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 Go2marine.com, or call toll free 1-800-998-9508.

Article by: Michael Weller
Go2marine.com
Engine Parts Manager

1,015 Comments

  • Bob King (#)
    June 10th, 2013

    I have a 1980 merc everything on trim was working fine With boat in the water until raised the trim to high and it locked where it will not go down. When I press down button the motor sounds like it is working but does not move. I need to lower my motor at least one inch so I can lock it in for transport, if I back off the hoses attached two the trim unit will it lower the motor?

    • Mike (#)
      June 13th, 2013

      Hello, yes cracking the lines on the cylinders will lower the engine.

  • david (#)
    June 14th, 2013

    I have an 88 evinrude 90hp (e90tlcca) and if the trim is not down all the way when I give it full throttle the motor drops all the way. the TNT works great out of water and hold under my 200lbs of pressure. Is this normal? this is a new boat to me. Is there a check valve or something that needs to be cleaned? Thanks.

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      The trim pump is by-passing and needs to be serviced or replaced.

  • Greg (#)
    June 16th, 2013

    Hello all, i just purchased a 1985 19′ wellcraft. Its has a mercruiser 470 with a 3.0 liter outdrive that was put on as a replacement for the origonal outdrive as it had locked up. Boat has ran great. I noticed that when i was sitting on the lake or docking her a oilly film on the water at the rear o the boat when i trimmed the tilt up. Well lastnight the trim motor would run but not raise or lower the unit. Today i discovered one of the fluid hoses had come off. The line is on at one end but has came off right at the end of the braided part of the line. The fitting and elbow are still in the unit. My question is…..can the braided side of the line be reconnected to the elbow fitting thats still screwed in to the unit? And if so how?

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      You will need to replace the trim line.

  • john lawson (#)
    June 21st, 2013

    mercruiser alpha 1,goes down but will only go up if using trailer switch. Fluid level ok, had into shop last year, cleaned contacts but found nothing really wrong. do you haveany suggestions?

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      Check the trim sending unit on the gimbal ring.

  • Leonard Presley (#)
    June 27th, 2013

    I have a 75HP mercury. It trims up and down when the boat is going slow but as soon as I speed up the motor it wants to drop down and I cannot raise it .

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      The hydraulic pump is by=passing and needs to be repaired or replaced.

  • Jody (#)
    June 28th, 2013

    I just purchased a 1993 Larson 200sei boat. the power trim will go down but will not go back up where do i start trouble shooting? the oil reservor is full, New battery it has a mercruser outdrive. Thanks

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      Check the up solenoid. It is the one with the blue wire. The one with the green wire is the down solenoid.

  • Randy (#)
    June 30th, 2013

    Hi,
    When I raise and lower my outdrive, a 1993 alpha one gen II on an 18′ Invader 4.3L, as it is going up or down it makes a thumping sound in various positions. Almost as if maybe the cylinders stick and release. I just replaced the motor and everything went together smoothly. I also just replace the impeller and all went fine there as well. The boat only has 50 hours on it. Did I not get something lined up right? It worked fine prior to pulling the motor. No unusual noises what so ever. I bought the boat new and haven’t used it much as I am not much of a boat person. So, Thanks for any advice . . .

    Randy

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      Try bleeding the hydraulics. It may be air in the system.

  • Marty (#)
    June 30th, 2013

    I have a 1989 volvo penta – the tilt trim will only lower and raise when direct power is applied to the solenoid, will not activate with switch. What the h… is wrong with this sob?? Any ideas would be helpful, it’s getting extremely hot here and would love to take the mrs out on the water. Thanks!!

  • Vita (#)
    July 7th, 2013

    My power trim suddenly stopped working, I took the motor for the power trim apart and the brushes are completely gone on one side. I am looking for the end cap for part #45060A9 power trim motor, do you have any idea where I might be able to find one?

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      Parts are almost impossible to find. You are better off replacing the complete motor.

  • larry (#)
    July 7th, 2013

    I need to tap the power trim while pressing the trim switch to work the trim. Whats wrong?

