Cleaning the Encoder (Timing) Strip - iP7220

Article ID: ART180549 | Date published: 12/27/2021 | Date last updated: 02/20/2024


If prints are misaligned and a head alignment does not resolve the problem, the encoder (timing) strip inside the printer may need to be cleaned.


About the timing strip

The timing strip is a clear, plastic strip approximately 1/4" in height positioned horizontally across the center of the unit, just in front of the carriage drive belt. The timing strip contains many thin black vertical lines that help determine the carriage position during operation.

                         Select to see a larger image.

How it can get dirty
During certain uncommon tasks such as the removal of a paper jam, it is possible to inadvertently touch a lubricated area on the printer's chassis causing a small amount of grease to be deposited onto the timing strip.

Symptoms of a dirty timing strip
Grease on the timing strip may result in poor print quality including; mis-aligned or distorted characters, vertical lines or, in some cases, an inoperable error condition (such as 5100) or knocking / grinding noise.

Clean the timing strip

In most cases, it is easy to remove the grease from the timing strip using common household items. If you wish, you may follow the steps below to remove the grease from the timing strip.

Items needed:

  • Clean, unused cotton swab

  • Small amount of Isopropyl Alcohol or window cleaner

  • Flashlight or other light source


  1. With the printer powered on, press the open button (A) to open the paper output tray if the tray is not open.

  2. Open the top cover.
    The Print Head Holder (carriage) will move to the replacement position.

  3. With the top cover open, unplug the power cord from the wall outlet or power strip.
    NOTE: check that the printer's power LED is no longer illuminated.

  4. Hold the top of the print head holder and slide it slowly to the right edge.

  5. When the carriage is to the far right, you will be able to see the timing strip.

  6. Using a flashlight, carefully inspect the timing strip for grease and dirt. It is helpful to view the timing strip from several angles as even a small amount of grease can impact print quality.

    The timing strip is a clear strip located in front of the drive belt.

  7. Moisten the cotton swab with Isopropyl alcohol (or window cleaner), and carefully remove the grease from the timing strip.

    Note: do not touch or remove grease from the chassis (metal rail).
  8. Once you have confirmed that the left and center portions of the timing strip are clean, gently slide the carriage all the way to the left.

  9. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for inspecting the right side of the timing strip until is completely free of grease and dirt.

  10. Gently close the top cover.

  11. Reconnect the power cord and power on the printer.
    (The indicator light blinks steadily while the printer initializes.)

  12. Print a test document and photograph. If print quality is still poor, repeat the above steps.  If you repeat the above steps and continue to experience poor print quality, service is required.

For support and service options, sign into (or create) your Canon Account from the link below.
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