Ok, so you are really feeling like crap right now. You were leaving the house in a hurry, and you backed into your garage door. Either the door did not raise all the way, or you weren’t paying attention and backed out too soon. At this point, what is done is done. The garage door and your car are damaged, so now it’s time to decide what to do next.
If your garage door is off track, your first and foremost concern is getting the door closed, so the home is secure. Hopefully if this happens to you, it’s during normal business hours, so you don’t have to pay overtime fees. In this article, we will address all the common questions related to backing into your garage door, so you can make an informed decision on what next steps you need to take.
Is It Common to Back Into a Garage Door?
It’s actually very common for homeowners to back into garage doors. Garage door companies get phone calls daily regarding someone backing into a garage door. In the old days, someone would walk outside and manually open their garage door manually. After they pulled their car out of the garage, they would get out of the car and manually close their garage door.
Today, most homeowners have no idea how to disengage the garage door from the automatic opener, so the door can be operated manually. Instead, we rush out of the house and press a button to open the garage door. Because we do this routine every day, we always expect the garage door to fully open, so we can back out. Until one day it doesn’t, and the back of your vehicle slams into the garage door as you’re trying to exit.
How Do You Fix a Garage Door That Has Been Backed Into?
This is highly dependent on the type of garage door you have. Garage doors today come in a wide variety of makes and models. The model of garage door you have will determine if you can get replacement sections and if it can be reasonably repaired, so you can get a few more years of service. Newer builder grade garage doors are not repaired as easily due to poor construction from thin metals and in many cases a lack of metal where it should be.
If you lightly hit your garage door, causing a dent or crack, you can have a reinforcement strut installed in many cases that will pull the section back straight and prevent sagging or spreading of any cracks. While this may not resolve any cosmetic damages done to the garage door, it will bring your door back to a mechanically sound state, so it’s operational, preventing full replacement which is the worst-case scenario.
Can You Unbend or Remove Dents in a Garage Door?
Unless the dents in your garage door were created by something large and round like a basketball, it’s normally impossible to remove dents from a garage door section. This is because when a garage door is dented, the metal normally stretches, causing it to tear. If the metal has stretched on your garage door, there is no way to get that back to factory condition. Panel replacement is your only option.
The garage door pictured above is a steel back insulated garage door we installed for a client. They accidentally backed into the garage door in the closed position and ended up with creases and dents down the middle in every section. Because the cost to replace the sections was so ridiculous during the pandemic, the homeowner chose not to have the sections replaced. Steel back sections have metal on both sides, which makes them stronger than standard non-insulated sections. Their garage door was operating perfectly normal even after being hit, so they decided to keep it that way.
Like I mentioned earlier, creases and dents that stretch the metal normally can’t be removed unless it is a large blunt dent caused by something like a basketball, which can normally be pushed out manually. There is no guarantee of this because every garage door is constructed differently, but this has been our experience with standard non-insulated garage doors.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Dent Out of a Garage Door?
Like I mentioned before, dent removal for garage doors is really not a common repair because in many cases there is no good outcome. There are some scenarios where dents can be pushed or hammered out using a 2×4 piece of wood and rubber mallet. Because the metal on garage doors is so thin, many times you will do more damage to the door trying to remove a small dent. If a garage door company can remove a dent from your garage door, it will most likely cost around $79-$200 depending on how many dents you have and how much time they spend on the repair.
Can You Straighten a Garage Door Section?
Yes, if a garage door section has been hit or just needs reinforcement due to age, many times you can install a reinforcement strut on a garage door that is sagging in the middle. Reinforcement struts do wonders for aging or damaged garage doors, and in many cases will prolong the life of a slightly damaged garage door many years down the road. Of course, this repair will be at the discretion of the garage door company you hire, since they will be the ones warranting the work.
How Much to Replace a Garage Door Section?
Garage door section replacement will vary greatly depending on the brand and type of garage door you have. For standard non-insulated garage doors, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250-$450 per section for a single car width garage door and $350-$550 per section for a double car width garage door. Garage door pricing varies greatly and can be all over the map depending on make, model, and location.
If you have an insulated garage door, pricing can be anywhere from $350-$600 per section for a single car width garage door, depending on the type of insulated door you have. Double car width garage door sections can easily range from $450-$700 per section to have them replaced. There are many types and thicknesses of insulated doors that use different foams and construction methods. These prices I have quoted include labor to replace the section and haul off the old section. Please keep in mind, these prices are estimate only and the price you pay is highly dependent on where you’re located.
