Mike and I just bought a new treadmill…
…new to us at least! Here is what we learned from the process.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a treadmill, it’s a lot better to buy a really good treadmill that is used than to buy a cheap one at K-Mart. Sure, those treadmills are only $300, but they have narrow treads, under-powered motors and they are noisy!
There’s no point in looking for a used treadmill on eBay. The shipping will cost you more than the actual treadmill. Find the best local classifieds for your area. It will be the place that everyone uses to sell their old crap. In Salt Lake City, it’s the classifieds for the local television station. I know that makes no sense, but it’s the place to list and sell in SLC. It might be the Nickel ads in your area, or perhaps Craigslist. Whatever it is, all you have to do is ask a few people and they’ll tell you the best place to unload your stuff.
Buy Lightly Used
You want to get the treadmill from the people who bought it to lose weight and then hang clothes on it. If your local classifieds have pictures, look for treadmills with clothes hanging on them. Or maybe an ad saying that they just don’t use it. If they give you specific problems with the treadmill, like the tread is slipping or they bought a new one, pass it on by. That’s a treadmill from someone who USED it. We people who USE our treadmills beat them into the ground and keep on running on them until they are dangerous. Don’t buy that treadmill.
Try to find someone who is moving and doesn’t have room for it in their new place. These are people who have just realized that they have a huge treadmill in their home that they never use and aren’t willing to move it to their new place. That’s a good indication that they used it once or twice when they first bought it and promptly forgot it existed.
Find an ad that lists the brand and model number of the treadmill. Then you can look it up online with a Google search and find all sorts of things out about the machine before you even look at it. Almost all the treadmill manufacturers have their product manuals online now. FIND that manual. Download the PDF to your phone so you have it with you when you check out the machine. Find out what the original retail price was. If it was over $700 or so, it’s bound to be a pretty good treadmill as long as it hasn’t been beaten into the ground.
Get Your Butt ON It
If the owner won’t let you run on the treadmill for a while, then you don’t want to buy it. There is something wrong with it if they won’t let you try it out. Even if they give you some lame excuse like it’s in storage and there’s no electricity at the storage site, then don’t bother. You have to try the treadmill out to make sure that it’s in working order. You’d think that would be self-explanatory, but there were a lot of sellers in my area who said that they couldn’t let me try it out before I bought it.
Don’t be self-conscious about trying out the treadmill in front of them. Wear your workout clothes and good shoes so you can really give it a good run. Try the treadmill at your top speed, despite any reservations you might have about the seller seeing how silly you look when you run. Honestly, you’re never going to see them again, anyway. Who cares if you look silly to them?
Try To Find The Total Mileage
The newer treadmills have a maintenance mode. You will have to press a magic combination of buttons in order to get into that mode, but hopefully that online manual will tell you the magic words. Maintenance mode will tell you the total number of hours and miles that the treadmill has on it. Just like a car’s odometer, it will tell you the total miles someone has run on a treadmill. The one I just bought had a total of 127 miles. That might seem like a lot of miles, but the treadmill that we got rid of that had been beaten into the ground and would literally try to kill me if I ran faster than five miles an hour had over a thousand miles on it. Try to get into maintenance mode and find out how many miles the treadmill has seen.
Look at How It Is Worn
The first thing to look at is the tread. The tread on the treadmill will give out way before most motors. If it’s frayed on the sides or along the seam, then this is not the treadmill for you.
The second thing to look at is the plastic covering the motor and the front of the tread. It’s pretty delicate on most treadmills and if one has been used a lot, it will be cracked right near the tread. If it’s cracked on the sides or near the front, then that’s probably moving damage and mostly cosmetic. If it’s missing altogether, run away.
Finally, look at the buttons. TRY them all to make sure there aren’t any sticky ones that keep you running at 7 mph even though you pushed stop. Look at the panel to see if any of the buttons are particularly worn, dirty or shiny from being pressed a lot. If they are, then this treadmill has gotten a lot of use and you should move on.
Ask If They Can Help You Get It To Your House
If you don’t have a pickup, it doesn’t hurt to ask the seller if they can help you get it home. They got it to their house somehow. If they are willing to help you, that’s worth at least $50, so don’t negotiate them down. Just pay full price and be grateful that they helped you. If they can’t, rent a pickup or tiny trailer from Home Depot or U-Haul.
Mike found our “new” treadmill for only $300. It’s MSRP is $1800, so we got an amazing deal. And best yet, the seller drove it to our house in his truck! You can get a good deal like this as long as you keep your eyes open and jump on the good ads as soon as they come out. Happy Hunting!