Brother HL 2140 Toner Life End Error Hack


Introduction: Brother HL 2140 Toner Life End Error Hack

One of the most frustrating issues for a college student is receiving a toner error after printing 18 of the 20 pages of your final paper due the next day. All of this could have been easily avoid if I didn’t procrastinate, but as a student, this is all not possible. Thankful to my stubbornness, I’ve research and figured out a reliable hack forcing my printer to print although my toner was allegedly empty.  

Background Info

According to my research, a lot of printer companies are scamming their consumers into buying new and expensive toner cartridges although there is little to no evidence of low toner. This often works through a mechanical device that tracks the number of prints. At the end of just say 1000 or 1500 prints depending on your cartridge rating, the printer will refuse to print regardless of the toner capacity. This hack is a simple hack that anyone one can do with any specific tools.

One disclaimer, this hack is printer specific, is appropriate for starter toner and may not work on all Brother printers, but it’s worth a try. If sucessful, the toner should yield another hundred pages or so.

Step 1: Remove Drum and Toner Assembly

1.       Remove the front access panel to access the drum and toner assembly.

2.       Remove drum assembly by pulling on the drum handle.

3.       Once the drum assembly is removed, press on the green tab (left) and lift the handle (grey) on the toner cartridge.

Step 2: Bypassing the Toner Sensors

1.       Now that the toner cartridge is removed, pick it up and look for the glass window on the sides.

2.       Find the window that is most accessible and not blocked by the gears, using a black permanent marker, fill in the window.

Step 3: Test Run

1.       According to my research, at this point some models of Brother printers (including the HL 2140) should work and be ready to print.

2.       To test this, turn on your printer and print a test page. If it works, great... If not proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Resetting the Printer

For some reason my printer still did not work following the previous step and my toner light was steadily lit. Due to the fact that my cartridge was a starter cartridge, and there weren’t any gears that I needed adjust, I needed to reset the page counter in my printer.

1.       To do that, turn off your printer and open the front access panel.

2.       Press and hold the white button, while turning on the printer. The toner, drum and error lights should remain lit.

3.       Release the white button and press it again twice.

4.       Release, pause and press again five times.

5.       If done correctly, when you plug your printer to your computer it should try to reinstall the drivers under Brother Maintenance Mode. Your computer will fail and will not find the appropriate drivers.

6.       Unplug your printer, turn it off, turn on and connect to the computer.

7.       Your computer should now recognize your Brother printer just like in the past.

8.       See if the toner light disappears, if it does, print a test page and you’re done.

9.       If you are still having the same issues, try using tape to cover the sensor window instead of a black marker and repeat steps 1 – 8 of this page. If the toner light disappears then success, if you print and it’s blank, then you are out of toner.

Step 5: Status Page

It's good idea to print a status page to see all the statistics regarding your printer.
It will list number of pages printed, toner capacity, drum capacity, paper jams, etc.
To print this page, turn on the printer and press the blue button three times.
The status page will then print. Enjoy! 



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    Thank you! I had to use the white button method, but it worked! I was NOT out of toner, so you have saved me and a lot of others money, again thank you!!

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It took until the part where I had to turn it off & on a bunch but now it Works!

    Folks like you are saving the rest of us a LOT of money ( & stress) from these moody freakin' printers!

    Tried step 3, doesnt work. When I try step 4 the printer seems to restart itself right after pressing the button 5 times, then the toner low light still up. Not sure what to do now.

    1 reply

    Just pop the plastic cap on the side of the toner and refill it.

    Another easy way is to cover the holes to the sensors on the assembly itself with black electrical tape, without even removing the cartridge itself.

    Hi! Do you have a trick like that for the Brother HL-3140WC? The only trick I find is to fill ourselves the cartridge. Thanks!

    Thanks dude!

    it worked, thank you, thank you, thank you !!! I love it when a hack like that can be used until I can get the replacement part....I ended up covering over both windows with blacked out tape worked first try

    Yes it work's and thank. I have bought HP printer toner cartridge from and you can compare....

    Their service is so good and quick response.

    Excellent trick. Marker didn't work for me even after resetting, but adding tape got it working again without a second reset. Saved me from having to take extra time to buy toner during a critical take-home final exam!

    Worked on my HL2140 (used gaffa tape and covered up both holes on drum assembly). The funny thing is I never had the printer complain about toner on the original cartidge - it just started printing spotty in the middle of a big job.

    When I replace my current cartridge (after it runs out for good) I might remove the tape because it's atleast nice to know when I need to start checking my printouts.

    what worked for me was taking a bit of paper towel and sticking it on a piece of clear scotch tape, then placing it on the sensor window. thanks so much VentingIntrovert!!

    My first attempt trying this was unsuccessful - tried coloring and taping windows on both sides. I Looked at drum assembly before taking out screws on cartridge. Glad I did!!!! There is a hole on both sides of the drum assembly that line up with the glass windows of the cartridge. I covered both with electrical tape and presto it worked!! I have since used this on other models with great success!! Thnx!!

    I have the Brother MFC-7340 printer and when I tried colouring in just the accessible glass window I received the same error message. I took the three screws out of the cartridge and removed the gears to colour in the window on the opposite side of the cartridge. When I tried with both windows coloured in away she went!

    Awesome hack thankyou.

    Thanks man the hack was awesome, I refiled my cartridge with some toner and with a full tank I was still getting toner error. but with your hack it started to work just fine.

    thank you, you are the man ;)

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I was in the middle of working an event where I needed to print 100 pages of invoices for people. The pages would look fine (not a lot of ink on each page), but the light would come on every 3 or 4 pages and stop printing. It took tape over the sensor, but it got me through the event! Can't thank you enough for this!

    Even better when you purchase a toner refill kit. Only cost you ~$12 for a gazillion pages. I should have posted an instructable for that too.