Garmin Force is a relatively new trolling motor, released in August 2019. Its arrival was very well received by the market, with thousands of anglers using it already.
Garmin specializes in GPS technology and makes high-quality marine electronics. However, it doesn’t mean that all their products are perfect.
There have been reports of problems with Garmin Force, mostly related to inaccurate anchor lock, disconnecting foot pedal, software update issues and some design flaws.
In this article, we discuss the most common problems associated with the Force.
Let’s get started!
Anchor Lock Problems
Many Garmin Force users complain about spot lock accuracy. The problem is that the anchor lock position keeps shifting and you are constantly moving farther or closer to your target.
Another odd thing that often happens is that when you engage the anchor mode, the motor will move your boat around 10 feet backward before settling and holding the spot.
It’s not a big deal, but can be annoying, especially when you are close to fixed objects or other boats.
A more serious issue is when your Garmin Force speeds up suddenly while in anchor lock and starts moving your boat in circles without a warning.
The fix could be as easy as turning the gain down to make it less responsive. The default setting is 5. You can also recalibrate and update the software, so try that too if adjusting the gain didn’t work for you.
Otherwise, if the problem keeps repeating, contact Garmin’s support center.
Foot Pedal Malfunction
There are many reports of Garmin Force foot pedals failing, which makes steering impossible and you have to then use a wireless remote.
The most frequent reason is the loss of the wireless connection between the foot pedal and the motor.
To fix the problem, you need to run through a procedure to have it reconnected:
Step 1. Disconnect the power from the foot pedal
Step 2. Switch on the motor
Step 3. Press three times on the motor’s display panel to get into pairing mode (you should see blue light)
Step 4. Place the foot pedal within 3 feet (1m) of the display panel
Step 5. Connect the power to the foot pedal (or insert batteries)
Step 6. Wait for 30-45 seconds until you see the blue light on the pedal’s status LED
If the connection is successful, the light on the display panel should change to green.
If this doesn’t work for you, and you still keep losing the connection, consider using AA batteries in your foot pedal instead of hardwiring it.
Software Update Problems
Some major power loss problems happened to users after updating the software on their Force. This is especially frustrating, as you expect the motor to work better after the update, not worse.
Although Garmin support is brilliant, in this case, they might not always be able to help, as a failed software update can make the motor unusable.
This problem commonly happens when power supply is interrupted during an update. As with many other electronics, an update that is not complete can result in a “bricked” device, which can’t be used anymore.
If you’re covered by a warranty, Garmin will ship you a new motor in this case.
Fragile Prop and Transducer
There have been reports of people hitting underwater objects at low speed, such as stones, which caused broken props and deep scratches on the lower unit.
In at least one case, the transducer got damaged and side imaging stopped working.
So if you tend to hit things with your boat, be extra careful with Garmin Force.
Active Captain App
Because of the potential to create more harm than good, many pros advise against updating your software through the Active Captain App.
If your Garmin Force works fine, there is no good reason to keep updating its software every time a new version comes out.
Otherwise, you take a risk something goes wrong and you don’t have a working motor anymore.
There are many reports of Garmin’s anti-bounce stabilizer not locking into place.
The stabilizer rod won’t get tight enough, which makes it practically useless as you get no stabilization it was supposed to provide.
Because the motor is fully wireless and electric, there is a slight delay in the motor’s reaction. You will notice this if you’re coming from a cable-steer motor, such as the Ultrex or Tour Pro. It’s taking some time to get used to.
Another problem with a fully electric trolling motor is that you can’t steer it when the electronics fail.
Other designs issues:
Remote Steering Delay. The complaint concerns mostly the wireless remote. Because of this, you might find yourself constantly adjusting so that you can go in the desired direction.
The power steering can be noisy. It’s especially annoying when you’re in spot lock mode, as this is when the servo keeps working to hold your position.
The depth adjustment collar has a design flaw. It is made of plastic which makes it prone to cracking.
The shaft seems to be flexing too much. It feels floppy, especially when turning your boat.
The foot pedal is too narrow and flimsy. You can find yourself pressing the buttons on the side, for example, anchor lock, even if you didn’t intend to.
The power switch is under the trolling motor when it’s in the stowed position which is not ideal. One way to go around this problem is to use a circuit breaker for turning your motor on and off.
Also, Garmin Force will not follow contours. If this feature is important for you, you should look elsewhere. It’s unfortunate for such an expensive product, and I hope the future Force models will have it.
Garmin Force has not been around long enough to prove itself. It is only normal that such a new product will suffer from some issues, which hopefully will be fixed in the future versions.
The good news is that Garmin support is brilliant, very helpful and responsive.
However, if you have a serious issues with your motor and there is no Garmin repair center nearby, you’re out of luck.
Garmin Force Tips
Tip 1. If you’re getting it new, consider having it installed by a Garmin-certified dealer. You will get a 3-year warranty instead of a 1-year warranty if you do it on your own or at a non-certified dealer.
Tip 2. Don’t update the software on your own, especially if your motor is running fine. If you do want to get your software updated, have a Garmin-approved dealer do it for you.
Tip 3. When installing your Garmin Force, make sure you have 8 to 10 inches gap between the mount and the motor’s head. Leaving less can cause your wires to crush each other, which can lead to some unexpected noises and motor behavior.