Have you ever had the frustrating experience of being unable to open the drive door on your CD or DVD drive? Well in 99% of cases it’s due to the rubber drive belt becoming loose, hard or broken. Fortunately there’s an easy fix which takes as little as 10 minutes. Here’s how to do it.
Rescuing old CD and DVD drives.
Fixing old CDROM drives is usually not worth the effort these days as they are cheap and plentiful. Many problems can occur in older DVD and CDROM drives but stuck doors are one of the most common problems I’ve seen on old CDROM / DVD drives.
Many old drives have been thrown out due to this problem which is actually quite easy to fix. Check out my old CDROM collection. Some have read and motor related errors, but quite a few have the door stuck fault which is easily fixable…so don’t be so hasty when it comes to throwing out these drives.
What goes wrong?
The reason for the drive door not opening in 99% of cases is the rubber belt becoming hard and stretched due to age. This causes the drive motor pulley to slip resulting in a clicking / whirling sound and a non opening door.
Original drive belts only have a life span of 3 – 5 years, so this fault may appear even on modern DVD burners and Blu-Ray drives. Older CDROM’s from the 1990’s and early 2000’s are prime candidates for stuck door syndrome and even worse if they have been left unused for a few years, such as in on old PC. For retro PC restorers, getting a classic 1x, 2 x or 4x speed CDROM back into working order is a bonus as it adds the retro appeal.
Fortunately, the rubber belt can be easily replaced even without taking the CD / DVD drive from the case or disassembling the drive itself.
CD / DVD drive belts come in a variety of different sizes depending make and model of the drive. Here’s a selection different size drive belts I’ve removed from old CDROMs. Check out how some belts are distorted into an oval shape rather than the original round shape. The quality of the original belts varies from good to crap. Some manufacturers try to reduce costs by using crap belts.
Replacing the CD / DVD drive belt.
Selecting a new drive belt.
Original drive belts for CDROMs and DVDs come in a variety of different sizes. They can range from 20mm to 50mm in diameter. These are not always easy to find, so you must be prepared to improvise.
1. Rubber band: This is the cheapest way to replace a belt and they are usually pretty easy to find at supermarkets and stationary shops. Priced at a few cents they are cheap and work surprisingly well. Some of the smaller sized rubber bands are harder to find though. The downside of rubber bands is they may only last 3 – 6 months. I’ve had one CD drive going for at least a year with a rubber band drive belt and is still going strong. It depends on the quality of the rubber band.
2. Restore the old belt by using boiling water: I’ve had a 50% success rate by using this method. Put the old belt in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes, dry it off and see how it goes. I’ve been using the microwave oven for this method with good results. Not sure why or how it works but it seems the restore the rubber belt back to working condition. Depends on the state of the original rubber drive belt…sometimes old rubber cannot be restored.
3. Buy a new one: When both of the above methods fail, you’ll need to find an original rubber belt. These can be found on eBay and Amazon. Xbox 360 replacement drive belts may fit some CD / DVD drives. Prices range from reasonable to outrageous.
New belts here:
- Amazon: DVD drive belt
Installing the drive belt.
Replacing the drive belt is the reverse procedure. Use a pair of tweezers, forceps or small pointy pliers to put the drive belt back on. Depending on the type of CD / DVD, it can range from dead easy to a bit tricky. Just be patient and put the belt over the large pulley first and then smaller pulley last.
Restart the PC and confirm the drive door opens and closes when the eject button is pressed.