How to Find a Treadmill on Sale for Cheap

Woman's feet running on treadmill in gym

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When you are ready to get a treadmill, you want to save money and get one cheap. But you don't necessarily want a cheap treadmill—you want a treadmill that is of good quality you can find for a bargain price. Learn the drawbacks and how to spend less on a treadmill that will support your workouts for health and fitness.

Drawbacks of Cheap Treadmills

One kind of cheap treadmill has a low price but is also low in quality, power, and durability. Most motorized treadmills for under $1,000 manufacturer's suggested retail price are less sturdy, have a less powerful motor, and have fewer workout features. As a result, they may not work well for heavier runners and walkers. A more powerful motor of at least 2.5 continuous horsepower (CHP) is needed for running speeds and higher user weights. Without a powerful-enough motor or sturdy frame, the treadmill may break down more often with normal use.

You may also see manual treadmills for sale for $200 or less. These have many drawbacks as they have a steep incline, few features, and often have less sturdy construction.

The good news is that overall quality of treadmills has been improving at the lower price points over the decade, especially with folding treadmills, according to treadmill expert Fred Waters. But you should always think twice about buying an inexpensive new treadmill unless it is a steep discount off a manufacturer's suggested retail price of over $1,000. While you may see new treadmills at Walmart, Target, and other major retailers for under $500, it is best to pass those by.

Where to Find New Treadmills for Cheap

The best time of year to find discounts on new treadmills is in January as retailers appeal to the people who have made fitness resolutions. The second round of discounts is seen in June as retailers want to clear out the inventory to restock with the new models that will come out in the next few months. This is also the low season for buying treadmills and you might even be able to negotiate for a bargain at some stores or have the delivery and setup included rather than requiring a separate fee.

Floor models will often be sharply discounted as they are slightly used. Keep in mind that they are already assembled, which may make them more difficult to deliver and take into your home.

What to Look for When Buying Used Treadmills

Rather than pay hundreds of dollars and still get a low-quality treadmill, it is wiser to shop for a used high-quality treadmill for the same price or less. Many people sell their almost-unused treadmills as the New Year's resolutions wear off.

Your first step is to research good quality treadmill features, brands, and models. You need to know what to look for in a home treadmill so you can judge what you find.

  • Motor: While walkers under 200 pounds can use a treadmill with a 2.0 CHP motor, you will need to bump that up by 0.5 CHP if you are over 200 pounds. Jogging requires a minimum of 2.5 CHP (3.0 if you are over 300 pounds), and running requires 3.0 CHP (3.5 if you are over 200 pounds).
  • User Weight Limit: This listing is an indication of how sturdy the frame and construction are. You want a treadmill that lists a maximum user weight that is 100 pounds more than your weight.
  • Warranty: If you are buying a used treadmill, the warranty may only apply to the original owner, but it indicates the quality of construction. The minimum warranty for a good-quality treadmill is 10 years for the frame, five years for the motor, and two years for parts. Longer warranties are better, but avoid treadmills that came with shorter warranties.

Where to Find Bargains on Quality Used Treadmills

These are places to look for used treadmills:

  • Local Gyms and Fitness Clubs; Club treadmills are usually commercial treadmills of the best quality. Look for a gym that is selling their used equipment due to a replacement or going out of business. Just be sure that it has a regular electrical plug and doesn't need a heavy-duty outlet.
  • Online Resale: Look for treadmills on eBay, Craigslist, and other online resale sites. You can also find refurbished models on Amazon and some other sites. Try to connect with a local seller as shipping costs would be high for this heavy item.
  • Local Classified Ads: Look in the classified ad section for your local online publications and print publications.
  • Charity Thrift Stores: Look at Goodwill and other charity shops.
  • Play It Again Sports Stores: Throughout the United States and Canada, Play It Again Sports sells used treadmills. Many other exercise equipment stores do as well.
  • Moving Sales, Garage Sales, Rummage Sales: You are likely to see treadmills for sale by your neighbors when they need to move or decided to clean house. It's good to have a personal chat with the owner to find out how much use it got, and you can often drive a very good bargain. But you need to do your research on whether it is a quality model or a cheap one that is not going to last.

Drawbacks of Buying a Used Treadmill

There are these pitfalls to avoid:

  • You probably won't be able to get a warranty or guarantee. Any future repairs will be on your own dime, which can be expensive.
  • You will have to get the treadmill home and set up. Moving such a heavy object can be quite a chore. New treadmills often come with home set-up included or it can be purchased for a fee.
  • Product manuals are rarely included. You'll need to find them online, usually at the manufacturer's site.

Note that in addition to these drawbacks, purchasing a used treadmill makes it even more important to do regular maintenance so your equipment keeps working well.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.