Not talking down, just commenting on how Bob's prediction came true. It is interesting you thought I was talking down to you. Says a lot more about you than me.
I know your type however. You don't give a gerbil's rear about historic data or anything else. You came here looking for someone to validate your opinion that the drive is still fine, and that there's some kind of quick fix you can apply to make it all better. Which you'd then run off to tell all your friends that you thought up yourself. When you didn't get the validation you were looking for, you start pouting like a petulant child, and just completely shut down by trying to couch everything in terms of "historical data" and how you trust Apple quality, assuming everyone's working against you. Never letting some facts get in the way of a good ego salving conspiracy theory, like why would a couple of random people on the Internet give their own gerbil's rear about making your life miserable?
Working on a car or something similar does not, in any way, prepare you for working on a computer. It's like saying being a chef prepares you for becoming a surgeon because they both involve using knives. The skill sets are completely different, and working on something mechanical tends to have considerably more room for mistake, just like a chef can always throw out some ingredient that has gone bad. The fact that you're even considering putting some kind of a lens cleaner in a slot loading ODD just proves my point, that you are in no way equipped for this sort of thing. That, and you clearly have no concept of how to eliminate software as a possible cause.
You came here looking for advice on the question. You got it. Two different people told you the exact same thing, but it wasn't the answer you wanted so you chose to completely disregard it. So one has to wonder just how much you "loathe wasting time and resources" because disregarding the advice of two different people who tell you the exact same thing, would seem to be exactly that. Which puts things pretty squarely back in your court. You are free to try whatever you think will solve the problem, since you clearly think you know better, but in a month or so when you've exhausted all those, and you're a little more open to the idea that the drive is bad, I'll make an effort to keep the "I told you so" to a minimum. So, run along then. The sooner you exhaust your supply of false hope the sooner your problem will be resolved.