First off, let me say I have not had a single good thing to say about HP printers or computers for 10+ years. Somehow, I keep getting roped into replacing with newer HP hardware. I keep thinking, “HP is a huge company, no way they’d do that to their customers on purpose”, and the saga continues into a new generation of hardware/software. (I admit I am a little thick at times).

This experience has been a good one for me. Maybe I am finally ready to cut the ties on my last piece of HP hardware – permanently. Time will tell.

So what does one do when they replace ink cartridges and you get the error:

Ink System Failure
Error 0xc18a0101

The printer driver also prominently displays the same error, saying click here for more information. I click, what do I get? Nothing except “check the users manual”. Now I know where this is going. I can see the writing on the wall. But so I can say I tried I download the users manual – because they don’t give you a users manual in writing and I guess it costs too much to include the extra bytes with the driver install. As I suspected, the user manual does not even hint that such an error can even occur.

I speed out to the Internet. I get lots of results for Ink System Failure and Error 0xc18a0101. I am almost literally standing on my head through some of these procedures. Here is some advice I get:

  • If removable printhead place in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • Unplug power for 2 minutes
  • Do not turn off, unplug power, wait 30 seconds, remove all print cartridges, plug in, turn on, install print cartidges, power off, turn on.
  • Use a pin to clear both holes in each of the 5 ink cartridges housing assembly
  • Find the circuit board that hosts the battery for the CMOS chip and remove battery for 30 minutes
  • File a class action lawsuit because HP advises discarding printer and upgrading
  • On the HP site, the information is “curiously sparse” – hmmm, printer is out of warranty. BUT I can pay $20 to ask a rep my question. Not an option!

Now, for the last 2 years I have been using remanufactured cartridges from (as far as I know) a reputable Internet firm that stands behind their cartridges with a 100% money back guarantee. I suspect from the online chatter that HP has built some type of “counter” into the printer that tracks usage of non-OEM inks. We all know they figured out many years ago that the money in printers is in the ink, not the printer itself. Give away a printer and you have a customer for life – until those REMAN vendors came into the picture… You get the chatter. True or not, something here rings fishy – especially when you see the SOLUTION to my dilemma which I post below.

Five hours of my life were exhausted before I found the solution at Fix your printer!.

So here goes… This will get you into the “super secret” menu. Who knows, maybe HP would have given me an upgrade credit for my printer so they could send to their remanufacturing unit for resale – and a tidy profit for less than 2 minutes of “techy work” to make the printer usable for some new sap.

  1. Perform the below steps on the front panel of the printer
  2. Press and Hold the “Print Photos” & “Red Eye Removal” buttons.
  3. Release both buttons.
  4. Display should say “Enter Special Key Combo” (if it doesn’t proceed anyway, as if it does)
  5. Press and release in sequence
    “Red Eye Removal”,
    “Print Photos”,
    “Red Eye Removal”
  6. Display should say “Support” and display the firmware rev (something like R0616R)
  7. Press and release the right arrow button until the display says “System Configuration Menu”
  8. Press and release the “OK” button.
  9. Display should say “Hardware failure status: Clear. Press OK to clear”.
  10. Press and release the “OK” Button.
  11. Message changes to “Hardware failure status Cleared. Press Cancel to continue”.
  12. Press and release the “CANCEL” button as many times as necessary, so that, either the “Welcome to Photosmart Express” screen appears, or the “Ink System Failure” screen appears.

  14. Using the Power Button, turn the unit OFF and unplug the power cable from back of the printer and wall outlet.
  15. Wait 30 seconds for the power to get discharged and then plug the power cable into the wall outlet first and then into the back of the printer.
  16. Turn the unit on. The printer may display message “USE POWER BUTTON TO SHUTDOWN THE PRINTER” followed by “PRESS OK TO CONTINUE”.
  17. Press OK.
  18. Print a self test page from the printer.
  19. Make sure that the printer is on and loaded with unused plain, white paper.
  20. Press Setup . The Setup menu appears.
  21. Press the down arrow button to select Tools.
  22. Press OK.
  23. Press the down arrow button to select Self-test Report.
  24. Press OK.

Thank you very much, HP!

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11 Responses to “My HP Photosmart C6250 – Ink System Failure”

  1. Atul Says:

    You my friend are a genius!

  2. BearBait Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  3. Jamie Says:


  4. sunshine Says:

    Yay!!!!!!!Thank you so much!!! Can’t believe someone finally has a fixit for this annoying problem.

  5. Paul Says:

    Are you kidding me.. This is a Genius..Worked Perfect. Thank you

  6. larry Says:

    You are an absolute genius. After following your instructions step by step printer works once again. Thanks so much.

  7. Terry Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  8. Cliff Says:

    Un-frickin-believeable. I saw this and thought “yeah right, I’ve seen stuff like this before but what have I got to lose”. It actually worked!!!!! Thank you!!

  9. Tarana Says:

    Thank you sooooooo much!!! What a lifesaver!!!

  10. Grandma Jo Says:

    Yipee … It worked great … Thanks soooooo much

  11. Theresa Says:

    Thank you very much….

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