What To Do When Your Car Is Trapped In the Garage

August 12, 2014 diy door garage how remove repair springs torsion

Most of us have emulated Indiana Jones more than once, hitting the button to close the garage door, and rushing outside before being 'trapped' inside. Unfortunately, there may come a time when your vehicle really does get stuck in the garage. 

Safety First

If your vehicle is stuck in the garage, and you’re also in the garage, hopefully your garage has a side entrance or window if the car is running.

Replace the Batteries in Your Garage Opener or Try the Wall Switch

The first troubleshooting methods you can try are the simplest — first, make sure the batteries in your clicker are working. You can also try to open the door via the wall switch.

The last bit of troubleshooting you can try is checking your garage door opener's connection. The 'brains' of the opener function on electricity, and can sometimes become unplugged near the ceiling. If the unit looks plugged in, make sure a fuse isn't tripped that could be causing the door to stay closed. Another issue that might be preventing the door from opening is the sensors mounted on both sides of the door. Although this would typically cause the door to stay open, check to make sure the two sensors aren't bent, and are emitting a red or green light towards each other.

Manually Open

After following these steps, you may still have a closed door. Once you've eliminated the possibility of the simplest malfunctions that may be preventing your garage door from opening, you can engage the garage door into manual mode to lift it and get your vehicle out. Garage doors contain a red cord that can easily be pulled to lift the door off the tracks and slide it open and closed. The manual release is designed for easy access during a power outage. The system can be popped back into automatic mode by pulling the cord and sliding the release back towards the opener.

When Your Door is Off The Tracks

Sometimes when your roller comes off the tracks, your garage door might not open even in manual mode, leaving your vehicle trapped inside. If multiple rollers have fallen far off the tracks, it’s probably time to call a professional overhead door company to make the repairs. If you attempt to open and close the door while it's off the rollers, you can damage the door panels, meaning a more costly fix. However, if the roller is only slightly out, you can set the door into manual mode to give yourself adequate room, and then use pliers to bend open the track to get the rollers back inside. Finally, bend the track back into place and open and close your door a couple of times to make sure it works adequately. 

A Broken Spring

The springs in your garage door are under an immense amount of pressure because they're the mechanisms that actually move the door, not the tracks or the opener. The springs counterbalance the door, so if the door weighs 200 pounds, an equal spring force of 200 pounds is needed to open  the door. You'll want to let a professional with specialized tools to deal with your door’s torsion springs  — they can literally be deadly to repair under all that pressure.

Another Option if the Car’s Inside But You’re Outside

If you’re stuck outside your garage, it is possible to open the door from the outside by shimmying open the area above the door and using a coat hanger to latch onto, and trip, the manual release lever. You should familiarize yourself with how the mechanism works. (Be aware that criminals can also use this method to access your home.)

When your car is trapped in the garage, it's definitely a nuisance, but it's not the end of the world. If the simple troubleshooting tips offered here don’t solve the issue, call a garage door professional and call a cab or call a friend for a ride to work. Don’t risk damage to your door, your car, or worse – yourself. It takes a professional garage door service less than 24 hours to arrive on-site and fix your problem.