It’s not easy being a boat owner of any size. One of the most frustrating problems owners encounter is when their motors start giving them issues, and there are many causes for these problem that can be hard to diagnose without some know-how as well as patience.
Some of these can be prevented by good housekeeping and maintenance, others, however, may need you to call in some expert help.
Simple Trolling motor trouble shooting and maintenance can be carried out by beginners, tasks like cleaning connections, checking batteries and clearing the propeller are suitable for beginners. However, when tasks like rebuilds or wiring issues occur it is safer and more effective use professional help.
The two most common culprits? Battery wiring or battery life–both sound simple but require you to take your time and do your research if you want any chance at fixing it yourself before calling in an expert who brings with them a hefty price tag. ( like everything with the word boating in it.)
These issues can extend to both gas powered and electric motors, although outboard engines are both more expensive to buy and fix than electric. (fishing kayak owners can take some solace in this)
Battery Issues on Trolling Motors
Trolling motors are among are becoming a more common sight especially in fishing. They can power a small boat, or larger ones at slower speeds and lower costs than full gas engines – but they do need batteries to do that!
It’s important that you know how to use a battery for trolling, especially if it powers your motor as well as your fish finder, phone or GPS. A deep cycle marine battery is usually the best option because they are powerful yet long-lasting. They can even be used in electric cars, small ones of course!
The deep cycle marine batteries are constructed quite differently from starter batteries. It is also important to note that as a lead-acid battery, these internal series of plates can be thicker and produce less current than traddtional strater engine batteries.
This makes them more suitable for powering devices such as trolling motors or radios on boats where you need steady power rather than quick bursts of high voltage. You are in it for the long haul not the quick start of a bigger engine.
Why Use a Deep Cycle Marine Battery on a Trolling Motor?
The difference between deep cycle batteries and starting batteries is that the latter are designed for a single, high-powered burst while deep cycles have thicker plates which enable them to withstand more charge/discharge cycles. They provide less power than their counterparts, but will continue providing energy until they’re used up–so long as you don’t let it go below 50%.
- The similarity? Neither battery likes being completely discharged so make sure you charge them regularly and at least before they completely discharge.
- It is important to consider that every trolling motor has a power setting. So installing as many batteries as you can, will not as we think provide more power or faster speeds, it will only help to damage your motor. Use the correct voltage battery for your motor.
- This is often relate to thrust output with 12, 24 and 36 volt batteries. 36 would be more suited to a little cuddy cabin or pontoon boat rather than a fishing kayak
- Other issues include not using enough state of charge during low-temperature months or letting them discharge too much when in storage mode, which will shorten their lifespan significantly
Wiring and Trolling Motors:
Faulty wires pose a serious problem to anyone who uses trolling motors. They can cause permanent circuit damage, so it is best that they are handled quickly and properly by experts. Unless you have experience changing wires it is likely you will do more harm than good.
Marine wire’s durability allows it to withstand harsh conditions on board ship such as waves crashing onto deck or movement in rough seas – making these high-quality materials perfect replacements for solid ones that would break down quickly under similar stress.
The high resistance in wires can overheat and cause a fire, but by using the proper type of wire helps to prevent that. The best kind for trolling motors is one with low resistance because they don’t waste as much energy or get hot enough to start a small fire.
We STRONGLY recommend that with wiring you seek professional help on all aspects of your boat, trolling motor or other wise.
Solution to Wiring Problems
- If you notice any signs of wires or batteries failing, make sure to buy replacements and have them professionally fitted before they fail completely.
- You should ensure that you purchase a wire with the proper length and size for the job you want it to do. Don’t go to big or too long, this is important on all boats, especially fishing kayaks.
- Consider the length of wire. The distance from power source to device that requires is and back again.
- Because the battery capacity is lost while running from small wires, you should note that a long run of wire causes voltage drop.
Losing or Loss of Power
You know that sinking feeling you get when your fishing boat’s motor dies? It feels like the whole world just gets a lot bigger in an instant. The last thing any boatowner or angler wants to hear is their trolling motor making some strange noise, not turning on at all or even worse failing while out at sea.
