Causes of CD player skipping?

I own a Sony CDP-M555ES 400 CD megachanger that has began skipping pretty badly, especially on tracks 1, 2, and sometimes 3. The problem seems worse with CD-R's and CD-RW's. The tracks will begin playing, and then the player will skip to another place on the track, to the beginning of the track, or to another track.
I tried cleaning the laser lens and this did not work.
Any ideas on what could be causing this?
Thanks for your help.
The laser mechanisms deteriorate with age and use so it is likely this part needs to be replaced. There is also an adjustment process that is required that typically requires some test bench equipment so it is not simply the installation of a new part. As such, it is generally not a self service item.

The last time I did this for a Denon the part was about $70. I've got a scope and other equipment so I was able to do it myself (a service manual showing the alignment procedure was another $15 or $20) but I figure most shops would want an hour or two of labor to replace, adjust and test it so it wouldn't surprise me if the repair cost ran $200 or so.

You may find it wiser to replace the unit from eBay or even use this as the opportunity to move to a PC based music server.
There may be some hope for your Sony yet ...

Sometimes CD players will skip when the factory lubricant on the guide rails that the laser rides on dries up.

When the laser sled comes in contact with the dried up lubircant patch on the guide rails ... it binds up and stops momentarily ... losing lock with the CDs Datastream and skips ... once past the spot where the dried up Lubricant is stuck to the rail ... the laser will regain lock with the data stream ... and the player plays fine until you hit the next patch/spot of dried up lubricant

This sympton is very common with older Cd players that get heavy use ... the LUB dries up

If you're handy ... just remove top cover to see if you can see the guide rails and clean them thoroughly before re-Lubricating

If you don't want to fiddle with the unit ... take it to a repair shop and tell them that you want them to clean and adjust the laser and be sure to " LUBRICATE THE GUIDE RAILS"... as a general maintance service ...

If you tell the tech that the player is skipping ... then the tech will just about automatically tell you that the laser assy/drive needs to be replaced (he makes more $$$ replacing drives then cleaning them and he's just about assured that when he replaces the drive with a new one that the skipping will go away.

Your Sony may still have plenty of life left in it ... just don't tell the tech it's skipping ... tell him you want a maintance/service just like you would take your car in for a Lube, Oil, and Filter service

HTH Dave
If it is indeed the laser guide rail lube that is dried up,
what kind of lubricant is used to relube them?
Thanks for your replies so far.
I agree with Dave.
I had the same symptom on my old Yamaha cdx1030 (18 years old and my son is still using it). I used wd-40 to clean the rails then light oil to lub them.
Note: Dont use too much oil so wipe off any excess.
Good Luck
3 in 1 light oil worked for me.
Lube those rails!
It worked!!
I took the cover off, cleaned the rails, lubed them, and the player works perfectly normal now.
Thanks to all of you for saving me some major bucks at the repair shop!
I called the local repair shop Wednesday and they told me my laser assembly was bad, and that it would cost a minimum of $200.00 for parts and labor!
Thanks again to all of you.
Hello, I have the SAME problem as you did.
Can you piont out to me where the Guide
rails are on a Sony CD changer?
Do you have a service manual?
Let me know. Thanks.
CD player gears and the plastic sliders that run atop the rails are made of nylon or Delrin.
DO NOT use regular household oil, 3 in 1, WD40 or any oil with solvents on plastic gears/sliders. WD40 has paraffin in its formula and will leave a sticky deposit.

Most of those lubricants start a chemical reaction with nylon and eventually the nylon part will crack or break. It may take a couple of years but it does happen. If in doubt read the Philips CD player service manuals.

There is a grease made specially for lubricating CD/DVD/VCR nylon parts. It is available through electronics parts stores/distributors.
White lithium grease from Home Depot is OK too, it does not attack plastic parts.
It is also available from Auto Parts stores and on ebay, search for white lithium grease. Avoid the ones mixed with molybdenium, they mess up the parts.
Use sparingly, apply a very thin film with a Q-tip.
Good luck
I found the correct grease.
Search for CDM9 grease on eBay.
Good luck
Wow, nice call Davehrab.

I used to have a decent Sony player that I ditched when it developed a similar problem.

Well, you learn something new everyday....

I'll keep it in my hat for future reference!
Sony CDP-CX300.

I applied with a Q-tip gun oil (that says it has silicone in it) to the single laser guide rail.  That solved my skipping problem.  I observed that the CDs always started skipping between 4.18 and 4:54 minutes.  That was a clear indicator of a "location problem".

I had previously done some disassembly and cleaned the "rack", then re-lubed it with white lithium grease.  This did not work, tho I got a good view of the laser guide rail on the laser assembly that I removed to lube the rack.

To lube the guide rail, I removed the cover, then reached into the access to the guide rail with a Q-tip moderately full of the oil, and wiped the accessible surfaces; the "backside" of the rail opposite the access area could not be reached for lubrication.  The access point is located at the rear left of the player when looking from the front, and in between the black plastic.  Look for the shiny shaft.

There has been many years since previous posts, but those posts were helpful to me.
The player executes normal track play, but the music drops out or skips ahead or backwards, or gets otherwise garbled, during play. You might hear some clicks as the CD Pro attempts to track properly. This type of tracking problem is usually referred to as “skipping,” and may indicate that the CD Pro’s laser current is diminished or that its receptor diodes are failing. It will have particular difficulty reading low-reflectivity discs (e.g. CD recordable and rewritable discs) and discs that may not conform to Red Book specification (e.g. pirated discs or non-major label discs).
from Enco Systems:
Tribol Molub-Alloy 9890 grease is the lubricant recommended by Philips for use on the CD Pro family of modules
0.35 oz of Tribol 9890 grease is shipped to you in a narrow-tip syringe
Application of the very small amounts required on lubrication points is easy with this syringe. If it is worth change the lens and also make sure you lubricate the rail.

Very good advice here guys. Thanks! for sharing.

Sony CDP-CX300 skipping - terrible skipping problem solved 

(modified post repeated for clarity)

I applied gun oil (a thin oil that says it has silicone in it) with a Q-tip to the single metal laser guide rail. That eliminated the skipping problem. Such a simple fix: remove the cover, dab a small amount of oil on the rail. Amazing that something that simple solved the skipping problem. I had observed that CDs always started skipping between 4.18 and 4:54 minutes. That was an indicator of a "location problem".

Detail: Remove the cover. Visually look for the metal guide rail (shaft). It is located at the rear left of the player (where the laser movement mechanisms are located) when looking from the front, and is seen in between the black plastic. The laser mechanism slides on it and this can be observed by powering the unit, selecting a disk, then increasing & decreasing track numbers on a rotating disk - the laser will slide on the rail. Now, reach into the access to the metal guide rail with a Q-tip moderately saturated with oil (3 in 1, gun oil in my case), and wipe along the accessible surface of the metal guide rail surface; the "backside" of the rail opposite the access area cannot be be reached for lubrication without further disassembly. But reach around "behind" the rail as far as practical. This lubrication task is very easy to accomplish and should have been included in the manual.

I had previously done some disassembly and cleaned the black "split drive rack"(gear), then re-lubed it with white lithium grease. [The pinion gear (not seen) and rack move the laser on the metal guide rail]. This lubrication did not solve the skipping problem.

These players are not sold any more, but it sure is convenient to load up as many as 300CDs - and avoid e-wasting an otherwise useful CD player.