How to Diagnose VCR Problems

By Techwalla Electronics Editor

VCRs today are smaller, lighter and smarter, but they still have a heck of a lot of moving parts, and they suffer mightily if a child tries to load a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich into them. Follow these steps to keep your VCR in good health.

Step 1

VCR Display Doesn't Work at All or Shows Gibberish. Reset VCR's CPU by unplugging it from wall, waiting several minutes, then plugging it back in. Just turning off power switch isn't enough.

Step 2

VCR Display Works, but There's No Picture or Sound. Check to see if a tape is jammed inside. Try changing the video input and/or output source. Many VCRs have two ways to receive and send a video signal (coaxial and video direct). If that works, try changing the cable for the other method to see whether you need a new cable. Clean tape heads (see How to Clean VCR Heads). Open VCR and inspect any belts that are accessible. A drive belt may be broken or loose.

Step 3

VCR Plays but Won't Record. Clean tape heads (see How to Clean VCR Heads).

Step 4

VCR Shuts Down Shortly After Startup. Open VCR and inspect any belts that are accessible. A drive belt may be broken or loose.

Step 5

VCR Display Works, Sound Works, but Video Doesn't Work or Picture Looks Snowy. Clean tape heads (see How to Clean VCR Heads).

Step 6

Picture and/or Sound is Intermittent or Distorted. Adjust tracking (see How to Adjust VCR Tracking).

Step 7

VCR Plays but Can't Find Picture on TV. Check cables between VCR and RV. Tighten if necessary. Make sure VCR and TV remotes are set to Video or VCR. Look for TV/Video or TV/VCR button on both remotes. Check channels 3 and 4 on TV and VCR. Sometimes VCR output is displayed on these channels.