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Nathan, Engineer
Category: Printers
Satisfied Customers: 25860
Experience:  Computer networking/repair. 12+ years experience.
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I have a CX3900 which will not start up - when I switch on

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I have a CX3900 which will not start up - when I switch on the power, the carriage zips back and forth and then lets out a loud gear-grinding noise.
JA: What's the make/model number of your printer? How old is it?
Customer: My CX3900 doesn't start up. When switched on, the carriage moves back and forth and them makes a horrible gear-grinding noise.
JA: What kind of computer are you printing from (Mac or PC)? What Operating System (OS) are you running?
Customer: PC, Windows 7
JA: How long has this been an issue? What happened right before this popped up?
Customer: It worked fine yesterday - it just happened when switched on this morning.
JA: Anything else you want the Printer Expert to know before I connect you?
Customer: Is it worth repairing? If not, what is the nearest current equivalent model? Are any models still using Type 73 ink, as I have a large quantity of them?
Does it give any error message or lights or just shut itself off?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
All the red lights come on, including the error message - I stop the grinding by turning off the power

Thank you for confirming,

This 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.

Let me know if that works.



Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Same result - after moving back and forth, after about a half minute, very noisy grinding and all the lights lit up

Thank you for confirming,

this would unfortunately confirm a deeper hardware failure here, meaning a defect in the carriage or paper feed path.

As this is a 2006 model printer, that type of failure is not at all surprising to see just from normal age related wear and tear, as they are really built for only a 3 year service life.

The printer would need to be replaced at this point as it would not be feasible to repair. Unfortunately no current model, or really anything in about the last 9 years has used those same cartridges, so they won't be usable with a future model.

If looking for a replacement, I’d 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: or

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:

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:

while a color model is about twice that:

My apologies for the news,


Customer: replied 1 month ago.
a replacement appears in order. What is the current Epson equivalent/replacement printer/scanner model? Are there any models still using Type inks, as I have a significant stock of them?

I sent that info above with links to some specific models. No printer made in the last 9 years will use your existing inks.

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