How to Fix a Car CD Player that Won’t Read?

There are a lot of reasons why a CD player might not want to read CDs. It could be that the lens is dirty or it’s scratched, there can also be a problem with the laser.

If you’re having problems reading your discs and you’re still within warranty, then take it back to where you bought it from for repairs.

how to fix a car cd player that wont read

However, if the warranty period is gone, you can try some easy and effective solutions before asking for professional help!

Identify the Reasons of Disc Error

There can be multiple reasons why a CD player can’t read discs. Here are some notable ones-

Inserting the Disc Incorrectly

The most common problem is inserting the CD upside down. People often insert CDs in the player upside down while they are in a hurry or too much stressed. While most CD players will eject the CD right away, some may attempt to read the disc and show a disc error message.

The disc is Dirty or Scratched

If the disc is dirty or scratched, it can cause issues for the CD player. It also might be due to an irregularly shaped CD/DVD that has been inserted into the player. In such cases, remove and clean the disc carefully with a soft cloth before inserting back in again.

Dirty Lens

The lens of the CD player is a common reason for not being able to read discs. If you have noticed, there could be dust particles or dirt that got into the machine and now it cannot focus properly on the disc’s reflective layer. You can try cleaning the lens by following the process we’ve described in the latter part of this article.

A Defective Laser Lens

In some cases, the laser can be defective or it may not have power. You might find that your CD player isn’t able to read discs because of a faulty lens. If that’s the case, you may need to replace or repair the device.

How to Clean Dirty CD Player Lens?

Before we go into the detail, you need to make sure the problem is caused by a dirty lens, not due to a specific disc. To be fully sure about that, insert a fresh disc in the CD player and try to run that. If that also doesn’t work, proceed with any of these lens cleaning methods-

Method 1: Using Lens Cleaner Discs

To clean the dirt, you can insert a lens cleaner disc in your CD player. These are cheap and safe to use. So, you can buy one for cleaning the lens of the CD drive.

Once you have a quality lens cleaning disc, take it out of the box. Now insert this by keeping the cleaning part down facing. Now let the CD player run for some time.

If a dirty lens is the cause of the problem, you should see the player can read discs properly now.

Method 2: Cleaning the Laser Lens with Cotton

Another easy and effective way to clean the CD player lens (aka laser eye) is to soak a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol and use that to clean up the dirt from the laser eye.

You need to be vigilant while doing this since too much isopropyl alcohol isn’t good for the system. You have to use just enough amount so that isopropyl alcohol doesn’t drip from the swab.

After cleaning up, dry out the lens by using the other end of the swab which was not soaked in alcohol.

Method 3: Using a DIY Lens Cleaning Disc

If you don’t want to buy isopropyl alcohol or a lens cleaner disc, you can make a DIY lens cleaning disc as well to achieve the same. Here’s what you need for that-

  • A fresh blank CD
  • Glue
  • Microfiber cloth

1. First, take an empty CD for the job.

2. Use a sharp razor blade to cut the microfiber cloth exactly the size of the CD radius. The cloth shouldn’t be wider than half an inch. You may feel uncomfortable cutting this thin cloth. I recommend using an empty pen or stick to hold the cloth while cutting, in case you’re not confident about it.

3. After you’ve done cutting, apply glue on the disc surface and put the cloth against the disc. Leave it for an hour to stick to the CD surface and dry out.

4. Once it’s dried out, insert the CD into the CD player and play it. It should clean up the dirty lens pretty easily within a couple of minutes.

5. Eject the CD and check if everything works perfectly or not.


Cleaning your CD player lens is an easy way to fix and avoid many disc read errors.

All it takes are a few minutes of time and the right materials for cleaning, so don’t let dirty discs or lenses stop you from enjoying your favorite music.

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