Garmin Force Trolling Motor Problems [Issues+Fixes]

The Garmin Force Trolling Motor is generally accepted as being a superior device. For example, it can reach 3.8 mph on the water, as opposed to the Lowrance Ghost, which can only reach 3.25 mph.

It is the quietest model available while still being much bigger than a Minn Kota Ultrex. And tied in with Garmin’s renowned GPS technology, it also provides accurate positioning with superior power levels.

As with any mechanical device, components wear over time, electrical connections corrode, and some fault issues arise.

While many of the issues can be resolved by the owner, the good news is that Garmin customer service in the States is responsive and will help resolve any of these common problems as quickly as possible.

In this article, I identify the most frequent issues (listed below) and what the possible fixes are:

Anchor Spot-Lock Issues

The ability to keep station without physically dropping an anchor is a very exciting potential for the Garmin Force Trolling Motor.

Many anglers are impressed with the general accuracy of the system. However, when this feature malfunctions, it is the issue that produces the most complaints.

Four problems feature the most:

1️⃣ The motor keeps making adjustments and powers passed the chosen spot.
2️⃣ The boat does not reach the desired spot.
3️⃣ The spot lock is engaged at the desired spot, and the boat reverses for approximately 10 feet before it finally settles and starts to hold its position.
4️⃣ When the boat is at anchor, the motor suddenly speeds up and starts moving the boat in circles around the spot.

The Possible Fixes

The five most common fixes to try are as follows:

Software Update

Garmin is constantly improving the system’s software, and in most instances, upgrading to the latest software version will improve the accuracy of the spot lock function.

Use the active captain app on a compatible IOS or Android device to update the software.

Adjust The Navigation And Anchor Gain On The System

The gain is set at five as the default value. Test reducing the gain and see if this makes a difference.

Recalibrate The Garmin Force Trolling Motor

After reducing the gain, you may need to recalibrate the trolling motor. To do this, follow the steps issued in the manual.

1️⃣ Choose a day when there is no wind, and the water is calm
2️⃣ Maneuver the boat to a wide-open area and stop (The boat needs to be stationary for the calibration procedure.)
3️⃣ Deploy the trolling motor (Move it from the stowed to the deployed position.)
4️⃣ Use the remote control and select the following items in sequence.
5️⃣ Select the setting mode on the menu.
6️⃣ Select the trolling motor icon.
7️⃣ Select “Calibrate”.
8️⃣ Select “Compass”.
9️⃣ Follow the on-screen screen instructions to steer with the foot pedal.

Check The Motor is Adjusted For The Correct Depth

Check that all of the mounting brackets are secure. At the same time, check that the trolling motor is set at the correct depth. If it is set too deep, the coiled cable may be compressed and then damaged by friction as the motor steers.

Contact The Dealer

Garmin is reputed for its excellent customer service, and if you cannot resolve the problem by yourself, they will willingly assist.

📞 Garmin Support Center

🦶 Foot Pedal Malfunction

A common complaint is that the food pedal malfunctions or fails completely. Most errors are diagnosed by the system as follows.

LED Lights Solid Red When Power Applied 

The LED lights on the pedal may turn to solid green after the pedal is moved, but the Garmin Force doesn’t respond)

This could be caused by the following issues:

1️⃣ The speed wheel cable of the foot pedal is damaged (This will require a Garmin Support Request –📞 Garmin Support Center)
2️⃣ The last software update may not have been successful and needs to be re-updated.

The Pedal LED Flashes Red 3 Times When The Pedal Is Depressed.

This is a sign that the Speed wheel cable is damaged (This will require a Garmin Support Request – 📞 Garmin Support Center).

The LED Lights On The Pedal Do Not Light Up

In this instance, there is most likely a power supply problem, and you should check the following.

Check The Batteries Are In The Correct Alignment

If you have just replaced the batteries, check they are in the correct alignment and that polarities are in order.

🪛 How to fix: Reinstall the batteries correctly.

The Batteries Are Discharged

The batteries may have insufficient charge.

🪛 How to fix: Replace the batteries with fresh units.

The Pedal May Be Damaged

The power supply harness within the battery may be damaged.

🪛 How to fix: 📞 Garmin Support Center

The Wireless Connection With The Force Motor Has Been Lost

To restore the connection and pair the device again, carry out the following steps.

