Elliptical Squeak – How to Fix a Noisy Cross Trainer

Ellipticals are a favourable method of working out in the comfort of your own home. They provide a full body cardiovascular workout and aren’t too intrusive in size. Looking for the best cross trainer? Find more in our roundup article.

As it provides a low impact workout it doesn’t create a lot of noise like other home workout equipment such as a treadmill. But what about the dreaded elliptical squeak while you workout? This unwanted noise can be a huge distraction during your workout.

Whether you pedal your elliptical backwards or forwards it needs to be a smooth and fluid motion without any noise.

But why does my elliptical make noise? An Elliptical squeak is often a result of friction of moving parts within the machine. Lack of lubrication on particular pivot points causes the machine to make a squeak.

Simply applying a thin layer of all-purpose oil to the pivot points on the handle bars and pedal arms to quiet the squeak.

To further prevent squeaking, lubricate all moving parts during routine maintenance of the elliptical. If it remains untreated it can cause long term damage to the moving parts so shouldn’t be ignored.

Here are some of the main reasons for a squeaky cross trainer and how to fix them. In most cases this will stop the squeaking noise.

But some should only be performed if you’re familiar with your cross trainer build. Always read the manual before attempting repair.

elliptical squeak fix

What can I use to Lubricate My Elliptical?

As mentioned, the main culprit to the squeak is friction of moving parts, make sure you regularly lubricate your elliptical. Using a spray multipurpose grease to lubricate the bolts connecting the lower arms and handlebars.

Using spray gets into the difficult areas so make sure to spray on the bolts that connect the mainframe with the arms.

Also apply grease beneath the pedals and around the roller arms. Using marine grease is recommended because it allows for more time between lubrication, it’s designed to last longer and lubricate gears. 

Once lubricating is complete, use the elliptical for a few minutes to allow the grease to evenly spread throughout the applied parts. Be sure to wipe away excess liquid after application which can gather dust.

Squeaky Cross Trainer Causes

Collection of Dust

Over time, dust can settle on the moving parts of your elliptical trainer. Typically it clogs where the belt meets the wheels. The unwanted squeaking is a result of the friction this causes. You can avoid this by dusting around the elliptical periodically. 

cleaning dust from elliptical

If you want to do a more comprehensive dust, detach the shell of the elliptical. You can do this by unscrewing the screws that connect the mainframe and shell.

Clean the inside thoroughly with a vacuum or cloth. Ensure the cloth is dry because a wet cloth can trap moisture inside the machine which will cause the metal parts to rust.

Check the floor level

It’s important you check the machine is situated on an even floor. Squeaking noise can be created from unnecessary stress on the moving parts when the elliptical is on an uneven surface. 

Loose Bolts

Any loose bolt connection can affect the alignment of other parts of the machine. When you perform regular maintenance check any loose bolts as this can cause squeaking while in use. Most manufacturers include a toolkit with the machine, this can be used to tighten any loose bolts.

If none of the above steps eliminate the squeaking noise then it’s time to call a professional. Regularly performing maintenance to your machine will extend the life of the elliptical. You want to be able to keep your elliptical squeak-free and in a great condition.

Check out this useful video on how to stop elliptical squeaking:

Why is my elliptical making a clunking sound?

Other Elliptical Noises

Age of machine:

Older elliptical machines tend to be noisier and typically have a knocking sound. This is caused from the rotating arm inside the flywheel housing knocking against the plastic.

Cross trainers are subject to a lot of twisting around the centre axis, this is known as torsional force. Usually this is worsened by ellipticals not being placed on a hard and flat surface. 

Drive belt:

Once the drive belt is worn it will create a noise within the machine. If you are manually doing checks of the machine look out for rubber bits inside the housing where the drive belt sits. This is a sign of wear and tear.

You can also check the belt itself, look out for any cracks or splitting. Drive belts can be easily replaced if any of these signs emerge.

elliptical making noise

Rollers 

One of the most common items in an elliptical to start to wear is the roller for the right and left platforms. As you are likely to be wearing trainers while you stand on the platforms they bring dirt to the machine, wipe down the platforms and rollers after every use.

