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Elliptical Machine Maintenance – The Complete Guide

Elliptical Machine Maintenance

An elliptical trainer is a fantastic piece of equipment to have in your home. Having this super effective cardio machine on hand will allow you to establish an effective cardio fitness routine without even leaving home. Your elliptical trainer, though, is only as good as your ability to give it proper care.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about elliptical machine maintenance so you can keep your machine in tip top shape. We’ll also address the most frequently asked questions about how to keep your cardio equipment in good order. Read on to find out how to give your elliptical trainer the love it deserves.

Recommended Elliptical Machine Maintenance

To give your machine proper care, you need to have a plan. Irregular, haphazard maintenance will not cut it. Here is a schedule that will ensure that you stay on top of things and keep your unit running smoothly.

Perform Regular Inspections

I strongly recommend getting into the habit of regularly inspecting your machine. Every few days as you’re passing by, stop and give it a once over to ensure that nothing is loose, broken or has other damage.

  • Daily

Every single day you should check the console and the moving parts of the machine at the end of your fitness routine. Make sure that the screws and other fasteners are tight. If they need tightening, rather than using a power tool, tighten with a hand tool. Power tools are liable to slip and cause a nasty scratch.

  • Monthly

At the beginning of every month, you should undertake a more in-depth elliptical maintenance check on your machine. Go back to the owner’s manual and follow the assembly instructions that you used when you first set up the machine. You should be looking for any loose connections or fastenings.

Even though everything may have been tight when you put the machinery together, the constant use can loosen connections. Check, too, for any cracks in the plastic components of the machine. It is important, too, to check that the power cord is not frayed or its connections loose.

  • Every 6 Months

Every six months you should undertake a major elliptical maintenance check of the machine’s hardware to keep it running smoothly. In addition to all the things that you have been checking less frequently, you should also focus on the mechanical operation of the machine. Check that the stride notion of the elliptical is smooth and full. You may have to apply some lubrication in order to eliminate friction or squeakiness.

Take a look at the belt drive to see if there are any signs of wear and tear. The belt is created for long-term use but will eventually wear out. If it is obviously frayed, you should replace it.

You should also lubricate the machine every six months. This will reduce friction and squeakiness and keep all the moving parts running fluidly.

  • Yearly

So long as you are doing all the other maintenance checks outlined above, the only maintenance you should have to do annually is to add some lubrication to the machine and give it a thorough check. Check the owner’s manual of your machine on the specific lubrication guidelines.

Room Conditions

Room Conditions

The room conditions where your machine is located can have an impact on its performance.

  • Temperature

The ideal temperature to exercise is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (20 – 22 °C). That is the temperature that most people feel most comfortable in and are able to give maximum effort to their training. Maintaining that temperature range is also ideal for the well-being of your cardio equipment.

  • Humidity

High humidity levels may cause problems with the operation of your machine. It can lead to a build-up of moisture in the internal mechanism, causing the stride operation to be negatively affected. You should, therefore, attempt to maintain a low humidity level to keep the machine running smoothly.

  • Daylight

In order to prevent sunlight from fading and otherwise deteriorating your elliptical machine, you should not position it in direct sunlight.


You should clean your machine with a soft cloth and warm water. Use a gentle action to remove sweat, grime and dust build up, focusing on the areas around where you are actually going to be running.


You should follow the lubrication guidance provided in the instruction manual. The manual will tell you what type of lubricant to use, where to apply it and with what frequency. Focus on lubricating the pivot points. Do not use household oils on your machine.

Checking Nuts And Bolts

It is a mistake to wait for the nuts and bolts to become noticeably loose or to vibrate before tightening them. Once a month you should do a thorough check of the unit, with the aid of your owner’s manual, to keep everything tight.

Be careful that you do not over-tighten loose screws or bolts and bearings. If you do, you may end up damaging them to the extent that they can no longer be adjusted.

Unplug After Use

Unplug After Use

It is good practice to unplug your machine’s power cords after every use. This will prevent any haphazard powering up of the machine. Unplugging the unit will also prevent anyone from tripping over the power cord.

Leveling And Stabilizing

For proper operation, you should ensure that the unit is sitting in a stable position at all times. The best elliptical machines will have adjustable stabilizers on their base. These can be individually adjusted to allow you to achieve a stable, flat position, even if your floor is not quite even. Avoid bumping the machine once you have set the levels.

Tightening The Drive Belt

To tighten the drive belt, you will have to remove the plastic covers and separate the right and left arms to be able to get to the belt. You should then tighten the pivot bolts with a wrench. Then realign the arms and replace the covers.

Replacing Drive Belt

To replace the belt drive, you should follow the above steps to access the belt. Then use a wrench to loosen the pivot bolt. You can now remove the old belt and put the new one on. Tighten the belt and replace the covers.

