DVD players work by using a laser to interpret data on the disc into audio and video signals. The laser's beam is directed to the DVD and the data is reflected back to the lens for reading. If you have a problem with your DVD player not reading discs, the lens is often to blame. Luckily, it's usually a dirty lens that impedes your DVD player's ability to read media. Still, sometimes a lens can simply burn out and stop working, which means a replacement is in order.
Insert a clean, scratch-free disc into the DVD player to see what happens. Sometimes what seems like a faulty lens is really a scratched, dirty DVD that the lens can no longer read. If a clean or new DVD doesn't play in the DVD player, it's obviously a player problem.
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Listen to the machine when you insert the DVD. If you hear noises in the form of a series of clicks and creak-like sounds as the lens and laser both engages and attempt to read the disc, your lens is likely still good, only dirty or otherwise having difficulty reading the disc. If you don't hear noise coming from the machine, your lens could be burned out completely.
Purchase a DVD player cleaning disc. A cleaning disc is formatted with thousands of tiny, microfiber bristles on the underside of the disc. When inserted into the DVD player, the spinning cleaner disc cleans off the surface of the lens to help it play more efficiently. After you've tried cleaning the lens with the disc, insert a clean, new DVD to see if it will read. If not, the lens might still be dirty or be burned out completely.
Flip over the DVD player and locate the screws on the outside of the box. Loosen the screws and gently lift the casing away from the internal hardware. Locate the lens, which will be a small glass bulb under or on the DVD tray. Moisten a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol, then blot off into a clean towel. Gently swab the lens with the alcohol to clear any smudges, then try a clean DVD once again. If your lens had a dirt issue, it should be clean and play again. If not, it's likely burned out and needs to be replaced.
Bring the DVD player to a repair shop to be sure the lens is burned out. If the lens is burned out, it's a simple and inexpensive procedure to replace it for a new one. If it's other problems, including a faulty laser, it may be more economical to purchase a new DVD player.