Common Problems with Automatic Gates

Poor Gate Posts and Hinges with Swing Gates

A swing gate post may look strong enough but if it's not very deep in the ground it can move about and cause a gate to drag on the ground preventing a Gate Motor from working properly. Generally if you have trouble opening a gate by hand don't expect a gate motor to open it any easier, the gate must be hung from a good solid post that can support not only the weight of the gate but anyone that may climb on the gate. Automatic swinging gates must also have good strong hinges so can open easily.

Sliding Gate Stops when not fully open 

This is most likely to be the racking have come loose an is no longer connecting with the output gear of the motor.  This is easily checked by crouching down and having a close look at where the rack meets the output gear and open the gate keeping an eye on the gap. Also if there are large trees near the gate the roots can grow under the concrete and move a part of the track up so it contacts the gate or if the ground is not overly stable this can happen too. 

Cabling becoming faulty

Cabling that is buried in the ground should be contained in conduit and be of a type that is suitable for direct burial like TPS Power cable, Low voltage garden lighting cable, CAT 5 or telephone cable rated for in ground use ie. has a tough polythene sheath and is gel filled. Cable that is running to a device that moves like an automatic gate actuator or electric lock or a swing gate should be a flexible cable. Flexible cable should not be buried directly in the ground as it can rot. Flexible cable should be run to a weather proof junction box and joined to a cable that is suitable for burial in the ground. Cable MUST NOT BE JOINED IN THE GROUND! unless it is in a well drained electrical pit and proper gel filled connectors and protection from the elements is used.

Ants, spiders, slugs or lizards getting into the control electronics

Every hole into a control box should be sealed up with silicon to prevent bugs and lizards getting in, although ants can get in to just about anything so moth balls or ant poison may need to be placed in the bottom of the control box to keep them out although this should be used sparingly as it can be corrosive.  


Suitable sealing is necessary for control boxes and sliding gate operators that have electronic circuit boards built in because condensation can build up and cause problems with the electronics.  They must also be kept above any running water on the ground or water spraying in from underneath as this can be a problem.

Gate is too big for the Motor

It is important that a gate motor is powerful enough for the size of a gate and with swinging gates the amount of wind that can blow on the gate can add a lot of force that needs to be allowed for. If too small the operator may work for a while but will more than likely break down constantly and cost a lot more in the long run with service technician fees to keep it going.  If a suitably sized operator was installed in the first place this could be avoided.

Battery back ups that don't work when the power fails!

A problem with some automatic gate motors that have a battery back up is the battery is not conditioned properly when not in use so when the power does fail so does the battery. One way around this is to once a month check the battery by turning the power off the gate operator and use it off the battery a few times while then turn the power on again.

Its best to use a 12V or 24V gate motor that has only a small transformer and is designed so when the gate starts moving it draws power from the battery each time.  This conditions the battery by using it regularly and eliminates the need for regular checks.  A battery should last 3 to 5 years when used this way so once the motor is three years old its a good idea to switch the power off and open and close the gate to test the battery.  If it runs a little slow or not at all then it's time to replace the battery.  

Gate Locks that jam in the wet!

Gate posts quite often move in the ground with weather conditions, ground settling and if near trees or bushes the roots grow and can move the post quite a bit, all can cause an electric strike lock to jam.  The wider the gate the worse the problem.  To resolve this problem either the posts need to be pulled out and new ones installed that are engineered not to move so much or the strike lock replaced with a magnetic clamp.

Poor Remote Control Range  

If you find that suddenly the range of your remote controls reduces this is most likely because some other wireless device is being used in you area that is interfering with your remote controls. 

... more on Improving Remote Control Range  

Sliding Gate that has become hard move  

The most common reason for this is either tree roots have grown up under the track or other ground movement has caused a high spot on the track that the gate rubs on or screws holding the wheels on have come loose and are rubbing on the track.  The solution to this is to drop the gate down on the ground and tighten or replace any loose screws or pack the wheels out so the gate sits a little higher off the track and doesn't run on it.

... more on Sliding Gates on Sloping or Uneven Ground

An Automatic Sliding Gate that Stops before fully open

The most common reason for this is the racking on the gate coming loose, tree roots growing under the track or some other form of ground movement causing the rack to no longer contact the out gear of the gate motor.  The solution to this is to loosen the screws for the track 1 or 2 metres at a time making sure that it is only 1mm or so above the output gear.

  ... more on Installed a Sliding Gate Motor