When and How to Lubricate a Treadmill

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Your gym equipment needs to be maintained, just like your car needs to be brought into the shop. Well, maybe not quite as often.

Treadmills require lubrication to run effectively. Failing to do this can lead to machine failure, breakage, and injury if the machine gets backed up while you’re running on it.

We obviously want to avoid all of that, so it’s time to find out how to lubricate your treadmill, figure out the markers for it so you can perform maintenance as needed, and avoid replacing your entire treadmill down the line.

It’s time to learn everything you need to know about how and when to lubricate a treadmill.

How to Know When to Lubricate a Treadmill

When to Lubricate a Treadmill

There are a few indicators that your treadmill needs some new lubricant to function properly. Here’s what you can do to test it.

  • Check for Squeaking: The first sign is if your treadmill squeaks when certain dry spots on your tread run over the rollers on the front or back of your treadmill. This is audible, and gets very loud after a short amount of time. It’s unlikely that you won’t be able to hear it, but unfortunately, it also means that there’s likely some damage to your treadmill or belt.
  • Slippery Belt: If the belt is too slippery, it means that the lubricant has basically run out. It didn’t dry up, which we’ll talk about in a minute—it’s just seen the end of its days and burned out. If nothing else, it means that you’re at least using your treadmill often and getting the most out of it.
  • Sticky Belt: Yes, the belt can also be extremely sticky if there isn’t enough lube. This is because the lubricant dries up and becomes a gum-like sticky tar. If you’re running on your treadmill and you notice your shoes are sticking to the belt, even slightly, then it’s time to clean and lubricate it.

Lubricating your belt often enough can prolong the inevitable maintenance that involves cleaning your treadmill belt. It’s not a fun job and nobody wants to do it, so if you can maintain lubricant, you’ll be good to go for a long time.

Do You Live in a Warm Climate?

Running on treadmill in living room

In warmer climates, your lubricant can dry out very quickly. Sometimes it’s just the temperature, and sometimes the humidity can make your lubricant gunk up can cause a huge problem.

This is what you need to do to prevent these issues from popping up, or at least prolong them for as long as possible.

  • Temperature Control Your Room: Most of the time people put their treadmills in the garage, and the garage is the last place in your home that’s going to have air conditioning. The intermittent heat in the morning and afternoon will begin to dry up the lubricant quickly. Try putting your treadmill in a room that does have air conditioning where this won’t be a problem.
  • Set Reminders to Lubricate More Often: It’s not fair, but you do have to lubricate your treadmill more often than most people do. It’s unavoidable. Set alarms on your phone for specific dates in the future, use a paper calendar on the fridge for maintenance on all the things you own, or use a calendar app that will send notifications and reminders to your email and phone number. Either way, just make sure you lubricate more often.
  • Get Weather Resistant Lubricant: No two lubricants are built exactly the same. You can get weather-resistant lubricant to help fight against extreme heat. It’s not perfect, but it should reduce the frequency that you have to lubricate your treadmill in the future.

Do You Live in a Cold Climate?

Snow view

Just like the extreme heat, very cold climates will also have an effect on your treadmill lubricant. If you aren’t sure what to do, we’ve got you covered.

  • Optimal Conditions: The cold is actually better for your lubricant than the heat. You’re not at as much of a risk of your lubricant dying up, however it will become more viscous depending on the exact temperature. Unless you hit the single digits, you should actually be in ideal operational conditions.
  • When it Freezes: When it gets too cold, your lubricant will stop providing relief in between the pieces of metal it normally protects. The lubricant becomes more viscous and works less efficiently, so you might encounter metal on metal friction. That’s the opposite of what we want, and it could lead to some serious damages if you aren’t careful.
  • Something to Keep in Mind: If you keep your treadmill in the garage or another uninsulated, non temperature controlled portion of the house, the cold may not destroy your lubricant, but it can harm any electrical components of your treadmill. That means it can harm the motor, the LCD screen, and many other electrical pieces. You have to keep this in mind and not solely focus on lubricant when you determine where you should store your treadmill.

