Nothing could be more annoying and frustrating when you’re faced with a VHS tape tracking problem.
When you play the tape, the picture starts rolling. Or you see tracking lines on the video or snow on the top or bottom half of the picture.
There could only be two reasons for this. Either it’s a tape problem or a VCR problem.
Let’s look at how to fix VHS tape tracking.
Check to See if the Tape is Damaged
If the tape is physically damaged, there’s very little you can do about it. Age and repeated playing in the past may result in poor physical tape condition.
You may want to check with a professional tape repair service if you can rescue the tape.
Adjust Tracking on Your VCR
Use the tracking function on your VCR to try fixing the VHS tape tracking problem. Usually, you’ll find the tracking button on your remote control. If it’s not there, it may be on the VCR itself.
If you can’t find it, get hold of your VCR manual to help locate it. You’re likely to find a PDF version of the VCR model online. Search with the brand name and model number + PDF.
Also, try a newer VCR that comes with the auto-tracking feature to see if the problem can be fixed.
Try Playing Different Tapes
Try playing another tape on the VCR. Switch between new tapes and older ones. Do they play fine?
If yes, you can safely rule out the tracking mechanism problem in the VCR.
Tape Recorded at Slower Speed
Tapes recorded at slower speeds, either in LP (Long Play) or EP (Extended Play) mode are known to cause tape tracking problems,
A tape-recorded at these slower speeds on one VCR may not play well in another VCR model.
In this instance, try playing the tape on the VCR used to record the tape. If you don’t have it, then try it on another VCR, ideally a newer model.
Fastforward and Rewind Tape
Try completely rewinding and fastforwarding the tape to see if the tracking problem goes off.
Usually, the start portion of the tape is susceptible to a tracking problem as it’s the one exposed and affected most when your VCR threads the tape.
That’s why some tapes come with color bars at the start of the tape to prevent this issue.
Convert Your VHS Tape to Digital or DVD
The longer you hold on to tape with a tracking problem, the worse things are going to be.
If it’s an important tape, one containing personal memories, it’s imperative that you get it converted to digital or DVD.
Use a tape to digital conversion service. They may be able to correct the tracking problem while converting your VHS tape to digital.