What Causes an Office Chair Not Lean Back?

Sometimes, your office chair may not be able to lean back as you want, but you have no idea what causes this and how to fix it. Don’t worry! This article is what you need. FittingChairs will help you answer the question “Why won’t my office chair lean back?” and how to solve this issue.

Why won’t my office chair lean back?

Before fixing the problem, the first thing we need to do is to find out the causes. Why won’t my office chair lean back?

One very common reason why your office chair will not recline is that your tension adjustment knob is set too high.

If your office chair won’t lean back or recline, it’s probably because the tilt engine is stuck or because the gas cylinder needs lubrication as well.

You can fix the manual recline engines with knobs and levers, while automatic recline engines require servicing.

The tilt tension knob will increase or decrease the amount of force needed to make the chair rock or recline backward.

Why won't my office chair lean back

Other common causes for “Why won’t my office chair lean back?” is when someone has spilled something onto the wheel mechanism; the lever lock may need to be replaced; the spring is dislocated or damaged; or something is wrong with your gas cylinder.

How to make the office chair lean back?

Now you know why won’t my office chair lean back, let’s see how to make the office chair lean back.

Testing the recline on your office chair

As mentioned above, there are a few things that can go wrong with your office chair’s recline. So it is important to identify exactly what is wrong with it before you begin repairing it.

The first thing you need to do to test your chair is sitting on it as you normally would for work. Then pull the recline lever outward and lean back on your chair.

If your chair doesn’t budge when you lean back on it, this could be a problem with your tension adjustment. There might be too much tension that your weight is no longer enough to recline the chair.

If the problem is with the lever, you won’t be able to pull the lever outward to unlock the recline, or the lever won’t lock the chair in any position. If this is the case, you might need to replace the lever lock.

If there is zero tension when you unlock the recline lever, this could possibly be a dislocated or damaged spring.

And if there is a popping noise when you recline your chair. This problem is at the bottom of your gas cylinder.

Why won't my office chair lean back

Adjust tension knob

A very common reason for “Why won’t office chair lean back?” is that your tension adjustment knob is set too high, as mentioned above. This isn’t a damage, but it will prevent you from reclining your office chair.

If your tension adjustment knob is set too high, there will be too much tension on the mechanism that it’s almost impossible to push your chair back into recline.

To fix this, turn the tension adjustment knob counterclockwise until you are able to recline your chair.

Turn the knob in small increments until you get a good tension.

Do not turn the knob too loose. This might cause damage to the mechanism if weight is applied abruptly on the chair.

Why won't my office chair lean back

Repair/Replace recline lever

If your recline lever seems to be stuck in one position or moves freely even on the lock position, it’s time to disassemble your chair and find what’s causing it.

To get to the recline lever, remove the top component of your chair (the seat).

Turn your chair upside down and unfasten the four bolts that hold the seat in place.

When the seat is off, you will be able to see all the parts of your mechanism.

If the recline lever is either broken or dented, you will need to replace it with a new one.

If the lever is dislodged from its original position, you can usually push it back into position with your hands or a large screwdriver.

Make sure to lubricate all the moving parts with a good quality lubricant before putting everything back into place.

Replace recliner spring

Why won't my office chair lean back

Your office chair will come with a linear spring or a radial spring that help prevent unwanted jolting when you’re adjusting your recline.

If you don’t feel any tension when you release your recline lever lock, there may be something wrong with your spring.

To check your spring, remove the seat. Once it is removed, you can clearly see your recliner spring. If it appears broken, you will have to replace the spring.

If the spring is simply dislodged from its position, just simply push it back into place.

Tips for fixing tilt tension not working problem

There are some tips that you should consider before starting to fix your chair.

Why won't my office chair lean back

Before doing any changes or start repairing your office chair, make sure to check the positions of all parts. If you don’t remember their positions, you may end up increasing your problem.

Try to use a drill machine or wrench while removing bolts or any other nuts. This will help you solve tilt tension not working properly in less time.

In case any part or bolts get rust, don’t forget to apply grease or oil on it.

Clear properly all parts like cylinder, knob after completing your work.

Don’t forget to use the installation or instruction manual of that chair provided by the company. It will give you an idea of where all parts are installed.


The ability to recline is one of the most important functions of an office chair.

When something goes wrong and your chair can no longer recline, you will need to get it fixed.

And before start fixing the problem, you need to find out what causes your office chair not lean back, of course.

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We hope this article about “Why won’t my office chair lean back?” can help you fix your office chair when it can no longer recline.

Don’t forget to come back to FittingChairs to get more helpful guides.

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