The motor is the workhorse of any treadmill. Usually located at the bow of the treadmill’s base, the motor can supply between 1.5 and 3.0 horsepower. Most treadmills use direct-current (DC) motors because they’re much quieter. Alternating current (AC) motors can generate more power but work noisily.
Many treadmill buyers make the mistake of not taking their weight and frequency of use into account. A small motor for a heavyweight, frequent user will definitely put stress on the motor and belt, requiring more frequent repairs. Overworking the motor can result in a burnout, warranting a replacement.
Motors ideally spin no more than 4,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) when running and 5,000 RPM when walking. Some treadmill models have motors that spin up to 8,000 RPM, but that’s already pushing it. Experts say you don’t need motors with extremely high RPMs. A 1.5-hp motor spinning at 4,000 RPM is enough for most home uses.
Unlike a burned-out motor, a motor control board (MCB) can be repaired. The MCB is responsible for setting the motor’s parameters as the user changes treadmill settings. It can suffer from electrical surges and lack of lubrication, among others. The repair can be tedious, however, and is best done by a professional.