Guide to Buying Used Exercise Machine

Newspaper classifieds and online auctions are full of ads for “slightly used” treadmills, stationary bikes and the like. But what do you need to know before you pick up a deal at a yard sale or on eBay? Here are few guidelines from the experts:

Do your research. Before you buy secondhand, do some digging, says Mike May, director of communications at the Sporting Goods Manufacturer’s Association in North Palm Beach, Florida. Start by talking to salespeople at a store specializing in new fitness equipment. Ask what brands are best, try them out and ask about warranties that come with the equipment you’re considering. That’s an easy way to find out what parts are most likely to need replacing and will tell you what to look for on a used machine too. A treadmill, for example, is likely to have separate warranties for the motors and for parts and labor. If you’re not picky about how you get your cardio, opt for machine with the fewest moving parts; a bike for example has one motor, while a treadmill has two.

Test it out. If you’re not buying online, get on the equipment and use it like you would during normal workout. Consoles should read properly. Elliptical trainers that work the upper and lower body should have sufficient resistance. Treadmill belts shouldn’t slip. If the used equipment isn’t in good condition, find out what the problem is and what it will cost to fix it.

Check for recalls. Log on to US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s site, before you bring anything home, recommends commission spokeswoman Kim Dulic. The site lets you search to see if a product or one of its parts has been recalled and can alert you to potential repairs.

Consider a refurbished machine. Companies that specialize in sprucing up used equipment abound online. You’ll typically pay 30-50 percent less than if you bought it new. Check to see if the company offers a warranty on refurbished equipment.

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