Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rewritable CD's

Why wont my car play rewritable CD’s? Is there something I can do?

You probably need to close or finalize the CD, it will not be rewritable after that but should play.

Thank you.

It may still be re-writable, that’s a property of the dye in the disk. But you’re right about finalizing it. I’ve seen several different CD software packages for PC that leave the disk “open” so you can add to it later. An “open” disk can not be read by any other device unless it has the same software package. To make the disk compatible, you have to finalize or close it.

If you make your own CD’s on a computer just use NERO Express and select the Audio CD function. These discs will play in any CD player. The lead in and lead out feature of NERO will automatically finalize your discs.

I have a friend who buys old cd’s and burns copies. He says the recordable cd’s he burns onto are a little thicker than the originals, and that they don’t work on every cd system. So maybe that is your problem.

If your car is more than 6 or so years old, it could be the CD player was not really designed to play rewritable discs. If you’re using CD-RWs, try just CD-Rs, they are cheap enough to waste without worry, and the reflectivity is a little better. If it still is finicky, try a different brand of discs. If it still won’t play, try cleaning it, and if it still is balky, you may need to just replace it. Some older decks will just not cooperate. has some great units for sale. Their prices are a little higher than some others, but they include a free install kit and phone support, plus they have data and actual photos of the install spaces on most cars, and can tell you if something will fit within fractions of an inch.

I really like NERO for all my CD and DVD burning jobs (not really much call for DVD work),trouble with NERO is the package I bought cost right at 90.00 and I bought 2 of them.

I researched this many years ago. CDs use different technologies than CD-Rs which in turn are different than CD-RW. CD-RW uses organic dyes that change phase for recording. Every CD-RW manufacturer uses a different dye and maybe a different reflecting material as well – presumably to avoid having to pay royalties to patent holders. the signals from CD-RWs are really weak. Older CD readers often couldn’t read them or could only read CD-RWs from some manufacturers. That’s pretty much cleaned up now days. But if you have an older reader, try burning a CDR as oblivion suggests. The dyes used in CDRs change color rather than phase. Signals are much stronger and problems much less likely.

Some links:
CD readability:
CD Lifetime: