is having.

I have a copy of the service manual. I have found other helpful information here and elsewhere thanks to the people that actually posted helpful replies to those. This is why I knew what the error code was, places to check, things to try, etc. before I posted this question.

I am not sure why you mentioned the photo of the sensors. I didn't ask where they were. Go to reference link and type in "laserjet 6p" and see what YOU pull up. What other way should I have looked it up?

I did see the picture of where the engine test is supposed to be. I don't have anything on my 6p that looks like this: http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/reference/guides/engine/vx so I was going by the picture in the service manual for a 6p. Is this even a picture of the 6p? That looks like a port shown too. My ports to connect the printer (when facing the front of the printer) to the computer are toward the back on the left-hand side of the printer. The front of the label does say "laserjet 6p". However, upon closer inspection of the model number, 4212a, it appears this is a laserjet 6pse or so a google or two seems to suggest. I only see links for a a 6L so I still have looked for the closest I could find although I am looking through the numbers now too.

I wish I knew all the answers :-). If I did, wouldn't be posting here :-(. Replies like yours are not very good customer service in my opinion. My apologies if you didn't mean it the way your post came across. If you did mean it the way it came across, then it doesn't give me much confidence as a customer to order products from this place. Why not just ignore this topic since you felt like it had already been answered?

For anyone else,

I tried to include as much information in my post as I could so there would be less repeating since I could see where this or something similar had been asked on this forum about the 6p and similar models. The problem is that the more common causes of this error doesn't appear to be what is causing the same error on this printer. If you know of any other things to try, please let me know. Also, if you could explain where that engine test hole is so I can override that error in the beginning just to see if the printer works at all, I 'd appreciate it. I am going to look the printer over better too. I am also going to go back to see if I can find anything additional under 6pSE now or the 4212a model number. Thank you in advance for those who would like to offer any real assistance!


- unknown
The photo is the side of the printer with the formatter removed. The engine test button is on the DC controller board. I think one of the 2 models 5P/6P had a hole in the formatter you could stick something into to actuate the button, the other didn't. Look for a hole and if you don't see it, you have to remove the formatter. With the light on, you won't be able to initiate the engine test, so you have to get the light off first. You don't need the formatter to run the printer. Simply stated, if you hear the motor running on startup, it's not the fuser sensor. It would either be a door open, no toner cartridge, or registration sensor issue. The cartridge sensor is a simple mechanical interlock with the door sensor. They both have to work to satisfy the logic.
by moe on Feb 17, 2007 at 6:37pm Add comment
Unfortunately, I can't remove the formatter because the other screws won't budge. That is why what I see doesn't look like the picture which does have the formatter removed. Also, looking at the service manual again, it looks like the the DC controller plugs into that what looked like a "port" to me. That "port" was confusing because it kind of looks like a printer port, and I knew mine wasn't there. It doesn't matter anyway until I can get the light off. Then I probably don't need it anyway.

I will check those things again: doors, toner (wonder if a new cartridge is worth trying?), and sensors. This is so frustrating because this should be easy to fix!

Thank you. It looks like I've done pretty much all one can do. This board has been a wonderful resource to me.


Edited to say I did not see dmzcompute's response when I posted.

Yes, I did try the manual paper feeder. No ready light. I even put a piece of paper in the path up until it would go out the last roller. Still no ready light, and I don't recall any sound or the gears in the back turning either that time.

Until I get rid of that light, I think Moe said the engine test won't work anyway. I can't get the screws out either to remove the formatter which is what it looks like I have to do to get to the engine test on a 6pse. It doesn't look like I can poke through to that location, but let me disassemble the cover again....That is so crazy that they put that behind the formatter and then made the screws impossible to remove >:-(!

I'm going to check the toner again to make sure it's making contact. It seems to be. Also, if I remove it altogether with the lid closed/paper in both trays, there is no sound or gears in the back moving.

These replies have really been helpful! Thank you!


