How to Fix a Garage Door That’s Off Track

Are you a homeowner with a broken garage door? You’re probably wondering if you can repair the door yourself. These devices are designed to be sturdy, but they have sensitive electrical components and may require replacement parts.

Many homeowners with garages are unsure what to do when the door suddenly stops working. When you have places to be, a broken garage door can feel very unlucky and impact your entire routine, especially if you are unable to move your vehicle out. This guide can help you know what to do.

Why Is the Garage Door Off Its Tracks?

Some of the most common issues with a broken garage door are the rollers — responsible for moving the door up and down — falling off their tracks. This can happen from damages to the door or because one or several parts need to be replaced. Some reasons a garage door might be off track are:

1. The Door Was Hit by a Car

Almost everyone who owns a garage has accidentally struck the door at some point. A light impact may leave a small dent. When a garage door is seriously damaged, it can come off its tracks. If your garage door is off track, a collision is a common cause of malfunctions. 

A garage door that has been struck by a vehicle might have damage to its lower sections or the electrical system. When the impact knocks rollers off their tracks, the door will hang from its lift cables. This can be dangerous because the door is at risk of falling.

If you accidentally strike your garage door:

  • Turn off the vehicle and exit the garage.
  • If the door cannot close fully, avoid trying to move it up or down.
  • Call a garage door technician to assist you.
  • Call your insurance agency for your home and vehicle.

2. The Tracks Were Installed or Aligned Improperly

If the quality of your garage door’s horizontal tracks is poor, they may wear out easily. This can happen when your door is poorly installed. If you have a double door, it’s heavier than a standard door. If the horizontal tracks are too weak to support it, even a slight impact can bend the tracks, causing the door to collapse.

Steel of the appropriate gauge and thickness should be used as the material for a large door’s tracks. The tracks should also have an L-shaped angle iron to keep them from bending inward. The tracks need to be parallel and aligned properly with the vertical rails to work.

If your garage door’s rollers are off track, your installer may have failed to make the tracks parallel. This will lead to your door having lasting issues that could result in failure. This can also happen when the bolts holding the horizontal tracks become loose on the bracket. When the bolts are loose or fall out, the bracket will wobble when the door opens and closes. The tracks will eventually bend away from their parallel positions and settle into crooked positions, causing the rollers to fall off.

3. One or Both Rollers Have Broken

If your garage door rollers break earlier than expected, it may be due to wear, low-quality materials or faulty installation. Garage door roller repair requires special tools to get new rollers onto the track. Broken rollers place stress on the door’s hardware system. The additional weight can lead to other rollers breaking or leaving the tracks.

When rollers break, the horizontal rails can also bend from the offset of the door’s weight, leading to these parts needing to be replaced. If your garage door is particularly heavy, the consequences could be more serious.

If the rollers are the incorrect length for the attached steel stem, the door may be slightly out of alignment. Rollers with shorter stems work for single garage doors only. Long-stem rollers are for larger garage doors. Double doors should also have double hinges at the ends. Using double hinges with long-stem rollers ensures the door operates in the best possible capacity.

4. A Lift Cable Broke

Each side of the door has lift cables, which wind around drums attached to steel shafts that hold torsion springs. If the door’s alignment is disrupted, the cable can’t line up in the drum, causing the cable to unravel or break very suddenly.

A broken lift cable is rare compared to damaged tracks and rollers. This can happen when the garage door is older and has gone without maintenance or conditioning for a while. When one of your lift cables breaks, all of the door’s weight skews to the unbroken side. In this case, one side may still be able to fully close, but the damaged side will remain up.

When the door is severely unbalanced from a broken lift cable, rollers can easily come off the tracks. Cable size should be calibrated based on how heavy the door is. The cable’s diameter must be thick enough to accommodate the size of the door. You can avoid cable problems or detect them early if you get inspections.

Tools Needed to Get Your Door Back on Track

The tools required for this type of job are:

  1. Locking pliers: For any kind of garage door repair work, you need one or more sets of locking pliers to hold the door in place. You want to avoid any sliding or moving around when trying to adjust tracks and rollers.
  2. Pliers: You will need another set of pliers for working on the tracks.
  3. A rubber mallet: A mallet can safely work on the tracks without chipping the metal, which is what a hammer would do.
  4. Wood blocks: A small block can cushion the impact of your rubber mallet and prevent any jostling of metal parts when working on your garage door.
  5. Carpenter’s level: This tool allows you to measure evenness. Consider checking if the tracks are even before or after you begin working.

How to Fix an Off-Track Garage Door

If you have any issues with your garage door, the best step you can take is to contact a professional service like the Garage Door Specialists. If you want to try fixing the door yourself, you will have to use the proper tools for the job and follow the best steps for repairing the door.

