DVD recorders are rapidly dying off as a consumer product, almost no new models remain on the market, and the blank disc quality changes like the weather nowadays (so the brand that worked well with your recorder for years suddenly doesn't anymore). Panasonics are prone to the dirty drive problem explained by DigaDo above: the more you use a Panasonic, the dirtier it gets, and the more often you need to clean it. Before anything else, try the spindle cleaning instructions DigaDo linked to: this solves 75% of all "my Panasonic is broken" problems. If you still have trouble after cleaning, it may be the blanks you are using. Most blanks today are crap, Memorex being among the worst and Maxell being a roll of the dice with each package. Try some Verbatim DVD-RW and see if that works more reliably (you may need to order it online from Amazon or SuperMediaStore, retail stores seem fixated on Memorex and Sony). If the problem continues with Verbatim, your Panasonic EZ485v may simply be dying, and you'll need to replace it (they are usually not worth repairing).
walino, if you never keep anything for your library and are ONLY interested in record-watch-erase, you should probably look into buying a Magnavox MDR533 DVD/HDD recorder from WalMart. You can order it from their website, or have them ship it to your local store. The advantage of the Magnavox is it can record to its internal hard drive, like a crude TiVO, storing up to 100+ hours of video at the standard SP recording "speed." Using the HDD means never having to worry about blank disc problems ever again. or having to record at the crummier EP speed to fit all your timer recordings on a DVD. Should you ever want to keep something permanently, you can tell the unit to copy the video from its HDD to a DVD, and of course it functions as a DVD player as well. Timer recording works the same way as your EZ485v: there's no internet connection or program grid involved.
The only drawback you might encounter is that the Magnavox tuner is not as "smart" as the one in your EZ485v. Some broadcasters have an annoying habit of messing with their channel frequencies or parameters, and depending on how they do it the Magnavox may suddenly become unable to record that channel in timer mode. Sometimes you can screw around with various tricks to get the channel back, but it can be difficult for the non-techie, and some channel glitches resist all attempts at Magnavox compatibility. WalMart has a very liberal return policy, at least 30 days and sometimes much longer if you ask them nicely, so if you buy a Magnavox be sure to try timer recording every available channel in your town during the first few weeks (even the ones you don't normally watch). If everything works smoothly, you should be good to go. If you notice any "problem channels," you can try the tips suggested here
. If those don't work, you'll need to consider whether or not you can live with difficulty on those channels.
Aside from the Magnavox MDR533, the only new recorders available easily in USA are Toshiba and Magnavox models that are essentially the 533 without a hard drive selling for about half the price. These may seem like a better deal, but you'll again be at the mercy of variable blank DVD quality and eventual DVD drive wear that you face now with your Panasonic. If shopping for a new DVD recorder, the Magnavox 533 is really the only one left worth bothering with (the HDD justifies it). There are no other alternatives unless you opt for one of the PC-related devices mentioned above in other replies. Note, for some strange reason the Panasonic 485v is one of the hottest items on eBay right now: you should be able to sell yours, even "broken", and make enough $ to help pay for a new recorder.