My garage door opener is on its last legs, should I replace it or try to fix it?


  • The door does not initially move when the button is pushed, but after giving the door a boost it opens.
  • The door works fine on its own, it is definitely a problem with the motor.
  • The motor does not start when disconnected from the door, but giving it a boost makes it spin. So this has nothing to do with the door.

I have worked with electric motors in the past but am far from an expert, and in most cases when dealing with them it was a huge pain in the neck. I'm guessing this is a problem with the brushes, but have never opened up a motor from a garage door opener before so I'm not sure what to expect.

Can these things be repaired, or is it cheaper and easier to buy a replacement?

  • Check the springs and track first. ( If you already have, add that information to the question ) – Brad Gilbert Jul 24 '10 at 1:11
  • Does the motor (by itself) ever start on its own, or does it always require a boost to make it start? Also, what type of door opener is it (chain, belt or screw)? – gregmac Jul 28 '10 at 4:27
  • @gregmac:Motor on it's own requires boost. and it's a chain. – Tester101 Aug 4 '10 at 1:59
  • What kind of motor? – Brad Gilbert Sep 1 '10 at 20:53

Lots of things can be wrong with your garage door or opener:

  1. It could be something as simple as needing to replace the springs. If they are torsion springs, you're going to want to consult a professional, as they can store a deadly amount of tension. Consider it as dangerous as electric repairs.
  2. Some garage door openers operate on battery. You might need to replace them.
  3. Some garage door openers have adjustable settings. This is probably not the problem because you've noticed a degradation in performance and haven't indicated fiddling with the settings at all.
  4. It could be a misaligned track, causing unnecessary work for the motor.
  5. If all else fails, it's the motor. It's cheaper to replace it!
  • 4
    Re: #1 - I consider it more dangerous than electrical repairs! For those that don't know, you have to wind the springs once they're installed, and you do so with two poles as you tighten the spring down. If one of the bars isn't tight enough, the spring can start to unwind with enough force to shatter your forearm. I happily pay someone to replace it! – Jared Harley Jul 29 '10 at 1:09
  • Re: replacing torsion springs: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/12762/… – Mike Partridge Mar 14 '12 at 18:47

I know you've checked the door but here is how you know if the door is okay . . . disconnect the garage door opener and open the garage door half way. If it stays there then the garage door is balanced, otherwise there are problems.

Sure, the motor could be burned out but if the door isn't balanced the replacement unit will burn out too!

If the unit is old I would replace it. Lots of times it's not just the motor but the gears inside too.


As a Garage Door installation professional, my first check is (as you have done) to make sure the door works with the GDO disconnected; if it passes this test then you can have high confidence the GDO is indeed having problems.

First we always look at the age of the opener: all openers have a label, generally on the side or back of the unit, which tells you the year of manufacture. I generally advise that if an opener is 10 years or more in age then it is time to look at replacement.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange - self promotion isn't welcome and such answers get deleted very quickly. However, your had a nugget of useful information so I edited to reveal that. – ChrisF Feb 25 '12 at 10:58

Are you sure the door still moves smoothly? That opener does NOT have enough power to move the door if something is wrong. Try disconnecting the door from the opener and make sure it moves smoothly (springs still good an in adjustment, all wheels move smoothly, etc).

  • Yes door move fine once it starts. It even lifts from a dead start sometimes. – Tester101 Jul 24 '10 at 3:00

Try a simple cheap fix first. Get a can of aerosol electronics cleaner and hose the motor out. There may just be some dust, gunk, or spider eggs binding it up.

If that fails see how easy/cheap it is to just replace the motor.


I have had the same problem. In my case I opened up the housing, and it was filled with a lot of plastic shavings. It turns out the shavings were the main gear which was made smooth over time. I replaced the gear and have had no problems in the last 4 years. It was around $20 for the kit to fix it.

  • Parts are readily available on-line from several sites. Example: youdoitstore.com/cindex.asp You can also try your local garage door dealer. They may be more interested in selling you service, but some will sell parts. – Brian Knoblauch Nov 5 '10 at 12:18

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