- unknown
The most important part of you post is that the engine briefly turns when you power up the printer. That means all the paper path sensors are fine and the top cover or door is closed. With a paper sensor in the wrong position or the top cover open the engine will not turn. That leaves the toner cartridge or paper out condition for the trouble light which should also light one of the tray lights but maybe it does not. Have you tried to put a sheet of paper on the manual feeder to see if the light comes to ready. If it does, then the paper out sensor for the drawer is bad or the flag is out of position. If it still does not come to life, then you need to check the contacts on the toner cartrdige and the places inside the printer which marry up with them to see if one is out of place. If they are fine then do the engine test. If the engine test works, then the formatter is the issue and if the engine test does not work, then the main board may be toast. Good Luck.
by dmzcompute on Feb 17, 2007 at 7:25pm Add comment
I was having problems and happened on to your advice to someone else. My laserjet 6p suddenly stopped printing with an error "paper problem" when I checked the printer.
I don't have a guidebook nor am I very well versed with the different lights so please be light on the tech stuff.
I followed your advice and put paper in the front loading drop down....I guess that's manual feed and everything worked fine.
But all lights go out when I try the tray. I looked for anything out of the ordinary.. you mentioned flag and sensors but I don't have a clue.
I am going to use it with the front loader (I have a business and have used this printer a lot). But if you can tell me how to find/troubleshoot this printer I will be in your debt.

Ken - Anonymous
Toner cartridge contacts have nothing to do with the printer sensing the presence of the cartridge on that model. There is a lever on the left side that the cartridge pushes up. You can reach in and feel it. When the door closes, that lever works in conjunction with the door switch to satisfy the door/cartridge interlock valid. It can not be a toner cartridge issue. He can't do the engine test since the formatter screws are stripped out. If you open and close the door and the motor runs each time, it's doubtful it is a sensor problem. Like DMZ said, try feeding from the MF tray and see what happens.
by moe on Feb 17, 2007 at 10:23pm Add comment
I have tried feeding paper from the manual tray. On the left-hand side (when facing the printer's front), there is a large white plastic gear on the printer that engages with a smaller, white plastic gear on Tray 1. Those gears move, but the gears (the one that has a black roller) that actually moves the paper from the tray 1 to the printer attached to the white gear on tray 1 do not. Therefore no paper is actually moved into the printer. I am fiddling around with it to see if I can get that to work and hunting for a picture of it to see if this one is like it's supposed to be. I think if I could get the gears to interact with each other that it would feed the paper into the printer. I don't see any teeth missing. There is also a black round wheel with rubber around it on the left-hand side that will turn. The two pairs of wires from that tray are connected into sockets on the right-hand side of the printer.

I turned the printer upside down to see if it tried to pickup paper from tray 2 (the cassette). I notice that the "D" shaped piece doesn't try to pick up the paper either. No movement from it whatsoever. The flat side of the "D" would be facing the floor if the printer was in its normal upright position.

I did manage to get the printer to pull some paper in by manually "helping"it. The steady amber error light returns.

Is it something to do with the paper pickup assembly? Why would both trays be out? If so why does manualy pushing the paper in the printer until the wheels do take it not make the error light go off?

I tried again to get that formatter off, but the screws are stripped. Any other way to get it off? Until I can get the light off that doesn't seem to matter and may not be needed anyway.

I am guessing that if this isn't it, that I have pretty much exhaused my options :-(.

Thank you!

- Anonymous
Look at the white plastic on the MF roller clutch. It tends to crack and then the MF roller will no longer work. I've never seen anything else cause that MF roller not to turn. So I notice you include a new piece of info, the amber light is out until you try to feed paper. This changes all the diagnoses. We assumed it was on all the time. You can not run the printer upside down due to sensor flag issues. If you want to run it with the tray out, simply hold up the paper flag next to the roller.
by moe on Feb 18, 2007 at 1:28pm Add comment
Sorry for the confusion. Here is some clarification. When I first turn the printer on, all LEDs on top and front panel come on briefly so I know they all do work. Then on the top panel, it blinks green ready, green data, and amber error in that order one at at time. The third round, the amber error light remains solid instead of blink. At this point, it is the ONLY light on and stays on. Normal sounds from the rollers moving has stopped too. The printer seems to be done with its initial checks and found an error which indicates things like missing toner, cover open, or paper jam if I read the book right. The solid amber yellow light also comes and is the only light still on after I have attempted a cold reset and nvram so I can't get it to go away.

