Why is My Brother Ink Cartridge Not Working? How you can Fix it Now!

Isn’t it frustrating when you are in the middle of printing, and your work suddenly gets interrupted because of your Brother ink cartridge not working? Brother ink printers are the best in the industry, and these printers top the list of must-haves in offices and homes. But, interruptions in the printing process due to Brother ink cartridge issues could mean disruptions in work and loss of valuable time if you do not know how to troubleshoot these issues as they come.

How to Store Ink Cartridges When Not in Use

Source: Pixabay

Luckily, Enko is a connoisseur of Brother printers and ink cartridges and of the reasons for your Brother Ink Cartridge not working. We manufacture Brother ink cartridges, and our technical experts know Brother products like the back of their hands. This article will give you common scenarios that could lead to ink cartridge detection issues and valuable tips for resolving these technical problems without batting an eye. 

Why won't my Brother printer recognize the ink cartridge?

Before giving up on your Brother printer and replacing it with another printer, let us check out some of the common reasons your Brother ink cartridge is not working. 


No Prompt Replacement

Brother printers have a detection mechanism to identify the presence of ink cartridges and their ink levels. When the machine detects that the ink in a cartridge is about to run out, the Brother printer display will message that the ink needs replacement.

Please remove the ink cartridge and replace it with a new one early before this message. The Brother printer will not recognize the ink left in the new cartridge and will usually carry on reading the previous ink levels. The Brother display will send you this message even if your ink is still a long way from being empty.  


Broken Brother ink cartridge

A broken Brother ink cartridge is one of the issues that has nothing to do with ink levels. Your printer might not be able to detect your ink cartridges and levels because the contacts, or metal strips in the cartridges that come in contact with the metal strips in the printer, are broken.

The broken contacts prevent the smart chip of your ink cartridges from being read. Aside from damage in the contacts, dirt and smudge on these metal strips may also prevent your printer or your Brother display from reading information from the smart chip in the cartridges. 


Wrong unpacking and loading of the ink cartridge

One of the reasons for the Brother ink cartridge not working is the wrong unpacking and loading. Brother ink cartridges come with instructions on unpacking and unloading, which you must follow to ensure a seamless installation. For example, you may have failed to remove the protective strips from the cartridge before loading it into the printer.

The protective strips prevent the printer from detecting your ink cartridge. Before loading the ink cartridge, remove all the plastic covering, protective strips, and tabs to prevent your Brother Printer from printing ink on paper. 


Use of Non-OEM printer cartridge

Brother printers recommend the use of OEM or genuine printer ink cartridges. Using non-OEM printer cartridges may be the main reason for your Brother ink cartridge not working. If your Brother printer model is 2014 or later, a reason for your Brother Printer not printing ink on paper may be an outdated or faulty smart chip.   

If you decide to use non-OEM Brother compatible ink cartridges, make sure they are from a reliable source such as YoYoInk. Our Brother ink cartridges have smart chips that are compatible and updated with the specified Brother printers. Here are some examples of Brother ink cartridges from YoyoInk that perform like the OEM at a fraction of the OEM price. 

Brother Cartridge Protection

In several instances, you may still get an error of ink cartridge installation in your display despite proper installation. You ask, “Why won’t my Brother printer recognize the ink cartridge?” Chances are you enabled your Brother Cartridge Protection, and this protection usually occurs after a Brother printer driver update. 

If you encounter these problems, read on and find out how to troubleshoot these problems and prevent any further interruptions with your printing. 

How can I bypass my Brother ink cartridge not detected (step-by-step guide)

If you have loaded your ink cartridges and still get messages of your Brother ink cartridge not working in your display, you can first try re-installing the ink cartridges again. Here are the easy steps. 

Checking your ink cartridge

  1. Check that you have removed all protective strips, plastic coverings and tabs from your ink cartridge. 
  2. Check and make sure you use the correct ink cartridge for the corresponding Brother printer. 
  3. Check and make sure that there is no dirt or smudge in the metal contacts of your ink cartridge or printer. 


  1. Remove the ink cartridges from the printer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  2. Install them again one by one. 
  3. Close the printer door. 
  4. You will get a Prompt message such as “Did you replace the Black Cartridge?” in your display. Click Yes. 
  5. Continue the process until you re-install all the cartridges. 


  1. If you still get a message of your Brother ink cartridge not working, turn the printer off and unplug the printer power cord. 
  2. Allow 20 minutes before turning your printer back on. This action will reset the memory.

If you still get an error, try checking the float on top of your cartridge and making no jam interrupting your printing process. Jammed floats rarely happen but maybe the cause of problems. 

How do I get my Brother printer to print without color ink (step-by-step guide)

Brother printer settings stop all printing when one of the ink cartridges is empty. Stopping the printing process is not due to your Brother ink cartridge not working. This action prevents damage to the print heads, which take in the air instead of ink once the cartridge is empty. 

However, Brother printers allow you to print using black ink only or in a B&W Print Only setting when the color ink cartridges are empty. When a color cartridge is empty, the Brother printer will display a message, “B&W Print Only Replace Ink,” or in some printers, “B&W 1-sided Print Only Replace Ink”.

These are the steps to print in the B&W Print Only setting when one or more of your color ink cartridges are empty. 

STEP 1. Check the message on the Touchscreen of your Brother Printer.

