How to remove a stuck vhs tape from a TV/VCR combo

April 20, 2024
  Reading time 7 minutes

It’s a scenario many of us with old VHS collections know all too well: you’re ready to revisit those cherished memories or vintage films, when, suddenly, your trusty VCR combo betrays you, and a VHS tape gets stuck. This predicament can be frustrating, but don’t despair—there are ways to retrieve your precious VHS cassette without causing harm to either the tape or your equipment. The main topic we’ll explore here is how to safely remove a stuck tape from your TV/VCR combo. If you’re facing such an issue, read on to learn about the careful approach you will need to take to ensure your old VHS tapes can live to see another play.

Understanding the Mechanics of Your TV/VCR Combo

The first step in resolving the issue of a stuck VHS tape is to understand how your VCR combo works. These devices are delicate and have many moving parts that interact with the VHS tape during play, rewind, or fast forward modes. When a tape becomes stuck, it’s typically because the eject mechanism could be jammed, the video heads may need cleaning, or the tape itself has become tangled within the inner workings of the VCR. Before attempting to remove the tape, it’s important to have a basic comprehension of these parts to avoid further damage.

Tools needed to safely extract a stuck VHS tape from a TV/VCR combo

Preparing to Remove the Stuck VHS Tape

Before diving into the rescue mission for your treasured VHS cassette, proper preparation is crucial. The first step is to always unplug your VCR combo to prevent any electrical accidents. Next, you’ll want to gather the right tools for the job; this might include a set of precision screwdrivers, a pair of needle-nose pliers, and a soft cloth for cleaning. If this is your first time attempting such a task, consider equipping yourself with a service manual or guide specific to your device’s make and model.

Detailed Steps to Remove the Stuck VHS Tape

With your workspace prepared and tools at hand, it’s time to initiate the process of removing your stuck VHS tape. The following steps outline a methodical approach to safely free your cassette:

  1. Power Down and Unplug: Ensure that the TV/VCR combo is completely off and unplugged from any power source to avoid the risk of shock or damaging the device. Safety should be your utmost priority.
  2. Open the VCR Casing: Carefully unscrew the outer casing of the VCR using your screwdrivers. Keep track of the screws and make sure not to force anything open.
  3. Locate the Ejection Mechanism: Inside the VCR, you’ll need to find the eject mechanism. It is typically near the front of the VCR, where the tape inserts.
  4. Manual Ejection and Tape Release: Using gentle pressure, try to activate the eject mechanism manually. If the tape does not eject, gently pull on the tape itself, being cautious not to tear or crimp it.
  5. Inspect and Clean the VHS Tape and VCR: Once the tape is out, inspect it for damage and remove any visible debris. Clean the video heads and other components of the VCR with a soft cloth, carefully removing any dust or dirt.

Troubleshooting Common Complications

Even with meticulous following of the steps outlined above, you might encounter complications. If the eject mechanism isn’t budging, you could also try using a flat tool to gently pry the mechanism. If the tape has wound itself around the video heads or other components, exercise extreme caution and patience in unwinding the tape. Sometimes cutting the tape is necessary to protect the VCR, but this should be done as a last resort. After any intervention, try again to activate the eject mechanism.

Common issues causing a VHS tape to jam in a TV/VCR combo unit

Reassembling Your TV/VCR Combo

After successfully removing the tape, the task of putting your TV/VCR combo back together remains. Carefully replace any components that were moved or removed during the process, ensuring all pieces fit like they were before. Secure the outer casing with the screws you’ve set aside, and make sure everything is tight and properly aligned. It’s a good idea to do a brief function test before attempting to play another tape to ensure that no further issues are present.

Preventative Measures for Future Use

To avoid the headache of dealing with another jammed VHS tape in the future, there are several preventative measures you can take. Regularly cleaning your VCR’s video heads and other components can help keep it in top working order. Additionally, you should always handle VHS tapes with care, avoiding exposure to dust, dirt, and other elements that could cause damage. It’s also wise to avoid overusing fragile tapes and to rewind them completely before storing.


In conclusion, while having a VHS tape get stuck in your TV/VCR combo is indeed an inconvenience, it’s not the end of the world. With a calm and collected approach, along with the right tools and techniques, you can usually retrieve your tape without damaging your precious memories or equipment. Remember that the key to success is patience and a gentle touch. By taking good care of your VHS tapes and VCR, you can continue to enjoy your video collection for years to come.

Precautions to prevent damage while extracting a stuck VHS tape from a TV/VCR combo


Can I prevent VHS tapes from getting stuck in my TV/VCR combo?Yes, regular maintenance such as head cleaning and proper handling of tapes can greatly reduce the risk of jams.
Should I attempt to remove a stuck tape if I’m not tech-savvy?If you’re unsure, seek professional assistance. However, following a careful, step-by-step guide may allow you to successfully remove the tape on your own.
Is it safe to use tools inside my TV/VCR combo?Yes, but you must be gentle and ensure the device is unplugged. Use the appropriate tools and follow the instructions accurately.
What should I do if the VHS tape is damaged during removal?For minor damage, you can try a splicing kit. For more significant damage, consider consulting a professional repair service.
Can lubricants be used to help eject a stuck tape?Generally, introducing liquids into a VCR is not recommended. It can cause further damage and should be avoided.