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 brilliant feature of the Garmin Force Trolling Motor.

Many anglers are impressed with the general accuracy of the system.

But, when this feature malfunctions, it is the issue that produces the most complaints.

Four problems feature the most:

  • The motor keeps making adjustments and powers past the chosen spot.
  • The boat does not reach the desired spot.
  • 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.
  • When at anchor, the motor suddenly speeds up and starts moving the boat in circles around the spot.

The five most common fixes to try are:

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

Another common complaint is that the food pedal malfunctions or fails completely.

Most errors are diagnosed by the system as follows.

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:

  • The speed wheel cable of the foot pedal is damaged (requires Garmin Support:📞 Garmin Support Center)
  • The last software update may not have been successful and needs to be re-updated.

This is a sign that the Speed wheel cable is damaged (requires Garmin Support:📞 Garmin Support Center).

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

IssueSolutionNotes
Check The Batteries Are In The Correct AlignmentReinstall the batteries correctly
The Batteries Are DischargedReplace the batteries with fresh units.
The Pedal May Be Damaged📞 Garmin Support CenterThe power supply harness within the battery may be damaged.

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

  • Remove the power supply from the foot pedal (remove the batteries or disconnect the device from the boat’s battery.)
  • Switch on the Garmin Force Trolling motor
  • Press the power button which is located on the trolling motor display with three consecutive presses which will make the system start pairing process.
  • The blue synchronization icon will illuminate blue as it searches for a compatible foot pedal.
  • Make sure the pedal is within 3 feet (1 m) of the display panel.
  • Reconnect the pedal to the power by connecting the power cable or inserting the batteries to switch it on.
  • 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.
  • Let go of the Anchor lock button.
  • 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 that the propeller status light on the display panel is on or off if the trolling motor propeller will not spin.

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.

If the display shows, the values proceed with these steps.

  • Take the shaft cap off and remove the plug (six pins).
  • Reconnect the plug and check if the problem is resolved.
  • If the propellor still does not rotate, proceed to Fix Number Two.

OR

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

  • Using the remote control, press the Menu icon > “Settings,” press “Trolling Motor,” then press “Restore Defaults.”
  • Re-pair the Foot Pedal.
  • Re-pair the Remote Control.
  • Reconnect the Chart plotter

Frequently Asked

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

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.

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.

the Garmin Force is one of the most powerful trolling motors on the market and the thrust produced ultimately depends on the battery being used to power it. A 36-volt battery system will produce 100 lbs. of thrust. And a 24-volt battery system, 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.