Repairing Damaged VHS Tapes

Repairing Old Damaged VHS Tape

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 old 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 and in fact can be restored. Read on to learn how to repair damaged VHS tapes.  

Facts About VHS Tape Repair 

A damaged VHS tape kind of presents good news, bad news, good news scenarios! 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! The other big issue is that VHS tapes degrade over time, so although some of your collections look pristine, problems could be lurking under the surface. VHS tapes can lose their magnetic charge, moisture can damage them, and they can suffer from progressive generation loss the more they’re copied. And let’s not forget those times your VCR “ate” your video and caused tape crease errors. Although tape crease errors aren’t typically fixable, the good news is that they’re usually limited to one area.

How to Fix or Repair Common VHS Tape Issues

Although physical problems with VHS tapes may seem insurmountable, issues like tape slippage and broken tape are fixable if you have the patience and right tools. Of course, if you decide to get damaged tapes scanned professionally, be sure to check if they include repairs like splicing in their digitizing service. For all you do-it-yourselfers out there, you’ll be happy to know that if you encounter any of the following common issues, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to fix your VHS tapes at home. In addition to trying these steps, you’ll find many other guides on how to fix a VHS tape if you do an online search. 

Repairing Lines on Screen and Poor Audio 

  • Step1: Locate the tracking button or wheel on the front of the recorder
  • Step 2: Insert the cassette into the VCR and push the play button located on the remote or front of the machine
  • Step 3: Push the tracking button or adjust the tracking wheel while the tape plays until the picture and sound playback is acceptable
  • Step 4: Optionally, purchase and insert a head cleaner into the VHS player

Repairing Loose Tape 

  • Step1: Turn the tape over and unscrew the five screws that hold the cassette together
  • Step 2: Turn it right-side up and push the small tab on the left side of the cassette to open it
  • Step 3: Hold the front open, gently lifting the top of the cassette, being careful not to disturb any other internal parts
  • Step 4: Turn one of the tape reels until there is no loose tape
  • Step 5: Replace the cassette cover carefully and turn the cassette over

Repairing Broken Leaders 

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

  • Step 1: Locate the empty reel from which the leader detached
  • Step 2: Wrap Scotch tape around the inside core of the reel a few times, leaving 2–3 inches of tape exposed
  • Step 3: 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 isn’t your thing, your best bet is a professional video transfer service

Like most products and services, all scanning companies aren’t created equal. It pays to do a little research and look at several key factors before selecting a scanning service. While most companies appear to be located in the US, many outsource people’s precious memories to other countries. You’ll also want to choose a scanning service with a long track record and quality control standards including door-to-door order tracking.

At ScanCafe, we digitize VHS tapes quickly and affordably using professional decks equipped with video stabilization to ensure the best possible playback. Our expert technicians remove blank footage and will also try to repair your video cassettes at no extra charge. We’re one of a few select companies that provide order tracking and the only one to offer a $1000 safety guarantee and cell phone updates. When you choose ScanCafe, you’ll never have to worry again about losing precious memories due to damaged VHS tapes or obsolete technology you can no longer watch!