How to fix a sticking CD drive

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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Putting a compact disc (CD) into a CD drive usually requires opening a disc tray on the drive. The CD is then put in the disc tray, which closes so that the disc can be read by the drive’s laser. Dirt and debris can accumulate on the rails that the disc tray rides on and cause it to get stuck. Fixing a sticking CD drive’s disc tray requires opening the tray and removing the detriment. The disc tray must be opened carefully since it could break if forced from out of the CD drive. You can fix the disc tray using some common tools found around the house and it shouldn’t take more than a half-hour of your time.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Paper clip
  • Compressed air
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Disconnect the power cord from the CD drive if it is an external drive. Turn off and unplug the computer if the CD drive is built into a computer. Straighten out the paper clip. Insert one end of the paper clip into the small release hole next to or just below where the disc eject tray lies flush with the CD drive's front case.

  2. 2

    Push the end of the paper clip into the release hole until it encounters some tension. Continue pushing until the tension is released by a small click and the disc tray opens slightly from the front of the CD drive. Carefully and slowly pull the disc tray out as far as it will go. Remove any disc from the disc tray.

  3. 3

    Blow off the top, bottom and sides of the disc tray with the compressed air. Moisten a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rub it gently against the side rails of the disc tray. Moisten another cotton swab and rub it against the side rails again. Blow off the side rails with the compressed air.

  4. 4

    Gently wipe off the top of the disc tray with the lint-free cloth. Moisten another cotton swab and rub it gently against the top, bottom and sides of the front lid of the disc tray. Moisten another cotton swab and rub it against the inside of the front lid.

  5. 5

    Gently push the disc tray back in until it closes with a click. Plug the power cord back into the CD drive if it is an external CD drive. Plug the power cord back into the computer and turn on the computer. Press the disc eject button on the CD drive and watch the disc tray eject. It should do so and no longer be stuck.

Tips and warnings

  • A toothpick can substitute for the paper clip if necessary.
  • Do not push down on the disc tray as this could cause it to break off from the rails it rides on.

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