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The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Treadmill 

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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With a treadmill, you always have easy, efficient access to a cardio workout to reach your fitness goals. In this article, we will go through a few pointers on what to look for before buying used treadmill. Also, there are a couple of tips that you need to know before you spend your cash on a used treadmill. So, here is our treadmill buying guide. Let’s get started.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Treadmill

1. Belt

There are two types of belts on a treadmill:

A woman using the used treadmill she bought
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  • the running belt which is the big surface that you run on;
  • the drive belt which is underneath the motor hood. That belt goes from the motor to the front roller which then makes the running belt move. 

The first thing you need to do before you buy a used treadmill is to inspect the running belt. So, you’re going to have to get your hands a little dirty. 

When belts are new, usually they’re nice and white. They have a cotton backing usually on the back of them to allow them to glide smoothly. As it ages, the belt gets dirty underneath. It accumulates dust, dirt, grime, and all that other things which don’t allow the belt to move nicely and smoothly.

2. Deck

You have to inspect the relationship between the walking belt and the deck. The treadmill deck is a hard, wooden surface of a fitness equipment with a thin melamine-like coating and is located under the running belt. It allows the running belt to move smoothly across the deck. 

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Electric Treadmill
Based on our testing, this is the best budget treadmill for beginners. For less than 400$, it has most essential features that you've come to expect, it's small and sturdy, frankly it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 8 years warranty.

Get your hand underneath the belt, feel the deck surface and make sure that it’s nice and smooth, especially where your feet are. It’s usually always going to be smooth in the lower part of the deck. Because there’s no impact and drag there and your feet are coming up off the belt. If you feel some grooves, that can be an issue.

And the Problem Is…

All the friction is on the area where your feet are planted on the running belt when you run on the treadmill. That’s where the heat buildup is and that’s ultimately what creates issues with your treadmill. You need to go underneath the running belt and you need to feel the top side of that deck. That should be nice and smooth. 

If you feel a bunch of grooves or uneven surfaces in the deck, that means that the belt is starting to wear out. And it’s eating away at that slick surface that’s on top of the wood deck. As the belt wears through that slick surface, it starts to catch on that deck in turn creating friction and heat. Heat is what destroys a treadmill.

The Underneath Part

If you feel some grooves on the deck, be aware you’re probably going to need a new running belt and deck. You can’t just replace the deck, because the belt has already been worn as well. The belts wear from the bottom up. The belts do not wear from the top down. The underneath part matters! 

So, what does a worn-out deck look like? There is a friction on the hardwood surface of a used treadmill deck. Every time the belt rubs on the slit slick black of the deck, it’s basically eating through the belt creating hit friction and heat.

If you don’t replace the deck, the drive motor in the treadmill has to work harder. It heats up and commands more power out of the circuit board that’s next to the motor. In turn, the circuit board will pull more power from the wall. 

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3. Incline Feature

The second thing you need to check before you buy a used treadmill equipment is the incline feature. Everybody knows a treadmill you can adjust the speed to make the running belt go faster or slower. But a lot of people never use the incline feature. That’s what adjusts the pitch of the front of the treadmill to make it go up or down to simulate walking up a hill. 

Test It

So, before you buy a used treadmill, get on the thing and test it out. Hit the Start button and speed it up. Also, elevate the treadmill to make sure that the tread goes all the way up. Check if a heart rate monitor works properly. And then lower it back down to make sure that it goes down properly.

If you don’t test an incline function, you don’t know if it works. If a lift motor just sits dormant and is not used for years on end, it can seize up. Or there can just be a short in that lift motor that the previous owner knew nothing about. So make sure to check the lift motor functions on your used treadmill.

4. Buttons

Before you make a wise decision, you must check all of the buttons on the console. On most especially residential-grade treadmills you have this is nothing more than a fancy sticker. But underneath this sticker is a membrane that basically ties all of these buttons together which goes through a ribbon and communicates up to the main console board.

All of the buttons typically will give you either a beep or some kind of indication that you’ve pressed the button and can do a physical activity. So you need to press each button and make sure that it signifies that it knows that you pressed it. 

Why the Buttons Matter

You might think “I pressed 8 buttons on the lift feature. Maybe I don’t necessarily need that 8 buttons. So it’s no big deal.” The problem is once one button starts to go, they all start to go. Since all of the buttons are tied together through one big membrane system, if one button is bad, the other ones are quick to follow.

So just be aware of that. The buttons will need to be replaced, and the keypad overlays and membranes can typically be replaced relatively inexpensively. But you want to make sure that you checked all that before you get the thing home.

And speaking of buttons, if you press a button and it beeps, that means the brain of the treadmill knows you pressed it. If the treadmill does not make a beep or do the function that you asked for, there is an issue with the machine. You probably have a more major component that is going to need to be replaced on the treadmill.

