A couple of weeks back, my Life Fitness elliptical trainer started to make a squeaky sound. It was intermittent and high-pitched, sounding somewhat like a bird. Wanting to make sure that I was not damaging the machine or making the problem worse, I requested to have an official Life Fitness maintenance professional come by and have a look at the problem. I'm glad I did, because now I've learned how to take better care of my elliptical machine and do some troubleshooting on my own.
As it happens, the squeaking noise was caused by dust collecting in the back part of my machine, where the belt meets the wheels. Air gets sucked into the back of my elliptical as I pedal away, and with frequent use, it only makes sense that dust is going to get sucked in as well. This dust can cause an intermittent high-pitched squeaking sound, but is very easy to clean away.
I've taken some photos and written down the elliptical maintenance advice that Mr. Hepa, the professional who serviced my machine, gave me, so that you (along with my future self) can take better care of your elliptical- both by cleaning it and by knowing how to troubleshoot different sounds and symptoms.
Maintaining Your Elliptical Machine
How to Get Rid of the Squeak
Mr. Hepa indicated that it is very easy to clean one's own elliptical exercise machine from time to time to reduce the squeaking noise. While these specific instructions apply to my Life Fitness elliptical machine, I think the basic components of most elliptical trainers are the same, so you can follow the same basic procedure for other brands.
All you have to do is...
- Detach the back left shell of the elliptical (There are seven Phillips head screws that one must undo first; having a power drill is particularly helpful in situations such as these)
- Move the shell along the pedal (it cannot be completely detached) to expose the inner workings of the machine; you may need to manipulate the pedal a bit to get the right angle
- Inspect the interior of the machine, especially around the bands, for dust
- Clean out the dust with a vacuum and/or dry cloth. Do to so thoroughly, you'll need to clean, then move the pedal a bit to expose a different part of the wheel and band, then move the pedal a bit more. Do NOT clean the elliptical with a wet cloth- you do not want to expose any of the wiring or other components to water, and you do not want to trap moisture inside the machine
- To get better access to the interior of the machine, you can also unscrew the other back shell and have both clamshell open, but this is not mandatory (I did not do this because the left side of my elliptical is very close to a wall)
- Angle the outside shell back into place and replace the screws
- Enjoy using your elliptical again- squeak free- and make a note in your calendar to clean the insides in about six month's time, or as soon as you hear more squeaky noises
Mr. Hepa advises cleaning one's elliptical machine around twice a year (though one would need to clean it more frequently if it gets a lot of use, and less frequently if it is seldom used). I use mine about 10 hours every week, and the room in which I use it is excessively clean and particle-free, so I don't have to clean it a ton, however an elliptical that saw use form multiple people in a household and was maybe in a garage or somewhere dustier would need more cleaning maintenance, and one in a gym would need much more care.
Elliptical Machine Bearings
Other Symptoms, Causes, & Solutions
There are other common problems that Mr. Hepa pointed out when we had a look at the inside of my machine. Here are some of the symptoms of these problems and what the most likely causes are:
- Squeaking plus a click: Problems with bearings around the areas of the machine's underbelly that have a lot of wiring around them - these parts are sealed off, so you would probably need professional help to get those problems resolved.
- Sudden slack or slips in resistance: Problems with the bands that run along the elliptical fitness machine - this probably means that they've become weak in certain areas, and you'll need to have them replaced.
- Squeaking noise around the front of the machine: This can be caused by the way the plastic shells around the handles rub against.
- White dust around the hinge between the white shells at the front of the machine: This is also caused by the way those plastic shells rub together. They're not any particular problem; all you have to do is wipe the dust away, however if you'd prefer that the dust not show up in the first place, you can remove the shells from the front part of the machine, put black electrical tape around the place where the two different plastic parts rub together, and then replace the shell.
Disha from India on March 26, 2020:
useful info for me
Cindy on April 05, 2018:
Seems to have worked for mine...thank you
ray on December 14, 2014:
no comment just would like to know where i can locate pedal for a fs 5.9 e eliptical. any help will be appreciated thanks
lee on February 09, 2014:
just purchased one of these today and its slipping i guessed belt had gone but i don't know what model it is theres no sticker apart from eclipse 1 do you know if theres anywhere else to look ... ?? you have saved a lot of time taking it apart and doing enquries thankyou :)
Nancy on January 07, 2014:
I had my husband open it up and we vacuumed it out - voila! squeak is gone! Thanks!
Tammy from USA on June 22, 2013:
I am glad I came across your helpful tips here. My eliptical just started making these kind of noises. Now I know what to look for. Thanks!
Max on June 22, 2013:
This solution is BS. Good grieve....who gives this type of advise. I own a gym and work on my equipment. Dust causes a squeak........I saw pigs flying the other day.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 10, 2012:
That sounds like a good idea, Christina. It's probably a more serious problem!
Christina on July 08, 2012:
It didn't work and I can't turn my music up loud enough to drawn out the squeak. I'll just have to call them tomorrow :-(
ellimacha on November 01, 2011:
Good squeaky solution. I will share with my friends.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 25, 2011:
Always the thinker, you were! Oop- gotta jam... here's the mail it never fails it makes me want to wag my tail... when it comes I want to wail "MAAAAAIIILLL!!!"
Andrew from Rep Boston MA on August 23, 2011:
Wow you been busy Simone, from Drano to Elliptical machines you have a lot of great step by steps out...HEY! I got it...your Elliptical Exercise Machine is in your bathroom isn't it! Haha! I figured out blues clues.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 22, 2011:
I think those are excellent alternatives, janikon. Ultimately, it's best to be outside and enjoying the world at large!
Thanks for stopping by katrinasui!
And that's an interesting fix, nt! I don't think I'd want to give up any of the resistance on the machine, but if you don't mind that and really don't want the annoying squeaking noise! I wonder what the magnetic arch was doing to make the noise in your case. What a curious thing!
nt on August 21, 2011:
Although I have verified that the magnetic arch does not rub against the flywheel at any settings, I decided to completely remove the magnetic arch and low and behold, the squeaking sound is there no more. I also applied belt-dressing - the type used for car-engine fan belts to the belt. Because the magnets are no longer there, it pedals like you have set the trainer to the lightest setting. I suspect even at the lightest setting, the magnets are still there to exert some force on the flywheel such that either it is a bit out of alignment with the sleeve in which it rotates, or uneven pressure causing slippage of the belt.
katrinasui on August 21, 2011:
Stu from Canada on August 20, 2011:
I've come to the conclusion it was a lemon, now I exercise on the streets and in the water - I figure they aren't going to break because if they do - I'm going into hiding. Voted Up.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 20, 2011:
Yikes janikon! Sorry your elliptical was so mean to you!!! I suppose some are sturdier than others @-@
froch from Tychy on August 20, 2011:
Nice hub! vote up!
Stu from Canada on August 19, 2011:
I had an elliptical machine for ten minutes and then the high-pitched squeaking convinced me I was too fat to use it. Then the belt snapped a few minutes later - I really wish I had been able to read this hub back then, it would have saved me years of elliptical-fear.