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Russell H.
Russell H., Computer Systems Expert
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My printer MFC-665CW is unable to detect the black printer

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My printer MFC-665CW is unable to detect the black printer cartridge. I have replaced it twice, most recently with a Brother cartridge and it worked briefly and now says that it's empty even though it is new. Do I need to get a new printer or is this a fixable problem?
Thanks for asking your question here at

Have you tried putting all the old cartridges back in?

Have you been using remanufactured cartridges lately, or refilled, or non-Brother brand?

I'd advise you to try a hard-reset of the printer:
Turn the printer OFF. (Or if it won't turn off, just) Unplug the printer from the wall or power strip. Leave it that way for 10 minutes. Plug it back in. Turn it on if it didn't turn itself on. Wait for it to initialize. Try printing again.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Hi Russell,

I have tried putting all the old cartridges back in and I have been using non Brother brands fro a few months from cheaper!). I have tried turning off the power for a few minutes, but it goes right back to the same Black empty screen. It seems like it is now unable to detect a cartridge in the black section-the other colors seem OK. Thanks!

Hi - As shown in the image/diagram below

capillary tubes, Brother printer

there are flexible tubes that transfer ink from the cartridges to the printhead, in Brother MFC printers. Look inside your printer, and see if the black tube (or any of the tubes, if you cannot tell which one is black) is odd looking in any way or broken, or obviously leaking.
Also, check around inside the printer generally for fluff, dust, leaking ink, paper scraps, etc - if found, clean them out (by wiping them out, or with a vacuum rather than by blowing, and with the printer unplugged of course.)
Also, check under the black cartridge for any sign of dried ink or dirt accumulation or clogging or the like - if necessary, compare it to another (working) cartridge's bay/socket.

(By the way, how old is this printer? years in service, I mean.)

Let me know what you find.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.


I looked at the locations you noted and I don't see any obvious problems. It puzzles me that the Brother cartridge was initially working fine and within a week it said it was empty. It is a new printer for us since we got it in August 2008, but it was refurbished. If you think it's a lost cause, I will just purchase a new printer and write this off as a loss. Thanks!

Is there any chance that the warranty still applies, is not expired, after a lapse of 8 months?

Running out of ink in a week can happen if printing is very abundant, or (if it's color cartridges running out) owing to printing black-and-white print in 'duplex' mode, i.e. using the color inks - which runs them out very much faster than normal.
And now, if your black cartridge is out, your color cartridges will run out faster if you can't get the black ink working and if it shifts into duplex mode. Might be cheaper/better to get a new printer, yes.

If you're contemplating throwing the printer away, here's one thing to try first:
Take out the black ink cartridge, put it aside (in a clean place of course.)
Take out the color cartridge that work 'best' of the lot - not running out, not sometimes-sensed-but-not-always. Put it in place of the black cartridge, in the black cartridge bay/socket. Press down firmly/latch in place. Try a print - the color will come out strange, but see if color print includes the color that you swapped into the black one's place. (If it won't start with one color cartridge missing, put some other color cartridge in it's former place for the duration of the test, I'd suggest.)

Thanks for consulting If this settles your tech issue, please signify so to the system by clicking Accept for this answer. And if not, let me know what's wrong.
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