Why Is My Garage Door Shifted to One Side?

We often take the garage door’s smooth opening and closing mechanisms for granted.

So, when something finally gives, you’re left wondering: why has the garage door shifted to one side?

Is it something you can tackle yourself, or would you need to call a professional for help? That’s what we set out to find!

Why Is My Garage Door Shifted to One Side?

While many people use garage doors daily, few know how they actually work. All in all, there are four main parts to the mechanism.

  • Springs
  • Cables
  • Tracks
  • Door panel

Each one of these elements plays a specific role in the system.

The cables are the connectors that link all the components together. The torsion springs counterbalance the door’s weight while the tracks provide a pathway for the door panel to follow.

All these parts must fit perfectly for the door to function as it should. Even minor issues can throw the entire mechanism off balance.

So, let’s take a deep dive into the common culprits that could be causing your garage door to shift to one side and how you can fix them.

Broken Torsion Spring

There are many types of garage doors, but most use a torsion spring to help lift the door. 

The main principle here is that these springs can store and release a massive amount of rotational energy. This is why you only need a relatively small horsepower garage door opener to move a fairly heavy door.

However, things could go wrong after a bit of wear and tear. The constant motion and friction take their toll on the spring and could cause it to deteriorate. You’ll see this in a few ways.

Usually, the springs will lose tension, meaning they won’t be able to provide as much force. When this happens, you’ll notice that movement is slower than it used to be. If you’re opening your garage door manually, it’ll feel heavier than it usually does. 

The second problem to expect here is that the springs might rust. This scenario is even more likely for those who live in a particularly humid area. When this happens, the garage doors will creak and groan or possibly snag and get stuck halfway.

How would that lead to the shifting problem you’re facing?

Well, in most cases, the springs on either side won’t deteriorate at the same rate. This uneven wear means that the doors could shift to one side.

The easiest way to determine if the springs are the issue is to look for any signs of reddish-brown rust or broken links. Replacing the springs is complicated, so it is best to call a professional to tackle the issue seamlessly.

Frayed or Broken Cables

Once you’ve verified the springs aren’t the issue, you can shift your attention to the cables.

The cables transfer the rotational force from the spring to the door panels. Through pulley systems, they distribute energy to make sliding motion possible. Unfortunately, this mechanism involves putting the wires under repeated contraction and extension.

The main catch is that they can jump, unwind, fray, or even break completely.

Jumping is when the cables leave their designated position due to a sudden force. This is similar to a bike chain slipping off the gear. Luckily, this problem is easy to fix by gently coaxing the wires back into place.

Meanwhile, unwinding means the cables will lose some of their tension. So, it’ll take longer for the door to open and close.

This can lead to the cables fraying and eventually breaking if not addressed. When that happens, the garage door will make a shrieking sound. Fraying increases the friction on the cables, leading to breakage. When that happens, your garage door could stop moving altogether.

Fixing this issue will depend on the model of your door. With an exposed cable system, you can remove the old wires and add new ones with minimal effort. On the other hand, for a closed system, a repairman may be your best bet.

Issues With the Garage Door Track

While investigating the cables, you may notice an issue with the tracks. 

Under normal circumstances, the tracks ensure that all the elements are where they should be. However, the tracks will wear down without proper maintenance due to dust build-up and constant friction.

The garage doors could still be functional in this scenario, but the whole system is shaky.

Depending on the nature of the issue, your course of action will change. You can start by dusting the tracks and cleaning the area. Once you have a better view of the system, look for any visible traction marks or bent spots.

If the tracks are slightly out of place, or the damage is minimal, you may be able to repair it yourself.

To do this, you can gently coax the path back into place with pliers. If you face resistance, stop what you’re doing and call a professional to avoid doing more harm.


How can I check the balance of my garage door?

Checking your garage doors are in balance is a simple task.

Start by closing the door from the inside. After that, unlatch the door opener using the manual release to try opening and closing the entrance yourself. Finally, pick the door up to about knee height, then release it.

Well-balanced doors will hold their position, while an imbalanced one will drop.

Is fixing a misaligned garage door expensive?

Generally, the service should be reasonably inexpensive for minor fixes, like mending bent tracks. However, the cost can be much higher if you need to buy multiple spare parts.

The exact estimate will depend on the root cause and where you live. After all, repairmen offer their services at different hourly rates everywhere!

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.