  • If you see B&W Print Only Replace Ink or B&W 1-sided Print Only Replace Ink on our Touchscreen display, proceed to STEP 2.
  • If you are currently printing and one or more of your color ink cartridges are empty, you will get a message, “Cannot Print.” To print in the Black & White setting, press the icon to cancel printing. Replace the ink cartridge(s) if you keep getting the message. 
  • If you get other messages such as “Cannot Detect,” discontinue printing and refer to troubleshooting information regarding the error message.  

STEP 2. Print in B&W Print Only setting. 


Most Inkjet Printers use Four Ink Cartridges: Black, Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta

For PC Printing:

The PC will display the following message if one or more of your ink cartridges (Yellow, Magenta, or Cyan) are empty. 

change ink cartridge

Source: Brother

To print using the black ink cartridge only, follow the following steps using Windows or Mac. 

Using Windows

a. Go to Printing Preferences in your Printer Settings. 

b. Click Basic and choose Plain Paper in the Media Type tab. Make sure that Slow Drying Paper has been unchecked. 

Source: Brother

c. Click Advanced.

d. Click Grayscale or Greyscale.

Source: Brother

e. Click Apply, then OK.

f. Press  (Cancel) on your Brother machine to cancel previous printing jobs.

g. You are now ready to print using only your black ink cartridge.

Using Mac
      1. Open the Print dialog box.
      2. Click Print Settings.
      3. Select Plain Paper in Media Type. Make sure that Slow Drying Paper has been unchecked.
      4. Select Greyscale in Colour/Greyscale.
      5. Click Print.

Once you have replaced all the ink cartridges, you will need to change the settings to Color from Grayscale/Greyscale. 

For Copying:

  1. When a color ink cartridge is empty, the machine cannot make a color copy and will print in black and white. 
  2. Choose Plain Paper. You will not be able to copy using other paper types. 

For Faxing (MFC model users):

  1. If you are sending a document in color, the document will send as black & white.
  2. Choose Plain Paper or Inkjet Paper. You will not be able to fax using other paper types. Your document will go into the printer’s memory. 

How to override Brother printer ink low (Step-by-Step Guide)

Brother printers detect low Ink through an LED light. The printer will then send a message on your display if one or more of your ink cartridges are low or empty. Once the message pops up on your display, you should replace your ink cartridges.

Once a cartridge is empty, Brother stops all printing processes pending ink replacement. But, there are cases when you get the message even if your ink cartridges are still not empty. Here are ways to override Brother printer ink low and continue with your printing.

Re-installing the Ink Cartridges

  1. Remove the ink cartridge from your printer.
  2. Turn off the printer and unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait for about 20 seconds. 
  4. Plug the cord back and turn the printer on.
  5. Re-install the cartridges.

Manual Bypass  

  1. Remove the ink cartridge from the printer. 
  2. Locate the part where the ink levels are visible. 
  3. Cover the part of the ink cartridge where you can see the Ink with a small piece of electrical tape or opaque sticker
  4. Power off the printer. Re-install the cartridge. 
  5. Turn it back on to reset it. 

Replacing ink cartridges with chip-reset device

  1. Use a chip-reset device that is compatible with your printer. 
  2. Remove the ink cartridges from the printer. 
  3. Press the chip-reset device against the ink cartridge chip. 
  4. Click on the Reset device button until it notifies you of the complete reset process.
  5. Wait for 15 seconds. 
  6. Re-install the ink cartridge into the printer. 

How to clean Brother inkjet printer heads


Source: Pixabay

A crucial part of the maintenance of your printer and ink cartridges is the Cleaning of inkjet printer heads to remove clogs and ensure efficient and clean prints. 

Manual Cleaning

  1. Remove the ink cartridge from the printer. 
  2. Locate the ink cartridge printer head.
  3. Gently wipe the printhead using a soft, lint-free cloth without touching the electronic components.  
  4. Replace the ink cartridge with the printer. 

Printer-prompt Cleaning

(a) For Non-touchscreen models
    1. Go to the Control panel and press the INK key. 
    2. If your printer does not have an INK key on the Control Panel, click the MENU key.
    3. Press the UP OR DOWN ARROWS to locate Ink.
    4. Press OK. 
    5. Press the UP OR DOWN ARROWS to locate Cleaning.
    6. Press OK.
    7. Press the UP OR DOWN ARROWS to locate BLACK, COLOR or ALL, depending on the ink cartridge you want to clean.
    8. Press OK.
(b) For touchscreen models
    1. Press or (Ink indicator).
    2. Click Cleaning.
    3. Choose BLACK, COLOR or ALL depending on the ink cartridge that you want to clean. 

The printer will start cleaning the printhead selected, and the printer will go back to Ready mode when you complete the cleaning process. You can now test print a page to ensure there are no more issues such as missing lines or faded colors. If you are still experiencing a print quality issue, you can repeat the printhead cleaning process for each problematic ink cartridge until you have resolved the issue. 

Summing up

Brother inkjet printers are among the best because of their high-quality printouts. Common issues in using these printers are unavoidable. Luckily, other Brother printer enthusiasts and we have several ways to help users troubleshoot these problems. Aside from these practical tips, we also offer high-quality Brother-compatible ink cartridges that perform equally as the OEMs at a lesser price.

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