Treadmills are notorious for ending up unused, forgotten about, in the basement and in the way.
Hundreds of people purchase these machines every year with the intent to use it regularly to loose weight or stay in shape – but, we all know how quickly that motivation can die off.
It’s no surprise that these bulky machines one of the most frequently seen items at garage sales and on classified pages.
And because they’re so heavy, bulky, and most people just want them out of the way as quickly as possible, they are often sold for way under value or may even be offered for free!
If you would rather look for one with a warranty, I recommend checking out this article on the best budget friendly treadmills.
One note I would recommend before or right after buying a treadmill is to pick up a treadmill mat. They protect your carpet and/or hardwood from friction marks which can damage both.
Here is an article that details the recommended mats for the different flooring.
Before I go into tips and tricks on how to successfully purchase a treadmill on Craigslist, a word about Craigslist safety.
Craigslist gets a bad rap when it comes to safety, and there have been several cases where dealing strangers through the site have led to seriously dangerous situations.
But think of how many ordinary places you interact with strangers every single day that could become potentially dangerous.
Banks and gas stations get held up everyday across the country, but that doesn’t stop anyone from using them. Restaurants catch on fire everyday, but no one fears walking into one.
Every workplace comes with it’s own dangers, but everyone continues to go to work. Buying something on Craigslist is really no different than going to these everyday places.
Have bad things happened to some people who have used Craigslist?
But should that make everyone fearful of using it?
Absolutely not. The truth is that if you use the right safety precautions the chances of something bad happening is incredible low.
The most important safety precaution is to never meet with a stranger alone, especially if you are meeting them at their home away from a public place.
USE THE CRAIGSLISTS ANONYMOUS EMAIL SYSTEM
Another thing that seems to really make people uneasy about using Craigslist is the exchange of personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.
Since you are the buyer in this scenario, there should be no need for you to share your address.
The only reason you would need to share this information is if you plan on having the machine delivered, but if it makes you uncomfortable then you can simply opt not to have it delivered and pick it up yourself.
Craigslist comes with it’s own anonymous email system that allows you to communicate with the seller through email with no exchange of phone numbers, if you are seriously against sharing your phone number as well (although I’ve found that sharing my phone number with buyers and sellers has never led to any problems whatsoever).
CRAIGSLIST HELPFUL GUIDE TO FINDING USED TREADMILLS FOR SALE
- Know your demographic. Just because the area you live in has it’s own Craigslist page, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you live in an area where there is a great demographic for treadmill postings.
- While a great deal could pop up anywhere, you are generally going to find that there are more postings and more opportunities in cities with large populations. It makes sense right, the more people the more treadmills!
- I live in an area where the combined metro area reaches a population of about 2 million, and I see treadmills posted for free or cheap on Craigslist almost everyday.
- However, before I moved to the area where I currently live, I lived in a smaller college town with a population of about 200,000, and only saw them posted occasionally. If you don’t live in a large city, look in nearby areas with larger demographics. The drive to pick it up will be worth it if you can find a killer deal!
- Know where to look. The best way to search Craigslist for a specific item is to simply search for the keyword under the “for sale” section. Since there are so many potential categories where a treadmill could show up, (appliances, household, machinery, free, etc.) using the search bar is your best bet.
- This search will bring up every treadmill that is currently listed in every category. Craigslist also has some search filters. One of them that is automatically programmed is the “relevant” filter, which lists the postings in order of which are most similar to your search. I like to change this filter to “newest” rather than relevant so that I can see the postings in order of when they were posted.
- Once you click on an ad, you can see at the top of the posting how long it has been posted. Also, I like to search the “free” category specifically for treadmills. This section is reserved specifically for people who want things gone and post them for free.
- Be consistent and act fast. Once you’ve figured out which Craigslist pages you are going to follow , check it as often as you can. When I’m looking for a specific Craigslist Item, I like to add the page to my phone’s home screen so I can easily search and refresh the page several times throughout the day.
- Craigslist deals are almost always done on a first come first serve basis. When a good deal pops up, you have to be fast to act or it will likely be gone before you have a chance! If you spot a good deal, contact the seller quickly and let them know you are serious buyer.
How To Figure Out What is a Good Treadmill for Your Home?
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
Knowing a little bit about treadmills will help you spot a good deal. In general, you should know what motor size will be suitable for your needs, and aware of which brands are known for producing quality products, and what features you are looking for (powered incline, specific programs, etc.).
The last thing that you want to do is drive two hours to pick one up just to find that it doesn’t go as fast as you need it to.
It may be worth while to do some research on potential maintenance issues and how to spot them as well.
For example, if someone mentions to you that the treadmill makes a squealing sound, it may just need a little treadmill lubricant - a extremely cheap fix.
