Charley, I realize this is an oldish post, but I see no post to say you have fixed the problem, so here is a crash course on the mechanicals of a CD or DVD player. The optical led that reads the disc, is mounted on a sled which slides on tracks or rods to traverse the disk from inside to outside (small to large diameter). There is a rack driven by a small pinion fed by a gear train from a motor that powers the movement. The rack is often two racks sandwiched together, and a little coil spring between these racks must be placed in tension, but only a little bit, before the rack pair is meshed with the gear. (Called anti-backlash) This ensures that there is no play between the teeth of the racks and those of the gear, so that any motor drive immediately moves the sled instead of if there was play, there would be a delay in the sled movement. The sled must move positively as there is circuitry which keeps the opto device pointed at the track being read, rather than reading data from say two tracks if it wasn't properly aligned. You can't put too much tension between the racks, just the min. possible. If you for example moved the racks 2 teeth different relative to each other before meshing the gear,, it would get rid of any play to the gear they mesh with, but you are putting too much load on the teeth, and one rack would later jump over a tooth on the gear and you would lose the effectiveness of the idea. So, check on this, also look at any gear such as the pinion on the motor, to make sure that it has not split, when a plastic gear is forced onto a steel shaft, the gear can split, and the teeth either side of the split then become further apart, and will not mesh correctly with the driven gear's teeth. Once you are confident that the gear and rack train are OK, clean the slidey parts, as the lubricant has probably over time, thickened up, which can cause the sled movement to be loaded and sluggish. So, wipe off any old grease or oil on the sliding parts, and put a drop of light oil such as sewing machine oil, either side of the sled, on each rod or track. Movement should feel very free. Then very carefully, clean the lens. If it looks clean and shiny, you may get away without. There is a risk in doing it. You can use a weak detergent on a tissue, but no pressure.The lens panel is mounted on light springs which are fragile. Check that there is no fluff or hairs around the lens or on the tracks, and remove anything that doesn't belong, with tweezers. DO NOT MISTAKE SKINNY WIRES AROUND THE LENS AREA FOR HAIR AND OR FLUFF. Do not pull on the wires with the tweezers or you have a writeoff !
Another thing that can happen, is that the little turntable on which the disc gets clicked, can gradually move down the motor shaft it's pressed onto. On cheap machines, the boss in the centre of the turntable can split where it is pressed onto the motor spindle.If the turntable moves down the shaft, the lens cannot achieve a focus on the track it is looking at. If it moved down a great deal, the turntable can scrape on the deck and make a noise and or not work. If the boss in the centre of the turntable is split, sometimes you can fit a little metal sleeve over it to hold it together and make a firm fit on the motor shaft. I hope I have not been too complicated but I have covered most mechanical problems experienced with CDs and DVDs. Electronic problems are another story..