1️⃣ Remove the power supply from the foot pedal (remove the batteries or disconnect the device from the boat’s battery.)
2️⃣ Switch on the Garmin Force Trolling motor
3️⃣ Press the power button which is located on the trolling motor display with three consecutive presses which will make the system start pairing process.
4️⃣ The blue synchronization icon will illuminate blue as it searches for a compatible foot pedal.
5️⃣ Make sure the pedal is within 3 feet (1 m) of the display panel.
6️⃣ Reconnect the pedal to the power by connecting the power cable or inserting the batteries to switch it on.
7️⃣ In no more than 30 seconds of turning the pedal on, hold the Anchor lock button until the status LED on the pedal changes to a blue illumination.
8️⃣ Let go of the Anchor lock button.
9️⃣ As the foot pedal LED will turn blue while it is searching for a connection.
🔟 It switches off as soon as it finds the pedal and successfully pairs with the device.

Finally, the synchronization icon on the display panel will simultaneously change to green simultaneously to show that the operation was successful.

📲 Problems With The Active Captain App

If you experience problems with the active captain app failing, freezing, or shutting down during a software update, check the following fixes.

  • Ensure you have the latest IOS or Android software version.
  • Ensure that you are in an area with a strong and stable cell phone or wireless signal.
  • Check on the IOS store or Android Play store that you have the latest software version of the Active Captain App.
  • Reset the Active Captain Application from within the program by selecting “Settings.” 
  • You will see the item “Reset App ” on the left column.” 

Follow the screen prompts to complete the process.

🌪️ Garmin Force Prop Won’t Spin

Check the following if the Garmin Force trolling motor propellor will not spin.

Check The Pairing Status

Check that the propeller status light on the display panel is on or off.

Status Light Off

If the status light is off, it is an indication that there is a pairing issue.

🪛 How to fix: Check the foot pedal, the remote control, and the plotter to verify the pairing status.

Status Light On

Re-Pair the remote control with the system as follows.

  • Select the Menu item “About.”
  • Press the “cruise control” button eight times fast.

If the remote displays values for the items issued below, the system is paired and communicating with the unit.

  • Time In Use
  • Time Running
  • Product String
  • The Force Software Version

If it does not display the values, a problem exists that needs to be resolved by the dealer or Garmin Support – 📞 Garmin Support Center.

If the display shows, the values proceed with eh following steps.

🪛 How to fix:
1️⃣ Take the shaft cap off and remove the plug (six pins).
2️⃣ Reconnect the plug and check if the problem is resolved.
3️⃣ If the propellor still does not rotate, proceed to Fix Number Two.


Restore the default settings on the Garmin Force Trolling Motor with the remote. Restoring the defaults requires four actions.

1️⃣ Using the remote control, press the Menu icon > “Settings,” press “Trolling Motor,” then press “Restore Defaults.”
2️⃣ Re-Pair the Foot Pedal.
3️⃣ Repair the Remote Control.
4️⃣ Reconnect the Chart plotter


Why Does My Garmin Trolling Motor Keep Turning Off? 

The most likely reason it’s turning on and off is due to a fault in the power supply.

The items which need to be checked to resolve this are as follows.

Check the main power supply from the primary battery.

Check the individual power supply to each of the components.

The Power From The Battery

Start at the battery and check all the wiring connections to ensure that they are securely attached and that there is no corrosion affecting the quality of the power supply.

 Use a testing meter to ensure continuity between each end of the circuits.

Check The Components Power Supply 

If the components use their own battery supply, ensure that the batteries hold a sufficient charge and that no corrosion or acid leakage disrupts the conductivity of the connections.

What Pound Thrust Is Garmin Force?

The thrust produced by the Garmin Force is determined by the battery being used to power it.

Using a 36-volt battery system, the Garmin Force will produce 100 lbs. of thrust.

Using a 24-volt battery system, the Garmin Force will produce 80 lbs. of thrust.

🔑 Final Words

When a malfunction occurs with a Garmin Force trolling motor, several fixes can be attempted, which in the majority of cases, will resolve the problem. If all else fails, the Garmin customer service line can assist.

Nice to e-meet you. I’m Justin, a seasoned sailing journalist and communications pro with more than 25 years of extensive industry experience. And a track record of successfully promoting teams and events on the global stage.