Until the past year or so, I would hear the words “you are the biggest cheapskate I know” or other words that have a similar meaning- tightwad, scrooge, skinflint, penny pincher, etc. These words were typically meant to put me down but here in the past year, it has become cool again to be a cheapskate so if you are looking for a lower cost alternative to buying a new
or elliptical, I know exactly what you are thinking because I do it too with all kinds of purchases.
It is possible to be penny wise and pound foolish (to borrow a well-worn phrase) but I don’t think there is anything wrong with holding on to that last nickel so tightly that it screams for mercy. If you have ever cleaned off aluminum foil, folded it neatly, and put in the drawer for future use you know what I am talking about. If you like to save all the leftovers throughout the week and have a “mystery stew” for dinner Friday night, I’ve been there too. If you make your own household cleaners from cheap but effective household chemicals, we might be related and this guide is for you. We would like to help you get a great deal on a used machine without getting burned by buying something that someone else has already worn out.
Thanks for reading our Used Buyer’s Guide. Following this guide is our Treadmill Buyer’s Guide and our Elliptical Trainer Buyer’s Guide. The reason these are included is because we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. These two additional guides are very pertinent- even for a purchase of a used machine and it will give you additional information that you will need for your specific purchase.
In this guide, we will lead you through the process of pricing, identifying, and selecting the correct used machine for your specific goals. As you will find in buying a used machine, there is a completely different world than when compared with buying a new machine. There are many more options and opportunity- both good and bad when purchasing a used treadmill
Is it possible to know everything in this guide and still make a wrong choice? The simple answer is: yes. There are products that are lemons. There are crooks out there that will take something worn out and dress it up and make it look new. Have I ever been burned by one of these people before? Another simple answer: yes but when I was fooled was when I ignored my own advice. The one time I can remember being taken if I would have inspected the deck (a new belt had been installed) I would have realized the wear the machine had on it. Enough with the reminiscing, let’s get to the most important item first.
The most important thing to understand from a pricing perspective when buying a used treadmill is that almost every treadmill or elliptical on the market completely loses its warranty when ownership transfers. So if you see an ad that says “2 years left on the warranty” get it in writing from the factory because most cancel their warranties when the original owner sells the machine.
Due to this, we automatically discount a used machine- even if it is 2 weeks old 30% to 50% depending upon who originally sold it. If the machine was bought from a store like Walmart, Sears, or Costco deduct 30%. If the machine was bought from a store that only deals in fitness equipment and it was a high-end brand, deduct 50%. If you are unsure, a good rule of thumb to use is 40% and that is what our calculator is based upon if you use our handy-dandy used pricing calculator. !!!Machine Value Appears Here
A complete guide on our pricing a used machine is this (assuming the machine is in good working condition):
1. Deduct 30% to 50% for a new unit in the first year of use
2. Deduct 10% of the remaining amount of value for every year the machine ages
3. Deduct the cost of any needed repairs from the remaining value
It’s pretty simple so let's assume the model is a Proform XP615 purchased from Sears 3 years ago for $699 and the treadmill is in good condition with only a belt change needed for treadmill repair
. It's used value would be calculated as:
1. $699 less 30% for a value of $489 (rounding off the cents)
2. 2 additional years at 10% loss of value for each year for a total of $396
3. Belt change needed for a (cost for parts $99) leaves a fair price of $297
As you can see, the higher priced treadmills will have a much larger dollar loss when heading to the used market and that is typically what we see experienced in the used market. For instance, many used club machines typically retail for $4,000 to $5,000 when they sell to clubs- they list for a bunch more but we are talking actual sales price. So for a $5,000 club machine that is 5 years old. The treadmill has recently had all wear parts replaced and it is in good condition with no needed repairs. Its price would be calculated as:
1. $5,000 less 50% for a value of $2,500
2. 4 additional year at 10% loss of value for each year for a total of $1,640
3. No needed repairs so the fair price is $1,640 (if you can get it for less you got a deal).
What do we mean by identifying? In street language, we would call it “how not be to taken” or “how to avoid being scammed.” You cannot avoid every potential pitfall but the following will help you miss the big ones.
