Tips For Troubleshooting Minn Kota Trolling Motors


Minn Kota is one of the oldest companies serving the leisure marine market in America. The trolling motors they manufacture have a reputation for precision engineering, accurate control, and durability.

Unfortunately, as with any equipment used regularly in harsh conditions, trolling motors are subject to overtime; wear will take place and create problems for its owner. The Minn Kota trolling motors are modular in design, making them easy to troubleshoot, repair, or replace damaged components.

At a Glance:
Problems with these motors generally fall into four categories.

1️⃣ The motor won’t power up, or there is reduced power.
2️⃣ The motor produces insufficient thrust.
3️⃣ The pedal control stops working.
4️⃣ The motor is physical damaged.

It is generally possible to solve a problem on the Minn Kota trolling motor and work out the cause relatively quickly.

Before we get going, it’s also handy to know about the factors that affect motor lifespans when it comes to deciding if a fix is worth your time. Let’s get started.

📴 The Minn Kota Trolling Motor Will Not Power Up

The causes of a trolling motor not powering up can generally be traced to the electrical power supply. The possible causes of this are.

  • A Tripped Circuit Breaker Or Fuse
  • Dead Battery
  • Broken or Loose Wires
  • Loose or corroded Internal Connections
  • Switches Are Damaged Or Corroded

A Tripped Circuit Breaker Or Fuse

If the system has a fuse or circuit breaker between the trolling motor and the battery (it should), check that this is intact and that the circuit breaker has not tripped,

If it tripped, restore the circuit with a new fuse or reset the circuit breaker and try again.

If the motor starts working, monitor its performance; while it is possible that a passing glitch caused the problem, if it continues to trip, there is a problem elsewhere in the system.

A tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse indicates that the circuit is being overloaded, and there may be a mechanical issue causing the motor to overwork.

If this continues to be a problem, have an authorized dealer check the trolling motor.

The Minn Kota Motor Has A Dead Battery

Irrespective of the type of battery used, they all have a finite shelf life, after which they will need to be replaced.

If the battery had not been kept on a trickle charge while the trolling motor was stored, it might have discharged.

The following method can be used to test the motor’s battery.

Attach your multimeter’s probes to the positive (+ Red) and negative (-Black) connections as close to the motor as possible.

1️⃣ On a 12-volt battery system, the charge should read between 12 and 12.5 volts.

2️⃣ If this is the reading, turn the power supply on and monitor the voltage

3️⃣ When the motor is running on high, the voltage should never drop below 5% of the maximum (12 volts should never reduce below 11.4 volts, on a 24-volt system, the voltage should never drop below 22.8 volts, and on a 36-volt system, it should never drop below 34.2 volts.)

If the readings vary from these values, the battery may be damaged.

Before replacing the battery, connect it to a charger until the voltage values are full. Run the above test and check for the voltage drop again.

If the battery is faulty, even after charging, it will lose more than 5% of its capacity when placed under load.

Broken, Loose, Or Damaged Wires

If the battery is healthy, the next item is to check the integrity of the circuit connecting the battery to the motor.

  • Disconnect the wire from the battery.
  • Insert the black lead unto the multimeter “COM” jack
  • Insert the red lead into the VΩ jack
  • Connect the multimeter probes to each end of the red battery cable.
  • If the multimeter beeps, the circuit is intact.
  • Repeat the procedure on the black wire; if the multimeter beeps, the circuit is intact.

If the multimeter does not record current, there is a defect in the cable, and you should replace it.

Loose Or Corroded Internal Connections

If your system uses Quick Disconnect or Plug and Receptacle, check that these are connected to the cables securely.

  • Check that the connections to the quick-connect plugs are secure.
  • If someone has recently worked on the motor, check that they have attached the connections to the correct polarity.
  • Check that the connections are clean and that there is no corrosion.
  • Check the condition of the connections coming from the battery side for the same issues.

Switches Are Damaged Or Corroded

One of the most common problems with trolling motors not functioning properly is when switches become damaged or worn.

This may become apparent when the motor only switches into certain forward or reverse gears.

The only repair is to replace the switches. These are relatively low-cost and can be sourced from Amazon.

🚀 The Motor Produces Insufficient Thrust

If the motor is dead, it is most likely due to one of the following causes.

  • The battery is discharged or damaged.
  • The gear selector switch is damaged.
  • The Lower Unit Needs Servicing.

