Lubricating a Garage Door in 5 Minutes (Or Less)

If you have a sluggish or noisy garage door, taking a few minutes to lubricate it may be the quick fix you’re looking for.

Like most things, the metal parts of your garage door need a little preventative maintenance to keep working the way they should.

Lubricating your garage door at least once a year should be part of your maintenance process. However, you can follow this process any time you have a noisy door too.


What Should You Use to Lubricate Your Garage Door?

You’re probably used to grabbing that can of WD-40 and just spraying the tracks.

Well, put it back down.

We’ll cover how and when to use regular WD-40 later, but people who use it to lubricate their garage door do more harm than good.

If you go to the garage door lubricant section of your local Lowe’s or Home Depot, you’ll see a lot of options, but they can be broken down into one of two types:

  • Lithium-based grease
  • Silicone-based lubricants

But what’s the difference, and which should you use?

Garage Door Manufacturers Recommended Lubricants

A good place to start is what the manufacturer recommends.

So, I scoured the owner’s manuals for the five major garage door manufacturers to see if they recommend one type of lubricant over the other.

Most had very specific garage door maintenance recommendations. Some of which were surprising.

Amarr specifically recommends lubricating their garage doors yearly with “Amarr Super Lube or similar non-silicone-based lubricant (e.g.- 10W-30 motor oil).”

Cloplay recommends lubricating their garage doors “at least twice per year…with Clopay Garage Door Pro Lube or a synthetic lubricant.” Although they don’t prohibit using a silicone-based lubricant, it’s worth noting that their product does not contain silicone.

Overhead Door doesn’t specify a type of lubrication for their garage doors beyond saying that “a 30w or other medium weight oil is satisfactory.”

Raynor is the only garage door manufacturer to recommend a “silicone or Teflon® based spray.” They also specifically warn against using “WD-40® type lubricant (oil based) or grease.”

Wayne-Dalton, which is who makes my garage door, recommends a “non-silicon based lubricant.”

WD-40 Specialist White Lithium Grease Spray
$9.97
  • Ideal for metal-to-metal applications that require heavy-duty lubrication and protection against rust and corrosion
  • Sprays on evenly as a liquid and sets dry for a thick, protective coating that won't run off. Safe from 0° F to 300° F for unbeatable protection
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
06/26/2022 05:45 am GMT

Can You Use WD-40 to Lubricate a Garage Door?

I love WD-40.

It’s a great spray cleaner and degreaser.

But you shouldn’t use it to lubricate your garage door. In fact, Raynor specifically told us not to use it.

But why?

The ‘WD’ in WD-40 actually stands for Water Displacement. That means it’s designed to help remove rust by breaking down the chemical bonds on oxidized metals.

Sorry…I was a chemistry geek in high school. It comes back sometimes.

The important part to remember is regular WD-40 is great at getting rid of rust or accumulated oils and gunk. It’s cleaning, not lubricating.

However, I’ve got good news if you’re a die-hard WD-40 fan.

WD-40 makes a White Lithium Grease specifically for lubricating garage doors, which is what we’ll be using today.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to use a WD-40 product or that this is the best garage door lubricant.

Any White Lithium grease will do the job.

Note: If you have a Raynor garage door, simply swap out the lithium grease for a silicone lubricant, as they recommend. The steps below remain the same.

Why white lithium or silicone lubricant?

You want your garage door lubricant to cling to the parts, not run down the side of your door. The advantage of both lithium grease and silicone is it stays where you spray it.

Look at this comparison: On the left is regular WD-40, and on the right is lithium grease.

You can see how much regular WD-40 runs after only two seconds.

Which do you think will lubricate your garage door longer?


How Do You Lubricate a Garage Door? (Step by Step Guide)

Now that we’ve got the right tools let’s get started. By the end of this section, we’ll lubricate the moving parts on your garage door system.

Grab your lithium grease or silicone spray and some old rags to clean up any excess lubricant. You may also need a step ladder to access any out-of-reach areas.

Since they’re usually right next to each other, we’ll start by hitting both the rollers and the hinges at the same time.

How to Lubricate Garage Door Rollers & Hinges

Garage door rollers have two parts that need lubrication: the ball bearings inside the roller wheel and the metal shaft that slides in the bracket on the door.

To start, spray some grease at the edge of both sides of the bracket (as shown below). If you get the angle correct, this should force grease into the entire bracket.

Don’t be stingy here.