Another thing to keep in mind is a bottom section will always cost more than an intermediate section above it. The reason for this is the bottom section usually includes an aluminum retainer along with a rubber weather seal. The aluminum retainer on the bottom provides reinforcement for the bottom section, since it does meet in a tongue and groove with another section as the door opens.
Don’t Forget the Cost to Paint Your Garage Door
If you have a garage door section replaced and your door was custom painted, you will need to paint the new section to match your custom color. If it’s been a while since you have painted your garage door, it may be best to completely re-paint the whole garage door if your existing paint has faded. Applying new paint to the new replacement section may stick out like a sore thumb next to the older, faded paint on your other sections.
Most garage doors installed by home builders are white, and the painting contractor will custom paint the door to match the home. This gives the home a custom feel and in some cases will make a plain garage door disappear, therefore not drawing too much attention to it. Some homes want their garage door showcased, while others are drawing attention to different parts of the home.
Check out this article we wrote: How To Paint a Metal Garage Door
How Much to Get the Garage Door Back on Track?
A garage door off track repair can vary greatly depending on the severity of the repair. We have seen everything from a couple of rollers out of the tracks to a garage door completely off track and laying flat on the floor. You can expect to pay anywhere from $150-$350 for labor only to have your garage door put back on track. If your garage door needs any replacement parts after it’s put back on track, that would be extra. Remember, you should never pay more than half the cost of a new garage door to have your existing garage door repaired or put back on track. At that point, you will be better off applying that money into a new garage door.
Here is a link to an article we wrote that goes into greater detail about garage door repair and installation costs: How Much is Garage Door Repair and Installation
Tenant Backed Into Garage Door
The very first question we always get from a property manager is “Was it the tenant’s fault?”
We do garage door repair and installation for over 60 property management companies, so we are well versed when it comes to dealing with tenants backing into garage doors. Many times we have to perform our garage door repair duties as well as crime scene investigation duties trying to figure out if a vehicle hit the garage door. We have to inspect vehicles bumpers and back hatches to see if they are damaged or have paint on them to determine if that was the cause of the damage.
While we are at a tenant’s home, we have to gently ask questions to determine how the accident happened. Because various models of garage doors crumble in so many ways, we are usually left trying to figure out if the damage was caused by a vehicle or closing the door down on a trash can. Either way, the conversation can go south in a heartbeat once someone realizes they are paying for the damages.
If you manage or sell homes, take a look at this article we wrote for realtors and property managers: Garage Door Tips for Realtors and Property Managers
Backed Into Garage Door With Trailer Ball
You can drive down any street and most likely find a small dent or crack in a garage door at about the same height as the average trailer ball on a truck or SUV. This is a very common issue as people try to back their vehicle close to their garage door to make room in the driveway. Even with modern day back up cameras, we still see this happen, as humans love to push the limits. Maybe it’s a game to see how close you can get without hitting the door.
If you put a small dent in your garage door with the trailer ball on your vehicle, the metal will most likely stretch as it’s dented, making it very hard to fix. Yes, like we mentioned earlier, you can install reinforcement struts to straighten sections, but the cosmetic damage is tough to repair. Especially if the dent falls right on one of the shadow grooves, panel edges, or stamped designs in the garage door section. If you want the garage door to look new again, you will most likely need to replace the section.
Hit Garage Door “Frame” With Vehicle
If you hit the garage door wood framing around the opening, it’s not the end of the world. It’s actually very common to do as vehicle’s have gotten much larger over the years, but garage doors have stayed the same size. Most of the time, people have a hard time getting out of their garage door without taking off a mirror. But in many cases, a tire or the side of a vehicle will catch the garage door opening as well, usually tearing off the vinyl or wood trim.
The basic vinyl or 1x trim around your garage door can be replaced by a garage door professional if it gets damaged. This is a very common repair that can be remedied easily. If the 2x wood that actually frames the opening of your garage door gets damaged, this is typically repaired or replaced by a framer, remodeler, or handyman.
If your vehicle hit the brick or main structure of your home, you will need to call a licensed professional remodeling contractor to handle the repair. The reason for this is the garage door opening is a wide span, and it has a header above the garage door that is supported on the ends inside the wall behind the brick. If the home is hit by a vehicle, you will want to make sure the header, framing, and brick lug are still intact and properly supporting the load above the garage door opening.
In some cases, when a garage door jamb is hit by a vehicle, there is only cosmetic damage. The brick and rock that was damaged in the picture above was cosmetic only, and no damage was done to the internal framing of the home or the garage door. This is rarer when a home is hit by a vehicle, but it does happen.
