How to Fix a Slipping Treadmill Belt

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If you own a treadmill, you’ve probably already realized how important it is to keep it in top condition and prevent that slipping treadmill belt. For one, it’s an expensive piece of equipment, and without proper maintenance, the ravages of time and mileage may render it no longer functional.

Aside from servicing the electronics and mechanics, an aspect of maintaining your treadmill is to change, lubricate and/or center the belt. Possible reasons for needing to fix a treadmill belt could be that it’s slipping, sticking, or off-centered. 

Whether you’re walking or running, a slipping or lagging belt could put you at risk of falling. This may result in serious injury. At the very least, the fluctuating belt speed could cause you to hurt your muscles or joints. So, if you notice any change, you should stop your workout immediately and either check the belt yourself or call in a technician.

Reasons Why My Treadmill Belt Is Slipping

Why is my treadmill belt slipping?

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you’ve noticed your treadmill belt slipping. While a treadmill belt may seem in perfect working order during the operation of a light person, you may notice slippage beneath the weight of a heavier individual.

Here are simple checks that could verify whether your treadmill belt needs tensioning.

  1. When stepping onto the belt, you may notice a lag in the treadmill’s speed.
  2. The belt may drive more on one side than the other. This would cause the belt to twist, forming a gap on one side.

One of the most common causes of a slipping treadmill belt is that it’s been subjected to excessive stress. The resulting heat makes the belt stretch to the point that it slips.

Other causes and remedies of slippage in treadmill belts may include:

Reason 1: Absence of lubrication

Reason 2: Loose belts (walking & drive belt)

Reason 1 – Absence of lubrication

Very often, a sticking or slipping treadmill belt may be due to a lack of insufficient or incorrect lubrication. The result is that your treadmill’s belt will no longer move smoothly over the walking deck. And this causes friction on the belt while straining the motor.

If you routinely lubricate the belt every 3 to 6 months, you’ll significantly extend the lifespan of your treadmill. Cheaper treadmills require lubrication after every 40 hours of use. Some expensive treadmills have a pre-lubricated deck lasting up to 8000 hours of use. 

Before you whip out your WD-40, household oil, or silicon-based lubricant, check out the manufacturer’s instructions, and be sure to purchase a compatible lubricant.

How Do I Know if My Treadmill Need Lubrication?

Slip your hand underneath the treadmill belt and run your fingers along the bed of the machine. When you remove your hand, your fingers should feel slippery. If they are dry, then lubrication could be the issue.

What Happens if You Don’t Lubricate a Treadmill?

The treadmill design is such that the belt normally runs over from the treadmill deck to a series of rollers and the friction generated between the belt and rollers must be reduced for the treadmill to operate seamlessly. If these components are not sufficiently lubricated, it will not only be difficult to operate the treadmill, but the belt will continue to slip now and then, meddling with your workout experience.

There are certain types of treadmills which are sold as “no maintenance” treadmills to create an illusion that after buying the treadmill you will not have to perform any maintenance activities. Okay, this is nothing but a marketing gimmick, and if you’re naive enough to believe you’re not going to have to do any maintenance, then slippage of the belt is the first problem you’ll experience.

If you have noticed that the belt slippage caused by a lack of proper lubrication, you have to lubricate the belt with any appropriate lubricant to avoid slipping. Most companies prefer silicone-based lube because it does not evaporate. Just follow the steps:

How to Lube a Treadmill Belt?

1. Unplug the machine from the power source.
2. A screwdriver may be required to release the treadmill’s sides. To remove dust, dirt or waste, use a cloth. You don’t want them to go under the treadmill. Lift the side of the belt carefully with your hands or the screwdriver.
3. Squirt or spray your lubricant from the Squirt or spray your lubricant from the center of the treadmill deck on the outside. Perform this step on the opposite side of the treadmill so that the lubricant can cover the whole width.
4. Make sure that the lubrication is not too much. You also want to make sure you don’t get the lubricant on the top of your belt. This will make it slippery and dangerous and make you slip and fall. Use your rag or cloth to clean any residual lubricant with a little rubbing alcohol, if available.
5. Raise the belt and tighten the screws if you had loosened them & turn on the machine.

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The lubricant will spread across the deck when the treadmill is operating at a low speed of around one mph for approximately 5 minutes.

After about three days, you should check the deck to make sure that all the lubricant is not absorbed by the belt. It may need redoing. If your treadmill folds, you may want to give it a few days before folding it to make sure that the lubricant is not dripping onto your floors. Here is a video you can watch

The belt can also deteriorate when it’s not in use, so remember to lubricate the machine if it is stored for a while. It might need to be done more often in warmer weather because the lubricating oils can dry out.

How Often Should I Lube My Treadmill Belt ?

Most manufacturers recommend lubricating a treadmill about every three to six months. But if you use the machine daily, or if you are on the heavier side, it might need maintenance more often. This could be as much as once for each 30 or 40 hours of use.

