“You should start running,” they said. “It’s cheap. You just need a pair of shoes, ” they said.
Well, here you are, deep in the middle of winter, contemplating how to keep up your running habit inside, and staring at the price tag on a treadmill.
Running is not cheap. But it doesn’t have to be expensive, either
Treadmills especially can be really expensive. They might be cost-prohibitive for some people. There’s a reason people pay a monthly fee to go to the gym to use a high-end treadmill – it might actually be cheaper than buying one outright.
But there’s another solution than buying a new, expensive treadmill: consider a used one.
Before you decide that’s the route that you want to go, it’s a good idea to examine the pros and cons. There are considerations such as price, brand, and warranty if you decide to go the used route.
Pros of Buying a Used Treadmill
Let’s start with all of the reasons that you might want to consider buying a used treadmill.
You Can Save a Lot of Money
Depending on the type of treadmill you’re looking at, buying a used machine could save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.
If you want a way to exercise inside during rainy days or cold winter months, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, a used treadmill is a great option.
Instead of spending your whole exercise budget on a treadmill, you might be able to get some other gear too: running attire, new shoes, resistance bands, weights, and so forth. Save on your treadmill and you can start to build your own complete home gym.
It’s Greener for the Environment
Although it’s important to make sure that you get a good treadmill (whether it’s used or new), there’s always something nice about reusing a treadmill that has been barely used. You’re being environmentally conscious, which is a great goal for runners.
If you know that a used treadmill will work just as well as a new one, it makes better environmental sense to not purchase new. Plus, you’re giving an unused treadmill a chance to be used for something other than hanging laundry.
You Might Pay Less in Delivery Fees
It can be really expensive to deliver large items, especially like a treadmill. If you purchase a new treadmill, you might have to pay expensive delivery fees—whether you get the treadmill online or in a sports store.
However, if you purchase a used treadmill, you might be able to pick it up yourself with a pick-up truck. Even if there are delivery fees, they are likely to be lower because it’s not brand-new.
Cons of Buying a Used Treadmill
While there are definitely pros to purchasing a used treadmill, you’ll also want to consider the disadvantages as well.
You Don’t Know the Treadmill’s History
The biggest unknown about a used treadmill might be how well the treadmill was treated and maintained by the previous owner. If you find the treadmill on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist, you don’t know its backstory.
You can do your own background check of sorts, asking the seller questions like how often they used it, how many people used it, where the treadmill was kept, why they are selling it, and if they were the sole owner of the treadmill.
You Don’t Know How Long the Treadmill Will Last
On a related note, you don’t know exactly how much the treadmill was used, and therefore how much life remains before things start breaking. While the model year can give you a good idea, that doesn’t factor in usage by the owner.
Runner’s World recommends trying to find a newer model – less than five years old. However, this is just a rule of thumb. It may make sense to get an older model in some cases – like a seven-year-old treadmill that was rarely used.
You May Have to Figure Out Delivery Yourself
Finally, while delivery is likely going to be cheaper, you will probably have to figure out how to get it to your place by yourself. This likely isn’t a big deal if you have a pick-up truck, but it might be more complicated if you have a car.
You might need to reach out to a friend with a truck or consider renting a truck for the day from a local home improvement store. The previous owner may also be willing to drop off the treadmill too.
Moving it yourself? These things are heavy! Make sure you bring a friend and prepare to lift it awkwardly to get it to and from your final location. Tracking down a hand truck is also likely a good idea. Even with two people, a machine this size and weight can be unwieldy to move.
Considerations When Buying a Used Treadmill
Now that we’ve looked at the reasons why you might want to buy a used treadmill and why you might want to opt for a new treadmill instead, let’s look at things you need to keep in mind if you go the used treadmill route.
To figure out a reasonable price, talk with the seller—whether it’s someone you found online or a business you’re working with—and see how many miles or hours the machine was used. An individual who had a treadmill at home might only have used the treadmill so much. On the other hand, if you are buying from a gym, assume that the machine was used heavily, and should cost accordingly less.