Our goal is to spread the grease evenly along the entire shaft when we open and close the door.

Do the same for each of the hinges, including the hinges along the center of the door.

The hinges hold the door together while it moves up and down the track, so they take a lot of abuse.

Similar to how we lubricated the roller’s shaft, spray Lithium grease on any of the door hinge’s moving parts. We want the grease to spread evenly and lubricate the entire hinge.

While you’re here, check to see if any bolts are loose and tighten them up, and look for any miscellaneous garage door parts that need to be repaired or replaced.

Finally, it’s a good idea to take a clean, damp rag and wipe off any accumulated dirt, dust or debris on the roller wheel.

Rollers: Lubricating Ball Bearings (optional)

Depending on what type of garage door rollers you have, this step will be optional.

Many rollers will have small ball bearings inside to help them move freely.

If you have rollers with exposed ball bearings, shoot a little grease on them, so they keep moving freely. Some rollers, like the DURA-LIFT rollers you see above, have a sealed system, so there’s nothing to lubricate.

Plastic rollers don’t have bearings either, so there’s nothing to lubricate.

However, plastic rollers weren’t designed to last more than a few years. If you’ve got these on your door, you should look to replace your garage door rollers with nylon rollers as soon as possible.

Garage door lubrication: Door Arm

The garage door arm is what connects the pulley to the door, and it has two moving parts that we need to lubricate.

At the bottom of the arm is a simple hinge where the arm meets the top of your garage door.

Clean off any visible dust buildup with a damp rag, then spray lubricant on any connection points to keep them running smoothly.

Next, do the same with the upper garage door arm where it meets the trolley. This is the part that moves back and forth along the center track.

Remember to clean off any excess grease right away.

Garage Door Lubrication: The Center Rail

Here’s where I had it all wrong.

I was spraying the bottom of the garage door opener’s center rail, thinking that it would help.

It doesn’t.

Think of the track like an upside-down ‘T.’

Your garage door opener has a trolley that runs along the top edge of the track. If you lubricate the bottom of the track, you’re spraying things that will never get touched.

You should be spraying the TOP edge of the center track, which is what makes contact with the edges of the trolley as it moves along, pulling the door up.

In my case, the track is almost completely enclosed, which shields it from any dust or debris that can get in and clog up the system. It doesn’t mean that I get a free pass and never have to lubricate this section.


Clean (Don’t Lubricate) Your Garage Door Tracks

A common misconception is that you need to lubricate your garage door’s track to help the rollers move up and down.

That’s actually doing more harm than good.

Because the track is exposed to the outside air, any sticky substance (like grease) will attract dirt and dust. This causes more friction and slows down the rollers as they run over it.

This will make your garage door opener work harder and a lot noisier.

There’s one and only one place on the track that could maybe use a little grease to keep things running smoothly.

Look on the corner of the track where there are raised bolts holding the track pieces together. Spray a little lubricant on the bolts to make it easier for the rollers to run over them.

How to Clean Your Garage Door Track

Remember that can of the original WD-40 that I told you to put down earlier?

Here’s where you can use it.

As I mentioned, the regular WD-40 with the red cap is a fantastic cleaner and degreaser.

If you’ve got any gunk, grime, or other nasty buildup on your garage track, just spray a little WD-40 on it, wait a minute, and wipe off.

Feel free to use a scouring pad on the more challenging spots.

The goal is to get the track as clean as possible so that the roller wheel slides along with as little drag as possible.

I also recommend looking at your garage door sensors to clean off the lenses and make sure they’re operating correctly.

Final Step: Open the door

The final step is to open and close the garage door a couple of times.

I like to do five or six complete cycles (opening & closing) to ensure the grease is spread evenly across all the parts.

While your door is operating, listen for any squeaks or groans where you may need some additional lubricant.

Your garage door should open and close smoothly. It should also be much quieter than before, even if you didn’t think it was that loud in the first place.

Because I had a new home, my door wasn’t that noisy, but it had started stuttering as it opened.

Five minutes of TLC, and it was like I had a brand new door again.


What’s Next?

Depending on how often your door is used, you should be lubricating your garage door at least once a year. However, if you’re like me, you probably only start thinking about lubrication when you have a noisy garage door.

Still it’s important to stay up to date on your garage door maintenance schedule.

Finally, if you’re still having issues with a noisy or sluggish garage door, it may be time to call a garage door repair professional.