Treadmills are excellent to stay in shape, lose weight, and push the envelope while you train your body. That is, until they break down on you.
Your treadmill belt is the most likely component to die first. You’re directly interacting with it, putting pressure on it from running, and it just takes the brunt of the pain from extended use.
Fortunately, you can replace the belt, and your treadmill will most likely be back to normal. Parts like the motor or console have years and years on them, whereas a belt will need to be replaced every few years depending on use.
You need to know how to replace treadmill belts, so let’s take a look.
Signs a Treadmill Belt Needs to be Changed
- Slipping: The belt can slip off of the roller. It means the belt is stretched out or it’s being released by the internal pieces that hold it in place. Either way, you have to pop it open and check it out.
- Lack of Lubrication: Is your treadmill making a ton of squeaking sounds? That’s likely due to the lubrication running dry. Your belt should have a bit of wax on the bottom of it that helps smooth the process of running. If it’s gone or worn away, it’s time to replace it.
- Bad Running Experience: If your treadmill was new when you got it, and you can measure this experience against what it used to be like, be honest with yourself. What’s changed? Is the experience just not as good? If it’s a less smooth ride, the treadmill belt is at least starting to go.
- Visual Damage/Cracks: There’s a lot of kinetic energy slamming down on the tread, which means it transfers to the belt. If the underside of your treadmill is cracked or damaged, it’s a clear indicator that the belt is likely hurting as well.
Replacing or Fixing a Treadmill Belt
While some belts can be repaired, most of the time, you’ll just end up replacing the belt entirely. Thankfully they’re nowhere near the cost of a new treadmill, so you can grab a belt from the manufacturer, and slap it on in a relatively short amount of time. This is what you need to know.
Replacing a Treadmill Belt
It’s time to replace your treadmill belt. You’ll need some tools, a guide, and the confidence to pull it off. If you aren’t confident in your abilities at any point, take a step back, re-read the guide, and maybe sleep on it before trying again. Let’s get into it.
Tools and Equipment
To get started, we need to have the right tools for the job. Nothing crazy, but just be sure to have them at-the-ready.
- Screwdriver set
- Marker with a felt tip (this will make sense)
Be sure to have an open space on a flat surface (the center of your living room floor will work fine). Moving these pieces around requires some open room. Also, be sure to have one or two bins or cups handy to hold onto small pieces so they don’t roll under the couch and get lost forever.
1. Disconnect Your Treadmill
Unplug your treadmill from the wall first before you attempt any of this. Sounds like common sense, but it’s better to be thorough than sorry.
You’ll see a plastic hood over the motor housing in the front of the treadmill. Take this off to expose all the wiring. Here, you should be able to see where all the wires connect to. Take a photo with your phone, then disconnect the wires.
2. Mark the Roller
There are bolts on the front and back of treadmills. These help hold the roller in place and show the position for the front roller attached to the motor. Use your market to designate these spots so we don’t forget later on.
3. Loosening the Belt
The tread is connected to the belt. You can use the bolts to loosen it, and then remove the adjustment bolts at the front of the roller and the back of the roller. Note: your treadmill may have something called a straddle cover.
Check for this in any way that you can. You’ll have to remove this before you continue, which will involve removing staples. This is where the pliers come in handy in your tool kit.
4. Unscrew the Deck Bolts
Flip the treadmill on its side (you do not have to remove the console to do this part). On the bottom, you’ll see deck bolts attaching the underside of the treadmill to the running deck. Remove these bolts and put them by the side for safekeeping.
5. Pop Off the Roller
The rear roller has caps on it to hide the bolts. You’ll be able to see them with relative ease. Open up the end caps and remove the roller from the back of the treadmill.
6. Separate Motor Belt
Separate from the tread is the motor belt. Now it’s time to remove it from the machine and inspect it. See how much wear and tear has occurred, mentally note it for later, and begin to plan out how often you’ll have to replace the motor belt in the future.
Most motor belts can be replaced for next to nothing, so while it’s not an expensive cost, it’s definitely an involved process that you don’t want to make a habit of doing too often. You’ll be replacing your belt every 6-12 months. It’s important to know when to expect the next replacement.
7. Replace the Belt
The old belt is gone, long live the new! Now you just have to install it. Slide the new belt on and be sure that it’s perfectly taut, to the best of your ability.
It has to be right in the center of the treadmill so you don’t run into any problems. You’ll be able to confirm this by looking through the bottom of the treadmill for centering.
8. Replace the Roller
Now put your back roller on and bolt it into position. It should be firm and secure in place. It’s very hard to over-tighten or overdo it here, so just make sure it’s not going to move or pop off while you’re running on your treadmill.
While replacing the roller, check for plastic wear down (where it looks like the roller has shreds of plastic missing or excessive scratches). Make a note so you know if it needs to be replaced next time you replace the belt.
9. Tighten it Up and Test
Now that everything is back in its original place, it’s time to tighten things up and see if it all works well. Just reverse engineer how you loosened these pieces in the earlier steps, and pay attention to how tight you wind it up. Sometimes you just have to loosen it up a bit if it’s having problems during testing.
Run the treadmill without stepping on it for about three to five minutes. Just let it go and see how it feels. Then, try running on it and make sure the track feels like it’s properly in place.
You’ll know within a few seconds if it’s secure or not. If everything worked according to plan, you should be all set to go!
When Should You Consult a Professional?
If the belt damage seems to have exceeded what you feel confident doing, then you should call a professional. This is what to look for:
- Electrical Damage: Your belt is tied to the motor. Do you notice cracks on the motor, or exposed wiring that seems dangerous? You should call someone who’s licensed and insured to repair your treadmill. The belt may have been worn down for a while and produced severe damage on the motor, which means you’re risking your safety by using it (and by working on it).
- Complete Breakage: If you believe that the treadmill can still be repaired, but the damage is beyond your ability, call a professional. If your belt is broken to the point that it and the tread have completely snapped or split, there could be a problem with the motor.
- Time-Cost Analysis: Would you make more money in the time it takes to fix your treadmill than the amount you would save by DIYing it? We don’t get time back, so if it’s broken and your time is best spent elsewhere, call a technician to fix it for you.
Your Belt is the First Component to Go
And that’s it. Once you do it once, it’s… well, it’s actually something you’ll likely forget pretty fast. It’s not a common everyday thing, and it’s not similar to tasks most of ourselves find us doing.
Make sure to bookmark this page for later so you can return when and if the time comes to replace another belt on your treadmill.