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Why Does My Trolling Motor Vibrate?

Does your trolling motor vibrate when you use it? Some people don’t mind this, but others find it annoying or discover that it makes it harder to fish.

If your trolling motor vibrates and you would like to make it stop, here’s what you need to know. Once you understand trolling motor vibration, you should be able to find the source of the problem.

Why Does My Trolling Motor Vibrate?

Sometimes these issues are easy to fix, while other times they require the help of a professional. Either way, you should be able to get back out on the water soon.

Air up an inflatable boat using a foot pump and an electric pump

Why is Vibration Bad?

a trolling motor vibrates while fishing

Small amounts of vibration don’t bother many anglers. However, sometimes the vibration gets bad enough that it is annoying or that it causes other problems. Here are just a few things that can happen as a result of trolling motor vibration.

  • Your boat shakes. If your boat feels like it is trembling whenever you run your trolling motor, then you’re probably experiencing vibration. This problem can be uncomfortable and it can make people feel unsafe on your boat.
  • The fish flee. Trolling motors are designed to run quietly, so you can troll for fish without disturbing them. If your trolling motor vibrates and makes extra noise, you may scare the fish away.
  • Dead arm. If you pilot your trolling motor by hand, then it can make your arm go dead if it starts shaking too much. This makes it harder to use and means that the trolling motor is not very useful until you get it fixed.
  • Further trolling motor damage. Some causes of trolling motor vibration indicate deeper problems with your motor. If you don’t fix the problem fast, these problems can get out of hand.

Propeller Problems

Trolling motor propeller

A myriad of things can go wrong with your propeller, all of which can cause vibration. These issues include:

  • A bent propeller
  • A nicked propeller
  • A poorly installed propeller
  • A propeller that does not line up well with the shaft

Most of the time, you can fix these problems by replacing the propeller. You may want to start by examining it, to see if there are any visible problems.

Most of the time, you’ll be able to see if your propeller got bent. However, sometimes it can be hard to see unless you hold it at the perfect angle.

When in doubt, replace your propeller. This video can show you how to do it if you have a Minn Kota. Other brands usually work in similar ways.

How to Install a Minn Kota Trolling Motor Prop

Start by making sure the motor is not turned on and is disconnected from power. Remove the nut or bolt at the end of the propeller. Tug the propeller off.

Replace it with a new one, tighten the nut, and replace the motor on your boat. Then test it to see if it still vibrates.

Note that you may want to try rotating your propeller 180 degrees on the shaft before replacing it. If there aren’t any visible problems, this simple trick can eliminate a lot of vibration problems.

Something Got Bent

If your propeller shaft or your shear pin/drive pin gets bent, you can experience significant trolling motor vibration. This can occur because you hit something, like a rock or submerged tree, or it can happen if the motor is stored improperly.

To determine whether this is the problem, remove the propeller. The shear/drive pin is placed in the shaft to help hold everything in place. If it is difficult to remove or visibly bent, then this may be your problem.

removing the propeller of trolling motor

Check the shaft itself, too. You may be able to see if it is bent, but sometimes the bend is so slight that it’s hard to see with the naked eye. You may need to get this checked by a professional to ensure that it is working properly.

Shear pins are easy to replace, but shafts can be more difficult. To replace a shear pin,  purchase a new one and slide it into the place where the old one was.

installing shear pin of a propeller for trolling motor
Click the image for more info

Replacing the shaft should likely be handled by a professional. Sometimes, replacing the shaft is more expensive than buying a new trolling motor, particularly if your trolling motor is older. If you want to try the repair by yourself, you can follow along with this video.

Minn Kota trolling motor shaft replacement

A Wrapped Shaft

If you get something wrapped around the shaft of your trolling motor, it can put pressure on the propeller and/or impede shaft movement. Both of these issues can cause trolling motor vibration.

To determine whether your shaft is wrapped, remove the propeller. If there’s a fishing line or weeds around the shaft, remove them. You may need to use a knife to get them all off.

You can follow along with this video if you want to.

How to Clean Your Trolling Motor Prop

Make sure that the propeller shaft is clean before you replace the propeller itself. If you have to clean your shaft frequently, consider purchasing a trolling motor propeller designed to cut through weeds so they don’t attach to your shaft.

The Shaft is Too Deep

Fishing on a boat running by trolling motor

Different trolling motors are designed to run at different depths below your boat. If yours is too deep, your shaft will have too much flex in the water, which can cause vibrations.

Check your manual or user guide to determine how deep your trolling motor needs to sit. Adjust it so that it is at the proper depth. Note that this will be a very different process depending on the make and model of your trolling motor.

Once you have your trolling motor working at the proper depth, take your boat out and see if it still vibrates. This can be an easy fix to the problem! Note that you don’t want to run your boat with the shaft too deep because it can eventually bend, and then you have to replace it.

Conclusion

Now that you know what to look for, you can evaluate your trolling motor and determine the best way to fix it. If you want to repair it yourself, you can get started as soon as you order the proper parts.

If you need to take your trolling motor in to get it fixed, give your local marine shop a call. They should be able to fit you in soon and get to work on your motor right away. Before you know it, your motor will be fixed, and you’ll be out on the water again.


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