Thank you all for the very helpful (though not exactly what I was hoping to hear) information. Basically, I'm probably out of luck, probably need to get a new CD player for the car, but maybe could get away with trying some old 650's if I can find them.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote:older CD players had trouble with the more compact format
Maybe it's just hopeful thinking on my part, but since it did work about 10% of the time, I'm interpreting this as my CD player "struggling," and having the occasional success. Now I need to go shopping (for blank CDs, I hope, and not a new player).