I have a garage door with a rubber belt drive. I would like to know the correct way to clean and lubricate the rails as it is screeching a bit when opening and closing. Can I wash out the rails with soap and water and lubricate the rails and wheels with WD-40 or 3-in-one machine oil?

Here are some photos of the door.

  • Is the sound coming from the door or the operator? Like other have said, no WD-40. They also make specific product for garage door lube, most of those are delivered via an aerosol spray.
    – Tyson
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 13:15
  • 1
    Lubricating the rails is a bit like oiling railroad tracks. They need to be kept clear in order to prevent dust and dirt from acting like miniature chock blocks, but oil won't do anything but help the rails collect said dust and dirt.
    – BillDOe
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 19:52
  • @BillOertell, railroad tracks do get lubricated -- typically, the inside edge of curved sections of track -- to reduce wear.
    – Mark
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 22:42
  • 1
    @Mark, yeah, but I don't think all 140,000 miles+ are lubricated, which wasn't my point anyway.
    – BillDOe
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 19:18

5 Answers 5


I just had an installer come out a couple weeks ago to lubricate my door and show me all the contact points to lubricate because my <1 year old door was doing the same. He recommended using silicone spray lubricant (which dries onto the applied surfaces), and lubricating twice a year - before and after winter.

He didn't mention anything about washing the rails, and I'm not sure why you would want to do so in the first place. Unless they're really clogged full of grease or debris (which they don't appear to be from your pictures) I wouldn't bother.

The lubrication points that he recommended hitting were:

  1. The rollers and roller pins
  2. The hinges on the door (next to the rollers and in the center of the door)
  3. The entire pulley assembly
  4. The entire counter-balance spring (the long black tube above the door)

He mentioned that lubricating the spring in particular is less about lubricating moving parts, and more because the lubricant acts to protect it from corrosion and rust.

He also recommended as more of an optional point that he liked to spray a small amount of lubricant (a quick spray) in the belt track just keep the track and operator components lubricated (but not too much, the operator relies on friction to grip the belt). When asked about the rest of the operator, he said that nothing else needs to be regularly lubricated.


(mild) Soap and water, sure.

Don't use WD-40. It isn't a lubricant. Instead, look for white lithium grease. You can get it in a spray can with one of those small straw like things to put it exactly where you want it.

  • I second the white lithium grease in a spray. I've used it for many applications. The application stays around, lasts a long time. Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:41

The rollers do not slide in the rails so there is no need to lube the rails. Grease could and would drip onto people below. Greasy rails would collect dust and make a mess.

I think the rollers are lifetime lubed with grease. This may dry out over the years and a little lube oil may refresh the grease. Rollers may need to be replaced with better quality ones. I can imagine a spray lube in which a grease or an oil is dissolved in a light solvent like WD-40. The solution would be sprayed into the bearings of a roller and the solvent would evaporate leaving the grease behind. I think there is a spray grease which is just such a product.

I recently had occasion to lube a balky linkage on my bicycle which a bicycle tech would probably take apart to apply grease or oil to. Not wanting to take it apart I dripped some medium oil into the part and followed with a shot of WD-40 to carry the oil deep into the works. This procedure worked. So WD-40 (which is not a lubricant) can be used to carry a lubricant into inaccessible areas.

  • Is there a specification on the rollers like the size or type I should look out for? I am also considering trying to beef up the rails a bit to withstand wind. It is fine, now but I live in hurricane prone area.
    – Rick
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:26

Are you sure it's the rails? My bet is it's the rollers on the door. They have a metal rod that sits within a bracket on the door. I would add some 3-in-1 oil (don't use WD-40) and work it into the casing holding the rod connected to rollers. That's all I've ever done to my doors and it stops the squealing every time.


Use dry lube, the same as on a push bike chain. Dry lube does not attract dirt and is quite long lasting. You can also get it in small plastic bottles that have long nozzles for application. A trade name would be "Muck off"

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