Why does my CD tray keep ejecting?

A CD or DVD drive that repeatedly opens on its own can be a frustrating technical issue. This problem, often referred to as a “possessed” drive, can occur intermittently or frequently, disrupting computer use and data access. The tray ejects even when no manual eject command has been given, typically while the computer is powered on and operating. This unprompted, automatic ejection can cause errors, interrupt workflows, and make the computer unusable until the tray is closed again. Determining the root cause requires investigation into both hardware and software issues. But once the source of the problem is identified, steps can be taken to stop the bothersome behavior and restore normal CD/DVD drive function.

Mechanical Failure

The eject mechanism inside a CD/DVD drive is a complex series of gears, motors, and sensors. Over time and repeated use, components in this mechanism can wear out or become misaligned, leading to eject issues.

One common mechanical failure is that the gear teeth that transfer force from the eject motor to the tray can become worn down or damaged. This prevents the motor from properly pushing the tray out when eject is triggered (Source). Similarly, the eject motor itself can fail, struggling to generate enough rotational force to eject the disc.

Misalignments in the eject mechanism can also cause repeated, unprompted ejects. If a gear or sensor is slightly out of position, it could continually trigger the eject sequence even when not intended. Physical shocks or drops could shift components out of place.

In summary, worn gears, failed motors, and component misalignments inside the eject mechanism are common mechanical reasons for erratic eject behavior in optical drives. Repairing the mechanism or replacing the drive may be required in severe cases of mechanical failure.

Dirt and Dust

One of the most common causes of a CD/DVD drive ejecting discs is a buildup of dirt, dust, and debris inside the drive. Optical disc drives rely on laser sensors to read data off the disc. These sensors shine a laser onto the surface of the disc and detect the reflections. Even a small amount of dust, dirt, or hair can interfere with the laser and cause read errors. This disruption in the optical sensing can confuse the drive and trigger the eject mechanism in an attempt to rectify the error.

Dust and dirt tend to accumulate over time with normal use of the drive. Sources may include dust in the air, residues from discs, or lint and hair getting sucked into the drive. Some signs that dirt is the culprit include the eject issues happening intermittently or worsening over time. You may also hear grinding noises as the drive struggles to read dirty discs. Cleaning the laser lens and interior components with a dust air spray or drive cleaning kit can often resolve eject problems caused by dirt and debris.

While cleaning may provide a temporary fix, a drive with chronic dust issues may require replacement in the long run. Preventative measures include keeping discs in sleeves when not in use, storing the PC in a clean, dust-free area, and getting into the habit of periodic drive cleaning.

Voltage Spikes

Fluctuations in power or voltage spikes can sometimes cause a CD or DVD player to spontaneously eject discs. This occurs because the eject motor is triggered by voltage spikes that essentially send false signals. According to experts on Z4-Forum, “You won’t be fast enough running from the boot/trunk to the head-unit after reconnecting the leads, so this method only works with 2 people.”

Voltage spikes are brief surges in electrical power that can reach levels far beyond the designated voltage. These spikes usually occur when a high-power electrical device turns on or off. According to a thread on ZPost, voltage spikes can be caused by “a failure of the correct battery voltage.”

When these spikes reach the sensitive electronics of a CD or DVD player, it can scramble the signals and essentially hit the “eject” command randomly. As explained on JustAnswer, “The electronics are a bit of a weak point and they seem to fail when there has be a failure of the correct battery voltage or a voltage spike.”

To prevent voltage spikes from activating the eject motor, use a surge protector, replace old cables that may be prone to voltage drops, and avoid running too many high-power electronics off the same circuit.

Software Conflicts

Software conflicts can sometimes cause a CD or DVD drive to spontaneously eject discs. This typically happens when buggy software sends an erroneous eject command to the drive. There are a few common culprits:

Windows settings – Certain power or sleep settings in Windows can inadvertently trigger disc ejects. Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options and disable any settings like “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.”

Viruses and malware – Some viruses are specifically designed to repeatedly open and close disc drives. Running a full antivirus scan can detect and remove any malicious software causing issues.

Bad drivers – Outdated or corrupt drivers for the CD/DVD drive can miscommunicate with Windows, resulting in random eject commands. Updating to the latest manufacturer-approved driver from the device maker’s website is recommended.

Conflicts with other programs – Certain programs like media apps, disc burning software and games can sometimes clash with the CD drive’s operations. Closing out and uninstalling any unnecessary or problematic programs may help.

If software conflicts are suspected, updating Windows, running antivirus scans, updating drivers and closing problematic apps can help identify and eliminate any errant eject commands being issued.

