Get new vending  locations

Vending Machine Maintenace: Common Issues and How to Do Preventative Maintenance

Vending machine downtime's can be costly. Follow these vending machine maintenance best practices to reduce losses from unexpected machine failures.


Vending machine failures directly impact your bottom line, as every hour a vending machine is out of service means lost revenue. Further, when a customer finds your machine out of service, and they go to another machine, you may lose them for good. It is in your best interest to do preventative maintenance to reduce or eliminate downtimes.

Luckily, most of the vending machine issues you’ll face are known and have simple solutions. You can streamline the entire process of machine maintenance and failure resolution to make sure you reduce instances of machine failure, improve remote fix rates, and decrease time to resolution. In this post, I will introduce you to these common issues and how to do preventative maintenance to avoid cases of vending machine repair.

Benefits of Vending Machine Maintenance

Establishing a maintenance schedule for your vending machines - especially new machines - can significantly benefit your vending business. Below are the benefits of vending machine maintenance.

It prolongs the lifespan of your vending machine. While most accountants depreciate equipment, including vending machines, over seven years, you can generate revenue from a vending machine for as long as 15 years. In fact, there are functional refurbished vending machines that are two decades old. Given that most vending machines in good locations have a payback period of less than two years, the ROI of a well-maintained machine is astronomical.

It reduces revenue loss from unplanned downtime. You want near 100% uptime for your vending machines, as every unplanned vending machine repair and downtime lead to lost revenue. Also, customers may switch to a competitor for good when they find your machine out of service.

It reduces costs. Most vending machine repair technicians have a flat rate or a one-hour minimum service charge, regardless of how serious the issue is. Make sure you avoid vending machine repairmen callouts as this will help you reduce costs significantly, especially when running several vending machine locations. Just like regular restocking schedule will, a frequented maintenance schedule will notably reduce your costs in a long haul.

It ensures a good customer experience. One of the selling points of vending machines is that they run 24/7. Downtimes are, therefore, a recipe for customer dissatisfaction. 

Vending machine repairman taking out his toolkit in front of machine

Common Issues in Vending Machines

While vending machine brands market their machines as different and better, most machines work similarly. Yes even different types of machines like champagne vending machine, ice cream vending machine, ice machine, or u-turn machines - they all usually work the same. Therefore vending machine repair and maintenance are universal in general. You may encounter the following issues when running a vending machine business.

The bill acceptor won’t work. Vending machines take dimes. When a bill acceptor won’t accept bills, it is likely blocked. In relatively new machines, the solution is to remove the cash box, disassemble it, and remove any stuck bills or foreign objects.

The vending machine won’t take coins. The coin mechanism can malfunction when a coin jams or when dust and grease prevent it from registering coins. Taking the coin mechanism apart and removing stuck coins and dust/dirt will resolve these issues.

It has ventilation and heating issues. Poor ventilation can lead to several issues, including overheating. The best practice is to station a vending machine four to six inches from the wall to allow airflow. Failing to facilitate adequate airflow can significantly reduce the lifespan of the refrigeration unit.

Temperature regulation problems. Many vending machines use a compressor to regulate temperature. Some machines that reside at constantly heated locations or outdoors may malfunction in terms of temperature regulation. Proper maintenance will arrest most compressor issues before they arise.

The vending machine erroneously thinks a product is out of stock. When you have a product in stock, but the machine believes it is out of stock, the problem is usually with the micro switch (detection switch). Adjust the detection switch to position it properly or replace it if the problem persists.

Problems with the motor. Some motors may fail during shopping. The most likely causes are that the motors are poorly connected or broken. Reconnecting, repairing, or replacing the motor will usually solve the problem. 

The machine does not transfer goods to the pickup compartment. This is likely because the product does not match the spiral in which it is placed. Consider adjusting the position of the product to fit perfectly on the spiral. 

