How to Stop a VCR From Flickering

By Mandy Slake

The VCR reads a tape using physical contact. When you load the cassette, the VCR opens the door on the front and loads the tape using rollers. The tape runs over the read/write heads. After many viewings, the tape begins to wear, and you may experience issues such as lines, flickering or audio breakup. Compensate for these issues by adjusting the tracking. If the problem happens with many different tapes, clean the heads.

Step 1

Check the instruction manual for your VCR for the location and type of tracking controls. Most VCRs have an analog tracking knob or buttons located somewhere under the front panel.

Step 2

Turn the VCR on and load a regular tape.

Step 3

Push the "Play" button to start playing the tape.

Step 4

Adjust the tracking controls. Note the frequency of the flicker. If you adjust the tracking one way and the flicker gets faster, try adjusting it the other way.

Tips & Warnings

  • If adjusting the tracking doesn't fix the problem, try cleaning the read/write heads. Purchase a special head-cleaning tape at online retailers, or at retailers that sell VCR equipment. Follow the instructions that come with the head-cleaning tape.
  • Since the VCR is an obsolete technology as of 2011, you may have difficulty finding a head-cleaning tape locally.