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  • Post last modified:December 29, 2023
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Minn Kota makes great trolling motors, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely free from problems.

You can solve some issues by following simple steps. Others are defects that need the attention of Authorized Service Providers or other repair shops.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most frequent issues and how you can fix them.

Let’s get started!

Summary of Problems & Solutions

i-Pilot Malfunction• Replace the remote battery.
• If necessary, replace the remote or head unit.
AutoPilot and Spot-Lock Issues• Check GPS signal, heading sensor, correct voltage, propeller, and ferrous objects near the head control unit.
• Consider replacement of i-Pilot remote or head control unit and/or new sensors.
Motor Loses Power• Check for proper voltage, battery charge.
• Ensure the terminals are free from any dirt and corrosion.
• Consider replacing batteries.
• In rare cases, replace the DC motor.
Foot Pedal Issues• Check for potential damage or warping causing unwanted button presses.
Motor Difficult to Steer• Adjust the steering tension knob on the bracket to a looser setting.
• Apply lubricant, such as Pledge (Check Price on Amazon) to the composite shaft to reduce friction.
Prop Vibrations• Try removing and rotating the propeller 180 degrees.
Fishfinder Interference• Use separate batteries for your trolling motor and fishfinder.

i-Pilot Malfunction

With an i-Pilot trolling motor, you can steer, control speed, lock onto fishing spots, and more just by pressing a button on the remote from anywhere on your boat or even from a distance.

Unfortunately, sometimes the remote doesn’t work consistently. It can go blank and stop the motor without warning.

The fix could be as easy as changing the battery in your remote, although sometimes you need to replace the remote or even the head unit.

More Information

AutoPilot and Spot-Lock Issues

These defects can be significant, as AutoPilot and Spot-Lock are the most popular features on GPS-enabled trolling motors. You want it to work every single time while on the water.

Some Minn Kota models have the following problem while using the AutoPilot: the motor stays on when you try to switch it off. A new i-Pilot remote usually resolves the problem, which Minn Kota will replace under warranty.

Sometimes a malfunctioning Spot-Lock requires a head control unit replacement and/or new sensors. If you’re out of warranty, they will cost you a few hundred dollars.

Before you contact the service provider, make sure you follow these Minn Kota’s instructions to:

  • Make sure you have a good GPS signal, showing at least 1 bar
  • Check if the heading sensor is correctly installed and calibrated
  • Verify the correct voltage at the motor (have the batteries load-tested if you can)
  • Check if there is anything wrapped around the propeller
  • Keep all ferrous metallic objects away from the head control unit (anchor, chain, etc.)
  • Make sure you picked the right boat scale on your i-Pilot so that your motor delivers the right amount of thrust

Motors Losing Power

Some users report that their motors don’t start or lose power unexpectedly. One of the most common reasons is not enough voltage reaching the motor. This could be due to bad batteries or incorrect wiring.

In rare cases, you may receive a model with a faulty DC motor, which will need to be replaced.

Sometimes you can experience strange vibrations originating from the lower unit.

To fix this, you can try removing and rotating the propeller 180 degrees. Follow the steps provided in your manual to do it right.

Foot Pedal Issues

If your foot pedal doesn’t work correctly, it could be that it got slightly out of shape, and the buttons are pressed when they shouldn’t be.

Some fishermen complain that the LED lights on the foot pedal are extremely bright, which makes them unsuitable for night fishing. It would be excellent to see automatic LED brightness adjustment, or at least to do it manually.

Steering Difficulties

When you’re out fishing, a trolling motor that’s hard to steer can put a real damper on your day.

If your motor’s not turning like it should, don’t worry, there are a couple of things you can try.

First, take a look at the steering tension knob on the bracket and give it a little tweak to loosen it up. That should make steering a bit easier.

If that doesn’t do the trick, your composite shaft might need some attention. A quick application of lubricant could help it move more smoothly, improving your overall steering.

Minn Kota recommends water-based silicon sprays like Pledge or Armor-All. Simply apply the product onto a rag or paper towel and gently wipe it along the shaft.