The vending door is stuck. The vending door gets stuck because it is dented or worn out. This is usually a problem faced by older vending machines. Getting a technician to straighten out dents or replace worn-out parts will often solve the problem. In case you want to avoid that, make sure you check our solution to unstuck your vending machine.

App issues. Modern vending machines run apps for taking orders, taking digital wallet payments like cash app or apple pay, advertising on the display, and more. When the apps malfunction or display an error message - like too many transactions issue - customers may incorrectly assume that your machine is out of service.

If your vending machine constantly needs a repair, make sure you check our piece on how to fix most common vending machine problems.

Vending Machine Maintenance Tips

vending machine maintenance toolkit

You can avoid vending machine repair by doing preventative maintenance regularly. Many vending machine operators already have a restocking schedule and recognize the value of having such a system. Establishing a maintenance schedule can be just as valuable to your vending business. Below are some actions you can take to ensure your machine is always well maintained.

Clean the bill and coin acceptors. The coin acceptor and bill acceptors are some of the most essential components of your vending machines. When coin acceptor malfunctions, you can’t make any sales. Dirt, dirt, and grease can clog bill and coin acceptors and jam them. Take the coin and bill acceptors apart on a reasonable schedule and clean the components to prevent dirt and dust buildup.

Clean outside the vending machine. The saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t apply to your vending machine. Most people will skip your vending machine for a competitor if it is dirty. They’ll probably assume that the products inside are also dirty. No one wants to drink from a dusty can. That's why you want your vending machine well maintained.

Clean the condenser coil. It is best practice to clean the condenser coil at least every two months if the machine sits on a carpet or every three months if it sits on concrete or tiles. You can clean the condenser coil using compressed air or a simple cleaning brush. 

Clean the entire vending machine at least twice a year. At least twice a year, you want to clean the entire vending machine with a food-grade detergent if you want to avoid vending machine repair.

Sanitize frequently touched surfaces. When restocking the machine, consider wiping and sanitizing surfaces your customers touch frequently. Besides the obvious hygienic gains, you will also reduce instances like buttons getting stuck.

Ensure the machine is positioned correctly. The vending machine should always be four to six inches away from the wall for proper ventilation. Further, ensure that no objects, such as cardboard boxes, are between the machine and the wall.

Check if the machine is maintaining the desired temperatures. It helps to check if the vending machine maintains the desired food-safe conditions and temperatures. If the machine heats up frequently, check the thermostat temperature and how far the machine is from the wall. Also, check if the cooling fan is working properly.

Examine the security features. You want to ensure that the security features and vending locks have not been tampered with. Repair machines or replace them as soon as possible if they’ve been tampered with.

Ensure apps are working correctly.  Smart vending machines or those that were customly built usually have apps facilitating remote management, mobile payments, personalized shopping experiences, and inventory tracking. Ensure the apps are working correctly. Otherwise, update, debug, or replace them.

How to Reduce Vending Machine Out-of-Service Situations

rusty pepsi vending machine lying on the ground

Regular vending machine maintenance can significantly reduce machine downtime and help reduce associated losses. A near 100% machine uptime will not happen by accident. You must take proactive action to keep your machines well maintained. Below are the actions you can take to reduce vending machine downtimes significantly.

Maintain a Vending Machine Maintenance Schedule

A predefined vending machine maintenance schedule will help reduce downtime, reactive repairs, and associated repair costs. You should allocate personnel to maintenance tasks and budget sufficient time to complete the exercise. When you keep your vending machine well-maintained at reasonable intervals, you will catch serious issues before they arise and even add years to the lifespan of your equipment.

Buy Reliable Vending Machines from Reputable Manufacturers

Vending machines are not created equal. It is best to buy machines from manufacturers that have built engineering and operational processes to build reliable vending machines consistently. The best vending machines and pieces of equipment built by best brands record fewer breakdowns, have easier-to-replace parts, and have a reasonable manufacturer warranty.