Hit Garage Door Track With Vehicle
Because the vertical garage door track is so close to the edge of the garage door opening, it is common for this to get damaged when back out of the garage. While vertical tracks are strong, they will not win the battle with a vehicle. If you have hit the vertical track on your garage door and damaged it, don’t worry, it is an easy fix.
The cost to have one vertical track replaced on your garage door is around $135-$200 depending on where you live and what parts are needed. Many times, the jamb bracket may be reused on the new vertical track, which will save you money. This is an easy repair that any qualified garage door company can perform in around thirty minutes or less.
Hitting the Front of the Garage Door With Your Vehicle
It is also common for people to run straight into their garage door. Many times this happens when someone is trying to pull their vehicle all the way forward, so they can fit another vehicle behind it in the driveway. Because so many driveways today are short, you have to pull the first vehicle very close to the garage door.
The other reason someone might run straight into their garage door is their foot slips off the brake. We have heard this numerous times, and it is usually when someone is trying to multitask. They are on the phone carry on a conversation that sometimes is stressful, and they end up pulling into the driveway and leaving their car in drive. Once they go to exit the vehicle, the car goes rolling forward because they never put it in park.
What If I Can’t Close My Garage Door After Backing Into It?
First, If you hit your garage door after hours, try to find a reputable company that offers garage door emergency service. If you can’t find one, don’t call just anyone. This is typically when the scammers come out, and they have no problem taking advantage of you. We hear these stories every single day. Make sure the company you call is a local company in your area with trucks that have company logos. There is nothing wrong with asking questions.
If you are having a hard time finding a garage door company, call a local realtor in your area. Realtors are very active members of any community, and they usually have good contractors on speed dial, so they can remedy issues quickly for homes under contract. Most realtors have already vetted many companies and their referrals are spot on.
If you can’t find anyone reputable, remove all the valuables in your garage and leave it open overnight. The walk through door going into the home from the garage should have the same dead bolt as your front door. This door should also be heavier duty like the front door on your home. If you lock the deadbolt on your front door and go to sleep every night, the door in the garage that goes into the home should be no different as long as the original builder installed the correct door.
Why Did My Garage Door Not Go All the Way Up?
There could be several reasons why your garage door did not go up all the way when you tried to open it. The first reason is you could have a broken spring on your garage door. If that is the case, the automatic opener is struggling to open your garage door due to the weight it is having to pull.
Another reason is the limits may need to be adjusted on the automatic opener. Garage door openers with manual or digital limits may need adjustment over time, like any mechanical part. Your opener may run great for years and one day might stop opening all the way, causing the bottom section to hang below the header. If that is the case, you will need to adjust the up travel limit, so the garage door clears the header to prevent you from hitting it with your vehicle.
Last, your garage door may just need a good oil bath. So many times we come across garage doors that barely open and close because they haven’t been serviced in years. By applying a good garage door lubricant you will loosen up all the hinges, rollers, and bearings making it much easier for your automatic opener to perform its duties. You will also extend the life of your opener since it is not having to work as hard.
Should I File My Damaged Garage Door With My Insurance Company?
Whether or not you file an insurance claim for backing into your garage door is highly dependent on the extent of the damage. If you tapped the garage door with your vehicle and the garage door requires minor repairs, filing an insurance claim will most likely cost you more money. Minor scratches on your vehicle can be buffed out, and most garage door companies can repair or put your door back on track for under $350.
If you totaled your garage door and the damage to your vehicle is extensive, then you will most likely want to file a claim with your insurance company. Garage door and vehicle repair costs can add up quickly, far surpassing a standard deductible for vehicle insurance. It’s best to look up your policy and start reading the fine print, so you can better understand the type of coverage you have.
Never Run Your Automatic Opener After Hitting the Garage Door
If you have just hit your garage door with your vehicle, it’s best not to run the automatic opener. The reason for this is you may cause more damage to the garage door sections and the opener. If the garage door jambs or stops in operation, the sections will bend, and you could shear the belt and sprocket on your garage door opener.
True Story: Three New Garage Doors in Three Months
We once had a customer who backed their vehicle into their garage door three times in a three-month period. Yes, you heard me right. The damaged was so bad each time that we had to install three new garage doors in three consecutive months in the same year. Ouch!
If you have backed into your garage door, the first thing you need to do is not panic. In a time when the garage door is used as the main entry into a home, damages from vehicles are becoming more and more common. What’s hilarious about the phone calls we get from customers who have backed into their garage door is the other spouse is usually the one who calls for service.
For instance, if the husband backs into the garage door, the wife makes the phone call for service and vice versa. It’s almost like the spouse enjoys tattle telling on the other one, or maybe the one who backed into the garage door just feels horrible. We are not really sure, but we have always thought this was a funny observation.