If you have the “no maintenance” kind of treadmill, be sure to call for professional maintenance to ensure that the belt is properly lubricated.

Reason 2: Loose Belts

Loose Drive Belt

The drive belt simply connects the machine’s motor to the front wheel. It is responsible for turning the wheel, which then causes the belt to spin.

If the belt is starting to wear or loose, the machine will not be functioning properly and the belt tension is not retained correctly. It means that the belt must be tightened or swapped. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions before doing any maintenance on your unit.

If this is not addressed, the warranty can get canceled. If the drive belt between the motor and the front roller slips, belt slippage will become unavoidable.

How Long Does a Treadmill Drive Belt Last?

You can test out the front roller if you walk on the treadmill and the belt stops moving but the motor is still going that is a clear sign that the drive belt is worn out and needs to be replaced or tighten.

The solution here is not to attempt to tighten it as it is relatively easy to over tighten it, which will elevate the operating amps and may end up burning the motor. Before removing the drive belt inside the hood cover see the manual as some manufacturers say the hood cover should not be removed unless an authorized service center advises you to do so.

Performing this type of repair would typically void the warranty if not authorized by the manufacturer.

Loose Walking Belt

Similarly, a loose treadmill belt is also a reason why treadmill belt slips or sticks. A simple task is to test whether a treadmill belt is loose.

How to Check Treadmill Belt Tension?

Typically, you can lift a belt away from the running deck. When you lift the belt, if the belt has the correct tension, there should be just over three-inch clearance, more than that then the belt is loose.

If you’re still unable to figure out what induces the treadmill belt to slip and have tested out all of the above, your belt may be loose and the tension on the belt may need to be increased. You should expect a lot of slippages during activities when the walking belt is loose.

How Do I Know if My Treadmill Belt is Loose?

This can be checked by lifting the belt from the middle if it lifts its great about 2 or 3 inches (7.62 cm) off the running deck and if it lifts higher than this it is too loose and will need tightening.

One of the reasons the belt may become loose is that it may have stretched out naturally with continuous use and age, in which case the slippage can be stopped by tightening the belt.

We would suggest replacing the worn-out belt as it is easy to over tighten the over-tightened belt that can inflict damaging effects on costly treadmill components.

If the pulley on the front roller loses its grip, the treadmill belt can slip too. To evaluate if the pulley on the front roller has lost its grip, turn off the machine and add a piece of colored tape to a part of the pulley that you can clearly see, then connect a similar piece to the roller tube or use a permanent marker to draw a straight line from the pulley to the roller tube.

If the pulley and drive belt are still running while the front roller and the walking belt are stopped, then it’s a clear sign that the pulley has lost its grip.

This will include fixing the pulley or changing the roller. That may go beyond your technical understanding, so calling a professional to help you out would be a good idea also look thru the manuals provide.

How to Tighten Treadmill Belt ?

1. Turn off your machine and unplug.
2. Place the Allen wrench inside the bolt. Give it a quarter turn to correct belt tension (in a clockwise direction.) It is important to make these changes on both sides equally, one turn at a time, to ensure the belt is not over-tightened. A too-tight belt puts a strain on the motor and It’s expensive to replace the belt or the motor.
3. To loosen do the reverse.
4. Check the belt clearance from the running deck by raising it, confirming that it is approximately three inches away. If you still have too much clearance then continue to adjust.
5. Another way you can check is to slide your hand beneath the belt and push it to the center of the running deck. You should find that your fingertips are just getting right in the middle.
5. less than the center is too tight, and more is loose.
6. Plugin the unit and use the machine to evaluate the tension.

Another thing that you might find when tightening up the treadmill belt is that it starting to run off-center. The procedure to correct this is using the same correction process on the rear roller. This time, the difference is that you just turn one bolt. So,

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How to Center the Treadmill Belt ?

1. Unplug.
2. Determine which way the belt has shifted.
3. If the belt has moved to the left, put the Allen wrench in the left rear roller bolt, and the right rear roller bolt when the belt has moved to the right.
4. Turn the left roller bolt 1/2 turn to the right if the belt has shifted to the left, and turn the right roller bolt 1/2 turn to the left if the belt has shifted to the right.
5. Plug-in and run the treadmill for several minutes to ensure that the belt is centered.
6. Repeat the steps if not.

These are some of the common causes of treadmill belt slippage along with how you can repair them, with some being easy fixes, while others being a bit complicated. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.

If you’re unsure about what you’re doing or you think there could be a bigger problem, contact an expert for advice. Belt slippage can be prevented through regular care and maintenance.

If you have any treadmill ideas or helpful comments or if you have a question for us we’re always happy to hear from you! If you are searching for best treadmill workout plan visit our post on HIIT treadmill workout.

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