Always Use Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts 

Always use original parts from the same manufacturer whenever possible when replacing vending machine parts. Aftermarket parts, while cheap, are rarely made to the required standards. Original parts will fit perfectly with other parts in the vending machine, perform up to standard, and eliminate additional costs caused by breakdowns or wear. Further, genuine parts can help you comply with the manufacturer’s warranty and extend the life of your vending machine.

Regularly Check the Payment Mechanisms

Of all the common vending machine issues you will face, failure of payment mechanisms can be the most crippling. When the coin acceptor, bill validator, credit card reader, or cashless payment mechanism fails, you start losing revenue immediately as people cannot pay using their preferred mechanism. To avoid this, ensure your payment mechanisms are working properly and clean all dirt/dust and foreign objects that may jam the bill/coin acceptor.

Catch Issues Early with Remote Management Technology

In the old days, vending machine operators didn’t know what was happening with their machines unless they visited the vending locations. Now, with technology, you can get real-time alerts about the status of your machines, so you know when an issue needs your attention. Vending software of smart vending machines today can alert you about compressor failures, software failures, coin jams, bill jams, and other issues as soon as they arise. 

Stock up on Frequently Used Vending Machine Spare Parts

If you are running several vending locations, stocking up on spare parts you frequently use may be a good idea. Depending on your vending machines, you can stock spare motors, coin/bill acceptors, control boards, spirals, cables, and power supply parts. You should have genuine manufacturer parts where possible.

Use a Reliable Power Source

A vending machine may not work properly because the power source is erratic. Check the power connection and ascertain that it can meet the energy demands of the vending machine. If you suspect that the power source is the cause of the problems, try using a different outlet or power cord to troubleshoot the problem.

Start Small and Scale in a Manageable Manner

Vending machine businesses are easy to run because they require minimal human care. It also means you can scale the business quickly by registering an LLC and adding new locations. This is a double-edged sword, as you can scale too fast and run into a situation where you cannot maintain your machines properly. To avoid breakdowns because of lack of maintenance, scale only when you have the human resources to stock, service, and maintain all machines.

If you're sure about scaling up though, make sure you check our vending starter kit or vending LLC & EIN registration.

Build Relationships with Experienced Repair Technicians

Where you don’t have technicians under your direct employment, you want to build great relationships with local repair technicians in or near the locations where you operate. This way, they can prioritize your vending business and attend to issues as soon as you alert them.

Learn How to Resolve Common Vending Machine Issues

Vending machine technicians charge a flat fee or a one-hour minimum service charge for repair jobs. These costs can add up if you are operating several vending machine locations. If you have the time to repair the machines yourself, it may be a good idea to learn how to resolve common vending machine issues so you don’t have to call an independent technician whenever something breaks down.

Partner with a Vending Management Company If Vending Isn’t Your Core Business

When you want a vending machine at your business premises but vending isn’t your core business, you should outsource it to a third party so they can handle stocking, servicing, and maintenance. Vending management companies can install a machine on your property at no cost and do maintenance for free. In return, they expect to keep all or most of the machine's revenue. Such companies have comprehensive maintenance services, and their technicians can be on-site within minutes of you notifying them of a machine failure.

Here are some of our top vending locations and list of best companies that offer services in those areas:

Build a Vending Route Close to Your Home or Warehouse

How fast you can attend to vending machine failures sometimes depends on how far the machine is from your home or vending warehouse. Building a vending route close to your base of operations is advantageous. Use our vending locator service to get a list of potential vending locations, all within 25 miles of your ZIP Code.

Learn more about vending with our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter today and get the inside scoop on how to succeed as a vending machine company owner.

Subscribe To Newsletter

Ready to get new locations?

Take your vending machine business to the next level by finding the perfect locations for placement. Our comprehensive research and placement suggestions make it easy to identify and secure new locations, so you can start increasing your revenue and expanding your business.

List of 250+ places where you can potentially place your vending machine

Includes business name, phone number and address of each location

Human quality researched list

All locations tailored to your zip code area

If the location has a listed email, we will provide it.

3 day delivery

25 mile radius search