KNOW YOUR SELLER
Ideally, you’ll want to talk to the seller on the phone. If you click on reply and no phone number is listed, send them an email and ask that they give you a call.
If you or the seller is against sharing phone numbers, then you can simply email them your questions and concerns, but I find that talking to them over the phone always gives a better understanding of who they are and the condition of the product.
Every Craigslist ad is different. Some are lengthy and detailed, others are extremely vague.
Depending on how much info the seller gave in the ad will help you determine what questions you need to ask, but in general there are a few questions you will need to ask no matter what is listed in their ad:
- QUESTION: "Are there any issues with the treadmill at all?"
- TIP: Make sure that you get a firm YES or NO. If yes, ask them to be specific about what the problems are. If no, move along to the next question. If you get an “I’m not sure” or “It’s been in storage for years and I don’t know” or anything like that, politely decline and keep looking.
- QUESTION: "Will I be able to plug the treadmill in and use it before I purchase it?"
- TIP: If the answer is no, I would decline. Unless they are willing to deliver it to your house where you can plug it in and see it working before paying them.
- QUESTION: "Is there any major cosmetic damage?"
- TIP: Many times people try to avoid taking pictures of cosmetic damage so the product looks better than it is. Ask them directly to make sure you get an affirmative YES or NO. While cosmetic damage probably isn’t going to affect the functionality and may not even bother you, you can use dents and scratches as leverage to negotiate a lower price.
- QUESTION: "How old is it, was it used heavily?"
- TIP: This question usually opens up the conversation for the story behind the machine and why the seller wants to get rid of it. This inforamtion won’t necessarily make or break the purchase, but you may find out some useful information. For example, you may find out that it’s been in storage for 10 years - in which case you might want to follow-up with “when was the last time it was used?”
These questions should help clarify whether or not the product is as advertised.
At this point, it’s all about how confident you feel in the seller.
Listen to your intuition, if you get a bad vibe from them or they say something that doesn’t exactly add up, then just skip it and keep looking.
Be patient and know that there will always be more treadmills!
But if you are ready to move forward with a purchase, here’s what you need to do next.
HOW TO NEGOTIATE FOR THE USED TREADMILL
If you want to negotiate the price, DO IT WHILE YOU HAVE THEM ON THE PHONE, especially if you’ll be driving more than 30 minutes to check it out.
While you can always negotiate in person, if you aren’t willing to buy it for the seller’s full asking price then you don’t want to waste your time if they are firm on the price.
If they mentioned that there was cosmetic damage or any kind of issues with it, use that as leverage for negotiating a better price.
You never want to simply ask if they are willing to negotiate, just throw out a number and see what they say.
You can say “considering the condition and that I will have to drive more than 30 miles, would you take $___?” or something along those lines.
ARRANGE A MEETING
I would say that you’re much more likely to make a successful purchase if you can meet the seller at their home, rather than meet them in a public place.
In my experience, people are a lot less likely to rip someone off if they know where they live - otherwise you’ll just show back up with the damaged goods!
Plus, you’ll want to be able to plug the treadmill in and see it working before you buy, something you can’t exactly do in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot. Ask the seller for their address and arrange a time to meet.
If they are unwilling to share their address, then you could ask them to deliver the machine to your home where you can plug it in and test run it there before paying them.
In the event that both parties feel uncomfortable meeting at their homes, then you can arrange to meet in a public place, and I would advise that you ask the seller to make a short video of the machine running so that you at least have some verification that the machine works as advertised.
AT THE MEETING
Before you buy, make sure that everything on the treadmill works the way you expected.
If you are able to test it in person, make sure that you turn it up to top speed to verify that the motor is working and will support your needs.
Try out the incline, all the program settings, the safety switch, the folding mechanism, and make sure that everything works as it’s supposed to.
Look for any damage or problems that the seller may not have mentioned.
If you uncover any surprising new information, then you can either try to negotiate a lower price, or decline the purchase altogether and keep looking.
Hopefully the machine works as advertised and you’re ready to take it home!
If the seller is able and willing to deliver the machine, take it!
Just make sure that you feel safe allowing them to come to your home and that you have enough muscle power to help unload it and get it in your house.
If you must pick it up but don’t have the right equipment, you can always rent a truck from a local hardware store - or ask a friend or family member to help out.
Hopefully this guide has helped you gain the confidence and know-how for making a successful treadmill purchase on Craigslist!
I personally bought my first treadmill on Craigslist for only $60 (though the particular model retailed new for more than $500!).
It has lasted me several years and provided hundreds of fail-proof and challenging workouts. If I can do it, I know you can to!
If you want to learn a little more about treadmill brands and features, you can check out my other treadmill articles below.