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      You need to replace the trim motor.

  • Ed Whyte (#)
    July 8th, 2013

    I have a 2003 Yamaha F60. When I hit the powertrim button, it clicks under the hood of the motor but will not go up or down. Fluid is full. Is it my motor or my solenoid? Thank you.

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      It sounds like the motor is frozen. Try by-passing the solenoid and hot wire the motor. If it runs change relay/solenoid.

  • Mike (#)
    July 9th, 2013

    I have a 1986 bay liner Volvo Penta I can’t get trim and tilt to unlock after its down when trying to raise it up.

    • Mike (#)
      July 11th, 2013

      Check the reverse lock on the bottom of the transom assembly.

  • george morris (#)
    July 14th, 2013

    i have a 1973 85HPmercury motor my power trim bleeds off it is a new pump motor in other words it goes back down on its own slowly thear are no leaks and the oil is full can you help me thank you george morris

    • Mike (#)
      July 16th, 2013

      The hydraulic pump is by-passing and needs to be serviced or replaced. As for loosing prime, about 12 hours and you should pump the primer ball.

  • george morris (#)
    July 14th, 2013

    i have trouble loosing prime on my mercury motor how long can a motor sit before it has to be primed when i prime it it starts wright up can you help me thank you george morris

  • Peter (#)
    July 17th, 2013

    When I go to trim DOWN, it seems to not go, but if play w/ up/down, eventually it goes down. why, and what should/could I do to spare this from breaking down completely?
    thanks.
    Peter

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Try taping on the motor. If it seems to help it needs to be replaced.

  • Veronica (#)
    July 17th, 2013

    We have a Four Winns Freedom 170 with an OMC Cobra 2.3 Motor. Previously, after boating, we would switch the trim up to load onto our trailer. Occasionally it wouldn’t move, but after a few minutes it would go up. This last time it just won’t go back up. No noise at all. How do we know if its the motor, the relay, solonoid, etc? Are there any troubleshooting steps we can do to figure it out?

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Try switching the two solenoids. If the problem remains, change out the motor.

  • blain steed (#)
    July 18th, 2013

    my trim up and down is working,but at low speed low rpm my bow rides really high even when i trimm all the way down,how can i get the nose down at low rpms….it is a 4.3 mercruiser in a deep v hull

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Try installing a hydro foil on the drive.

  • anthony bharath (#)
    July 19th, 2013

    power trim won’t move. the rely is making a noise when the switch is pressed on a mercury 1998 150 outbord

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Sounds like the motor needs to be replaced.

  • paul marshall (#)
    July 21st, 2013

    the leg will lift but it will not lower the pump runs but it wont go down

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Sounds like the pump needs to be serviced or replaced.

  • George (#)
    July 21st, 2013

    OMC 85, 3L, Tilt motor replaced, Sterndrive Up stalls on 1/2 of his way, and in full if to help by hand ( only its weight no any wries) Down no problem. The same was with old motor, but it was full of water # sludge. I connect straight to battery, lifting not full. Without segment motor runs OK both directions. Please write, what can prevent the lifting. Thanks, GK

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      Take a look at the clutch pack.

  • foster (#)
    July 25th, 2013

    i have a 85 johnson the tilt n trim goes up and down but on the second attempt it quits completely. you can hear the relays clicking but no movement .After it sits for 15 0r 20 seconds it will move but not very far.I replaced the relays and it still does the same thing. Does this sound like the motor needs replacing?

    • Mike (#)
      July 25th, 2013

      The motor is getting hot and shutting down. Time to replace it.

  • Jerry (#)
    July 25th, 2013

    I have the same question as Peter had on July 17th.
    I’ve repeated his question below.

    Incidentally, I have a 2001 Crownline with a 4.3l Mercruser.

