While searching for controllers for my fat PS3, I ended up getting a deal on a slim PS3 with controllers but with a broken DVD. Research indicated the lasers do burn out over time and Sony actually has a dual lens design (separate lens for CD/DVD and Bluray) to extend the life of the Bluray laser. Testing the console, CD’s and DVD’s played fine while game discs could not be read. I opened up the DVD and cleaned the lenses with rubbing alcohol but saw no improvement.
Replacement options include replacing the whole drive, the track assembly or just the lens head. This web page indicate the different models and drive types so you need to make sure you get the correct part for your model number. You can confirm by opening up the DVD drive.
If you replace the entire drive, you need to swap the drive’s main board since the console is married to it. Entire drives were around $45 USD on ebay.
The track assembly is an easier swap than the just laser head and is only a couple bucks more. I found a brand new one on ebay for around $20 USD shipped. The seller’s listing indicates over 1,400 sold.
There are quite a few guides online and on youtube on how to do the replacement. There are three security Torx T8 screws holding the case together. This is the same security screw type used in the fat PS3.
Edit: The part arrived, I installed it and game and blu-ray discs are reading. Make sure you get a new laser and not a used one.
Update: The next day, the game discs were not reading again. I went back and reseated all the connection with no improvement.
Update 2: The seller gave me a RMA to exchange the part and the replacement is working fine.