Below are the steps to fix an off-track garage door:

1. Disconnect the Garage Door

Before you do anything to troubleshoot a broken garage door, you need to avoid causing any more damage. Make sure the opener is unusable by pulling down the rope and releasing the door from the opener.

2. Secure the Locking Pliers

Locate where the wheels are coming off the track and secure the area below with pliers. You will need to partially open your garage door until the rollers align with the broken or damaged part of the track. Secure the locking pliers underneath to stop the door from moving.

3. Correct the Position of the Track

Start by using your regular pliers to pull the track open where the rollers jumped. Pull the outside edge with your pliers until it opens far enough to get the wheels back on. Place a wooden block against the outside edge as a buffer and use a rubber mallet to knock the track into place.

4. Test the Door

Remove your locking pliers and manually raise and lower the garage door a few times to make sure it’s working properly. Use the door’s remote control to see if the door will work automatically. The door’s release mechanism should catch to open the door properly.

Tips for Fixing a Garage Door

The above steps may sound simple, but each job is a little different. Below are some tips for troubleshooting your garage door:

  1. Grease the rollers: Lubricate the rollers with silicone spray or powdered graphite if they seem stuck. They will turn easily this way.
  2. Clean the track: Remove debris lodged inside the track so the rollers can get free.
  3. Check the bolts: Make sure the bolts in the garage door’s tracks are secure. Loose bolts can cause the door to fail.
  4. Check the tracks: Use a carpenter’s level to make sure the tracks are plumb, or vertical. Uneven tracks can lead to the rollers falling out.
  5. Adjust your work: If the tracks are still askew after you have checked with a level, loosen the supporting brackets slightly to adjust the track, then retighten the brackets.
  6. Stay away from the bottom of the door: Avoid adjusting the bottom bracket, which connects to the spring system. If this part is loosened, the tension spring can pop out and injure someone.

Taking Care of Your Rollers

Your door’s rollers are an important component of your garage door’s system. These are the parts that allow the door to move, and they can cause issues without proper maintenance.

Rollers can be steel, nylon or nylon-coated steel. Each roller type has a different lifespan, but all types need some basic maintenance and may eventually require replacement. The ball bearings inside the rollers increase their performance, so having a higher number of them can extend their lifespan.

Maintaining your rollers is an easy process when you know what to look for. You only have to clean the tracks occasionally to prevent a jam from creating a worse problem. You can care for your rollers by:

  1. Keeping them clean: Dirt and debris tend to fall in the tracks and stick to the rollers. Occasionally clean all the dust in the tracks, which can get stuck between rollers that otherwise function well.
  2. Checking for issues: A lot of homeowners pay the rollers on their garage door systems little mind. If you take a closer look, you may detect problems early and prevent the rollers from coming out. 
  3. Greasing your rollers: Remove grime from your rollers with a cleaning solution and lubricate them so they keep turning well. Poorly lubricated rollers turn slowly and may stop working.

When to Contact a Technician

Many homeowners prefer to use the door to their attached garage more than the main entrance. You might also use your garage for storage purposes and raise the door each time you or someone in your household wants to ride bikes or mow your lawn. All of that usage means your garage door will eventually require repairs. Treat your garage door like the valuable part of your home it is. If you notice something working less effectively than usual, hire a technician to check the system.

You might be able to handle some garage door problems on your own, but certain issues require professional intervention. Talk to a service provider about off track garage door’s repair costs before deciding. Contact a professional to handle your door if you have one of the following issues:

  • A broken bottom bracket: When you examine the track, is the bottom bracket broken? Avoid attempting to fix this issue yourself and contact a technician instead. Damage near the bottom of a door is one of the most dangerous garage issues to fix.
  • A lack of tools: Avoid trying to fix a garage door without the correct tools. Using alternative tools could be dangerous or complicate the repair.
  • Limited mobility: Leave this job to a technician if you can’t raise your arms above your head, stand for long periods or have other mobility limitations.

Garage Door Repair Services

Garage doors are exposed to the elements and experience a lot of regular wear. Even the best garage door systems can encounter technical issues, and sometimes the help of a professional can feel like a life-saver. A repair service like Garage Door Specialists ensures your door gets fixed quickly and efficiently. It’s also important for a service to conduct routine professional maintenance on your behalf to prevent accidents or serious malfunctions before they occur.

We provide dependable service, working to fix your garage door when you experience any related major or minor issue. Our technicians will arrive at the job site with everything they need and provide you with options for a timely fix to solve the problem.

We have provided residential garage door services for more than 30 years, winning the Angie’s List Super Service Award multiple times since 2017. We can help fix your door if you are in one of our service areas.

Let the Professionals Fix Your Garage Door

Is your garage door off track? Some issues are easy to resolve, but when you hire a reputable repair and maintenance service, you know the work is done right. Contact Garage Door Specialists to learn more about our services or request repairs.