What Lubricants to Use

Silicone lube for treadmill

There are two main lubricants that you can use, although you really should stick with the main one.

There’s 100% silicone lubricant, which is what you’ll find in almost every manufacturer recommendation, whether that’s on their website or in a manual.

Silicone lubricant is the best, but some will call for teflon. Yes—the non-stick coating on pots and pans. You have to be very careful with teflon, because it can muck up most treadmills.

In the manufacturer recommendations, they will very clearly outline if you can use both types of lubricant or not. You should also look at online forums pertaining to your specific make and model of your treadmill so you can gauge other people’s experiences as well.

There are claims that some manufacturers have special lubricant that they put on the tread while it’s still in the factory, and that it doesn’t need to be cleaned, replaced, or maintained.

Determine that for yourself, but in our experience, you’re always going to have to relubricate your treadmill at one point or another.

Tools and Equipment Needed

It’s time to gently disassemble the top part of your treadmill and apply the lubricant. This is what you need, and it can vary from model to model.

  • Phillips head screwdriver set
  • Allen wrench set
  • 100% silicone lubricant or teflon lubricant (spray bottle works best)
  • Cotton cloth that you don’t mind throwing out after

Step-by-Step Guide to Lubricating a Treadmill

Step-by-Step Guide to Lubricating a Treadmill
  1. Start by removing the deck rail screws. These are found on the external portion of your treadmill housing. They will be on the left and right of the housing that holds the tread. Typically, the top platform of the treadmill will overlay this area, so you may have to get down on your stomach on the floor to find these screws. There should be a few on each side with a Phillips head screw. Remove them.
  2. If you had to raise your treadmill body up to access the deck rails, it’s time to gently put it back down. Do not hold it by the deck rail housing.
  3. Once it’s level on the floor and sturdy, gently remove the covers over the deck rails. There will be multiple points of contact between the fastener on the inside of the deck rail housing and the cover. You may have to pry for a little while.
  4. On most models of treadmills, you’ll see idle roller bolts on the back-end of the deck rail interior. These will be right next to the tread. You’ll need that allen wrench set. These bolts are at a very specific level of tension, so you want to pay close attention to how many turns it takes to unwind the bolt. Write it down so you know how many cranks to re apply the bolts later.
  5. Remove any bolts from the drive roller. After these are removed, you can remove the drive belt (small rubber belt that connects to the motor). Then you should be able to remove the roller from the top of the tread. Gently lift it up.
  6. This is where you have to apply the lubricant. Lubricant should go on the underside of the belt where it will roll along the roller. Spray a decent amount in a horizontal line, coating from left to right. You only want to cover a 6” tall space below the belt.
  7. To do this, hold the roller straight up in the air and reach your hand (with the spray bottle) inside of the roller. Spray a designated area left to right, no higher than 6” tall.
  8. Replace the roller and tread. Lean it back down and put it into place. Reverse engineer the previous steps to put everything back together.
  9. Place the drive belt back over the end of the roller. Replace the drive roller bolts. Replace the roller bolts on the back end of the deck rail interior. Replace the deck rail interior.
  10. Turn the treadmill on a medium speed and let it run for 5 to 7 minutes. The amount of lubricant that you sprayed is enough to coat the inside of the entire belt, believe it or not. While the belt/tread is running, it will evenly disperse the lubricant throughout the underside of the belt.

Note: Be careful not to put too much lubricant on. Silicone lubricant can easily stain carpet, curtains, and cloth. If you put too much on, then the lubricant can spit out of the back and hit the wall.

When All is Said and Done

Just make sure you’re lubricating your treadmill as often as possible to avoid unnecessary maintenance in the future.

The last thing you want is to damage an internal component of your treadmill because it wasn’t lubricated properly, and pay a ridiculous amount for the repair.

Make sure you’re using the right lubricant for the job, and be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for any warnings about the type of lube that you have to use, or safety instructions regarding the amount that you can use.

Every machine has its own engineers behind it, and some of them make machines that are very particular.