Recliner Won’t Lock in Place

What is worse than a recliner that will not lock in place no matter how many times you try to push it back. It kills the whole purpose of the recliner, right? It has probably frustrated you to the extent that you avoid sitting on the recliner or have thought about buying a new one. If you have thoughts about replacing your old recliner with a new one, we have good news for you! You can easily troubleshoot and fix the problem at home, and your recliner will be just as good as it once was.

There are several reasons why your recliner won’t lock in place. If your recliner has become old, then there is a high possibility of wear and tear in its parts, which means the central mechanism of the recliner is impacted. This, in return, is causing a hindrance in properly locking the recliner in place. It is the central mechanism of your recliner that allows you to push the footrest in and out. Certain problems caused by wear and tear lead to your recliner not locking in place. These problems are broken/loose springs, broken cable release, worn out/loose screws, and loose latch mechanisms.

All these problems have a common cause: wear and tear of mechanism from continuous usage. A worn-down mechanism causes your recliner to stay in its natural reclined position no matter how much you try to close it.

Finding the cause

It is difficult to tell exactly the cause of a worn-down mechanism at this stage. You will need the help of some tools to find the broken part of the mechanism so your recliner can lock in place regardless of what part that is. Ensure you have the following tools at hand: wrenches, screwdrivers, lubricating oil, cloth, and a file.

There are two main ways of fixing the problem: a basic and an advanced repair. The basic repair method caters to various problems, including common wear and tear of the mechanism. It would help if you had all the tools mentioned earlier except the file for this method. The advanced repair method focuses on specific problems and requires all the tools, including the file.

The basic repair method

Gently place your recliner chair on its side to have a better look at the internal mechanism. In this method, you will not be targeting one problem area but fixing any part that seems to be damaged or coming off from the mechanism.

Once the chair is tilted on its side, look for the internal screws and check if any of the screws are loose. Use your screwdriver to tighten each screw carefully. Ensure they are tightly put in place and are not loose anymore.

Next, take some pieces of cloth to cover the fabric or leather around the mechanism. This step ensures that the lubricating oil you are about to use does not grease the fabric around the mechanism frame. Once you have covered the area with cloth, proceed to spray the lubricating oil on all moving parts of the mechanism. If your lubricating oil is not in a spray bottle, use another piece of cloth to apply it to the moving parts. Do not overuse the lubricant since it can cause the mechanism to fall and shift.

Be careful not to spill any lubricating oil on the floor. If you have spilled any oil on the floor, make sure to clean it as soon as possible and restrict access to that area for children. Use some lubricating oil on the mechanism of the handle to ensure that the footrest moves with ease and prevents rusting.

Once you apply the lubricating oil, use a rag to clean off any excess oil from the mechanism. This method works most of the time because the real cause of the recliner not locking in place is rusting, which is prevented by using lubricating oil. But in case of this method is not working, go through the steps of the advanced repair method because that will surely solve your problem.

Advanced repair method

If applying lubricating oil to your recliner’s moving parts and tightening the screws in its mechanism does not work, you should look for a more specific solution. You will need all your tools, including the file. Tilt your recliner on the side without the handle. Use the handle on the other side to push the footrest forward. Extending the footrest forward will expose a small spring in the internal mechanism. Locate this spring and look for the ‘L’ rod it holds. Search for a small bump/burr that could be on the L rod. Use your file to remove the burr by smoothing the metal down until it is completely gone. Filing the metal would allow the spring to sit in its place, allowing the footrest to lock with ease. As a finishing touch, use pieces of cloth to cover the fabric or leather around the mechanism and spray the moving parts with lubricating oil.

Frequently asked questions

How should I keep my recliner maintained?

You should keep it maintained by performing the following steps: tightening screws, lubricating with oil, and testing internal cables for tension.

How often should I perform maintenance on my recliner?

You should follow the steps above at least every 3 to 4 weeks.

Who should I contact if I can’t fix my footrest at home?

If you have a warranty on your recliner from the retailer, you should contact them to help you out for free, but you can contact a local repair guy if you do not have a warranty.


Holding on to your recliner may seem difficult if it is not performing its reclining function properly. You might feel tempted to throw it away or replace it with a new model, but the solution to your problem may be easier than you might have thought. If your recliner is not locking in place, it is not because it is unfixable. Continuous use of the recliner may cause wear and tear in its parts, and all you need to do is understand and find the damaged part so you can fix it using any one of the methods discussed above.

Last updated: 15/05/2022

About Karen Miller

Hello! I'm Karen Miller, an interior designer from Chicago with a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces. After leading designer at Chicago Interior LLC in 2010-2020, I started to share my expertise on home comfort. I'm excited to help you transform your home into a place of comfort and joy. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

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