Avoid oil-based lubricants such as WD-40 as they tend to draw in dirt and debris, which can lead to complications down the line.

Fishfinder Interference

If you’re seeing some weird stuff on your fishfinder display, it might be due to interference from your trolling motor.

This can be a real pain when you’re trying to spot those underwater sweet spots.

The good news is, there’s a pretty simple fix. Make sure you use a separate battery just for your trolling motor. Then, run your fishfinder off the starting or cranking battery.

This way, both devices get their own clean power supply, which can help clear up any interference.

Unprotected Shaft

Most Minn Kota trolling motors, including the Terrova, Ulterra, and Ultrex, have no break-away mount that would protect the shaft in case of hard impact.

That is unfortunate, and most likely due to the design of the electric-steer mechanism, because the cable-steer Fortrex and Maxxum both have break-away mounts.

On the plus side, the shaft is strong and comes with Minn Kota’s lifetime warranty. That means the company will pay for the replacement if it ever gets damaged, no matter how it happens.

Now, let’s have a look at some issues related to Minn Kota’s specific models:

Model-Specific Issues

The Terrova

The Terrova uses a spring-loaded lift assist mechanism, which can cause it to bounce in and out of water.

Another problem that repeats with the Terrova and other electric-steer models, is the motor shutting down when you go the full speed.

This is usually caused by low system voltage, and these specific models tend to be very voltage-sensitive.

Related Article: Minn Kota Terrova 80 Problems & Troubleshooting.

The Ulterra

We like the Ulterra for the ability to automatically deploy, stow, and adjust the motor’s trim at the push of a button.

However, this convenience comes with a small risk of malfunction. When the Ulterra loses power for some reason, it can’t be stowed automatically.

You will then have to stow it manually, which is not difficult, but it requires tools and working in an awkward position.

Fortunately, it happens very rarely, especially with the latest Ulterra models. According to Minn Kota, after the 2017 re-design, the Ulterra warranty claims are similar to other trolling motors.

It would be nice if Minn Kota designed the release system so that you can lift the motor manually if the auto stow/deploy refuses to work.

Related Article: Minn Kota Ulterra Problems & Troubleshooting

The Ultrex

For many years the Ultrex has been the reference model not just for other Minn Kota trolling motors but the whole industry in general.

Unfortunately, some customers received their trolling motors with a faulty sensor board in the foot control pedal. The good news is that it is a known issue that an authorized dealer can easily resolve.

Another complaint about the Ultrex is that it uses many plastic parts, for example, a plastic bushing, which can cause it to fail over time.

Minn Kota is known for build quality, but if more durable materials were used, such as stainless steel, it would be fantastic!

The PowerDrive

Although not a fault in itself, some PowerDrive owners didn’t have the locking depth collar properly tightened on the shaft.

In extreme cases, this can make the lower unit drop down and break the head unit off the shaft.

We would like to see a better design that eliminates this problem.

The Edge

Some customers complain that their Edge trolling motor didn’t come with the Weedless Wedge 2 propeller as advertised, but a standard one.

Many anglers like this propeller as it’s great for bass fishing, but if you go and buy it separately, you will be disappointed again. It won’t fit as it’s simply too big.

Authorized Service Providers

If you ever needed to have your products repaired under warranty, you’ll know that the experience can be a frustrating one.

This is especially true if you spend a few thousand dollars on a premium Minn Kota trolling motor that refuses to work properly. You expect to have it fixed soon, and sometimes it takes multiple contacts to have your motor sorted out.

Most customers report their complaints were handled professionally, so there is no reason to think yours wouldn’t be.

When dealing with your repair shop, remember to listen carefully to what they say and work with them to correctly identify and solve the problem.

Final Thoughts

We love Minn Kota products; make no mistake about it. They make awesome trolling motors, packed with innovative features and built to high-quality standards.

But they are not perfect, and things do go wrong from time to time.

The good news is, Minn Kota has overall an excellent warranty and after-sales service.

Trolling motors can be expensive, so carefully consider your boat’s requirements and your personal needs before you commit to buying one.


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