Check this video on replacing the belt drive.

Regular Cleaning

Regular Cleaning

You should give your elliptical the same level of cleaning attention that you give to your household furnishings. That should include wiping it down with a feather duster or a simple cotton rag on a daily basis to get rid of dust.

You should also vacuum around and under your elliptical. It is surprising how quickly dirt and dust can build up a unit and get into the internal mechanism. By taking the effort to vacuum under the machine, you can minimize this effect.

You should also vacuum the underparts of the machine to remove any dust or grime build-up that has already taken place.

If you are not going to use your elliptical for some time, you should cover it up. This will prevent dust build-up. You can buy covers that are specially designed for elliptical trainers.

Check our review of the best elliptical-bike combos on the market right now.


As already mentioned, you should consult the owner’s manual regarding when and how to lubricate your elliptical trainer. Generally, though, you should lubricate every six months. This should include lubricating both the movable arms and the foot pedal tubes. Remove the end caps from these tubes to be able to lubricate inside them and then replace the end caps. Be sure to also lubricate the pivot points. Check the manual for the type of lubricant to use.

Tightening Loose Screws, Nuts And Bolts

On a monthly basis, you should go over the entire unit to check that all the nuts and bolts are tightened. I strongly recommend using a handheld wrench rather than a power tool to tighten loose parts. It is easy to slip when using a power tool, which can cause a nasty scratch.

Inspect The Trainer Regularly

Inspect The Trainer Regularly

After Every Workout

After every workout, you should give your trainer a quick inspection to make sure that everything is working as it should be. Pay particular attention to any noisy parts or vibration that is taking place. Make sure, too, that you are wiping up the sweat that has dripped onto the machine, as sweat build-up can lead to corrosion.


Once a month give the unit a closer inspection, both on the visible parts and the underside.

Every 6 Months

Every six months, remove the outer plastic covers to get a closer inspection of the machine’s hardware. Use this opportunity to get rid of any dust or grime with a feather duster or a soft cloth.

Unplug After Use

You should get into the habit of unplugging your treadmill after every single use. Doing so helps to prevent any type of mechanical shortage that may negatively affect the elliptical operation of the machine. It will also save you money on your power bill and prevent the possibility of someone tripping over the power cord.
Unplugging the machine after use will prolong the life of your elliptical trainer.

Leveling, Stabilizing And Adjusting

For best operation, you should position your elliptical trainer on a level floor. To help you get the machine as level as possible, most units have adjustable stabilizers. Each brand will have its own specific way to level the unit and you should refer to the owner’s manual for details on how to do it.

Some models will allow you to adjust the levelers by hand while others will require you to use a wrench. 

You can determine which part of the machine needs to be adjusted by holding the unit by the handles and gently rocking it forward and backward. This will let you see where, if anywhere, the unit wobbles. 

Placing a rubber mat under your elliptical will also help you to keep the unit level. At the same time it will help keep dust from getting under the unit.

Tightening The Drive Belt

Tightening The Drive Belt

To tighten the belt drive you should follow these steps:

  1. Take off the outer plastic parts of the unit.
  2. Pull the upright arms and legs apart.
  3. Take off the belt on either side of the belt.
  4. Take off the side covers and the upright arm.
  5. You now have access to tighten the elliptical belt. Use a wrench to tighten the pivot bolt.
  6. Put the plastic side covers, arms and legs back on.

The belt should only be tight enough to ensure that it does not slip. However, if the belt continues to slip after you have tightened it, it is an indication that the belt needs replacing.

Replacing Drive Belt

To replace the belt drive, you will need the following tools:

  • A wrench
  • A flathead screwdriver
  • Your replacement belt drive

The biggest part of the job of replacing a drive belt is actually getting access to the belt. Follow these steps to replace the drive belt:

  1. Remove the swing arms using a wrench to take out the bolt that connects the swing arm with the pedal. Do this for both sides.
  2. Use the wrench to remove the bolts that connect the pedals to the unit. This will allow you to remove the pedals and put them aside.
  3. Take off the top shield that covers the wheel. On most units this piece will snap off. On some brands, however, you will have to undo a few screws. Check carefully beforehand to avoid breaking this cover piece.
  4. Take off the side shield. You will need a flathead screwdriver to do this. Again this will simply pop off on some machines but will need four screws to be removed on others.
  5. Take off the pedal disks.
  6. You now have access to the belt drive. Loosen the pivot bolt to make the belt slack. Now spin the back wheel until the belt comes off.
  7. Put the new belt on the wheels and tighten the pivot bolt.
  8. Replace all the plastic parts in the reverse order to which you took them off.

