Buying a Massage Chair: Understanding Factory Certified vs Used

used vs factory certified vs refurbished vs open box vs reconstructed

One in four American’s gets at least one massage per year. If you’re an athlete, suffer from muscle spasms, or simply like to treat yourself at home, you need to invest in a massage chair. 

You may have considered purchasing a massage chair in the past but stopped because you didn’t think you could afford it.

Thanks to used and certified pre-owned options, you can reap all of the benefits without overspending. If you look in the right places, you can find incredible chairs for as much as 70% off of the original ticket price.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of massage, what to look out for in used chairs, and how to purchase an affordable massage chair that meets all of your wellness needs.

Considerations for Buying a Used or Factory-Certified Massage Chair 

The beauty of buying reconditioned chairs is that the inventory changes frequently. If you take your time and refuse to settle for less, you can find a chair that checks off all of the boxes on your wish list at a rock-bottom price. 

What can you expect from today’s massage chairs? Is buying used just as good as buying new? And what do terms like “refurbished” and “pre-owned” really mean?

Factory-certified massage chairs differ from used ones in that they’ve been factory-inspected and authorized to be resold, just like they are brand-new. You’ll also come across several of the terms below in your search, and most of them mean something similar.

Refurbished, Reconditioned, or Modernized

Factory reconditioned or refurbished chairs are in “like new” condition. In some cases, parts or aesthetic elements are replaced. The manufacturer includes a new warranty and determines the chair is 100% fully functional. 

Open Box, Pre-Owned, Secondhand, or Used

When a chair is listed as an “open box” model, someone opened the box, but the chair was returned unused. It may also have been a floor model that remains in pristine condition that is fully inspected and certified by factory technicians.

Renovated, Fixed, Reconstructed, or Rebuilt

Rebuilt massage chairs have been reconstructed by the manufacturer or, in most cases, an individual. It’s best to avoid reconstructed chairs that are sold on a marketplace by an individual. Always be sure the chair you purchase is factory certified to protect your purchase. 

Desirable Massage Chair Features

Remember when massage chairs could only provide basic roller strokes and vibration?

Today’s chairs can now closely mimic the feel of a massage professional’s hands. Not only does the massage you receive from a modern chair rival that of a professional massage, but you can enjoy it at any time without leaving the house. 

It’s highly recommended to purchase a premium massage chair from a reputable company that will provide reliable service. Even still, you must consider how much to invest.

As you begin to look at more expensive chairs, you can expect to see additional features including more air cells and smoother massage quality.

When considering your options, there are several features and functions to look out for.

Zero Gravity Recline

NASA designated the zero gravity position to be the best for alleviating pressure on your joints and spine. It’s a full recline to 160 to 180 degrees with a tiny bend in your knees and hips. 

Because you don’t feel the weight of your body, you’ll better enjoy your massage.

Kneading Massage

One of the essential features to look for is kneading massage, also called shiatsu. Kneading massage works from the center of your spine and follows an outward movement. It’s one of the best forms of massage for relieving stress.


Tapping, or percussive massage, is another important feature that promotes proper blood circulation. Most modern chairs will have this functionality.


You should also make sure the chair you choose has rolling action, which gently moves your spin while your muscles are soothed through stretching. The chair’s rollers slowly stretch your spine upward, downward, and sideways.

Airbag Massage

Modern chairs use air cells to massage your calves, feet, shoulders, hips, and forearms. While your chair should have this feature, don’t be fooled into thinking that the number of air cells translates to a better massage. It’s quality, not quantity, that matters here.

Common Issues With Used Massage Chairs

When investing in a massage chair, it’s best to avoid cheap chairs from lesser-known brands. High-quality massage chairs from reputable manufacturers generally start at $2500 to $3000. This is one of the best reasons to invest in a factory-certified chair—you can enjoy top-of-the-line features for far less investment. 

As you spend more, you can expect to get more bang for your buck. However, massage chairs are filled with advanced computer components and many moving parts. It helps to know what to look for when considering purchasing a used chair for the first time so you can buy a chair that lasts.

Power Surges to the Motherboard

Massage chairs are prone to static discharges, power surges, and poor direct power connections. Many owners make the mistake of plugging their chairs directly into a wall socket instead of a surge protector. 

Just like a computer, a massage chair’s components are susceptible to power fluctuations. When purchasing a used chair, you should ensure that the motherboard is in good condition to avoid malfunction.

Overheating or Overuse

If a chair is left on too long or used in succession too often, it will overheat. Lower-end chairs can even completely burn out. Most massage chairs have a running time of 15 minutes, while higher-end ones can run up to 40 minutes. 

To avoid burnout, you should leave a chair to rest for at least ten minutes between massages. 

Weakened Drive Belts

Each massage chair motor has a small wheel at the top end that drives the circular rotation of the mechanism’s drive belt. This is what is responsible for the chair’s movement.

While drive belts are made of reinforced synthetic rubber and cords, they can become compromised over time. Sometimes they are broken or stretched during high heat. They can also fall off altogether because of a slinger that isn’t installed properly.

When drive belts are stretched, broken, or something else, you’ll likely hear the chairs transformers activate during power-up. You may also hear the sound of the chair’s motor working. If you have the opportunity to try out a used chair, listen for these sounds to ensure there’s nothing wrong internally.

Motor Lifespan

All of that overheating can wear out a massage chair’s motor, another common issue as massage chairs age.

The commercial motors used in massage chairs have a mean time failure rate (MTF). This MTF varies significantly among chairs and models. While inexpensive chairs may have an MTF range of 200-300 hours, higher-end, premium models have ratings as high as 10,000 hours.

Noisy Air Compressors

As you read above, air compressors are an essential feature to look for in a massage chair. They’re also prone to losing pressure or failing over time. This is usually an issue around the six-to-seven-year mark, although some air compressors never go out at all. 

Always be sure that a technician has inspected the air compressor in a used chair you’re considering purchasing.

Broken Air Bags or Bladders

Massage chair airbags are constructed of durable plastic that can withstand considerable pressure without bursting. However, they can still break. 

Usually, a break occurs due to a small slit in a seam caused by dry climate conditions. Replacing airbags isn’t difficult, but sometimes it can be tedious to determine where the leak is coming from.

While arm, back, and shoulder air bags are relatively easy to replace, the process to replace air bags in the legs and feet begins to get time-consuming.

Worn Fabric

Finally, all massage chairs utilize fabric (usually synthetic leather). This material is designed to hold up well, but manufacturers don’t include fabric in their warranties. The appearance of the chair’s fabric is something to consider when searching for a pre-owned model.

Time to Invest in the Factory-Certified Massage Chair of Your Dreams

Now that you know what to look for in a used, factory-certified massage chair, you can begin the search for the chair of your dreams. You’ll be better prepared to compare models and less likely to fall for a “too good to be true” sale.

Purchasing a chair because it’s cheap is not only a waste of money but can lead to more stress than relief. Do your research, know the potential problems to look out for, and you’re on your way to a blissful, daily massage.

If you’re interested in purchasing a massage chair, you’re in the right place. We strive to provide timely and educational resources to help consumers become informed massage chair owners.

Have questions? Contact us today!