    Here’s Peter’s question:
    July 17, 2013 at 3:27 am

    When I go to trim DOWN, it seems to not go, but if play w/ up/down, eventually it goes down. why, and what should/could I do to spare this from breaking down completely?
    thanks.
    Peter

    • Mike (#)
      August 1st, 2013

      It could be a couple different things. I would start out by tapping the motor with a hammer and see if that helps. If so, change the motor. If not, check the connections and ground wire.

  • gary (#)
    July 26th, 2013

    I jumped pump moter direct from battery.moter runs but drive will not go down. it is in the up position.

    • Mike (#)
      August 1st, 2013

      If the motor runs but won’t go down the pump is bad and needs to be replaced.

  • Andrew (#)
    July 28th, 2013

    How do u get to the back bolt on the trim motor for a mercury mariner 115 hp.
    The bolt in the front came right off and easy to get too but the back bolt is blocked by the
    Mount. Please get back to me

    • Mike (#)
      August 1st, 2013

      In some cases the engine has to be removed.

  • D. Lewis (#)
    July 29th, 2013

    Have an inboard motor Stingray about 18 years old. Power trim does not stay down when lowered. what would cause that ?

    • Mike (#)
      August 1st, 2013

      It sounds like the trim pump is bypassing and needs to be serviced or replaced.

  • melvin (#)
    July 30th, 2013

    trim work but not the tilt

  • Steve (#)
    August 3rd, 2013

    Yamaha 200 outboard is stuck in the up position and won’t come down. When activating the trim switch it certainly sounds like the motor is working, however its not lowering.

    • Mike (#)
      August 5th, 2013

      If the motor is running but not building pressure, check the oil level. If it is full the pump is bad and needs to be replaced.

  • David Moring (#)
    August 3rd, 2013

    When my outboard is running the trim doesn’t stay where I set it do I need a new pump

    • Mike (#)
      August 5th, 2013

      Yes the pump needs to be serviced or replaced.

  • Justin (#)
    August 5th, 2013

    I have a 87 mercury blackmax 150 and when I tilt it up to run through skinny water at idle it will stay up where I left it but as soon as I give it any gas it goes down till it hits the trim rams. Ideas

    • Mike (#)
      August 12th, 2013

      The trim pump bad and needs to be replaced.

  • LARRY (#)
    August 7th, 2013

    I have a 2007 Evinrude 90 HP E-Tech. The power trim is leaking down. I talked to the dealer & he said the unit can’t be fixed, the whole unit would have to be replaced. Can these be repaired or do they need to be replaced to the tune of $1100?? Thanks for the info.

    • Mike (#)
      August 12th, 2013

      Unfortunately this unit is not serviceable and will need to be replaced.

  • mike (#)
    August 28th, 2013

    When i trim the motor up and go fast it will not trim down unless i back off on the speed.any answers.

    • Mike (#)
      August 29th, 2013

      It sounds like the motor is getting weak and needs to be replaced.

  • Darin (#)
    August 30th, 2013

    Ive got a 1975 70hp Johnson and trim takes it down but not up…?

    • Mike (#)
      September 10th, 2013

      Change the up solenoid. It is the one with the blue wire.

  • Stewart (#)
    September 2nd, 2013

    My 50 Yamaha goes down no problems and most of the it comes up but sometimes the up will not work . Can you help please .

    • Mike (#)
      September 10th, 2013

      try switching the relays and see if the problem changes.

  • Eric (#)
    September 16th, 2013

    My trim button on my throttle handle stopped
    Working but my trim button on the bow works fine
    What step should I take to resolve this issue?

    • Mike (#)
      September 20th, 2013

      You need to find out what brand throttle control you have first. Then see if the switch is still available from the manufacture.

  • bill papo (#)
    September 19th, 2013

    I replaced my trim motor , however when I push on the up/down button on the throttle to move the engine , the motor is going but the pistons don’t move. I did lose some hydrolic fluid when I did the change. Its a 80merq motor , 1989? Can you help

    • Mike (#)
      September 20th, 2013

      Fill the reservoir with fluid, leave the cap loose and run it up and down to bleed out the air.