There are some general rules to follow when buying a used treadmill or elliptical and some specific to each type and in some cases each model but we don’t have time to get to the model level with this treatment. So, the ones to look for generally with any fitness equipment are:
In general, you want to make sure that the machine is clean. Both inside and out and the inside cleanliness is much more important as a predictor of longevity than the outside. If you remove one of the protective covers or look under the machine and it is filthy, it will be hard for the machine to be in good shape. The cleaner these machines are kept, the longer they last and neglect on the front end adds problems onto the back end.
Another area to look for is wear on the keypads. Just like you may look for a used car and check the wear on the pedals, carpeting, and floor mats to see if the wear on those items correlates with the odometer, you can tell quite a bit about the wear on the machine by the wear on the keypad that is used to set speed, incline, etc. The only time this is not indicative of the wear on the machine is if you have someone with the strength of a gorilla that has been using it or someone who can’t make up their mind and is constantly changing settings.
A final area to consider on both treadmills and elliptical trainers is noise. Really listen for unusual noises because these can point to worn drive belts, bearings that are on their last leg, or poor assembly or possible damage to a treadmill part
. You are always going to have friction noise from belts and decks on treadmills and a hum from the motor but it should not be too noisy. On an elliptical, you should have some noise from the rollers on the ramp or the major joints if it is a suspended type elliptical but it should be very quiet typically.
Specifically to treadmills you should look for belt and deck wear. This is like looking on the pedals of a used car. Click on the following link [insert link to belt and deck inspection instructions] to download our guide explaining how to check a belt and deck. These are the main wear parts of a treadmill and if they aren’t healthy, the rest of the treadmill is doomed. A bad belt and deck on a treadmill is like a sore throat on a giraffe. Additionally with a treadmill, listen for any clicking or chirping noises. These can point to bearing or belt issues
Specific to elliptical trainers and most important is wear on the drive rollers or major load bearing joints. Preferably if it is a suspension design, the load bearing joints will have a bearing which will improve longevity and keep the noise level low. Most elliptical trainers use wheels that ride on a track. These wheels should turn freely by hand, not show inordinate wear, and be silent when moved by hand. Also check the condition of the ramp or track that the wheels ride upon. If these are in bad shape, they can quickly ruin even a new wheel.
Before buying, we suggest you take our questionnaire either for the elliptical trainers or the treadmills located at the end of their respective buying guide which follows this used guide. The answers to the questionnaire will point you to the range of treadmill that you should consider. This is not the current selling price of a machine but what it originally sold for so for instance, if you take the treadmill questionnaire and it tells you that you need a $3500 treadmill then a used Landice may be what the doctor ordered- regardless of the price it is selling for today (do use our used pricing guidelines earlier in this guide for a price you should expect to pay).
Used machines can be obtained from a number of sources- friends, co-workers, family, the local newspaper, Play it Again Sports, ebay, Craigslist, some fitness dealers, remanufacturers, etc. First off, I would personally have a hard time buying a used machine without looking at it physically. Unless I could get a steal on one, I wouldn’t buy it sight unseen but that is a personal choice on my part. It is hard to get a good idea of the wear on a machine without looking at it face-to-face, so to speak.
If you are buying from a retailer or off ebay, check the feedback from consumers either through the online system or via the BBB or another trusted rating source. We commonly get questions about remanufacturers and we remanufacture machines for local clubs from time to time so if you want a good remanufactured machine, here is how we remanufacture a machine and recommend for one that has had significant use in a club:
1. A new belt and a new deck surface (either the deck is flipped or a new deck)- treadmill only
2. New drive belt
3. New bearings in the motor or alternator/generator
4. New bearings in the rollers or major load bearing points
5. New rollers elliptical parts
- elliptical trainers only
6. New ramp or track for rollers- elliptical trainers only
7. Make sure everything is fully clean
8. Model specific details
a. Refill wax bladder on some Lifefitness treads- for instance
b. Check endcaps for needed replacement
c. Check switches for needed replacement
d. Check membranes for needed replacement
e. Decals or other cosmetic features requested by the customer
Keep in mind these are minimum standards for providing a truly remanufactured unit. Ideally, you strip the treadmill or elliptical down to the frame, sandblast, repaint, and then reassemble with remanufactured and new parts but that can add to the cost of the machine if done in that detail.
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