If you hear a horrible grinding noise as your garage door shudders up the track when you open it, you should definitely look at replacing the rollers.
Plastic garage door rollers come standard with many new homes. They’re even installed by many aftermarket companies as a cost-saving measure. They’re only meant to last as long as your warranty and often fail soon after it’s expired.
Here’s what my plastic garage door rollers looked like after only one year.
Every time the door opened or closed, the side of the track would shave some of the roller off. Once it was thin enough, chunks started falling off, causing the wheel to bounce as it moved up and down the track.
It sounded like the door wouldn’t open anymore, so I decided to replace the rollers.
Replacing your worn out garage door rollers is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways that you can upgrade your garage door.
Whether you have steel rollers that clang up and down the track or old plastic rollers that look like shredded cheese, for less than the price of dinner you can make your door feel better than new.
How Often Should Garage Door Rollers Be Replaced?
Depending on what material your rollers are made of, they could last a lifetime or as little as one year.
In general, as you move up from plastic to steel to nylon rollers, their lifespan is going to increase.
Plastic rollers will usually only last one to two years at most before needing to be replaced. Steel rollers are more durable and are often rated for between 10,000 to 12,000 cycles. That’s about eight years if you open and close the door four times every single day.
If you never want to have to worry about replacing your garage door rollers again, I recommend going with a nylon roller like the DURA-LIFT Ultra-Life MAX roller, which you’ll see me install a little later on.
They’ve got a sealed bearing to keep the dust and dirt out surrounding a heavy, 14-gauge steel stem for higher load ratings. They’re rated for a staggering 125,000 cycles. You’d need to open and close your garage door ten times every single day for over forty years to hit that!
Garage Door Rollers: Nylon vs Steel vs. Plastic
The first question you have to ask is what you want to gain from replacing your garage door rollers? Do you want durability? Noise reduction?
That decision is going to drive what kind of garage door rollers you should buy.
There are three materials that are commonly used for garage door rollers: plastic, steel and nylon.
Plastic rollers are found in some of the cheaper new construction builds or wherever the contractors wanted to save a bit of money. They’re normally black in color and have no need for lubrication. They’re only designed to be temporary until you get something more durable.
Steel rollers are much more durable and require regular lubrication. If well maintained, they’ll essentially last forever. There’s one other drawback: they’re loud. A steel roller running along a steel track is a recipe for a lot of noise.
Nylon rollers are almost never included with new construction, almost always being added after the fact. Occasionally, if you upgrade your garage door the installer will give you the option of adding nylon rollers. If you’re given that option, take it. Nylon garage door rollers are quieter than steel rollers and much more durable than plastic rollers.
In most cases it’s a good idea to go with nylon over steel. However, there are still other factors you need to consider as well. If you’re considering upgrading, then I recommend checking out my article on nylon vs steel garage door rollers.
That article discusses some of the pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice.
Cost To Replace Garage Door Rollers?
That’s the big question right? How much is it going to cost to replace garage door rollers?
This probably won’t come as much of a shock, but it depends on how big your garage door is.
If you’ve got a seven foot tall garage door, you’ll typically have ten rollers for the entire door. An eight foot tall garage door will add another two rollers for a total of twelve.
Instead, I recommend springing for the Dura-Lift nylon rollers which are higher quality, quieter than the steel rollers and…oh yeah…cheaper too at only around $25 for a set of ten on Amazon or at Home Depot.
How To Replace Garage Door Rollers
Safety Disclaimer: Replacing the bottom roller on a garage door can be extremely dangerous when done incorrectly. NEVER loosen the bolts that secure the bottom fixture to the garage door or remove the cable from the bottom fixture. Failure to adhere to these warnings may cause the door to cock, jamb, or fall, resulting in property damage and/or personal injury or death. Consider yourself warned!
In all seriousness, garage doors are under A LOT of tension, My door has a cable that runs down the side of the door attached to the bottom roller with some red screws. When the door is closed, the cable sounds like a bass guitar string if you pluck it.
So do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor and never unscrew the bottom roller bracket!
Before you get started there are two safety precautions to take:
- Unplug your garage door opener. It’s unlikely that the garage door will start up by itself, but we want to be as safe as possible.
- Unhook the trolley from the garage door arm so you can move the door freely up and down.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Let’s start with the easy ones first.
Do You Need To Bend The Track?
There are two schools of thought with replacing rollers. You can either bend the track or unscrew the brackets.
The people who say to bend the track are going to say that you’re going to need to do it anyway to tackle the bottom roller (more on that later). If you’re already doing it for one set of rollers, you might as well do it for all of them.
But the people who say to unscrew the brackets and just pop in new rollers will tell you that this way is easier and saves you the trouble of popping each section of the garage door off the track. It also saves some wear and tear on the rollers when you’re trying to squeeze them back on the track.
I fall in the second camp. For me, unscrewing the brackets was much simpler and only took a few minutes per roller.
How to Replace Upper Garage Door Rollers
Grab a socket wrench and unscrew the retaining bolts to the brackets that hold the garage door rollers. Again…DO NOT DO THIS FOR THE BOTTOM ROLLER.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it’s important.
Once you’ve got the bracket off, the roller will slide right out of the track.
Its a good idea to inspect your garage door brackets for any damage, especially if you have an older garage door. I had a relatively new house, so mine were OK.
From here, the old plastic roller just falls out and the new one just slides in its place.
When you’re putting the new rollers into the hinges, it’s a good idea to add a little lubricant to help things run smoothly.
I like using WD-40 White Lithium Grease, which is garage-door safe. Just be sure not to use the normal red-cap WD-40.
After the roller is in and you’ve added a little lubricant to it, just screw the bracket back in and move on to the next roller.
How to Replace the Bottom Garage Door Roller
The safest way to replace the bottom roller is to bend the track so you can pop the bottom section out.
Don’t worry. It’s easier than it sounds and it doesn’t do any damage to the track itself.
The first thing you’ll want to do is open the door completely so you get full access to the track without the door getting in your way. Pick a spot on the track that’s about elbow height to you to make it as comfortable as possible. Be sure to pick a spot that’s in the middle of a section of track as well.
Using some heavy plyers, pry the track slightly open for about two inches in length. You just want it open enough to ease the roller wheel out, but not enough so that you warp the track.
Manually lower the door down so that the roller’s wheel is right inside of the section of track you opened up. Using a long screwdriver, pry the door out of the track.
You’ll need to use a bit of leverage here, but be careful of the tension cable.
Once the door pops out of the track, the roller will be able to slide out of the bracket.
As with the other garage door rollers, the new roller can just slide into the old bracket. Be sure to add some white Lithium grease here as well to help the rollers spin smoothly.
Once the roller is in place, it’s time to pop the door panel back in to the track.
For me this took a little finesse and a bit of brute force. You may need to use the long screwdriver again as a pry bar to help you.
Once you pop the roller back in the track, make sure that the door moves along the track smoothly. If you’re satisfied that it’s working properly, we can bend the track back in to place.
Once you’re done, it’s worth taking a few minutes and lubricating your garage door track and hinges to keep them in great shape.
Replacing my old plastic garage door rollers was one of the easiest way to upgrade my garage. The door is quieter, the movement is smoother and I’m expecting the rollers to last at least ten years.
Now that you’ve replaced the rollers, it’s time to give the outside of your garage door some love and attention. I recommend checking out my guide on How to Clean Your Garage Door because it’ll show you a quick and easy way to get your garage door looking like new again.