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Re: Won't play or record.
This will be a bit difficult because I can't see the unit, but here are a few ideas.
1) Did the arms that pull the tape around the head go all the way around the heads? If not, I would look at the loading motor belt. It may be slipping and not fully loading the tape.
2) Is the tape being pressed up against the pinch roller on the right hand side of the deck? If not, there is a pivot arm that is supposed to pull the tape up to the pinch roller. This arm often gets stuck in the "loaded" position and therefore does not pull the tape up to the pinch roller.
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Do you have any small children who have access to the machine? Kids are notorious for posting coins, half eaten biscuits and bits of toys into the tape slot. 1st give the machine a light shake and see if it rattles, next remove it from any power source and remove the cover. You may find something obvious, if not, reconnect the power, being careful not to touch anything inside, and try to load a tape. Dirty heads WILL playback, but will NOT record. The standard for these machines is load spool to erase head, to video head, to soundhead, then between drive spindle and pinch roller and on to take up spool. Has the tape you are trying to record had the tab removed, if so (like a pre recorded tape) it will NOT record until you place a piece of tape securely over the tab hole.
You can get a general purpose "universal remote" and program it but difficult and tough to get all of the functions to work. I would recommend stepping up the price paid for a remote to around 100 - 120 dollars. The one I recommend is the URC remote. This one can be programmed with multiple components to a single button. There are many out there other than URC but it is one the I use and have found to be very reliable.
You have not mentioned the make and model number of the vcr. Any way the problem is due to end sensor or related circuit. End sensors are photo diods which you can check the shorting with a multy meter.
look to see if tape will fully load and if FF or REWIND work, if not a transport problem, drive mechanism not moving the tape, unit will sense this and shut unit off----even a problem in the loading mechanism for the VHS tape not loading the tape all the way will do the same thing.
Best to check the tape by comparing it with another tape. There could be damage to the case. Check that you can lift the flap at the front. If all else fails or you find damage on the case of the tape, the tape can be removed and placed inside a new blank tape case. The new tape reels would have to be removed first. It's a bit tricky, but as long as you dont touch the tape itself it should work fine.
Have someone look inside---if tape is not loading all the way against the video heads or tape does not move in play-rewind-FF then there is a problem with the transport mechanism which is what performs these functions.
It's on the back edge of any VHS video tape, it looks like a square piece of plastic which is only attached at one side. Break it off and the VCR can't record on the tape. Cover the hole with sticky tape to record again. If your looking for the tab inside the machine just see where the loaded video lands. Most video tapes with it removed will go into automatic play when there's no tab. Also the VCR will eject the tape if any attemp is made to record on a protected tape.
It sounds like the cassette is not releasing the tape so the machine can put it around the heads. This could damage the machine. Don't use it. A two dollar tape is not worth damaging your vcr. Throw it away.