Repairing Damaged VHS Tapes


Some people watch VHS tapes for the nostalgia factor, others watch them because they’re cheap to buy, while many own such massive movie libraries they simply cannot fathom the thought of discarding them or buying new DVDs. Although many VHS tapes still play remarkably well, others are broken or damaged. As such, you may think they’re unredeemable and worthless, but that’s not true in many instances. 


Facts About VHS Repair


A damaged VHS tape kind of presents a good news, bad news, good news scenario! If a tape looks like a mangled ball of metallic yarn, the good news is you can creatively upcycle it into something else. The bad news is that this jumbled mess will never display a moving image ever again! If you’re experiencing any of these other common issues, chances are your VHS tape can be repaired.


Lines on Screen and Poor Audio


  • Locate the tracking button or wheel on the front of the recorder
  • Insert the cassette into the VCR and push the play button located on the remote or front of the machine
  • Push the tracking button or adjust the tracking wheel while the tape plays until the picture and sound playback is acceptable
  • Optionally, purchase and insert a head cleaner into the VHS player


Loose Tape


  • Turn the tape over and unscrew the five screws that hold the cassette together
  • Turn it right-side up and push the small tab on the left side of the cassette to open it
  • Hold the front open, gently lifting the top of the cassette, being careful not to disturb any other internal parts
  • Turn one of the tape reels until there is no loose tape
  • Replace the cassette cover carefully and turn the cassette over
  • Reinstall and tighten the five screws


Broken Leaders 


This is the clear part at the end of the tape that attaches to a reel.


  • Locate the empty reel from which the leader detached
  • Wrap Scotch tape around the inside core of the reel a few times, leaving 2–3 inches of tape exposed
  • Attach the leader to the adhesive side of the exposed tape


Preserve VHS Tapes by Converting Them

If you’re interested in converting VHS tapes, plenty of online tutorials offer step-by-step instructions on how to transfer VHS to digital. If putting a videotape Humpty Dumpty back together again or converting old tapes aren’t your thing, your best bet is a professional video transfer service. At ScanCafe, we can repair your VHS tapes quickly and affordably and digitize them. That way you will never have to worry again about losing precious memories due to damaged VHS tapes or obsolete technology you can no longer watch.