Magnetic stripe cards move in and out then get ejected without printing on a Zebra Card Printer

Article ID: 51087246



Topic or Information

Card is moving back and forth under encoder, fails to encode, and is ejected without any print being applied.

Applies To

This solution is useful for

  • Understanding the encoders' read / write process.
  • Knowing if your encoder is functioning properly.

Symptoms addressed by this solution include

  • The card is going back and forth, ejected then I receive "encoding error" on the LED LCD display .
  • Mag encoding error.


The encoding process

The printer writes the magnetic stripe information on the first pass (card is moving from right to left) under the encoder head. The card is then passed back under the encoder head (card is moving left to right) and the information just written is read to verify that the write was successful. If the read is not successful then the read is repeated twice more (card moving under the encode head in each case). If the read is still not successful, then the write operation is retried and then the read verification is repeated. Hence the card can pass under the encode head several times. If a card fails to encode - it is rejected before the image is printed so that the ribbon is not wasted on a card that failed to encode.


  • If this sequence does not result in magnetic encoded data which has been successfully read, then the card is ejected, and either the encoder error lights will appear or the mechanical error light will appear.
  • When the mechanical error lights appear, check to make sure the card is loaded in the proper orientation in the card feeder (normally stripe down and towards the back of the printer, but stripe up options exist also- check your user's manual).
  • Check that the cards have a magnetic stripe
  • Confirm the coercivity of the cards - the card coercivity and the coercivity setting of the printer must match. High coercivity cards normally have a black/ dark stripe whereas low coercivity cards are usually a lighter brown / tan colored stripe. The encoder setting within the printer can be verified by printing magnetic self test card by using the "A_2" manual command.
  • If the encoder error lights appear, check the coercivity of the cards.
  • Re-examine the information you are trying to encode. Make sure that alpha characters are used only on track one and that the characters are uppercase only. Make sure that tracks 2 and 3 contain numeric 0 through 9 only.

Additional Information

Magnetic Encoder Troubleshooting  Read More>>


+ Product Codes

  • P100i
  • P110i
  • P120i
  • P330i Card Printer
  • P430i Card Printer
  • P630i Card Printer
  • P640i Card Printer
  • Value Class Card Printer