Trolling Motor Troubleshooting Tips

Like any other technical unit, trolling motors are complicated devices. Many times they face some technical problems. A problematic trolling motor does not always mean that the whole unit needs to be replaced, as there are many issues that can be fixed by the user themselves. In order to fix those problems, it is important to have an understanding about the parts of the trolling motor and a few troubleshooting tricks. Here are some of the most common technical problems encountered by a trolling motor, along with the probable causes and the best solutions.

Power Loss

Sometimes, even with the right battery and ample capacity, your trolling motor can’t supply enough power. This can create a huge problem, as the trolling motor won’t be able to apply the required thrust.

Probable Causes and Solutions

  • The most possible cause is from the propeller. In this case, the propeller should be removed and cleaned. If it’s particularly bad, the propeller may need to be replaced.
  • The battery voltage might be low. For this problem, the battery should be recharged fully. If this doesn’t help, check to see if there are any bad cells.
  • Corroded battery connections can be the cause. The terminals and posts of the battery should be cleaned thoroughly.
  • It can be caused by faulty wiring connections or using the wrong sized wires. The recommended size of wire must be used to connect the trolling motor to the battery. The wiring connections should be checked and rearranged if necessary.
  • The magnet might be cracked and chipped permanently; this may be the cause if the motor makes whining and grinding noises. This causes lost power. In this case, the magnet should be replaced.

Excessive Vibrations and Noise

While using a trolling motor, the motor might suddenly make excessive vibrations and noise. This can be harmful for the on-board batteries, and it can also be irritating. One should check and find the exact cause and apply the appropriate solution.

Probable Causes and Solutions

  • It may be caused by the propeller. It should be checked and secured. If the propeller is turned, it should be able to turn freely with a little magnetic drag.
  • Bent armature might also be the reason. In this case, the propeller should be removed and set at a medium speed. Then, turn on the trolling motor and watch to see if the armature is wobbling. Tighten if necessary.
  • Bearings and bushings may have worn out. They must be replaced if they show signs of damage.

Motor Fails to Run

In some cases, the trolling motor fails to run at all. This is sure to put a damper on your fishing trip.

Probable Causes and Solutions

  • There might be a problem with the fuse or the circuit breaker. Make sure it is working right, and replace any fuses or switches that may have blown.
  • The connections must be checked for any corrosion or loose wiring. The corrosion should be cleaned and the connections fixed.
  • Check plug for a loose or bad connection, and fix the plug if necessary.
  • The propeller should be checked. If turned by hand, the propeller should turn freely with a little magnetic drag.
  • The main rotary switch of the trolling motor should be checked. Fix or replace it if necessary.
  • There might be total battery failure. To check, you should recharge and check the voltage. The battery may need to be replaced.

Motor Fails to Run at Certain Speeds

Some trolling motors fail to run when set at a specific speed. With this problem, you won’t be able to set the trolling motor in the required speed. This can cause either a minor inconvenience or a bigger problem.

Probable Causes and Solutions

  • This might be caused by loose wring on the rotary switch. The wiring blueprint should be checked and adjusted correctly.
  • There might be loose connections in the top housing. If so, they should be fixed.
  • The main rotary switch of the trolling motor might have been damaged. It should be replaced if necessary.
  • Burned speed coils in the lower unit can also be the reason, so they must be checked and replaced if necessary. It is best to seek professional help with this issue.

Difficulty Turning Foot Pedal

In some trolling motors, such as mechanical steer models, the motor is designed with foot pedals to control the motors. Many users may face problems turning the foot pedal and controlling the motor.

Probable Causes and Solutions

  • This might be encountered if the outer tube is bent and binding against the column, or vice-versa. It should be checked and the bend should be straightened.
  • Displaced or broken bearings and bushings can be the cause. Those should be fixed or replaced if needed.
  • You may have a kinked steering cable. The cable should be replaced.
  • Some foreign matters might have jammed at the rack. The rack should be removed, cleaned, and greased. It should be replaced if necessary.

Exceeding Current Limit in Electric Trolling Motor

Sometimes in electric trolling motors, excessive current is produced. This can cause the rotor coil to be damaged permanently.

Probable Cause and Solution

Weeds or other substances stuck to the propeller are common. If it is a gasoline motor, the propeller automatically stops, but in electric trolling motors there is a risk of exceeding the current limit when the propeller is stuck on any obstruction. To prevent this kind of damage, a circuit breaker is recommended, as the circuit breaker will cut off the power if the propeller gets stuck.

Maintenance Tips

The user must also know some useful trolling motor maintenance tricks. These will not only enhance its durability, but will make using the trolling motor easier.

  • After each day your motor is used, you should check behind the propeller for weeds, fishing line, or other debris that might have got wrapped around.
  • All the pivot points should be lubricated with a non-aerosol lubricant.
  • Tightness of the battery lead connections must be checked daily.
  • The condition of the main battery cables should be visually checked. Always check to see if there are loose or corroded wiring connections.
  • Batteries must be recharged after each use.
  • The wire must never be connected to the wrong battery terminal.
  • The electric outboard motor should be thoroughly rinsed with fresh water after every use in salt water. Avoid getting the top cover wet, as this can damage the circuitry inside.
  • During extremely cold temperatures, when the electric motor is not being used, it should be stored in a place where it won’t freeze.


Knowing the troubleshooting tricks can be very helpful as it can save a lot of time and money on repairs. If you don’t know much about the parts of the trolling motor, you must not mess up. When in doubt, seek help from a more experienced person or take professional help.

8 thoughts on “Trolling Motor Troubleshooting Tips”

  1. I have a minn-kota power v-drive converted to i-pilot my batteries test 12 volt each I have 24 volts up to the female plug-in, I took off power head and tested wire out of plug into the 2 wire where the connectors plug into, I get only about 3-4 volts, do you have any ideas.

  2. My endura 50 will not run on all speeds, and won’t go into reverse. Can it be the contacts in the handle as it seems loose.

  3. I have an Endure 50. There is no change in speed shifting from 1st to 2nd, but there is from 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th. Also, when shifting from 4th to 5th, the motor actually slows a bit. Reverse works as it should. Can you please point me in the right direction? Thanks.

    • Wires may be melted together on speed switch inside your cover–This happened on my motor – I am talking about cover up top not on motor-the wires attach to the speed selector switch

    • Take cover off of the control box, unplug all colored wires, leaving the solid black wire connected. Then, with an external hard wire from positive terminal on the battery induce 12 volts to each of the colored wires. If the motor runs on all, you probably have a speed control switch problem.

  4. I have a motor guide 84 lb thrust trolling motor. It won’t run at full speed. Batteries are fully charged. Have 24 volts at the plug connection. Could it be in the handle speed control? Checked all connections.

    • did you ever get this resolved? I just bought one a few months ago. Same model and I cannot get the battery to indicate full on the TM. Called Cabelas and they think it is a known issue as I also read on other forums as well.

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