I notice I can pull tray 2 out, for example, and the light for it does not come on. I don't know if that info. will help you or not. It seems like the printer should be responsive to that, but maybe not if it's in an error state.

If I press the JOB CANCEL or the GO button, the solid amber light goes off and the green ready light blinks a few times (like 8 or 9, I think). The solid amber light then comes back on and stays on. With the printer in an UPRIGHT and NORMAL operating position, here is what I observe. (I wasn't thinking about those other sensors/flags besides the one under tray 2--just was trying to see if that roller would come down at all).

While the green ready light is blinking those 8 or 9 times, the large white plastic wheel with gears on the left side of the printer is moving. It engages with a white plastic wheel on tray 1 which is also moving. The small black roller with rubber in tray 1 is NOT moving. Both pairs of wires were checked and reseated in the socket on the right-hand side of the printer.

I am looking at the tray 1 assembly which I have now removed from the printer. Turning the small white plastic wheel with teeth will turn the whole assembly including the smaller black wheel IF I do not let the plastic tab on the white plastic wheel with teeth catch on the gold-colored metal spring lever. Once the the white plastic tab on the white wheel catches on the gold lever, turning that white wheel with teeth will no longer turn the rest of the assembly including the smaller black wheel. However, I am trying to figure out what pulls that lever back so the whole process can start again the next time I manually feed paper. It is going to catch after turning one time of feeding the paper in, but something needs to release it so all gears will engage again when needed. I have to manually pull it back when trouble-shooting it as it doesn't seem to do this on its own unless it's magnetic maybe--don't see a lever that would pull it back? Maybe it will if I can ever get it to run a whole sheet through the printer. I notice a wire runs to the box right under that lever.

I will put it back in the printer with it fixed so the whole thing turns until the tab catch and see what happens. Edited to add that I did this. I pushed the GO button, and since the teeth were all engaged it pulled the paper in the printer on its own! However, the amber error light returns after the green ready light blinked its 8 or 9 times :-(. So I pushed the GO button again. It pulled the paper in further during those green ready light blinks but returned to a solid amber error light again. Pushing Go again at this point does nothing. No sound from the printer. No gears anywhere turning.

The black wheel with rubber just above the paper in tray 2 is moving. The "D" shaped roller just above tray 2 is NOT moving. I did hold the flag up with my finger for tray 2 when it wasn't installed, but maybe that wasn't all I needed to do. Same results with the tray 2 installed.

The rollers where the paper exit are also moving during this time as well.

Nothing appears to be obviously broken or cracked with the upper or lower assemblies. However, I am wondering if the white plastic piece (clutch?) that catches in the right place for that "D" pad for tray 2 is in the right place. If the "D" pad is supposed to swing down so the curved part of the "D" pulls the paper into the path, it doesn't seem like it could without breaking that clutch? I am trying to find some pictures. Maybe if I can fix this that amber error light will go off!

I have the service manual, but I wish I could find a user's manual. Maybe some of this is just user error because I am not familiar with this printer when it was working.

I am still not sure why I get the solid amber error right off the bat instead of when the machine is trying to pull paper in.

I'd be happy if I could get just tray 1 to work.

Thanks for any help you can provide.


