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Home /Entertainment / Why do VCRs Sometimes Eat Tapes?

Why do VCRs Sometimes Eat Tapes?

By Shelby Burr

Remember those nights where you used to run out to BlockBuster, pick up some Chinese food or a pizza and hunker down on your couch to watch a movie?

Those were the days.

Those nights and those memories are some of the good ole days. There is one element to this memory that we can all relate to though: your VCR eating the tape. 


We all made a mad dash to our VCR to stop the tape from running and pulled the tape out very carefully so that we could rewind it by hand. That said, why do VCRs sometimes eat tapes? 

The main part we will focus on is the idler tire within the VCR. The idler tire helps turn the takeup reel. If this is dirty, dusty, damaged or worn it can prevent the takeup wheel from turning. If there is an issue with the idler tire, it can cause the tape to pull out of the tape and unravel. Eventually, it can ruin your memories entirely and you will not be able to relive those special moments.

So, what can one do to prevent this from happening or save your memories if the tape does pull out from the cassette?

If the tape is pulled or eaten by the VCR:

  • Very carefully pull the tape out of the VCR. You may have to take the top off of the VCR in order to see the inner mechanisms. 
  • Gently remove the tape from the idle tire and pull out from the VCR. 
  • You will want to use a flat head screwdriver, an eraser on a pencil, or your finger to plug into the white circle on the back of the VHS tape and slowly begin to twist to rewind the tape. It will slowly pull the tape back into the cassette. 
  • If the tape is twisted, crinkled, or torn you may want to place the tape into a ziploc bag to keep safe and seek professional help.

If you still have your tapes in tact:

Yep, it’s that simple. By digitizing your tapes, you will never have to tiptoe around playing your memories in a VCR. Your tapes will be digitized and preserved so you can rewatch them digitally again and again. Plus, you can share them with your family and friends at a click of a button! Make sure you keep your tapes safe and easily digitize them with Southtree

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