The Ulterra is a truly unique trolling motor from Minn Kota. It offers impressive features such as auto stow, deploy and trim.
However, even such a great model suffers from some issues, including motors and spot lock not working properly, tripping breakers and auto stow/deploy, and power trim problems.
In this article, we discuss the most common problems associated with the Ulterra.
If you would like to learn more about this trolling motor, please have a look at our Ulterra review.
Let’s get started!
Auto Stow Problems
The auto stow/deploy mechanism is great but it comes with a risk of malfunction. It can be a real headache if you can’t stow your trolling motor while out on the water.
When the Ulterra loses power for some reason, it can’t be stowed automatically. You will then have to do 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.
If you worry you might not be able to auto-stow your motor, one workaround is to get a quick release bracket, for example, the MKA-51.
It would be even better if Minn Kota designed the release system so that you can easily lift the motor manually if the auto stow refuses to work.
The most common issue is that nothing happens after you press the Stow/Deploy button on the i-Pilot or the foot pedal. The good news is that it is usually not a fault.
The motor is designed in such a way that you need two quick presses on the Stow/Deploy button to make the deploy function work.
It’s for safety reasons, you don’t want to accidentally deploy your motor when pressing the button by mistake.
Sometimes it’s the deploy function that doesn’t work correctly. Once you press the button twice on your remote, it says it is deploying but does nothing. It can also get stuck mid-way.
The usual thing to check is your batteries and wiring. This solved the problem for most users.
You should also remember to lubricate the drive belt regularly, to help preserve the motor and the stow/deploy mechanism.
Motor Has No Power
Sometimes the Ulterra won’t switch on after pressing the power button. The green and red LED lights do not light up.
One of the most common reasons is not enough voltage reaching the motor. This could be due to bad batteries or incorrect wiring, for example, reversed polarity.
In some very rare cases, the power switch can come loose from the control panel.
Motor Locked Out
If the lower unit of your Ulterra is too close to the aluminum base (15 inches or less), the motor will not run or steer.
This behavior is intended by Minn Kota, to prevent the prop from hitting the boat’s hull if it’s too close.
To fix the issue, all you need to do is to trim the motor down and try again. It should work fine then.
Some users report their motors work intermittently – sometimes they will power, sometimes they won’t.
In most cases, such problems are caused by bad connections, and this should be inspected first.
Spot Lock Issues
GPS Not Working
For some users, there is simply no GPS fix for the spot lock to function properly. This problem is usually solved by replacing the i-Pilot control head, but for some people, the problem was still there after the head replacement.
Losing Spot Lock
A common problem is for the spot lock to work as expected initially, only to lose contact and start spinning in circles.
Some spot lock issues can be sorted out by relocating the compass.
Bad Control Board
Unfortunately, there are several reports of people having to replace their control boards more than once.
Waiting for the new part and having your Ulterra fixed is obviously frustrating as you can’t go out on the water.
What’s even worse is when your control board fails after the motor is past the warranty date. Control boards are not cheap.
Faulty Trim Module
One of the great features of the Ulterra is that you can adjust the trim, or depth of the motorhead by only pressing a button on your remote.
However, some users have been unlucky and their trim module would not work or would stop working.
One of the reasons is the water intrusion on older trim modules, which would cause them to malfunction.
Fortunately, Minn Kota was made aware of this issue and redesigned the trim module to make it fully waterproof. This seems to have solved the problem, as we are not seeing reports of this problem anymore.
Bad Trim Motor
An even more expensive problem, if you’re out of your warranty, is when your trim motor fails. A replacement dc motor is expensive, not to mention the cost of labor or time involved.
Breaker Keeps Tripping
Another interesting problem is with Ulterras tripping circuit breakers after relatively light use.
The first thing to try is to observe the voltage on the battery and by the motor, to rule out low voltage as the cause.
If the voltage is fine, if there is no significant drop, you can try to replace a breaker with a new one.
There could be an underlying problem that causes an increased amp draw that trips the breaker. (as it should, for safety reasons)
There are definitely many more happy owners of the Ulterra than those who encountered problems.
Of course, minor issues can always be expected and this is not always down to the product itself. For example, bad connections and voltage problems are the leading causes of problems.
Minn Kota has overall an excellent warranty and after-sales service. If you worry your Ulterra will fail right past the warranty day, there are many trolling motor dealers offering a 5-year warranty upgrade.
Trolling motors can be expensive, so carefully consider your boat’s requirements and your personal needs before you commit to buying one.
Do not leave your trolling motor outside in wet or humid conditions for too long. If you can’t store your boat inside, then get a quick-release bracket and remove it from your boat to keep it in a dry place.
Make sure you have good batteries, start charging them as soon as you get back. If you have an onboard charger that allows it, keep the batteries connected to it to keep them topped up.
Look after your plugs, receptacles, and all connections. Use corrosion block spray to keep the connections corrosion-free. These trolling motors are very sensitive to voltage drop and will not work well without proper wiring.
Battery Tender plugs are well-regarded.
For the Ulterra specifically, remember to keep the shaft clean and lubricate the drive belt from time to time. This will make the stow/deploy mechanism work more smoothly, preserve the motor and use less battery power.
For a lubricant, Pledge spray, or Armor All is recommended.
Ulterra Troubleshooting FAQ
Why won’t my Ulterra deploy?
One of the simple reasons could be that the Deploy/Stow button on the i-Pilot or the foot pedal is pressed.
How do you reset Ulterra manually?
Press the POWER button 3 times within 2 seconds.
How do you stow Ulterra without a remote?
Press the power button at the motor’s base, and hold it for 10 seconds. The Ulterra should start stowing automatically.