Replacing Batteries

The monitors on most elliptical trainers are powered by batteries. The size of the batteries may vary depending on the brands and models of the machines. The batteries are usually located on the underside of the control panel.

To replace the batteries, use a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the battery compartment cover in place. Remove the old batteries and dispose of them, making sure not to confuse them with the new batteries. Now put the new batteries into the battery compartment, being sure to position them according to the “+” and “-” guide marks. Finally, put the cover back on and screw it tight.

Assembly & Disassembly

The first and, perhaps, most important part of elliptical maintenance is the initial assembly. If you set the machine up incorrectly or do not properly apply the screws, nuts and bolts, you will be setting yourself up for trouble down the track.

Depending on the brand and model you have purchased, your unit will come either fully or partly assembled. The most you will usually have to do is to attach the feet, handlebars and pedals. If a bolt or screw does not go in properly, have the patience and discipline to stop, take it out and start again.

Make sure, too, that the unit sits solidly and is properly aligned before you start using it. I also recommend putting a rubber mat under your elliptical.

Call A Service Provider

Call A Service Provider

If your heavy-duty elliptical trainer has a fault, you should call in a service technician. This could be that the arms or legs are not moving properly, despite your having done all the maintenance things already discussed. You should not open up the machine and start tinkering around with the motor and mechanics (apart from changing or tightening the drive belt).

If you are not very handy, you may also choose to have a service provider perform a yearly maintenance check on your machine.

Check your warranty to see if you are covered for the service call.

In Case Of Prolonged Disuse

If you are going away on a vacation or will not be using your machine for a few weeks or months, you should invest in a plastic cover to place over it. This will protect it from dust and grime buildup. Before going away, you should take the plug out of the wall and wind it up. You should also remove the batteries from the console.

Broken or damaged parts of the unit should be replaced as soon as possible. Do not try to use a machine that is partly damaged as it will make the workout unsafe. It will also worsen the problem. That also applies to a treadmill.

Why Elliptical Maintenance Is Important

Elliptical maintenance is critical to get the best use and life out of your purchase. It will prevent the gradual decline of the machine due to loose parts, instability, dust and grime build-up, sweat corrosion or other negative effects.

By getting into the habit of gently cleaning the unit with a soft cloth or a feather duster daily, performing a monthly service check, doing so more thoroughly every six months and giving it a yearly inspection, you will be ensuring that it lasts for decades to come.

How Often Should I Service My Elliptical Machine?

Your machine should be serviced every six months. Servicing your unit is different to maintaining it. So long as you are maintaining the machine, the only servicing you will have to do is to keep the machine lubricated and, possibly, to replace the drive belt. Lubricate the unit every six months at each of the movable parts: the swing arms, foot pedals and axis points.

You may decide to have an annual service repair person give your machine a check. This will give you expert guidance on drive belt wear and any other issues that need addressing.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should lubricate your elliptical every six months or so. However, you should check your owner’s manual for specific guidelines regarding lubrication. Only use the lubricant that is recommended in the manual. Be sure to spray all of the moving parts, including inside the arms, pivot points and legs (remove the outer plastic covers to do this).

An elliptical should last between ten and twenty years. To prolong the life of your unit, you need to follow the elliptical maintenance schedule that we have outlined in this article. As soon as you notice any problems with the machine, you should address them. Take full advantage of your warranty cover while you have it, especially the service aspect of it.

The type of lubrication used for an elliptical machine will vary from brand to brand. The owner’s manual will recommend which one to use. In general, though, silicone lubricants are good for most machines. Red lithium ball bearing grease is also very effective as a lubricant on all types of cardio fitness equipment.

Yes, elliptical machines do need maintenance. Elliptical maintenance will ensure the proper function of the machine. Give the unit a wipe down with a lint free cloth after every use. Every time you vacuum the floor, you should also vacuum the machine. Check the unit over regularly for loose parts. Every six months do a more thorough check, including lubricating the machine. Then do a more thorough inspection on an annual basis.

To stop your elliptical from squeaking you need to make sure that all of the nuts and bolts are tight. You should also ensure that the unit is properly stabilized, leveled and balanced. Lubricate all the moving parts, including the movable arms and legs, both inside and out, to reduce friction and keep the unit moving freely and noiselessly.


Doing regular and thorough elliptical machine maintenance will pay off with a unit that is set up for proper function, that is free of vibration, squeakiness or unlevel balancing. Follow the guidelines provided to give the unit a quick once over with a lint free towel after each use. You should also vacuum in, around and under the unit most days.

Keeping your elliptical unit in tip top shape doesn’t take much time and effort. Just a few minutes each day will do the job. If you are too exhausted after your fitness routine, go grab a shower and then come back to give some love back to your favorite piece of cardio gear.