Today’s minivans offer a lot of new convenience features, from rear seats that fold into the floor itself to motorized sliding doors. They combine comfort, plentiful seating, lots of cargo room and the best of modern technology. Of course, there can be problems here, particularly where your sliding door motor assembly is concerned.

If you have a motorized sliding side door or doors on your minivan, it means that you can open the doors with a single pull of the handle, or a touch of a button on the remote key fob. The motor works to open the latch and then pull the door backward on a track (on some models, the track actually looks a lot like a tank tread, and is located under the door, in a special slot).

When it comes to durability, there’s no set lifespan for your sliding door motor assembly. When properly maintained, it should theoretically last the life of the vehicle. However, even if you’re religious about lubricating the slide and track, these motor assemblies can fail prematurely.

There are quite a few potential problems with sliding door motor assemblies, as they combine both mechanical and electronic operation. The motor itself can burn out if the track is not kept clean and free of debris. You may also find that the cable that allows the motor to operate the latch wears and breaks.

Excessive use can also lead to significant wear and tear, and eventually to premature failure. Basically, the more you use the motor to open and close the door, the faster the motor will fail. Once the motor fails, you will have to open and close the sliding door manually. That won’t keep you off the road, but it can be an inconvenience, as motorized doors are significantly heavier than those without motors.

Signs and symptoms to look for that indicate your sliding door motor assembly might be on the verge of failure, or have already failed, include:

  • Door only opens partway
  • Door opens, but tries to close on its own
  • Door does not open at all with the power button
  • You hear a grinding or metal-on-metal noise from the motor

If you are experiencing any of these problems, or suspect there’s another issue with your vehicle’s sliding door motor assembly, it would be best to get in touch with a certified mechanic. A professional can come inspect the motor, the track, and all other components. They can let you know if a sliding motor door replacement is needed.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Sliding Door Motor Assembly Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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