There’s no need for this gear malfunction nightmare as there are many great options out there. buying a top brand will help reduce the chances of this. Minn Kota®, Haswing ®, Newport® are all respected brands.
- The most probable cause for a non-running motor is the propeller. Possibly Jammed or not lubricated well enough. It is also the easiest to fix! So cross your fingers this is it. Follow the manufacturers guidelines to remove it, and any gunk that has collected, and put it back securely. Last thing you want is to have it fly off under water.
- If that’s not it, you should inspect and clean or replace their battery if needed. Low voltage can be corrected by recharging your batteries ( if you have more than one) fully before inspecting them to see if any are draining out faster than others (bad cells).
- Corroded connections might need cleaning too; check both ends of your battery cables as well as those in between which attach to each other from time-to-time! Make sure they are dry before reattaching anything.
- The wiring in a trolling motor, as mentioned above, can be the cause of problems. The right size wire must be used to connect it and there may be faulty connections that need correcting, or even non-functioning wires which should be replaced with new ones. Seek advice on this unless you have experience. ( we don’t count YouTube videos as experience!)
- It could also mean replacing damaged magnets if they’re making noises like whining or grinding—a cracked magnet will never work again so don’t wait for it; buy and fit a replacement.
Shaking or Vibration in Your Trolling Motors
While using a trolling motor, it might vibrate or shake. This can be harmful for on board batteries, the motor, and the fittings as well as being irritating to those you are fishing with. Check your boat’s battery connections first before moving onto other possible causes!
- It may be caused by the propeller being loose or poorly fitted. Check it and secure it with a little magnetic drag, it should turn and rotate freely.
- Check out whether there are signs that indicate worn-out bearings or bushings need replacement too!
- The whole motor may not be fitted correctly, and shaking in its housing. This occurs more often on fishing kayaks. Double check it, it could cause a capsize or the whole thing could fall off and disappear into the sea if its loose or poorly fitted.
Trolling Motor Start or Turn Over Wont Turn At All
In some cases the trolling motor fails to run at all. This may not be an issue on small lakes where you can paddle around, but on sea trips it can stop the trip before it even starts.
- Check the fuses, they can blow from sudden power surges.
- Next would be corrosion between wiring connections and inside switches or sockets, Give them a wiggle and reattach them where needed. or a scrub with a wire brush if corroded.
- A total discharged battery or unconnected battery would also cause this, and if you have had it in storage over the winter this is worth checking out.
Maintaining Your Trolling Motor
Trolling motors, any trolling motors, are expensive. they are designed to worth in harsh conditions but that doesn’t make them bullet proof. Taking care of it after each trip is going to prolong the life and save you both time and cash. The following tips apply to both saltwater and freshwater and will help increase the durability of your trolling motor.
- After each trip, check behind your propeller for weeds, fishing line or other debris that may have gotten tangled up and clear it out.
- All pivot points and joints should be lubricated daily with a non-aerosol oil.
- Check the tightness of connections every week or so making sure they are not loose or rusted
- You will need to recharge your battery after each use, this is important and easy to forget. ( we do this).
- The wire should never be connected to the wrong terminals on a battery and it is best practice not get any water near the top cover as this can damage circuitry inside. You can buy battery covers on Amazon for this specific purpose.
- Store your batteries in the off season so they don’t get wet, hot or cold. There will be guidelines on how to store them when you bought them.
Fishermen use trolling motors to help their boats move at a consistent pace, but without regular maintenance, the motor will not function properly. Regularly scheduled maintenance ensures that your equipment does not break down when you need it most.
With proper care and attention even a small motor can last for many years. Regular maintenance is important in order to avoid unexpected repairs or costly downtime during fishing season.
Trolling motors are very expensive and being proactive with your upkeep will save money in the long run.
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If you are in any doubt always seek professional advice, you are dealing with water and electricity and heat. You need to be safe first and foremost.