When considering whether or not to invest in a new piece of gym equipment, a question you’re likely to ask yourself is whether it’s going to hold together long enough to make it worth your money. Elliptical trainers, particularly higher-end models, can be a substantial investment, and you want to rest easy knowing that your purchase is going to give you frequent, reliable work-outs for years, if not decades. So how long do elliptical trainers actually last?
But how long do elliptical trainers last? Any good quality elliptical trainer should last, if looked after properly, serve you well for at least 10 years. Higher-end models with quality parts and premium materials may even last longer, particularly if they are maintained well.
As a general guide, look at the manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the machine. Although you would certainly hope that your cross trainer is going to outlive its warranty period, this can be a good indication of the faith that a manufacturer places in the build quality of their product.
It’s no coincidence that more expensive machines, made from more durable parts and crafted with more care and attention to detail, tend to come with longer warranties than their budget-friendly counterparts. They are less likely to break or deteriorate, because they have been built in a way that focuses on durability and dependability over many years.
Cheaper machines, though they should still hopefully last you no less than 5 – 10 years, will often prioritise plastic over metal, and smaller individual components such as screws and bolts are likely to be of lower quality and more liable to break. This is why cheaper machines tend not to come with warranties longer than 3 years or so.
Warranties also often differ in relation to different parts of the machine. Some of the well built, premium-grade, commercial gym models come with lifetime warranties on the frame only, as this tends to be the sturdiest part of the kit and the one that’s least likely to break. Nevertheless, cross trainers are unlikely to come with lifetime warranties for parts or for labour, with even the most generous warranty periods not usually extending to beyond 10 years for these.
Do Elliptical Machines Need Maintenance?
Elliptical machines are complex pieces of gym equipment, with a number of moving parts that need to remain functional over time after repeated use, as well as bearing adult humans of various weights and sizes.
As such, they do require some level of maintenance by their owners if they’re going to last as long as possible, though this maintenance should be no more than the average gym kit owner can manage on their own. The following tips should help you maintain your cross trainer without needing to resort to hiring a professional to do it for you, and can be carried out with basic equipment and materials available in local shops and home DIY toolkits.
As with any machine of moving parts, lubrication is important to ensure that everything continues to flow and function smoothly. The user manual for your machine should recommend a certain type of lubricant that you can use, so try to follow the recommendation for your particular model.
Many will come with a bottle or two of the required lubricant when you first purchase it – if you run out, try contacting the manufacturer in the first instance to see whether you can buy direct from them to ensure you’re using the best product for your elliptical.
If this isn’t possible, silicon or grease-based lubricants specifically designed for use on fitness equipment such as treadmills should do the trick. Some people will opt for WD40 or other general use lubricant substitutes, although it is always best to go for products that are specifically geared towards fitness equipment, as these will reduce the chance of you damaging or inadvertently corroding your machine.
It’s best to lubricate your machine every 6 months or so. Focus on each moving part, the rails, the flywheel, the rollers and tracks, and the elevation screw. Depending on your machine, you may find that you require a screwdriver in order to remove some of the outer casing, so that you can get to moving internal parts.
The manual should direct you in how to do this, though you should avoid doing anything that will potentially void the warranty on your machine. After greasing individual points, move the elliptical gently to mimic the motion of a workout so that lubricant is spread evenly throughout the necessary parts.
Also take this opportunity to tighten any loose screws or parts. Do this by hand using a screwdriver. Avoid using power tools as this may result in over tightening or damage to components. If you’re removing some of the external frame in order to check internal parts, it may be worth giving it a dust or gentle vacuuming to ensure that the interior is kept free from dirt and loose grime.
We would also recommend checking the drive belt for wear and replacing this as soon as it starts to show signs of giving out.
How to Increase the Lifespan of your Elliptical
As well as general maintenance every 3 – 6 months, what else can you do to try to extend the lifespan of your cross trainer?
Always wipe down the machine after use, particularly the hand rails and console, as residual sweat and grime after each workout can lead to corrosion and damage to metal parts. Wiping down after use can also help prevent padded surfaces from becoming cracked or worn.
Check the machine regularly to ensure that screws or bolts are not coming loose over time and tighten by hand if necessary. You should also try to make sure you dust down your machine every few weeks, including the foot pedals and lower components.
Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning your elliptical machine – lint cloths, dusters, and towels should be sufficient for daily wipe downs. Strong bleaches, ammonia, and alcohol-based cleaners can all end up doing more harm than good.
Finally, if you have little ones in the house, try to make sure they’re kept away from the machine and that they’re not using it as a home jungle gym! Not only are ellipticals unsafe for children, they can be damaged by improper use. It’s also worth unplugging your machine when it’s not being used by a responsible adult.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be creating the best possible environment for your elliptical to live a long, healthy, and productive life!
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!