How to Fix a TV's Most Common Problems

Solve issues with the screen, settings, and more

At a glance a TV seems simple. However, modern TVs are complex devices with a wide range of features and settings each of which can be problematic. This article will teach you how to fix a TV suffering common issues.

This guide refers to many TV settings in general terms. It's possible your TV will refer to these settings by a different name. We recommend you have the TV's manual available for reference.

The Cause of Common TV Problems

A TV can malfunction or appear to malfunction for many reasons, but most problems can be placed into one of few categories.

  • Brightness: The TV is too dark.
  • Color: The TV's color is unappealing.
  • Aspect ratio: The TV's image looks squashed or stretched.
  • Motion: The TV's motion is too smooth or stutters.
  • Hardware defect: The TV won't turn on or is physically damaged.

The first four issues can be fixed by changing TV settings. Hardware defects and physical damage, however, will require professional repair.

How to Fix a TV With a Dark Image

A TV with a dark image can be, at best, difficult if not impossible to watch. It may not be bright enough to see in a lit room or fail to show detail in dark content. Here's how to fix a TV with a dark image.

  1. Turn off the TV's energy-saving features. Look for a feature called Energy Start, Eco, Green, or similar. Energy-saving features limit a TV's brightness.

  2. Turn off the TV's Ambient Light Sensor, if it has one. An ambient light sensor will limit a TV's brightness depending on how well a room is lit.

  3. Increase the TV's Brightness. Most TVs ship with a default brightness setting much lower than the maximum brightness possible.

  4. Change the TV's contrast value so that it's at the middle of the range of settings available.

    A contrast setting that's too high can be unattractive, so we recommend keeping value towards the middle of the range available.

  5. Change the TV's gamma setting. Gamma settings are often expressed as numbers. A lower number will provide a brighter image.

  6. Factory reset your TV.

    A factory reset will erase any settings you have saved to the TV.

How to Fix a TV With Color Issues

Most TVs offer a wide variety of color settings that significantly change how the TV looks. Adjusting these settings may fix unusual color issues and help you customize the TV to match you preferences.

  1. Change the television's picture mode. Most TVs label this as Picture Mode or Display Mode.

    Flip between modes to see if the color is more to your liking.

  2. Change the TV's color temperature. Flip through the available settings until you find a color temperature to your liking.

  3. Change the TV's color gamut. Flip through the available gamut to find one that is to your liking.

  4. Factory reset your TV.

    A factory reset will erase any settings you have saved to the TV.

How to Fix a TV With a Squashed or Stretched Image

Nearly all modern TVs have a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and most content is made with this in mind. However, you may see a squashed or stretched content when connecting devices designed for older displays.

  1. Change the TV's aspect ratio mode. Content formatted for a 16:9 TV should typically be viewed in a Widescreen or Wide picture size mode.

    If you're viewing older 4:3 content, however, look for a 4:3 Aspect Ratio or Normal picture size setting. This will display the content with black bars on either side, which is the correct way to view 4:3 content on a 16:9 widescreen TV.

  2. Change the aspect ratio of the input device connected to your TV. DVD players, Blu-Ray player, game consoles, streaming sticks, and other devices connected to your TV often have their own aspect ratio setting.

    This should default to a setting appropriate to your TV but, in rare cases, you will need to set it manually.

How to Fix a TV With Motion Issues

A modern TV has to display a range of content with different frame rates and uses an on-board processor to smooth motion. Not everyone likes the results, however.

In general, you should turn off a TV's motion clarity setting if the TV's image appears too smooth.

Select a less aggressive motion clarity settings if you see halos, blocks, or other issues around fast-moving objects.

Increase the motion clarity setting if you think the image stutters or has a low frame rate.

How to Fix a TV That Won't Turn On

Try replacing the batteries in the remote and make sure the TV is plugged in. Otherwise, a TV that does not turn on when the power button is pressed likely has a defect that will need to be repaired.

How to Fix a TV With a Cracked Screen (or Other Damage)

A TV with a cracked screen (or other physical damage) will need to be repaired by a professional. Modern flatscreen TVs, like older CRT televisions, are not designed to be repaired by owners.

A cracked screen repair is likely to be expensive if it's not covered under warranty. The screen is the most expensive component in a modern TV.

Was this page helpful?