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Why Do Treadmills Wear Out And How To Slow It Down

why do treadmills wear out

Treadmills are a popular piece of equipment in many gyms, but over time they can start to wear down. Why do treadmills wear out? Simple, abuse from a full-grown human pounding away on it regularly. That, and it’s a machine and all machines wear out.

Treadmills are not complicated machines, but they do have many different parts. The good news is, that most of them are relatively easy to see, monitor, and maintain. It’s important to understand the average life of a treadmill, how to identify if it’s breaking down, and what to do to maintain it.

If you’re noticing that your treadmill is no longer running as smoothly as it used to, then it’s time to start thinking about either replacing it or getting it fixed up. But, if you’re not quite at that point, we’ll give you some pointers on how to delay that dreaded day as long as possible.

How Long Should a Treadmill Last?

This is highly dependent on the quality of the treadmill, the use it gets, the weight of the users, maintenance, and many other factors. But, that said, you should be able to get several worry-free years out of a good treadmill.

A good “rule of thumb” is 10 years, but that will vary based on whether the treadmill is a normal or a commercial model. As you can imagine, the price you pay is normally going to at least partially indicate the longevity of the treadmill. The adage “you get what you pay for” is true much of the time.

That said, most people don’t need anything close to a commercial treadmill. Let’s look at both types of treadmills below and their respective durability.

How Long Do Commercial Treadmills Last?

Commercial treadmills are built to withstand the rigors of a gym environment. They’re usually much more expensive than a normal treadmill, but if you’re looking for high-quality, then this is where it’s at. These treadmills are built to last and with proper maintenance will do so indefinitely.

The parts on these machines are normally very well built and durable, meaning they should be able to go through thousands of hours of use without issue.

Of course, one thing that will wear out on commercial models is the belt itself (more on this in a minute). But even so, most companies offer replacement belts as part of their warranty coverage or for an additional cost. With proper maintenance and care, these treadmills will last for decades.

How Long Do Non-Commercial Treadmills Last?

While most non-commercial treadmills don’t quite have the longevity of their commercial cousins, they still should be able to handle years (at least) of heavy use without any major issues. In fact, many people have used their specialized exercise equipment for 5-10+ years without any trouble at all.

The belt is often going to be one of the first things that start to wear down on a treadmill. This can happen as quickly as 1 year depending on how much you use it and how hard you run on it. This is why it’s important to do everything in your power to ensure the belt doesn’t wear out prematurely.

A new belt for any particular treadmill will cost around $200-$300. This will vary and could be more, but that’s around the average. It’s a good idea to ask before purchasing a treadmill what the cost would be to replace the belt since it is one of the common things that wear out quickly due to the wear and tear on the belt itself.

How Long Does a Treadmill Belt Last?

There are two main kinds of treadmill belts; 1-ply and 2-play. A 1-ply belt will last around 3-5 years and a 2-ply belt will last 5-10 years. This depends on usage, but for the average user these are safe numbers.

Treadmill belts tend to get worn out before other components of the treadmill begin to fail. This is due to the friction between the shoes and the treadmill belt. While most people are concerned with their shoes wearing out on the treadmill, the belt is no different. It’s the other side to that same equation.

Too much friction can increase the rate at which the belt wears out. This can happen if someone drags their feet when running or from larger, heavier runners. Any belt will eventually wear, but more friction will cause it to wear out faster.

Wearing road running shoes on a treadmill is the most common. These shoes tend to have harder soles and are better for the treadmill than, say, wearing trail running shoes on the treadmill. That said, however, the best option may be walking barefoot on a treadmill.

One of the disadvantages of running on a treadmill is the fact that you end up replacing the belt – the road you don’t have to pay for! This could be a non-issue if you use gym equipment instead of your machine at home. Fitness equipment you don’t have to maintain is the best!

How Do You Tell if A Treadmill Is Worn Out?

Like any machine, treadmills require maintenance. It’s very important to check your treadmill belt for wear regularly. As previously stated, your belt should last for quite a while after you purchase it depending on the usage, but you should be good for a while. However, once your treadmill gets up in age (and mileage!) it may start to show signs of an old belt.

Tip: Always check the owner’s manual for exact information, but the basic steps are as follows. You may need an allen wrench or some other small tools like a screwdriver depending on your treadmill.

1/ Unplug Your Treadmill

This one is self-explanatory, but just to make sure. Unplug it from the wall. Anytime you’re going to mess around with the treadmill, unplug it from the power source. This is a precaution one should take with any electronic device.

2/ Visually Inspect the Belt

The simplest thing to do is just look at the belt. Look for discoloration or obvious signs of uneven wear. It can be pretty obvious if there is heavy wear somewhere because the color will be different, however more moderate wear may be tougher to identify with the naked eye.

After looking at the top side, lift the belt to check the underside of the belt. The bottom of the belt can also wear, so it’s important to check that to keep your treadmill working as it should.

