Yes, you need to maintain them!

Jun 9, 2001

The Bottom Line The law of machinery applies to treadmills as well... take care of your machine, it will take care of you.

I sell treadmills for a living. One of the most amusing things to me is how people regard the idea that there is necessary maintenance for treadmills. Sell someone a car and they understand that you have to do preventative maintenance in order to keep it running smoothly. Sell them a motorcycle and they understand the same. Sell them a treadmill, and what do they say when you tell them it won't last forever? "What, are you trying to sell me a bad product?"

As I explain to every customer who buys a treadmill from me, there are certain basic things that any treadmill owner must understand when they are buying their machine, and if the salesman who sold it to you didn't tell you these things, you were misled.

A: A treadmill, just like any other machine with a motor and other moving parts, is subject to wear and tear stemming from normal everyday use. You don't even have to abuse them. Just from you using the machine in the way it was designed to be used, certain things can wear out over time.

B: Eventually, as with every other type of machine, a treadmill will die. These things have lots of moving parts, in addition to electric motors and elaborate consoles. At some point, now matter how well maintained, your home treadmill will report to the great fitness spa in the sky. I've seen some last a decade and others that die in a month. The chance of getting a lemon is always there, in which case you can return it because of defective workmanship.

But what can I do to get the most life out of a treadmill?

There are several thing you can do to decrease the likelihood that your treadmill will die an early death.

1)Lubricating the belt: Some need it, some don't. Many modern treadmills come with lubricated belts from the factory, but it may sometimes need to be re-applied after a certain number of hours in use. Some come with self-lubricating walking belts. Check your owners manual for specifics. A spray bottle full of silicon spray usually sells for a few dollars and can also be used for most fishing and hunting equipment that requires lubrication.

2) On the straight and narrow At some point, the walking belt may slip to one side or the other and start to scrape against the side of the treadmill. There is usually a way in the owner's manual to adjust this. On newer proform treadmills the only tool needed for an adjustment is an allen wrench, which can be used to change the tension on the roller at the rear of the treadmill to move the belt back and fourth.

After a few years, the belt will start to fray and require replacement. This is one of the more expensive repairs, especially considering that it usually happens outside of the regular warranty and is not covered as a defect in workmanship anyway. Expect high labor charges.

You also want to try and keep dirt and carpet debris off the belt, as it can eventually be sucked into the motor where it will accumulate and jam the mechanism. A quick, easy way to do this is to run the machine at low to medium speeds while rubbing a rag dipped in water or cleaning solution back and fourth across the belt as it moves. This way you can rub in one spot and get the whole thing cleaned up.

3) Why does my treadmill's console not light up? At some point, the speed read-out or other information on the console may become inaccurate. The readouts may need to be re-calibrated to keep them correct. In all honesty, I have no clue how to do this. I know the Sears service technicians I work with do it as part of preventative maintenance checkups, but my best advice to owners is that this is a job for those who have experience working on treadmills.

Other problems with the read-out may be that it does not work at all. One thing many people forget is the most obvious solution, to check the batteries. On many treadmills, the electronic console is powered by regular double A batteries that will probably die at some point. If your console stops working properly, check the batteries first. If those are OK, it may well be something that requires servicing by a professional technician. In many cases where there's an internal problem in the wiring of the console, it's cheaper to replace the whole thing than to pay to have it pulled apart and repaired. Parts for these repairs are usually expensive. Bolting on a console usually only involves tightening screws and plugging in a wiring harness, but the console itself is an expensive unit.

4) Motor tune-ups Check the owner's manual. Yours may be a non-maintenance motor, though many of the older machines the motors may require lubrication and other

When purchasing a treadmill, be aware of what the warranty covers and what it doesn't and be prepared to ask questions about it. A store may offer a one year warranty for repair or service but only a 90 day return time-frame. Nordic Track's standard treadmill warranty covers the motor for three years, the frame for two, and the labor for one year. In other words, if something goes wrong in the motor in the first year, all service is free. In the second year, you pay only for the parts, not for the labor. Extended warranties in my opinion usually are a rip-off on most smaller items, but on machines as expensive as treadmills, which can be difficult to work on and very hard to transport back to the store for service, repair agreements or some other type of extended warranty that offers home service may well be worth the money.

And if you don't listen to anything else I say...please remember that walking on any motorized treadmill while it is not turned on strains the motor and is the absolute worst thing you can do for your machine's longevity.

Treadmills are not as cheap as they used to be. The prices have gotten high enough to be considered an investment, one that you want to get many years of trouble-free use out of. Just like with anything else, take care of your machine and it will probably take care of you.

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Member: edward harris
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