Why Is my Elliptical Making A Clunking Sound? +How To Fix

It’s nice to start your day off with a good healthy run on the elliptical. However, it’s not so nice to get onto the elliptical only to hear a worrying and annoying clunking sound. Here’s how you can make that go away!

In general, ellipticals make a clunking sound because there is play in one or more of the moving parts or the machine is not leveled. Moving parts require regular cleaning and lubrication because they are subject to constant torsion. Lubrication and tightening moving parts can reduce or fix noises.

There are countless reasons that could cause your elliptical to go on the fritz. Here are some helpful suggestions and tips to solve the problem!

Old Ellipticals

As mentioned above, it is fairly normal for an old and heavily used elliptical to have some quirks and the occasional clunking sound. Clunking in an old elliptical is often a byproduct of being constantly subjected to torsional force (which essentially means twisting around an axis). All the torque can easily cause an elliptical to become loose and unstable.

It is also possible that the arm rotator may have become loose and is now knocking against the plastic housing. Again, this might be annoying, but it is not without cause. Ellipticals can get pretty roughed up, especially if you use them consistently. If you are willing to give it the proper maintenance and care it needs, your machine will probably last a good long while. Replacement is a part of life, though. If you have exhausted every effort, look into getting a new one.

Suggested post: How long is home gym equipment supposed to last?

Killing the Clunk

Obviously, the only thing that’s more annoying than an old clunky elliptical is a new clunky elliptical. Imagine you have only gotten a few uses out of it and it already sounds like it might kick the bucket at any moment. Not to worry! There are plenty of plausible explanations as to why your elliptical might be giving you problems, and many of these problems come with an easy solution.

One of the most common issues with ellipticals is when they lack the necessary lubrication. Constant use will cause the rollers, gears, and joints to dry out. If this goes unchecked, they will eventually erode, crack, or chip which will then wear down other components of the machine.

Suggested post: Guide to elliptical trainer maintenance

You must use plenty of lubricants when you first set up the elliptical. Why? If you fail to do so, you are then faced with the problem of constant and irritating noise that the dried-out gears are making. It also makes it harder to accelerate because it takes much more effort to get the inner bearings to engage. Obviously, enough is enough, but don’t hold back too much when applying the lubricant; oil the joints, gears, rollers, and anything else you can think of that might need it!

Another common problem is the uneven distribution of weight. If your elliptical is unbalanced when you use it, you are sure to run into trouble. You may have noticed two rubber pads on the bottom of the machine when you set it up for the first time. Those pads are there to give the elliptical added balance while you are using it.

You might be having leveling problems if your elliptical is set up on an extra-thick carpet. If this is the case, try putting a piece of oriented strand board (OSB) or something similar underneath it. If your elliptical is unbalanced or set up incorrectly, the weight will be unevenly distributed on both sides and that will definitely cause clunking or grinding noises. If you have it set up wrong, you might want to consider asking a professional to help you fix the problem.

Want to get a solid elliptical trainer for your money? Click here to see which one I recommend.

As mentioned before, there is a lot of torsional force that weighs heavily on an elliptical, and naturally, this causes screws and joints to loosen over time. If you are vigilant in checking and maintaining these issues, it should not become a big problem. However, be warned. If you suspect that loose screws and/or joints are the cause of the noise, do not waste a minute. Get it taken care of as soon as possible.

Suggested post: How much weight can an elliptical trainer handle?

Leaving this unchecked can eventually become a safety hazard. The last thing you want is to have your elliptical losing parts, especially while in use. You could be seriously injured if the machine starts falling apart while you are getting your exercise in. This is another reason why putting it together correctly the first time is important. If you aren’t sure you can handle it on your own, it is probably a good idea to ask for assistance.

If you have checked for each of these problems but still have not discovered the origin of the clunk, try a few of these things. First, do a completely thorough examination. It is possible that you missed a loose screw or joint that might be causing the problem.

While combing your machine, keep an eye out for any broken parts that might be causing the clunking sound. If gears, belts, or rotators have cracked, snapped, or been damaged in any way, you ought to get that fixed as soon as is humanly possible. DO NOT use your elliptical if something is broken inside. You do not want your machine to suddenly malfunction, especially while you are using it.

As a general rule, just don’t let any noticeable issues go unfixed. This could increase any potential damage done to your elliptical. You can also try lubricating the bearings in addition to the gears and joints. It is best to use high-quality, all-purpose grease which you can find at most mechanic shops.

Again, when in doubt, it is always a good idea to call in the help of a professional. It would be better to get it done right the first time than have to start all over. That might mean you will have to get a new elliptical sooner than you would have otherwise. Calling the manufacturer is probably the best way to go if you are unsure. Clunking is a fairly common complaint they receive and they will undoubtedly know the best way to help you out.