3/ Feel The Belt

The next thing to do is feel the belt. Start by running your hands down the sides to see if there is any uneven wear. If so, you’ll feel it. Also, feel the texture of the belt. If the belt is very smooth – smoother in some parts than others – that is a pretty good sign of wear. Think about where the foot is going to contact the belt the most often. That would be a great place to start.

4/ Check The Seam

Most belts have a seam. That is an important thing to check. When damage starts it will often start at the seam because it’s a weak point. Do the same process with the seam. Feel the seam on both sides and make sure there is no fraying or loss of grip on both sides.

Excessive Wear

If excessive wear is found on any part of the treadmill belt’s surface, it may be time to change it. Depending on the amount of wear it most likely needs to be replaced. If the belt is in good shape, you’re good to go for another bit.

Tip: The belt isn’t the only thing that wears out. The treadmill deck and belt are together, so it makes sense to periodically check the deck for wear as well. When you lift the belt, just give it a look as you’re checking the underside of the belt.

It’s important to have a properly functioning treadmill. If several components need to be replaced or are loose, it may be better to get a professional involved. It’s also important to check any other vulnerable area like bolts, lubrication points, the treadmill mat, screws, or whatever else the manufacturer recommends.

If your treadmill is old and has several problems, it may make sense to just replace your treadmill. Oftentimes it’s cheaper to purchase a new treadmill than to fix up an old one if it’s in a state of disrepair.

How Can You Prolong The Life Of Your Treadmill Belt?

If you want to get the most out of your treadmill belt, there are a few things that you can do. First, make sure that you’re using it correctly. This means following the manufacturer’s instructions and not overloading the machine.

Additionally, you should regularly inspect your treadmill belt for signs of wear and tear. If you notice any fraying or cracks, it’s time to replace the belt. If you wait too long to check the belt it may be too late. Generally speaking, issues lead to other issues therefore getting ahead of any maintenance issues is always good.

Finally, keep your treadmill clean and free of debris. This will help to prevent any damage to the belt. If there are any foreign objects on the belt, like sand or dirt or even dust, it will accelerate the wear of the belt by creating excess friction between the shoe and the belt.

How Often Should You Replace Your Treadmill?

treadmill ready for work out

A non-commercial treadmill should last for 5-10 years without any major issues for most people. If you’re running marathons, or are an ultra runner, this may be significantly reduced.

At the same time, if you have a commercial treadmill, it will last longer. With proper maintenance, commercial treadmills can last for decades.

A treadmill can also have an issue that may force you to replace it early. Many times it’s an option to just replace the motor or the belt or whatever other component is needed, but sometimes it can be catastrophic enough to warrant a replacement.

How Do You Maintain a Treadmill?

Maintaining your treadmill is key to ensuring that it lasts as long as possible. Here are a few tips to help you keep your treadmill in good shape:

Clean the machine regularly. Dust and dirt can build up over time and cause the equipment to run less smoothly.

Lubricate the belt and other moving parts regularly. This will help them move more easily and reduce wear and tear.

Keep the machine in a dry environment. Excess moisture can cause damage to the equipment.

Avoid overloading the treadmill. Putting too much weight on it can cause undue stress and wear down the components faster.

How Do I Know if My Treadmill Motor Is Bad?

Treadmill Machine

A treadmill motor going out is not common, but it does happen. One obvious sign is when the motor stops working. If it stops suddenly, and won’t turn back on, that’s is probably not good. There are a few other common signs that are more subtle to be on the look out for as well.

  • Belt slipping. If the belt action doesn’t feel smooth and appears to rapidly change speed or slip, it may be time to get the motor looked at.
  • Slow or lethargic. As your treadmill running speeds increase, your motor may not be able to keep up. The motor lags or makes loud noises like it’s laboring to keep up.
  • Burning smell. If you smell burning when working out on the treadmill, that is a cause for concern.

Tip: These are just a few of the more common signs to be on the lookout for. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a tuneup or a more detailed inspection. Failing to act in maintenance situations can result in significant injury or, at the very least, one of many treadmill accidents.

An old belt, motor issue, belt slide, missing lubricant, loose screws, or anything else that isn’t tight when it should be are all potential problems. It’s important to determine if you need to loosen something, tighten something, or do anything else on a regular basis as you make an effort to keep your treadmill in tip-top shape.

Conclusion

Understanding the life cycle of a treadmill is important when you set out to purchase or maintain one and properly maintaining your treadmill is key to ensuring that it lasts as long as possible. By following the tips we’ve provided, you can help keep your treadmill in good shape and prolong its life.

If you’re noticing any problems with your machine, don’t wait – address them sooner rather than later. And finally, remember to use your treadmill safely and within the limits of what it’s designed to handle. If you use it responsibly and take care of it, you won’t find yourself asking why do treadmills wear out so fast!

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About the author

Jasper loves to write about fitness, running, and anything else that gets him moving outdoors. He's an avid hiker, backpacker, and climber who loves to stay fit so he can make sure he's healthy enough to enjoy his favorite hobbies. He also spends time writing about his true passions in life.

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