Skip to main content

Ink expiration and warranty dates: Need to know guide

Ink expiration and warranty dates: Need to know guide
(Image credit: Getty)

Ink expiration and warranty dates might not be the first thing you think of when buying a printer but when it comes to replacing ink, knowledge about print cartridges could save you money.

You may want to buy in bulk. Perhaps you want to get remanufactured ink cartridges. Or you might simply want to replace like for like. Whatever you need, this guide will give you everything you need to know to make the right decision. By that we mean the best decision not only for your printer also for your bank balance. 

The key here is to know how long your ink is going to last if you don't use it. Perhaps you've bought or and thinking of investing in a big ink tank printer. Sure, these come with enough ink to last years, but if you don't print that often will that ink be kept in good enough condition to last longer term? These are things worth thinking about before you buy a new printer and before you decide to go shopping for your next ink recharge.

Another area to keep in mind is the printer type. You might want to look at the best compact printers if you want to save space as well as getting efficient ink use in a smaller unit. Sure, the ink may need replacing more often, but then there is less chance of it going off. And if you print rarely, this could be your best way to only have smaller amounts of ink bought at a time. Plus you can use remanufactured ink cartridges to save even more money and help the environment too.

If you're thinking of stocking up on ink, it's also worth checking out our guide to online discount ink cartridges stores.

When is a typical ink expiration date?

Every ink cartridge has a toner or shelf life. Typically, it is one and a half to two years from the date of purchase. The product's manufacturer and how you store your cartridges can also affect the toner's lifespan. Ink expiration dates are built-in, established dates, after which ink cartridges might no longer work properly. If there is still ink left in the cartridge on that date, it will cause your printer to shut down. 

The expiration date is based on the fact that the ink's composition transforms over time. Air can work its way inside the cartridge and dissolve the ink carrier. As a result, the ink becomes sludge rather than liquid. That sludge can clog up your printer s ink-delivery system and the ink cartridge's printhead. The ink expiration date is designed to keep this from occurring.

What is a print head? 

Most ink cartridges sold at discount ink cartridges stores are self-contained, meaning that they have ink and a print head. The print head is the chip that puts the ink on the paper. Print heads can be part of a printer or an ink cartridge. A print head for home use or small-business printers is not expensive. 

On the other hand, the print heads for office and professional printers are of higher quality in order to generate higher-quality images. This makes them more expensive to replace. In some cases, the print head is separate and the ink cartridge serves as a reservoir.

Why is an ink cartridge warranty date important?

Many manufacturers also include a warranty date with their ink cartridges. This means that they will not guarantee their ink beyond that date. It is important not to confuse the warranty date with the product's expiration date. 

Generally, the expiration date is between one and two years after the established warranty date. In some cases, an expiration message will appear on your printer 18 to 30 months after you install a new ink cartridge.

There are ink cartridges that allow you to override this message. Instructions for doing so might appear on your printer's screen, or you can find them in your printer's user manual. The override option is not usually available for high-end printer models.

It is important to note that expiration dates are not exact. In fact, many ink cartridges can function perfectly well long past their expiration date.

Knowing about expiration and warranty dates when buying ink cartridges, whether you buy single cartridges or buy cartridges in bulk quantities, will help you make an informed decision and keep your printer functioning well for years to come.

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.