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A very likely situation could be that the VHS DECK ASSEMBLY has a jam or a problem. Remove the case of the unit and check for any damages or loose mechanisms, if all works ok and looks ok, slowy , carefully put a tape into the unit and see if there are any jams or anything stopping it from moving.
I had a similar problem, particularly when trying to use the DVD recorder, and when I turned on the unit it made a loud rapid clicking sound, and then immediately shut off. It appears to have been the VCR section of the unit (which I rarely use) that was causing the glitch, and the pragmatic solution was to simply leave a blank VCR cassette in the machine all the time. Then I was able to use the DVD recorder without the noise and shut-off problem. (posted 2009-07-22)
Basic DVD, CDrom Troubleshooting wrong disk ,disk error, First Clean the lens: http://www.ehow.com/how_2036275_clean-lens-dvd.html wont open, wont close, makes clicking/grinding noises etc. http://www.llamma.com/xbox/Repairs/thompson_dvd_tray.htm