Troubleshooting Power Trim and Tilt Motors and Pumps

Tilt and Trim Motor

Tilt and Trim Motor

Replacing Power Trim and Tilt Systems
When replacing your Power Tilt and Trim Motor, first identify what type of Power Tilt and Trim Motor and Pump you have in your boat. There are two basic types of power Trim and Tilt Systems being used in the recreational Boating industry regardless of weather you have an Outboard, Inboard or a Sterndrive.

Some of the older Power Tilt and Trim Systems used an Electric Tilt Motor in combination with a mechanical lifting device. For example, Volvo Penta used a 12-Volt Power Tilt Motor turning a lifting screw on their older Stern Drives. On older OMC Stern Drives, an electric Motor turned a Worm Gear and incorporated a wet clutch pack to Tilt the drive unit as well as lock it into place. The Electric Hydraulic power Trim and Tilt System is more common. This type of system is used on Johnson and Evinrude Outboards, Mercruiser Stern Drives, Mercury Outboards and Volvo Penta Stern Drives. This system consists of two major components; the 12 volt electric Motor with a reservoir, and the Hydraulic Pump or Valve Body.

Trouble Shooting Your Power Trim and Tilt System

When experiencing problems with your power Trim and Tilt System, there are a few easy ways to diagnose just what the problem is. Power Trim Motors generally come in two styles. All use a 12 volt D/C reversing Motor. Some Motors have a two wire connection and some Motors have a three wire connection. All power Trim and Tilt Motors come with one blue wire and one green wire. The three wire power Trim and Tilt Motors have an additional Black wire as well. The Black wire works as a Ground on power Trim and Tilt Motors that don’t ground thru the case. When the blue wire is energized it raises the Motor or drive unit up. When the green wire is energized it lowers the drive unit down.

When having a problem first you need to determine whether your problem is with the power Trim and Tilt Motor or the Hydraulic Pump Valve Body assembly. If you attempt to raise the Motor or sterndrive to the up or down position and nothing happens, first check to make sure your Battery is charged and switched on if your boat is equipped with a Battery switch. If you hear a slight clicking noise you have power coming from the switch to the solenoid. The next step is to go directly to the Motor and test it there. First, disconnect the power Trim and Tilt Motor.

Using a jumper wire, apply 12 volts directly to the blue wire if your engine or drive unit is in the down position. It should raise up at this time. If it is in the up position, apply power to the green wire reversing the Motor and lowering the unit. If the Motor runs, you may have a problem with a solenoid or lack of voltage coming from the power Trim and Tilt switch to the solenoid.

If your power Trim Tilt Motor won’t run after this procedure it is time to replace it. Some replacement Power Trim and Tilt Motors will come with a new wiring harness and relay kit to convert your old three wire power Trim and Tilt Motor to a new more powerful two wire Motor.  (Tilt and Trim cross-reference)

Power Trim and Tilt Pump Problems

Tilt and Trim Pump

Tilt and Trim Pump

If your power Trim and Trim Motor is working fine but the engine or drive unit won’t stay Trimmed or bleeds down when in the up position, you most likely have a problem with the Hydraulic pump or Valve Body assembly. In that case it can be removed and rebuilt by a qualified repair facility. Replace the power Trim and Tilt hydraulic pump unit and fill the reservoir with the correct Power Tilt and Trim Fluid per your owner’s manual. Generally, Transmission fluid is not recommended. It can be hard on some seals due to the high amount of detergents. Most power Trim and Tilt units will purge the air from the system just by running the engine or sterndrive up and down two or three times with the vent plug loose.

Now get going on repairing your tilt-n-trim so you can get out and enjoy your boat! If you need any parts, visit us at, or call toll free 1-800-998-9508.

Article by: Michael Weller
Engine Parts Manager

1,349 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Power Trim and Tilt Motors and Pumps

  1. I can not get my 1999 200 mercury to trim up far enough when the boat is under power.
    The trim works fine when on the trailer. I even tried to put all my body weight on the motor and it still trimmed up with no problem.

