Treadmills are like dogs: They thrive on regular attention. In fact, if you don't give your treadmill the care it needs -- that is, preventative maintenance -- you may even void the warranty. We queried two industry experts to find out how to keep your fitness investment running for a long time.
Before the treadmill enters the house
Once it is there
Stevenson breaks maintenance down into a twofold "Golden Rule": Keep the treadmill clean of dust and dirt, and regularly lubricate the walking belt to reduce belt drag, "which is the primary wear area of a treadmill and can contribute to failures of many parts."
Waters takes a similar view, explaining that keeping the deck clean is the most important part of treadmill maintenance -- and that this takes "regular vacuuming and getting around the rollers." He also recommends keeping the treadmill belt properly aligned, which is something you can often do yourself. (Check your owner's manual -- it has directions for aligning the belt, and the troubleshooting section should also list the clues that indicate you need a professional to check out a slipping belt.)
Stuck with a lemon?
A treadmill's warranty is a good indicator of its quality -- if the manufacturer won't back it, you probably don't want to buy it. But sometimes paying thousands of dollars simply isn't an option. That's why we analyzed expert and user reviews to find the best treadmills in all price ranges, published in our treadmills and budget treadmills reports.
Waters warns that if you do buy a low-end treadmill and have mechanical problems once the short warranty periods expires, it's "almost is not worth fixing," because just having somebody out to look at it can incur a $75 charge. However, there's hope: Waters points out that if you do have an issue with a treadmill that is no longer under warranty, the manufacturer will sometimes give you advice on how to repair it yourself.