Dirty optics, mechanical problems and worn lasers are common problems with older CD players that can cause degraded performance during playback or the complete failure of the unit. Optic and laser issues often lead to poor audio quality or skipping, while a mechanical problem such as a failing motor may affect the speed of the spindle of a CD player or the ability to open and close the player's disc tray.
CD player failures can be classified into hard failures, which totally disable the player, and soft failures, which lead to problems with playback performance or other inconveniences but do not render the player totally defunct. Both categories of failures are often due to mechanical issues. Potential mechanical issues include a myriad of potential problems such as worn parts, accumulation of debris on moving parts and misaligned mechanisms as well as failures of the motors used to move spin the disc and open and close the disc tray. Fortunately, many of these issues are fairly obvious upon inspection of the player. For example, a CD player that cannot open or close due to hair and dirt jamming the tracks of the disc tray likely has visually obvious accumulations of those materials on the tracks or on the tray itself.
Dirty optics are another common cause of problems with playback with older CD players, but sufficiently occluded components could potentially cause the CD player to fail to play discs at all. The lens of the optic pickup is the most commonly dirtied optical part in a CD player. Fortunately, cleaning the lens often restores affected players back to working order.