A few years back, we decided to get an Elliptical for exercise. My experience with exercise equipment has never been good. I’ve had an exercise bike and a treadmill in the past. Other than the occasional use for their intended purposes, they seemed to mostly get used as a place to hang wet clothes to dry. Not really the best investment.
Mrs. F said that this was going to be different. She had used ellipticals in the gym and she knew she would use one if we had it in the house. And because she’d used them in the gym, she wanted to get a high quality unit for the house. As the Precor Ellipticals can run several thousand dollars new, we looked at used equipment. We found a nice elliptical, that seemed in like new condition, at a local fitness store. I don’t remember what we paid for it, but it seemed like a reasonable price. The model we got was the Precor EFX 5.23. I don’t understand why Precor does this, but they use the same model number for quite different machines. The current EFX 5.23 does not have as many features as the model we got. For example, the current model has a manual incline, while ours has an electric incline.
Anyway, so we decided to buy it and had it set-up in our house by the company. There was no way we’d be able to transport it, as it weighs a ton (not literally, but close at 200 lbs). I have no idea how I’d get it down our stairs into the basement. Of course, the company was more than willing to deliver and set it up, for a fee.
Once we had our new elliptical, I bought myself an Omron heart rate monitor. The elliptical has this cool feature where it will adjust the intensity of the workout to maintain your heart rate within a pre-programmed range. This was the main feature I was interested in. I suppose it isn’t that big of a deal to adjust the intensity of your workout yourself based on your heart rate, but I thought I’d use the machine more if it adjusted itself.
As I had expected, after a few weeks of using the elliptical, it wound up sitting and collecting dust. And then, for whatever reason, I got this motivation to start exercising. I was using the elliptical daily for a few weeks when suddenly, it started making a clicking noise. I’ll try to insert a video so you can see and hear the sound it makes. It would sound like 2-3 clicks per revolution of the pedals. Compared to the usual quiet functioning, it was obvious something was not right.
Here’s my crappy video of the clicking noise:
I looked around online and found a few other videos with this problem, and I also found a downloadable service manual for my machine. The other video I saw, with a click that was kind of similar, said that the problem wound up being a belt that was out of alignment. They said the repairman who came out was able to make the adjustment very easily. Another video said that the pedals were able to shift side to side a little, so they added some washers to keep the pedals in place. When I looked through the manual, I thought that even simple adjustments would be very time consuming for me, and unlikely to be effective. I’m glad I went the professional route on this one.
Once I decided I wouldn’t try to fix it myself, I called the store where we bought the machine. They gave me the name of a fitness equipment repair company that they spoke very highly of. They said they thought it was around $120 for the company to make a service call. I decided I would first call Precor and see if they had any suggestions.
The people at Precor were very nice and helpful. I would expect that from a manufacturer of premium equipment. I gave them my serial number and they looked up the machine. I think they said it was originally purchased in 2006. They said that any warranty would have only applied to the original owners. Just for shiggles, I asked them if they could see if any previous repairs had been done. They said that some major part had been replaced, I forget them name – maybe the main drive mechanism? They also said a month or two after that the incline motor was replaced. Both of those would be fairly expensive repairs to pay for. I had mixed feelings about hearing about the prior repairs. On the one hand, I figured maybe my machine hadn’t been used much before we bought it. On the other hand, I was thinking they must have decided to get everything fixed before they sold it. I was also wondering if maybe they had some problems that the service people couldn’t figure out, so they ultimately sold it.
The people at Precor seemed willing to help walk through some simple repair steps, but he cautioned me several times that if I do that, to be very careful of moving parts, as they can be dangerous. They also gave me the names of two Precor certified repair companies near me, but they didn’t mention the one provided to me by the place where I bought the elliptical.
I tried calling the two places Precor gave me, and I got voice mail at both, during regular business hours. The message sounded like an individual running a one man operation. That’s fine, but even though I left messages, I never got called back. The place recommended by the store was very professional. A secretary answered and she told me about their price structure. $140 for a service call which includes a preventative maintenance and any minor repairs. She said they bring out most common parts with them, but if they need to order a part, the charge will be based on the repair, not the number of times the service man needs to come out to the house. As I was hoping it would just be a minor belt adjustment, I figured $140 was reasonable to have someone professional come out and do whatever maintenance and tune-ups and hopefully also repair the clicking noise.
The guy was able to come out the next morning. He took apart the machine and called me with the diagnosis. He said that the belts looked damaged and he would need to replace them. Because this was more than a minor repair, the cost would be $200 for the tune-up and repair, plus about $70 for the two belts that needed replacing. I wasn’t thrilled with the cost, but it didn’t seem that unreasonable, especially if the guy knows what he’s doing.
He took it apart and started doing the repair. He noticed that the machine had water damage. Damn flooding issues!!! He said some of the electronics had gotten wet. He said he wasn’t sure how much damage they incurred, so had no idea if there would be any future problems there. He also said that the pulley had water damage, and it looked like that was why the belts got damaged. He said that he had a replacement pulley in his vehicle, and he’d put that in at no extra cost. I have no idea how much that part normally costs, but I thought that was nice that he did that. He said the incline motor / mechanism did not get wet, which is good as that is the most expensive part to replace, according to him.
He did the entire repair, did whatever other steps are involved in routine maintenance and a tune up, and now the clicking noise is gone. Everything is back to the whisper quiet and I’ve continued to use the machine since. It’s only been a few weeks, but that’s more use than I’ve gotten out of any exercise equipment I’ve bought before. Except maybe the pull-up bar I put in my doorway when I was in high school. I did use that regularly.
So, for those visiting here hoping to get a solution to their problem, I’m sorry I couldn’t step you through a do-it-yourself way to diagnose and repair your noisy elliptical. I hope that the information is still useful, to give you an idea of a typical cause for the clicking, as well as an idea of what it may cost to get it repaired.