From a mechanical point of view, this sounds like a bad servo or actuator motor in the drive. Is it old? New? The hardware's an ibm thinkpad a31; that's maybe eight or nine years old. Is the drive sluggish to eject the drive, does it feel stiff, like something might be grinding on the tray itself? When it works, the cd drive works well, smoothly with no ominous sounds. Thanks for your answer to my message.