- unknown
I just spent about 15 minutes trying to induce your error into a 5P. It's basically the same engine as the 6P with all the same sensors, and most parts are interchangeable. The part that puzzles me is that your motor is turning. Every fault that I input into the printer inhibited the motor turning. I tripped all the paper sensors one at a time before powering on and it would just flash the lights, then go to the amber light on solid.
I'm still confused about this comment of yours in a prior post
"I did manage to get the printer to pull some paper in by manually "helping"it. The steady amber error light returns."
That tells me that the amber light went out at some point.
I don't think I can help anymore beyond what has been suggested. I'm sure if I had the printer in my possession, I could fix it since I know the printer intimately, but I'm out of ideas for internet troubleshooting.
by moe on Feb 18, 2007 at 4:08pm Add comment
I just spent about 15 minutes trying to induce your error into a 5P. It's basically the same engine as the 6P with all the same sensors, and most parts are interchangeable. The part that puzzles me is that your motor is turning. Every fault that I input into the printer inhibited the motor turning. I tripped all 3 of the paper sensors one at a time before powering on and it would just flash the lights, then go to the amber light on solid.
I'm still confused about this comment of yours in a prior post
"I did manage to get the printer to pull some paper in by manually "helping"it. The steady amber error light returns."
That tells me that the amber light went out at some point.
I don't think I can help anymore beyond what has been suggested. I'm sure if I had the printer in my possession, I could fix it since I know the printer intimately, but I'm out of ideas for internet troubleshooting.
by moe on Feb 18, 2007 at 4:09pm Add comment
"I did manage to get the printer to pull some paper in by manually "helping"it. The steady amber error light returns."

The solid amber error light is on. When I press the JOB CANCEL or GO button, the solid amber light goes off, and the green ready light blinks 8 or 9 times. The green ready light quits blinking. Then the solid amber error light returns. This has always been the case whether trying to feed paper in, reset, etc. Again, I apologize for the confusion.

I was manually pushing the paper under the black wheel with rubber that does turn since at that time the gears on tray 1 were not rotating on their own just to see if I could get the light to go off once paper was in the machine. Even though it's pulling the paper in on its own now and I would think the timing now would be right, the solid amber error light comes back :-(.

This should be an easy fix, but it isn't. I am still confused why I am getting that amber error light right off the bat. If tray 2 was not functioning correctly, could it cause that? I'm still hunting to see what a correctly installed one looks like. It doesn't look like that "D" piece could rotate forward or back without breaking something even when I temporarily rotate the "clutch?" out of the way.

It recognizes the cover is shut because the motor will not run if it isn't.

It recognizes paper is in the printer paper path which is why the motor no longer runs once paper is fed into the printer.

It recognizes the toner cartridge is in because the motor won't run without it. I know you said it was simply a matter of it tripping a switch which it seems to do. I think there is one near the cover open switch that it pushes forward?, and a tab from the toner fits back into the scanner/laser assembly. Is it possible that it just doesn't recognize the toner cartridge itself? Does it communicate with it in anyway to see how much toner is left or does it just strictly go by pages printed to warn you when you are fixing to be out. The reason I ask this is sometimes with inkjet pritners, for example, (1) cartridges not being recognized (not making good contact) or (2) out of ink (at least in inkjets) will cause an error state. With (1), you must correct the issue and have that physical contact by cleaning the contacts or replacing the cartridge. With (2), I could override this with an service adjustment program or by resetting the cartridge to think its full if I wanted to do. Obviously, one should not operate an inkjet with an empty cartridge. Other error messages may just let you know that a non-OEM cartridge is inserted, but it won't stop you from printing. Hmmmm. How likely do you think this might be that it simply can't communicate with the cartridge or that the cartridge is out (or would it just print blank pages when out)?

Part of my problem is that most of my experience is with inkjets.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to try to troubleshoot this for me. - unknown
Basically one of two parts is bad. Either the formatter or the main ecu board which includes the power supply and engine control board as one. You really need to remove the formatter and somehow you have to get those screws off, either with a special tool or drilling out. To be honest this is the first case for me where to much information confuses the issue since it appears to change each time. I'm still hung up on the lights since most times it is the amber, but once you said the light next to it was also on after an attempted cold reset. I think you are to hung up on the paper movement from tray 1 since that is the only partial success you have had and has you thinking of only one thing which is really not your issue. To put is simply there is a selenoid for each tray and an l arm which moves towards the center when juice is applied and releases the gear which makes one full 360 degree turn as the l arm returns to normal position and stops the gears from moving. You need to remove that formatter and do an engine test with paper in the bottom tray. If the engine test works, then the formatter is bad and if the engine test does not work, then the main board is bad, both which are reasons why it was being thrown out since cost of repair is just not worth what that printer is worth. Sorry for the disappointing opinion, but facts are facts.
by dmzcompute on Feb 18, 2007 at 5:13pm Add comment
I will try to get that formatter off somehow. I have nothing to lose at this point so....

