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Nathan
Nathan, Engineer
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 20504
Experience:  Computer networking/repair. 12+ years experience.
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The 0x9a error at power-up. epson wf3640 -- not heavily

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The 0x9a error at power-up.
JA: What's the make/model number of your printer? How old is it?
Customer: epson wf3640 -- not heavily used, maybe a few years old.
JA: What kind of computer are you printing from (Mac or PC)? What Operating System (OS) are you running?
Customer: Mac
JA: How long has this been an issue? What happened right before this popped up?
Customer: a couple of days. No events I can remember have caused this.
JA: Anything else you want the printer expert to know before I connect you?
Customer: I removed & reinserted the ink cartridges (which are the refillable kind, not the originals) and there was black ink below the cartridges.

Hi, I'm Nathan.
Sorry to hear that you're having trouble with this but I'll do my best to help you.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
thanks

This message indicates a carriage fault. That can be caused by anything from debris/obstruction (paper jam, bent/damaged rails, out of place purge assembly/wiper, or dirty/dislocated encoder strip) to an actual hardware defect (bad sensor or control board, faulty carriage drive motor/gear/belt, bad printhead/carriage pcb).

What we can try here are some cleaning and reset steps.
First, open up the printer, and check for any internal debris such as scraps of paper, paperclip or staple, etc. Check if you’re able to move the carriage manually, or if it moves on its own when lifting the lid. If it does move, you can proceed with cleaning by blowing out the inside compartment with compressed air and checking carefully on both sides for any obstructions. Then wipe down the encoder strip, which is a clear plastic strip running the width of the printer, that sits just slightly above and behind the carriage.

Then reset the machine:
unplug power at the wall outlet
wait 5 minutes
press and hold the power/on button for 60+ seconds
keep holding while plugging back in, and for another 60 seconds after, then release

Let me know the results, and I’ll advise further if needed.

Thank you,

Nathan

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
behavior is the same -- immediately reports printer error, error code 0x9A

The ink cartridges you are using could cause damage to the printhead as well, especially if they had been leaking.

You will also need to take the cartridges out and clean that entire area, though I would highly recommend replacing them with the proper OEM cartridges. If the error persists you will not have a choice.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I cleaned it & took the cartridges completely out -- same error, instantly, doesn't even get to the point of checking to see if the cartridges are there.

Thank you for trying, this is indicating a printhead failure at this point, which is commonly caused by generic cartridges.

I'd like to have you take one further step of cleaning inside the printer, on the back of the cartridges there is a little metal chip, and I want you to clean the electrical contacts inside the printer where that chip mates up, using qtips and rubbing alcohol, until it comes away clean. Dry well, reseat the cartridges, then run the reset process above.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
No change -- what's next?

Thank you for checking,

unfortunately this leaves only the possibility of a hardware failure at this point, which is likely the result of damage caused by the generic inks.

These printers are designed for only a 3 year service life, but using generic cartridges wears out the head/nozzles about 3 times faster, so even on only a 2 year old printer seeing this failure is not at all surprising.

While it can be fixed, it is not worthwhile to do so. You would have to, at a minimum, replace the printhead, which costs about $150; if the logic board is bad you’re looking at $200-250. For $80-100 you can replace the entire machine with a brand new model, with current technology and a fresh warranty, which makes more sense than buying the new part for an older printer.

Depending how you'd like to proceed, I can advise on a local repair shop, or recommending replacement options for you. Just let me know.

Best regards, ***** ***** for the news,

Nathan

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
If the it's the ink that's ruined the printhead, would replacing it with something like this http://tinyurl.com/znh6jeq work?

Possibly, but it is actually not the nozzles that are damaged here, it is the carriage/printhead pcb.

I would be leery of any refurbished part. Epson printheads are not user serviceable and are not available for purchase to you, only by authorized service centers, so anything you could buy yourself online is either generic or rebuilt. Regardless, even if you do replace it (which is not a simple repair) it will not extend the life of the printer significantly, so I would still strongly lean toward a new printer at this point. And looking around even the heads for this model that are the right part are still $90, more than a new printer.

If looking for a replacement, I’d still recommend any of the Epson workforce series printers. They tend to be very reliable, are easy to set up and use, have good print quality, and reasonably priced ink. Example: http://amzn.to/29wF4OP or http://amzn.to/2d145Do

Note that these, like all consumer grade inkjet printers, are designed to be low cost and are essentially disposable after a few years, subsidized by the high cost of ink cartridges. If you wish to have a better quality and longer lasting printer, that comes with years worth of ink up front, consider the Epson ecotank models instead: http://amzn.to/1PpOj0C

Alternately, for a more business/commercial grade product that will be rated for a 5 year life, consider a laser printer. Lasers cost more up front also, but a toner cartridge can last for thousands of pages. A black only all in one laser is around $125: http://amzn.to/1JSHOlQ

while a color model is about twice that: http://amzn.to/1n4I7Q5

Do you need more help with this?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I am not keen on throwing things away that can be repaired only because the most economical solution is to replace them.
I just haven't had time to deal with it in the past few days - I don't understand whether 0x9A means there is in fact a part that is necessarily broken and in need of replacement, or just coated with ink that has shorted something -- that is, were I to disassemble the carriage to actually get to the printhead and cleaned it, I am wondering if that could fix it. Do you have a sense of that? It's really shameful that there is not more information from Epson available online explaining exactly what the error message means.
Thanks.

Epson printers, as with many electronics, are not intended to be user serviceable, so there is no publically available information on these.

Has the code ever changed? The 0x9a is specific to a carriage fault, that isn't typically a cleaning matter, it is because the carriage drive mechanism isn't moving, or because the board/sensors are faulty. Further cleaning certainly would not hurt though.

I understand what you're wanting to do, but I don't believe this is the head/nozzles. If anything it is the encoder sensor or damage to the carriage pcb/contacts. Epson heads are not intended to be serviced, so they are difficult to remove without damaging them. That said, you can certainly try to remove it and clean any ink/debris you find, using some qtips and rubbing alcohol.
I would be curious to see if the error code ever changes from the x9a after this.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No, it's the first error code I've seen - spontaneously appearing one day when otherwise the printer has been trouble-free, with no signs of any kind of degradation in printing or carriage malfunction.
That is why I am reluctant to just "give up". The carriage pcb/contacts: where are they exactly? The contacts for the print cartridges are pretty obvious, but where would I find the contacts that might have been damaged for example by ink?
Thanks!

Well there is the encoder sensor in the back which tracks along the encoder strip, the rest is really more internal as epson heads are not intended to be serviceable or replaceable. The circuitry is internal though there is a ribbon cable connector that could potentially have some damaged contact points. I do not believe you'd be able to access it to clean anything without doing more damage than good.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Well, as I have not yet gotten back to trying to fix the printer, I now am thinking I am destined to replace -- so... is there any reason to get an ecotank inkjet printer rather than a color laser printer? They seem to be about the same upfront cost. Thanks!

The primary reason would be if you print a lot of photos. The econtank (and inkjets in general) are more flexible with using small paper sizes and glossy paper.

If you are printing more just documents and occasional graphics, go with the laser, it will be more reliable in the long run as well.

Nathan and 3 other Printers Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
OK, thanks!

You're very welcome, and thanks for following up with me.

Nathan