  • RenzSr (#)
    September 23rd, 2013

    ‘Don’t forget you have to have both relays in to complete the circuit even if one is bad

  • Bruce (#)
    October 6th, 2013

    I have a 1999 Mercury 250hp EFI with a tilt/trim that recently went “dead”. Haven’t checked the solenoids yet but was wonering if the system uses any circuit breakers/fuses??? I plan to hot wire the motor and assume that the leads and solenoids are under the large black plastic cover on the stbd side.

    • Mike (#)
      October 9th, 2013

      Start by testing the motor then go from there. There are no breakers specific to the trim motor.

  • dennisd (#)
    October 8th, 2013

    I have a 1990’s Whaler Dauntless 17 with a 115 Johnson. Last Saturday I finished using it on the bay and lifted the motor up (with the switch on the shifter/handle) and turned off the battery. On Sunday, I turned on the battery and the tilt motor started lowering the engine – and did not stop. (motor whining down down down)

    I grabbed the shifter and pushed the switch to UP and the motor stopped. I let go of the shifter swithch and the motor goes down again. The tilt swich on the engine does not work either.

    I think it’s the switch in the shift handle that is broken/shorting. How do I fix that?

    Thanks/Dennis

    • Mike (#)
      October 9th, 2013

      It sounds like the down solenoid is sticking. It is the one with the green wire. Replace it and your problem should go away.

  • Carl (#)
    October 11th, 2013

    My tilt trim motor is working and yet it will not go down, it was down before,guess it worked going up and not down so…. what can it be, I’m going to test the green wire direct to the battery to see if that’s the problem and if it’s the down that’s not working then what? since all 3 wires come direct from the same unit?

    • Mike (#)
      October 11th, 2013

      Replace the solenoid with the green wire.

  • paul (#)
    October 15th, 2013

    I can here the motor running but motor wont raise. it ran low on fluid. I filled it still wont work.

    • Mike (#)
      October 30th, 2013

      Try bleeding the cylinders. If it still won’t build pressure the pump may need to be replaced.

  • bob williams (#)
    October 25th, 2013

    when motor trimmed down it will go up all the way by its self pushing the switch on the motor will sometimes stop this what is the cause??

    • Mike (#)
      October 30th, 2013

      It sounds like a bad solenoid or relay.

  • Den (#)
    October 29th, 2013

    How do you replace the hydraulic fluid in the trim/tilt motor?

    • Mike (#)
      October 30th, 2013

      It depends on the system. One way is to disconnect the lines to the cylinders and pump out the old fluid adding fresh fluid as you go.

  • Barry Duncan (#)
    October 30th, 2013

    I have a Volvo DPE stern drive with Volvo power trim 3860880 motor/pump. The Trim unit works OK when boat out of water and stationary in water (leg travels full length of clean piston rams) but when underway, the pump/motor makes a hammering noise when lowering leg – this noise does not occur when lifting the leg. I have renewed the ATF Dexron oil and purged the system several times, but the noise is still there.
    Your last section on Power Trim& Tilt Pump Problems above mentions leaving the vent plug loose when when purging the system – where is the vent plug please.
    As a last resort, I am advised by marine engineer I may have to replace the power trim pump/motor with Volvo replacement part 3587106 – can you advise if I have to change unit will power connections be compatible with the 3860880 unit.
    Appreciate advise and recommendations asap – thanks, Barry Duncan

    • Mike (#)
      October 30th, 2013

      Just leave the fill cap loose or off. If it is pre 2001 use PT406N-2. If 2001 or newer use PT408N for a replacement unit.

  • Bob (#)
    November 1st, 2013

    I need to replace my power trim reservoir. Can I just unscrew the four screws with the pump in situ ? will the reservoir come off in the limited space?
    Thanks my boat is a Glastron SX175 2003.

  • tom s (#)
    November 12th, 2013

    I am rewiring my boat,looking for wiring diagram including relay wiring. I have cmc pt130,thanks tom s

  • Mike (#)
    November 13th, 2013

    You will need to contact CMC directly at 800-654-3697

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