My information did not change, but I did add some.

The lights are just as I described in the post above this and always has been. Sorry if that part was not clear. It should be a recoverable error according to the manual. That is why I put some extra effort into this, but apparently the light code can mean other stuff too. It may have helped a little too if the person could remember anything significant that happened before the printer "quit working", but they didn't. It looks like now it probably just went out.

The person throwing this out never tried to have it repaired. Sometimes it really is a simple fix including stuff that's even covered in the user's manuals! Unfortunately, it does seem it's less expensive just to buy a new one than repair, but not always. I have fixed other electronic stuff on their way out to a dumpster too because I know some stuff to try that other people don't. It cost me nothing but time in some cases and sometimes a very minimal dollar amount. It doesn't look like it will be the case with this one, but you never know until you try.

Again, thank you for all of your help. If I ever do get it fixed, I'll be sure to post back so it might help others.

by unknown on Feb 18, 2007 at 5:59pm Add comment
You are missing the point. You have to remove the formatter to do the engine test. It is done without the formatter. So instead of trying to locate another formatter, remove yours, do the test and if the engine test fails, then start looking for a main board as the formatter is probably ok and the main board is bad. One other thing is the toner cartridge. Since you can not make it print, you have no idea of the condition of the toner cartridge and keep in mind if it is bad, then you have to round up one of them to.
by dmzcompute on Feb 18, 2007 at 6:09pm Add comment
I said, "I will try to get that formatter off somehow. I have nothing to lose at this point so...."

It looks like your response to this was, " You are missing the point. You have to remove the formatter to do the engine test. It is done without the formatter."

I am going to try go get that formatter off ONLY in order to do the test. The screws are stripped so I am still trying to think of a tool that will get them out as I don't have a drill. At this point, I have nothing to lose as this is basically the last thing I'll do before disposing of it in some manner so I can be more aggressive (meaning I am probably taking a chance of damaging it in order to get those screws out). Maybe you posted before you saw my last response.

I don't plan on trying to find a formatter at this point, but might consider it if that was indeed the problem. I would like to get a test print first before I invest any money if possible. There may be a bunch of other stuff that needs replacing, and a test print might give me a better idea. However, the printer actually looks pretty nice in terms of wear and tear. I did think about trying to find a different toner cartridge because of an intuition that may or may not be correct and based on some posts I've seen elsewhere with a similar problem even though it supposedly has NOTHING to do with this error code.

It's frustrating that the error code is apparently misleading, but I do appreciate everyone who has tried to help. If I ever do get it figured out, I'll post back in order to help someone else.


- unknown
OK. Finally got the screws out with some needle nose pliers and some force. I am not sure if it did any damage to the formatter or not, but at this point the printer is non-functioning anyway so it's a chance I took.

I found the engine test hole. I plugged the printer back in and turned it on. I pressed on the engine test button. I also held the engine button in and then turned the printer on . Either way I heard a soft click click, but that's it. No motor turned on, and the rollers did not move. Toner was in place, and I held down the cover button though it's my understanding this bypasses those checks and others? Am I doing it right? If the engine test had worked, would it have pulled a piece of paper in and printed something out?

I plugged the formatter board back in and turned the printer back on. When the printer is finished with its initial checks, the solid amber light is the only one that remains lit and stays on, but at least it looks like I didn't damage the formatter meaning the lights still look like they have in the past.

Thanks again. I think that pretty much resolves the situation if I did the engine test right. So you think it's the main ecu board? Irritating that the light didn't tell me it was a fatal error to start with.

by unknown on Feb 18, 2007 at 8:55pm Add comment