How to buy a used treadmill

What to know before buying a treadmill

There are so many benefits to having a treadmill in the home, for everyone from recreational joggers to serious athletes.  But the price of a new treadmill can deter even the most dedicated runners from purchasing a good quality machine.  Buying a used treadmill can be an answer to saving a lot of money, but there are a lot of standards to check first before buying a second hand treadmill.

Structural Stability

The first thing to look for in a used treadmill is the structure of the frame.  Is it a frame that's heavy gauge steel with strong welded joints?  You will be putting lots of stress on the deck of the machine, up to more than two times your body weight per step.  Flimsy frames that sway are the first thing to avoid. You want a treadmill that will hold up to heavy stress from your feet.

Wear and tear : Treadmill Moving Parts

There's lots of moving components in a treadmill, from the motor and drive belt to the walking belt and rollers.  These parts naturally wear out with use, and need to be thoroughly checked before buying a used treadmill.

  1. The motor should sound smooth and not wheezy or grinding, or strained.  The belt turning the rollers (drive belt) should feel strong and not brittle or flimsy.  Also, check the power cord or extension cord while the treadmill motor is running. It shouldn't heat up or trip a fuse in the house circuit breaker. 
  2. The walking belt should be smooth on the underside, with no grooves from wear and tear.  Shine a light underneath to see the belly of the belt.  If you can see worn streaks or grooves from friction, the belt is on it's way out.
  3. The running deck should be absolutely smooth, especially underneath the walking belt.  There should be no wear through the slick surface coating of the deck. If you see exposed wood spots, the deck is too old.  
  4. Check the underside of the deck.  Good ones are designed to be flipped over after one side is worn.  You may need to turn the treadmill on it's side to see this.
  5. The walking belt rollers should turn easily, and not be worn down or have grooves worn into them.

Treadmill interior exam

It's a good idea to take apart the motor housing and check under the hood: the motor shouldn't be dirty or show signs of being stored in outdoor conditions or extreme temperatures.  If it has been in these rust can form, or the heat/cold can wear down waxes and lubricants on the moving parts and deck. It can also wear out rubber belts like the treadmill drive belt.

Also, most treadmills have a built in diagnostic program to give details about the past usage. Accessing it will be detailed in the treadmill user manual, usually available online. At least see how many miles the machine has on it.  If it's pushing 10,000 miles already, you could have a lot of repair work in your future.

Check with the treadmill manufacturer

Before purchasing, get the serial number from the used treadmill, and call the treadmill service center yourself.  Reputable companies stand behind their products and will provide you with over the phone support to identify or troubleshoot any potential problems.  They can also help you confirm the date of manufacture of the treadmill.  You need to know just how old the used treadmill is. Don't just trust the word of the seller.

LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill
Amazon Price: $1,499.99 $899.99 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 26, 2016)


If all these tests check out, and the price is fairly quoted, go ahead and buy a used treadmill.  But if there's hidden maintenance costs like a repairman, parts, etc. that will add up to another $500-$1000, save your money and put it towards a brand new treadmill that will serve you reliably and with warranty support.  It can be dangerous to exercise on a faulty treadmill, so take care with your choice to buy a used treadmill.