The Battery Is Discharged Or Damaged

Problems with the battery have been discussed earlier in this article. The video below covers battery maintenance in depth.

The Gear Selector Switch Is Damaged

If the gear selector switch is not operating correctly, it may be keeping the motor in the “lower” gears and preventing it from speeding up.

  1. To test the switch, remove the motor from the water and place it in a secure position.
  2. Ensure that the propellor can move freely.
  3. Connect the motor to a 12-volt battery.
  4. Activate the motor and select first gear.
  5. Slowly switch through each gear and listen for a change in the sound.
  6. The switch is most likely worn if the sound does not change between each gear selection.
  7. A new switch can be sourced from Amazon to replace the existing component.

The installation method is described in the following Minn Kota article.

The Lower Unit Needs Servicing

A loss of power may be caused by several factors, including

  • The speed coil
  • Water intrusion
  • Worn brushes

The video below has a clear explanation of the process to check and change these components.

🎮 The Pedal Control Stops Working

The typical issues with pedals that stop working can be broken down into mechanical and electronic problems.

Mechanical – Pedal Sliders StuckDebris caught in the mechanism causes the controls to stop sliding and become stuck.Dismantle the parts from the unit and thoroughly clean the mechanism.
Mechanical – Cable Drive Stops FunctioningOne of the cables has become damaged.Replace the damaged cable.
Electronic – Worn Steering Control ContactsFoot pedal microswitches become worn, causing the motor to not turn.Replace the circuit board or try to repair the board.
Electronic – Steering Sensor BoardThe steering sensor board becomes non-responsive or stops responding altogether due to damage.Replace the steering sensor board.

🔨 The Minn Kota Trolling Motor Is Physically Damaged

If the motor is physically damaged, it may require one of the following fixes.

  • A replacement propellor being installed
  • The shaft being fixed or replaced
  • The replacement of the head unit

Each of these components is available from Minn Kota.

Minn Kota has an online parts replacement facility, or they may be available from Amazon.


How Do You Troubleshoot A Minn Kota Trolling Motor? 

The most effective method of troubleshooting a Minn Kota motor is as follows.

Identify the main source of the problem (low power, no power, inaccurate or limited steering, etc.)

  • The motor won’t power up
  • The motor produces insufficient thrust
  • The pedal control stops working
  • Physical damage occurs

Once you have narrowed down the symptoms into one of the four categories listed above, work through this article and check the causes and fixes described.

Is There A Fuse In A Minn Kota Trolling Motor? 

There are no fuses built into the system on these motors. 

Despite this, the company recommends incorporating an appropriate fuse/circuit breaker into the boat circuitry.

The fuse should be installed into the positive power supply cable from the battery to the motor.

Where Is The Circuit Breaker On Minn Kota Trolling Motor?

The company recommends that the following circuit breakers/fuses be used with their motors.

ThrustCircuit Breaker Size
30 lbs.50 amp @ 12 volt
40 lbs.50 amp @ 12 volt
45 lbs.50 amp @ 12 volt
50 lbs.60 amp @ 12 volt
55 lbs.60 amp @ 12 volt
70 lbs.50 amp @ 24 volt
80 lbs.60 amp @ 24 volt
101 lbs.50 amp @ 36 volt
Engine Mount 101lbs.60 amp @ 36 volt
112 lbs.60 amp @ 36 volt
Engine Mount 160lbs.2 X 60 amp @ 24 volt
E-Drive50 amp @ 24 volt
Minn Kota 1865115 Circuit Breaker/MKR-27
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03/07/2024 11:11 pm GMT

🔑 Key Takeaways

Fortunately, because they are designed on a modular basis, Minn Kota’s are relatively easy to narrow down the problem and rectify them.

1️⃣ Minn Kota trolling motors are known as reliable, but they will eventually wear, or damage can happen.

2️⃣ Common issues: motor won’t power up or has reduced power, insufficient thrust, pedal control stops working, or physical damage.

3️⃣ Motor not powering up can be due to a tripped circuit breaker or fuse, dead battery, broken/loose wires, loose/corroded internal connections, or damaged/corroded switches.

4️⃣ Insufficient thrust may result from a discharged/damaged battery, damaged gear selector switch, or lower unit needing servicing.

Next, I’d recommend comparing Minn Kota and MotorGuide trolling motors to see if a switch is right for you.

And lastly, sometimes it helps to look at other brand troubleshooting because the Lowrance Ghost and MotorGuide TP also experience problems and issues.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.