How to Fix a CD Player That Skips

If a CD is skipping, first ensure that the disc is working properly by checking to see if it plays on another device. If so, you'll have to uncover the problem in your CD player. Some common problems include: broken parts in the device, physical damage to the CD player, dirt within the player or, most commonly, damage to the lens.

Preparing the CD Player for Cleaning

Before you do anything with the CD player, it is important to remove the batteries and disconnect the device from any power source. Wait half an hour before you begin cleaning the device.

Cleaning the Lens

Use a lens cleaner to clean your CD player's lens properly. Unscrew the top cover of the player and locate the laser lens, which is located just adjacent to the central disc drive. Place a small amount of your cleansing solution on a cotton swab or other applicator that came with a lens cleaning kit; as an alternative to lens cleaner, you can also use isopropyl alcohol. Rub the cotton swab in very light and small circles against the lens until it is clear. Allow the lens to dry, and then proceed to test the CD player. If the CD player is still skipping after the lens has been cleaned, there is likely a hardware problem that needs to be solved.

Hardware Problems

A CD player has a few hardware components that may be causing your discs to skip. Unscrew and open the case of the CD player to locate the read head and potentiometer. Depending on the type of device you have, you may need to remove the bottom cover to gain access to the soldered side of the electronics board — if so, you will need to remove the whole board before you can proceed. In single-play designs, you should be able to find 3 or 4 screws that need to be removed to enable you to take out the whole optical deck. There may also be a grounding contact under the deck held in with one screw. Make sure you replace this exactly as you found it.

Fixing a Misaligned CD Read Head

If your player spins for some time without finding the list of tracks and keeps returning some kind of error message once you place a CD in the player, there is a most likely a problem with the read head. The read head is represented by a small square piece that has a plastic disc sitting on top of it. Using a flathead screwdriver, adjust the plastic disc to realign the read head. This process requires you to plug in the device and hit play and stop until these adjustments fix the CD player. Make sure to put the case back on the CD player each time you test it to avoid any electrical shocks.

Fixing a Misaligned Potentiometer

The potentiometer, which is positioned directly above the laser, may also be misaligned. Usually this is represented by a small square piece that has a plastic disk on top. The disk has a slot adjustable using a small flat head screwdriver. Before making any adjustments, mark the current position of the potentiometer using an indelible marker pen so that it can be returned to its initial position if need arises. You will need to gently adjust the potentiometer and locate the position where the CD player recognizes the disk again and plays it without skipping. Since this is more of a trial and error process, small rotations of plus/minus 30 degrees of rotation are usually recommendable. For safety, put the case back on the CD player each time you test. If you are happy with the performance after the adjustment then put the case back on and you are ready to rock.