With that information in hand, you can come up with a reasonable price for the used treadmill based on what a new treadmill would cost. Don’t be afraid to hold your ground on what a reasonable price is.
Look for a used treadmill that is a good brand, whether that’s high-end or something on the cheaper side. It’s going to be cheaper to buy a used treadmill that typically runs between $300 and $1,000 new.
However, if you get a more expensive brand like Xterra, Horizon, or Lifespan, which typically have a price range between $1,000 to $3,000, you’re going to get a better treadmill. Plus, the body parts from them are often easier to get and arrive more quickly.
If you buy from a business, you should be able to purchase a warranty as a surcharge. This is definitely something you want to consider since you aren’t getting the treadmill new. You don’t know what parts will need replacing.
If you’re buying from an individual or a business, the warranty for your specific treadmill might be transferable, but this is not true for every brand. Make sure that the treadmill you’re interested in falls into this category.
Being handy yourself, or having a handy friend, can help cut expenses. Get comfortable with tools and doing small maintenance and repair tasks on your own. That way, you can skip the warranty add-on. YouTube is a great source of how-to videos.
Keep in mind that the typical charge for a technician service visit is around $150-$250 excluding the cost of parts, so be sure that you can fix any repairs yourself if you decide to opt out of the warranty.
Set-Up and Delivery
Since you’re not purchasing the treadmill new, it’s likely that it is already mostly assembled. However, you may need to disassemble it at least a little bit in order to transport it. Then you’ll need to re-assemble on your own.
Depending on where you purchase the treadmill from, set-up and delivery might be a little easier and not require as much work on your part. However, be prepared to do the majority of it yourself.
Finally, make sure you know how much life you’re likely to get out of the treadmill. Figure out how old the machine is, how often people ran on it, and if there were any repairs done to it.
Just approach a used treadmill as you would a used car. The more miles on the car, the cheaper the car will be. You might find yourself making a lot of repairs and making the car not worth it. Avoid this when purchasing a used treadmill!
Tips for Buying a Used Treadmill
It’s a good idea to be somewhat cautious before buying a used treadmill so that you get a good deal and not a scam.
Get as much information as you can about the treadmill from the current owner. Ask as many questions as you want—you’re the one spending the money! It’s a really good idea to ask for a service record to see if there have been any issues.
Test it by running at least twenty minutes on it, making sure that you try all the different buttons. Try every speed and every incline level to make sure that all of them work. If an owner isn’t willing to let you do that, then there’s a good chance something is wrong.
Make sure that you pay careful attention when running on the treadmill. If you think that it sounds really loud, it shakes really badly, or the belt is frayed, then it’s best for you to walk away.
Where to Buy a Used Treadmill
While you’re probably just going to find a new treadmill online or in a sports store, you can find a used treadmill in a lot more places. It’s a good idea to check out as many as you can. Get an idea of the market and what’s going to be best for you!
A good first place to look is a second-hand sports store or any friends that purchased a treadmill on a whim and now don’t want it. With these two options, you have the greatest likelihood of knowing accurate information about the treadmill.
But you can also check garage sales, clearance sales, and pawn shops for treadmills. Just be sure to come ready with your questions to get information about the treadmill you’re interested in.
Finally, you can always search online, looking at eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and online websites for second-hand treadmills. You’re likely to come across a good deal in February of each year when people’s New Year’s resolutions wear off!
Whether you should buy a treadmill all depends on your personal preferences.
You should not buy a second-hand treadmill if you have the budget and want good long-term quality and if you want a good warranty.
You should also purchase a new treadmill if you want the latest technology and if you have specific features, brands, or price in mind. If you can envision your perfect treadmill, it’s best to avoid a used treadmill.
However, a used treadmill is a great option if you have a smaller budget and want to be greener with the environment. If you don’t care about the brand or technology, this will also help you in finding a good used treadmill.
Finally, make sure that you have handyman skills or good connections with handymen if your treadmill needs to be fixed. There’s nothing worse than purchasing an item only to have it break a couple months (or even weeks!) in.