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How to Fix VHS Tape Flickering when Playing Back to Your TV

Fix VHS Tape Flickering

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:31 am

Do you experience picture flickering when trying to play your VHS tape? This VCR playback flickering may be in the form of VHS color flickering or VCR brightness flickering.

Why does my VHS Tape Flicker?

VHS tape flickering could be due to any of the reasons listed below. You would want to give each of the fixes a try to determine the cause of the problem.

Adjusting Tracking

Mistracking by your VHS player is a possible reason for VHS tape flickering.

The first thing you would want to do is adjust the tracking.

Tracking Button on Remote Control

You’ll find a tracking button on your VCR remote control.

VHS VCR Remote Control Tracking Button

If you don’t find it, then you would want to check the front of your VCR deck.

Refer to Your VCR Manual

No luck? Refer to the VCR manual to see how tracking could be initiated. If you don’t have the manual, search for a PDF copy of it online.

Just type VCR brand +model no + “pdf”.

What if you don’t find a tracking button on your remote or VCR deck and you can’t get hold of the manual?

Channel Up/Down Button

With the tape playing, try pressing the channel up/down button. You can do this either on the remote or on your tape deck.

On-Screen Menu

Some VCRs have the tracking function hidden in an on-screen menu. This has to be accessed by pressing the menu button on your remote. If you don’t have a remote, check to see if there’s a menu button on the tape deck.

Search for VCR Remote Online

You may also want to look for a VCR remote online. Make sure the remote has a tracking control button.

Dirty VCR Head

Another reason for your VHS tape flickering problem is a dirty VCR tape head. Try using a VHS tape cleaner to see if the problem is fixed.

Tape heads can dirty playing old tapes which may leave an oxide deposit in the VCR tape heads.

Play a Blank Tape

A quick way to fix VHS tape flickering is to play a new blank tape on the VCR for about an hour. This often takes care of the dirty tape head problem.

If you see only a slight improvement after using this option, then you should get a VHS head-cleaning tape.

VHS Cleaning Tape

You have two options with the head-cleaning tape – dry and wet.

The wet version comes with cleaning fluid. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of filling cleaning fluid into the tape, choose a dry tape head cleaner.

This fix also works if your VCR plays a tape well, but doesn’t record video.

There are suggestions that you should open up your VCR casing and clean the head manually.

If you don’t have experience with this, don’t try it.

Check out VCR head-cleaning tapes.

Indirect AV Connection

If you have your VCR connected to your AV receiver, that could be the cause of the flicker.

Try connecting your VCR directly to your TV set and play the tape to see if this fixes the VHS tape flickering.

Cable Connection

Check your VCR to TV cable connection. Usually, you would use RCA cables to connect your VCR to your TV.

Check to see if the cables securely fit into the correct ports, especially the video cable (yellow).

Dirty Tape

The flickering could also be due to dirty tape. This is likely to happen if you have left the tape lying around for a long time without putting it into its casing.

Anyway, before jumping to the conclusion that dirty tape is the culprit, try a different tape to see if the problem persists.

If it does, then you can rule out the dirty tape option.

However, if you examine the tape and see a whitish substance then your tape has suffered a mold attack.

If you’re a little adventurous and are good at taking things apart and putting them back together, you can try the fix shown in the video below,

VCR Problem

If you’ve tried out the above fixes and still haven’t found a solution, the problem could lie with a mechanical problem with your VCR. This is especially if you’ve tried other tapes and the flickering problem persists.

In this instance, it would be a good idea to test the tape with a different VCR. If your tapes play well in another VCR, then it’s an internal problem.

This would call for servicing assistance from a professional to fix the VHS tape flickering.

Should You Service Your VCR or Buy a New Unit?

If it’s your VCR acting up despite the above fixes, you may send your VCR for servicing. But then in these days of HD video, you may find it a little difficult to find a VCR repair service. Even if you find one, the charges may be prohibitive.

If so, it would be much more economical to find a refurbished or used VCR. This is the route to take if you desire to convert dozens of home movies on VHS tapes to digital.

Check out some refurbished VCR ideas.

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