Q. I haven’t used my treadmill in a year, but I want to start running again. Is there anything I need to do to it before I jump back on?

A. If it has been a while since your treadmill has seen any action, "the first thing you’ll need to do is to make room in your closet for all the clothes that have been draped on the handle," jokes Peter Anzalone, our senior fitness equipment tester.

But seriously, a tuneup will be necessary. First, be sure the machine is unplugged so that you can do some deep dusting. Remove the motor cover in front, and vacuum out all debris. (The owner’s manual can help you locate the cover.)

Then check the walking belt to make sure it’s centered and at the correct tension. That's usually a simple matter of using the hex key that came with the treadmill to tighten or loosen the bolts at the back of the machine. The belt might also require lubrication. Consult the manual and use only lubricant recommended by the manufacturer: An unapproved one could void the warranty. Finally, before you start a new exercise program, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, especially if you’ve been inactive for a prolonged period.

For related information check our treadmill buying guide and ratings.

Send your questions to ConsumerReports.org/askourexperts.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the January 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.