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Additional Problems and Solutions

Hopefully, the above advice will help you to pin down the problem with your elliptical. But what happens if the clunk goes away and then something else goes wrong? It is necessary to take a close look at all issues, even the ones that might be noiseless. Here are a few other potential elliptical problems that might need solving!

Sometimes the worrying sound is a squeak rather than a clunk. The most common cause of squeaking is a lack of lubricant, specifically on pivot points. As mentioned above, this is a typically easy fix. Just make sure you are using high-quality grease, lubricant, or spray silicone lubricant. Petroleum jelly and synthetic grease are both excellent options as well.

Keep in mind that when you are lubricating any part of the elliptical, it is usually a good idea to remove the handlebars, and pedal arms before you get to work. You might also have loose handlebars which can be fairly bothersome. A quick tightening of the screws should be all you need to fix it. However, it is also possible that your handlebars are damaged in some way. This is more likely if you use your elliptical often. If they do turn out to be damaged, they should be replaced right away.

Want to get a solid elliptical trainer for your money? Click here to see which one I recommend.

You will know something is wrong if your pedals are stuck in one setting. This could be indicative of a defective motor. Some ellipticals will automatically adjust resistance levels depending on the workout. If your pedal resistance feels the same going downhill as it does going uphill, that means something is definitely out of wack. However, before immediately assuming that your motor is dead, try changing the resistance manually.

If you can change it manually, that probably means that the motor is fine, but you need to replace your console. If changing the resistance manually is not working, the next thing to do is check the power. Most ellipticals run off battery power nowadays, so you can try checking the voltage of your battery(s). If you feel like you could do it, here’s a step-by-step video that will guide you through the motor replacement process!

If your console display is dim or simply won’t turn on at all, this could mean you have weak or dead batteries. However, it could also be the result of a poor power connection/current. If your elliptical runs through an outlet and cord, try unplugging it.

Inspect the power cord for any tears, wire exposures, or damages of any kind. Something as simple as this could explain the poor connection/power supply. If the cord is damaged, you ought to replace it as soon as possible. If your elliptical runs on battery power, try replacing the batteries. Try replacing the batteries, and if the console still does not turn on, that probably means that the console is faulty and you need to replace it. If you remain at a loss, call the manufacturers or a technician and get your machine looked at.

An additional issue you might encounter is the incorrect speed being displayed. This could mean there is wiring failure, a faulty console, or a problem with the reed switch. The reed switch is attached to the elliptical’s frame. It senses the magnet on the rotating pulley, then transmits the speed signal to the console. The console then displays the speed for you to see.

If the speed displayed is incorrect, unplug or turn off the elliptical and check the reed switch’s position. If it is too far away from the pulley, adjust the switch so it is closer to the magnet. It will not be able to detect the magnet’s signals if they are too far apart from each other. If the reed is properly positioned, the wiring may be the problem. Check for any damaged or loose wires and put them back where they belong. Call a technician if you are unsure of what to do.

Worthwhile Maintenance

It is also good to keep in mind that simple but consistent maintenance could be the key to keeping your elliptical in good shape and even preventing most of the aforementioned problems. The first and most obvious thing is to be careful and thorough during the original assembly. If you put things together poorly, there is a greater chance of your elliptical getting damaged or falling apart more quickly than it might otherwise.

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This is more important than you might think. The slightest error (a loose bolt, poor mounting, etc.) could have an unforeseeably large impact on the elliptical. I know you might be impatient to get to work on your machine, it is not worth cutting corners.

This might not be obvious, but giving your elliptical a regular, gentle cleaning can also be positively impactful. It’s no different than vacuuming or dusting your home to prevent dirt buildup, really. Using a large feather duster or a clean cloth will gently rid your machine of any excess dirt. There are even covers specifically designed for ellipticals for people who without using theirs for an extended period of time.

However, in addition to dust, you also have to contend with all the sweat you produce during your workouts. Because sweat is loaded with mineral salts, it can be damaging to your elliptical over time. It does not hurt to give your machine a quick once over with a warm, damp sponge after every workout. This will keep it clean and working in pristine condition.

Last but not least, let’s talk about maintenance checks. Depending on the amount and frequency of your usage, you ought to give your elliptical maintenance checks every three to six months. If you are handy, you can do this yourself. Adjust anything that needs adjusting, tighten anything that needs tightening, you get the idea. Follow all the instructions that might be listed in the user’s manual, and of course, don’t forget to keep it clean!

Want to get a solid elliptical trainer for your money? Click here to see which one I recommend.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to HomeGymResource.com. I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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