    The trim runs quiet and smooth when on the trailer. What do you think the problem is?

  2. what causes milky oil in the resovour?? boats not in water. changed the oil run the outdrive down fine but going up sluggish. more milky oil..

  3. someone left the motor all the way up and its been sitting for 6 months, and i cant get the motor to lower . it starts and goes down about an inch and then goes back up.

  4. We having trouble with the tilt the motor will go down but will not raise with out help. Once raised the the motor will stay in place an we had the cylinder repacked?

  5. I have a 2006 Yamaha 150 VMAX, my tilt and trim works fine from the motor but will not trim down from my remote switch on my throttle or front deck.

  6. Power trim is lifting motor without using any of my trim switches.was fishing and the motor started coming up all on its own. Had to pull fuse to stop it.

  7. I have just replaced the motor on a 90 hp Yamaha 1996, Blue and Green wired as per the one I had. when I hit the up and down button on the motor the motor runs on one button only but nothing happens, when I hit the other button there is not response, should the motor been a reversible type. I am very confessed about this, your comments appreciated.

  8. Have 1998 searay. There is a toggle switch on throttle handle. Sometimes the tilt function up/down works great. Other times, there is just a clicking sound from the tilt system near the engine. What are my possibilities?

  9. Power trim and tilt query with my Honda 90. Trims down with no problem, but the lift trim is laborious and intermittent. Any ideas of the problem?
    Many thanks

  10. the trim works great going up and down i check fluid its full even bled it. in the up position i can pull the motor down. out in the water win i trim it up to raise the bow it will come back down when i let go of the botton while im cruzing.

  11. trim switch on throttle handle isnt working, but switch on motor and at front of boat working fine, any suggestions on a fix?

  12. i have a Mercury 150 Pro XS. Trim down works fine but as soon as I trim up it stays trimming up until the battery drains. Any ideas?

  13. I have a 94 ranger bass boat. 150 black max. the tilt will not go up but goes down fine. the trim motor sound like its spinning very fast when I push the up bottom, but nothing happens. would this be the valve body or the motor?

  14. Have a 1996 Excell wellcraft w/ Volvo-Penta stern drive. Trim swith at throttle, when trying to lift or lower, I get nothing. Wher should I start to troubleshoot for lack of power?

  15. I have a 1994 Murcury 60hp
    I have a problem with my Tilt and Trim
    I have a new pump motor and the Ram
    is rebuilt
    but it will not go up it goes down some times
    I push the down button and it goes down
    and I have to push the up Button a few times and
    the pump starts but the motor will not come up
    ideas anyone

  16. I have a 2006 115 Suzuki and the other day I was just driving along and the motor raised out of the water I stopped the motor lowered it and started again the motor started coming out of the water so /I held the button in the down to hold it there as soon as I let go it started coming up again

  17. 2002 trophy with 4.3, power trim won’t go up, I jumped from battery to blue wire an it will go up, but I get nothing not even a click from the up button, down works fine.

  18. 2002 trophy with 4.3, power trim won’t go up, I jumped from battery to blue wire an it will go up, but I get nothing not even a click from the up button, down works fine.

  19. I have a 1973 mercruiser and the tilt trim leaked oil up in the electric part of motor and quit working what should I do?

  20. I have a 1996 Johnson 150 with the Fast Track T/T. I keep it near full down when at home but the other day I came home and it was in full up all by itself. I tried both the cowl switch and shifter switch and neither work at all. I used a multi meter to test the relays and they appear to be fine. The fuse is good. I lowered the motor back down with the relief valve but nothing operates. Any ideas? I have a feeling a I may have a T/T motor gone bad.

  21. I have 1998 evinced 200 hrs power with the key off boat on trailer parked the motor tries to lower its self. Pull the relays to get it to stop. What do I start running down the problem

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