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Upsamplers, DACs, jitter, shakes and analogue withdrawals, this is it.

If the replacemetn is cheap enough. I would buy another one and try it

I have swapped laser parts between players.
Some work better than others in a swap.

And yes the player can have small gaps as it tries to correct for poor data reading.

Other things may be the connectors.
Try pulling the multi pin connectors off and reset them back on.

Another problem might be the spindle holding the CD may be too high or too low. Usually it is a simple press fit on the motor, and it may not be at the correct height.
If you still have the old one, check and compare the exact height of the spindle CD rest even a tiny difference could cause the problem. As the CD may be just at the edge of the laser ability to reach it, or too close and bumps it.

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