Loose Cables

Loose internal cables connected to the CD drive can cause intermittent signal issues that may appear as random disc ejects. This typically occurs when the ribbon cable or power cable inside the computer works its way slightly loose from the drive over time. Opening up the computer case and reseating these cables, ensuring they are fully connected to the drive, can often resolve sporadic eject issues.1

If the loose cable theory applies, you may notice the CD drive behaving erratically in other ways too – troubles reading discs, slow response times, etc. Loose cables can create all sorts of glitches. Carefully inspect the connections, remove and reattach the cables, and make sure they are snugly fit. This simple fix may be all that’s needed to stop those annoying random ejects.

Manual Eject Button

Stuck or pressed manual eject buttons on the CD drive can also lead to repeated ejects. The manual eject button is the small pinhole next to the drive tray. If this button gets pressed in or stuck, it can essentially be held down, telling the drive to constantly eject.

To fix this, first try pressing the manual eject button again to see if it is just stuck. Press it a few times firmly to ensure it is not jammed. If the button itself seems fine, the issue may be with the internal switch mechanism. This may require opening up the CD drive case to inspect the internal button and mechanism. Be very careful when doing this, as the inside components can be fragile.

If the button seems broken, the easiest fix is just to replace the CD drive entirely. They can be purchased relatively inexpensively as a replacement part. When installing the new drive, be extra careful not to press in the manual eject button too far to avoid jamming it.


[1] https://www.wikihow.com/Remove-a-Stuck-CD-from-a-Car-CD-Player

Testing and Diagnosing

There are a few steps you can take to test and diagnose why your CD/DVD drive keeps ejecting discs:

First, check if the issue is with the drive itself or something else. Try inserting a disc into another drive if you have one available. If the disc ejects from the second drive as well, then the issue is likely with the disc or something running on your computer rather than the drive hardware.

If the issue only occurs with one drive, check the connections. Disconnect the power and data cables from the drive, inspect them for any damage, and then firmly reconnect them. Loose cables can cause eject issues.

You may also want to try updating or reinstalling the driver software for the drive. Outdated drivers can sometimes lead to glitchy behavior like spontaneous ejecting. You can find and download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website.

If none of those basic steps resolve it, the drive itself is likely faulty. Consider replacing it with a new drive if possible. Optical drives are inexpensive and easy to install as an internal or external unit.

As a last resort, you can try doing a factory reset of the drive’s firmware settings. This will wipe any corrupted data that could be causing issues. Instructions for resetting the firmware are typically found online for each drive model.

Going through this systematic troubleshooting will help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the eject problems with your CD or DVD drive.

Repair or Replace

If the issue appears to be caused by mechanical failure from normal wear and tear, there are some repair options to try before replacing the drive entirely. Simple fixes like cleaning the lens or realigning the motorized mechanism may help temporarily. However, most consumer optical drives have very cheap build quality and plastic parts that degrade over time. Eventually, the mechanical components that open and close the tray can fail outright.

For drives older than 5 years, replacement is usually recommended over repair. The cost of professional data recovery or repair services often exceeds the price of a new drive. Modern drives have better reliability, faster read/write speeds, and support new standards. An outdated drive may not read newer optical disc formats. Replacing an aging drive restores performance and prevents further issues. Most internal drives can be easily swapped out by users in desktop PCs. Laptop optical drives require professional installation.

When shopping for a new drive, match the physical size format and connector type of the original. Most desktops use 5.25″ drives with SATA connections. Laptop drives come in 9.5mm and 12.7mm thicknesses. There are inexpensive and reliable options from major brands like Asus, LG, Samsung, and Pioneer. Consider purchasing an external USB optical drive which can work across different devices if needed.

Preventative Measures

Here are some tips to help prevent your CD/DVD drive from automatically ejecting discs in the future:

Clean the drive – Use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust buildup in the drive. Dust and debris can interfere with the smooth operation of the tray.

Install a solid state drive – Solid state drives have no moving parts and are less prone to mechanical failure than disc drives. Consider replacing your disc drive with an SSD.

Use a surge protector – Voltage spikes from your power supply can sometimes cause glitches that make the drive eject. Using a surge protecting power strip or UPS can help prevent power spikes.

Keep cables secure – Check that all the cables connecting your CD/DVD drive are securely fastened. Loose cables can cause intermittent connection issues.

Avoid pressing the manual eject button – Pressing the small pinhole eject button too forcefully can damage the mechanism and cause improper ejects. Use the software eject option when possible.

Replace the drive – If the drive is several years old, the eject mechanism may be worn out. Replacing an older optical drive with a new one can prevent chronic eject problems.