Dirt can build up over time causing the wheels to wear which can cause a squeaking or grinding noise. 

Console, frame and arms

After regular use of your machine, over time arms and screws do start to become loose. When bolts aren’t tight in the arms or console it can cause a knocking sound when the plastic housing starts to hit the upright.

Regularly check assembly points around the plastic shrouds. Most can be tightened by an allen key thats provided by the manufacturer or phillips screwdriver.

elliptical squeaking fix

Elliptical Flywheel Noise

Common elliptical flywheel noises are similar to a clunking or clicking noise. An expensive model such as Proform or NordicTrack offer great technical support to help you on the spot, send out an engineer to fix or replace the flywheel under warranty.

There can be several reasons for an elliptical flywheel noise, one common reason is the wheel that attaches to the stride handle can crack. If it’s not covered under warranty, you can potentially replace this yourself but the spare parts tend to be expensive. 

One DIY method to fix this is using an allen key, replacing the cracked wheel with the wheel that raises the ramp up and down. This is because it doesn’t get as much activity being placed here, there is less activity than the stride wheel as this dictates the stride length.

One thing to note is that the wheels are secured by C-ring clamps, so you may need to use pliers to remove these.

For general elliptical flywheel clunking noises follow these steps for routine maintenance:

Pedal Arms:

  • Using a flat screwdriver, unscrew the tabs that hold the front top cover in place. This exposes the flywheel and pedal arm connection points. Start to rotate the flywheel by hand, if the flywheel doesn’t have a smooth motion this will determine whether you need to lubricate the flywheel. If the bearings are exposed, use grease with an extension nozzle to lubricate the bearings. 
  • If the bearings are damaged they need to be removed. You can do this by holding the flywheel with one hand and using a wrench to loosen the bolts that secure the pedal arms on each side of the flywheel. Start to pull the arms away from the flywheel and remove the bearings from either side.
  • Test if the bearings are damaged, but if not you can lubricate them thoroughly with grease and reattach them. Once the bearings are reattached or replaced (if damaged) then reattach the pedal arms back to the flywheel as well as the main frame. covers

Link Arms:

  1. Unplug the power cord. Identify the pivot points where the footpad and lower handlebars connect on each side of the machine. Remove the elbow covers at each connection point using a screwdriver. This will expose the pivots.
  2. Use a box wrench on the lock nut at the inside of the pivot while loosening the bolt with an allen key. Remove the bolt and replace the nylon spacers, repeat this on the opposite side of the machine too. Once complete, reassemble the connection and attach elbow covers.
  3. This part requires a second person to help. One person holds the deep socket against the inside face of the pivot hub. Make sure the socket is large enough to allow the bearing to pop out. Insert the point of a flat screwdriver into the outside of the hub until it contacts the bearing. Tap the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer to remove the bearing. Repeat this to remove the bearing on the opposite side.
  4. Hold each bearing next to one ear and turn the inner race with your finger. If you hear grinding noises or the bearing is rough, it must be replaced. Lubricate the bearing with lithium grease and a grease gun. Replace the bearing into the hub. Reattach the lower handlebars and footpad link arms and put the elbow covers on.
footpads on cross trainer making noise

Lubrication

  1. Detach the ends of the pedals from the crank axles. Spread a layer of machine grease over the crank axles, then reattach the ends of the pedals.
  2. Remove the bolts connecting the pedals to the swing arms. Detach the pedals from the arms, then spread a layer of machine grease over the axles on the swing arms. On some models, the bolts may also serve as the axles. Reattach the pedals to the arms.
  3. Remove the bolts connecting the swing arms to the elliptical’s upright. Detach the swing arms from the upright, then spread a layer of machine grease over the axles on the upright. Reattach the arms to the upright.

Elliptical Machine Squeaking

So that is a short tutorial for any type of elliptical machine squeaking and noises you may have! Elliptical machine squeaking is the most common and it is a relatively easy fix with general greasing and lubrication. You may need to get this resolved sooner rather than later – particularly if you put your cross trainer upstairs. If you invest in a good elliptical machine then technical support are always on hand to give you specific help for your model.

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!