Cross trainers are great for exercise. They work your quads, calves, hamstrings and a variety of other muscles – not to mention providing a substantial cardiovascular workout. Your cross trainer can last for years with regular use, but even commercial-grade models need routine maintenance.
If you know about cross trainer maintenance and troubleshooting, you’ll be better prepared to fix your unit if it breaks and maintain it before breaking occurs.
What to Do Before Working on a Cross Trainer
Your first step before working on your cross trainer is to unplug your machine and allow it to sit for a few minutes before maintaining it. While you need to propel the machine on your own, unlike a vibration plate or treadmill, you don’t want to risk being shocked or injured by one of the belts.
Unplugging the unit and allowing it to sit for a few minutes will drain all of the power and allow you to safely work on your machine.
I recommend that you locate the tools you’ll need for working on the unit.
Regular Cross Trainer Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Preventative maintenance will largely depend on the cross trainer that you own. I recommend locating the manual that came with your model and flipping to the maintenance or troubleshooting guide provided.
If you can’t find your manual, you’ll usually be able to find one online at the manufacturer’s official website.
Cross Trainer Maintenance Basics
Maintenance for a cross trainer is more in-depth than many other machines that require routine cleaning, dusting and tightening. When you’ve taken the safety measures above, you’ll want to follow a basic checklist of items to check:
- Wheels / rollers
- Drive belt
- Electrical connections
- Shock absorption system
You’ll start with a visual inspection to look for any breakage or dust accumulation. The tracks, wheels and rollers all need to be cleaner and wiped down properly. Inspect all of the belts and flywheel at this time.
Electrical components ought to be checked to ensure that they’re snug in place.
If you notice any significant wear on the belts, frame, track or flywheel, you’ll want to contact the manufacturer to request a new part or purchase one. A lot of these components are enclosed in the frame, so if your unit is newer and isn’t having issues, it’s not uncommon to wait until a belt breaks before replacing it.
Placement of your cross trainer is important, too.
UV damage can occur to the plastic components, so avoid placing your machine against the window. If you do place your machine in this location, you’ll want to make sure to close the shades or curtains to keep the sun’s rays away from the plastic.
Placing your trainer on a hard surface can help reduce the risk of uneven flooring and will allow you to confidently balance the unit. If a unit is placed on carpet or another non-hard surface, you’ll want to adjust the levels to ensure the machine is sturdy.
Cleaning Your Cross Trainer
Cleaning may seem like a basic task, but keeping dust and dirt out of the electrical components and off of the track can make a big difference in your trainer’s performance. You’ll want to dampen a towel and wipe down key areas:
- Plastic components
Using a soft cloth, wipe off any dust or debris that is on the tracks. Any transport wheels or track wheels should also be wiped clean to ensure that they move fluidly.
The display should be wiped down, too.
Cleaning can be done quickly and will allow you to keep components moving freely.
Some cross trainer tracks are self-contained, so you won’t be able to lubricate them. Other models will have a track with wheels that need to be lubricated on occasion.
You’ll want to read through your unit’s instruction manual for recommendations or follow your own best judgement.
I have a cross trainer that came with extra grease to use on the track, and I add the grease at my own discretion when I notice that when I pedal, the unit doesn’t move smoothly any longer.
You may also need to lubricate the arms if you hear squeaking when the arms are in motion.
Tightening Loose Fasteners
Tightening loose fasteners should be done monthly or as needed. The key areas that may need to be tightened are:
Handles, if you use them, will often become loose, depending on how hard you pull and push them during your workout. The pedals may begin to wobble over time and a quick tightening of the fasteners will allow you to keep the pedal firmly in place.
Check all of the key components monthly to make sure that the fasteners haven’t loosened.
The console, if it runs off of a battery, should have the battery replaced when it dies. Replacing the battery routinely allows you to always be ready to begin your next cardio session. If you have a console that connects to the mains, you won’t have to worry about battery replacement issues.
Basic maintenance can do a lot to keep your machine up and running when you need it most. But even with proper maintenance, there are internal components and electronic components that can and do break. You should perform maintenance and troubleshooting before calling a technician to work on your machine.
The most common issues that consumers experience with their cross trainers are listed below.
Troubleshooting Common Cross Trainer Issues
Troubleshooting a cross trainer is highly dependent on the unit itself and the issue you’re having. A few of the key issues people experience and how to fix them are:
- Console issues. Most of the time, console issues are a result of a bad or dying battery. If the console is dim or stopped working, you have two main options: remove the battery or power source and put back in place, or replace the power source.
- Sensor issues. If your trainer comes with a pulse or heart rate sensor, you may notice that the sensors are not working or are highly inaccurate. The goal is to hold the sensors for 15 seconds to get an accurate reading. Clean the sensors with a dry soft cloth and never use chemicals, abrasives or alcohol to clean because it can cause damage.
- Unlevel or unbalance. If you’re on the trainer and notice that it wobbles or is unbalanced, you’ll want to use the levelers at the bottom of the unit if they exist. A general rule of thumb is to tighten the four levelers completely, and then slowly unscrew the levelers and test the machine’s balance. You’ll eventually find the right level and balance your cross trainer. You may want to position the trainer on a solid surface for better stability.
- High resistance or no resistance. When resistance issues occur, it could be due to console or generator issues. Check the cables to ensure that they’re firmly in place and not damaged. Try turning the resistance to zero and turning back up one notch to see if it helps.
- Slipping pedals. Belt tension or bearing issues are the common cause for slipping pedals. The belt’s tension needs to be increased or the drive assembly may need to be replaced if the slipping is bearing-related.
- Knocking. A knocking or creaking noise that wasn’t there before may be an issue with the following components: pedal, axle or belts. Tighten the pedals and arms, replace the axle, and tighten or replace the belt as necessary. I have a guide on fixing a noisy cross trainer.
- Squeaking. A key indicator that there are issues with lubrication is squeaking. If there’s squeaking from your cross trainer, you’ll want to lubricate all of the pivot points. This is done by removing the cover over the handles and pedal arms. Grease the components using the grease supplied with the elliptical. You can also purchase additional lubricant as necessary.
- Incorrect speed. When the console is displaying an incorrect speed, the key issue could be the wiring, console or the reed switch. Be sure to unplug your machine and locate the reed switch. You may need to adjust the switch to ensure that it’s close enough to the magnet to detect the speed. You may also have an issue with the console, which may require replacement.
The good news is that it’s easy to work on a cross trainer. Even if you don’t have much experience in repairing electronics or cardio machines, it’s not difficult to replace a resistant motor or adjust a reed switch.
You’ll find guides that cover all of the easy repairs that you can confidently make yourself with little experience or difficulty.
Activating A Cross Trainer’s Warranty
If you’ve followed all of the basic troubleshooting and maintenance guidelines with little success, it may be time to call the manufacturer. The manufacturer will be able to guide you to the next steps to take to fix your cross trainer.
You may have to call a technician for more advanced issues, or you may be able to have the machine fixed under the manufacturer’s warranty.