Where to Buy a Used Treadmill

We wouldn’t recommend buying a commercial-grade treadmill equipment directly from a health club or a gym or a community center. Buying a treadmill from your home is usually a great bet. And it will usually last you many years. 

But if you take a unit directly from a busy health club or community center and take it right home, you could be in the store for some pretty expensive repairs. So you need to know that ahead of time going into it. 

Things to Consider When Buying Used Treadmill

Let’s face it. It is very unlikely that a health club would part with a newer treadmill that is in good shape. If they have a relatively new treadmill and it’s in perfect working order, why would they get rid of it?

Usually, health clubs, gyms, community centers, fitness centers, and commercial facilities will not part with their equipment unless it’s time for an upgrade. They get rid of their old units after they’ve already been beaten to death and it’s time to upgrade them.

Are You Ready for Costly Repairs?

You are more likely to have to replace several parts of a machine if you purchase from one of health clubs, gyms, or community centers. It’s still a good investment if you can get it cheaply enough. Just know you’re probably going to have to put a running belt and a deck on it and a few other small items. 

Just make sure that the drive system is in good shape and you’re up and running for a long time with a commercial-grade unit.

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Does the Age of a Used Treadmill Matter?

To a certain degree, the age of a used treadmill doesn’t matter. It’s more how much has it been used. 

The question that you should be asking yourself is “Are parts still available for this unit?” Because some fitness equipment in people’s homes gets used sporadically or seasonally. When the weather’s nice outside, people are usually outside busy doing other things. And the treadmill may be in the basement for months on end. So, the age of the treadmill comes into the factor but not really. 

Call The Manufacturer

Here’s what you need to do. The seller should easily be able to send you a picture of the model and serial number sticker on the unit. You can call any manufacturer and relatively quickly get an answer as to “Are parts still available for this?” 

Most parts are not universal they can’t go from one unit to the next. They’re unique for each model of a treadmill. So, find out if parts are still available for the unit. If so, then you know if something goes wrong, you can get the thing fixed. 

Tips for Buying a Used Treadmill

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1. Warranty Coverage

Warranties do not transfer from one owner to the next. No matter what. Don’t believe us. While you’re on the phone with the treadmill companies to see if the parts are still available, ask them if the warranty will transfer to you if you buy a used treadmill from the consumer if they bought it new. It will not. 

Our Top Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness Electric Treadmill
Based on our testing, this is the best budget treadmill for beginners. For less than 400$, it has most essential features that you've come to expect, it's small and sturdy, frankly it offers great value for money. It's also backed with an 8 years warranty.

2. Metric Allen Wrenches

Most residential-grade treadmills are made overseas. So if you’re planning on taking that treadmill apart and moving it, plan on bringing metric Allen wrenches

A lot of the bolts that they use to hold these together are not exactly hardened steel. So the bolt heads can round out easily if you use the wrong size Allen wrench. And that turns into a nightmare. So you don’t want to burn up a whole Sunday drilling out bolts, bring metric and standard-size Allen wrenches with you in case.

3. Safety Key

And don’t forget when you load the treadmill up into your truck or on the back of a trailer to move it across town and get it to your place, remove the safety key. These things will easily blow off the back of the truck into the middle of the road and you’ll never get it back. And then you’re going to have to be calling the manufacturers to get a safety key.

Test Before Buying Used Treadmill

Never buy a used treadmill from a place or a person or whatever that’s already been taken apart before you got there. You have to test it and hopefully, the previous points have proven that.

There are many cases when a consumer tries to move their treadmill and accidentally damages a power wire, a network data wire that runs up and down the neck that communicates the electronics. 

They may even damage an electronic port where the cord plugs in. And they don’t even realize it because they took it apart and moved it. And it sits in the garage ready for you to take it home and now it becomes your problem. 

So if you can’t test a used treadmill equipment at somebody’s house or facility, don’t buy it. You just don’t know what you’re getting into.

The Price of Used Treadmills

There are a lot of used treadmills are sold for reasonable price on online sites. The used treadmill prices are lower than the prices of new treadmill brands. You can buy a used treadmill for a third of the going price range. The average price for a used treadmill in good condition can range from $300 to over $800. 

Is it OK to buy a second-hand treadmill?

If you’re a beginner and don’t know which treadmill you need, a used treadmill can be a great investment. Especially, if you buy a well-equipped training equipment. 

What should I look for when buying a secondhand treadmill?

There are many things to consider when buying a used treadmill equipment. Check the running belt, deck, features, and buttons. Test the machine before you buy it. Also, look into the treadmill’s history to know how much has it been used and how many minutes of exercise per week it worked.

What is the average lifespan of a treadmill?

According to the manufacturers, the average lifespan of a treadmill is in the range of between 8 to 10 years. If you oil your treadmill and take care of it properly, the machine can work even longer.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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