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

1,063 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Power Trim and Tilt Motors and Pumps

  1. Hi, recently bought a gastron tri hull with a Johnson 125.
    Trimming motor down is no issue trimming up takes a little while and seems to stick, after a few times of trimming the motor all the way up and down it seems ok, but after a while it seems to stick on the way up again. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

  2. I have mercury outboard. Trim and tilt was working fine but tilt shaft seal was leaking. I replaced as per direction of shop manual. Now it goes up, but won’t come down unless I back out release valve. What gives?

  3. I have an 1991 225 Johnson. The power tilt will push the motor up all the way
    with no problem. When the toggle is pushed to the down position, I can hear
    the pump working but the motor does not go down. After a few seconds in the
    down position, I can then go back and manually push the motor down. This started after a few months
    of setting up without use.

  4. I have a 1988 50 HP 2 stroke, 3 cylinder Mariner which the power trim and ram needs replacing, am I able to buy a new single ram, two wired system. If so what model.
    appreciate any help.

  5. 85 Johnson 1980 I am having trouble with my trim and tilt, it works up and down for approx. 5 sec and will not work for about 30-50secs. I have replaced the solenoid, checked the wiring from the net but I still don’t know whats wrong, I have a green wire from the T&T going to what looks like earth/ground. If what I have read the green is an actuator but its not connected to the solenoid?
    long weekend now and cant go and play, please help

    1. The blue wire is for up and the green wire is for down. It sounds like you are tripping the thermal switch inside the motor. This is a sign of a weak motor that needs to be replaced.

  6. I recently purchased a trim motor for a mercury force 75hp motor, tried installing it but the shaft rod pin inside is to long can it be cut to fit?

  7. I have an 05 Yamaha 40hp 2 stroke. The motor was working fine but now all the sudden it will trim down but will not trim up. Would do I need to do?

  8. I have a 115 johnson. It drops down when i park it and won’t stay trimmed when running. Everything works well it trims up and down but won’t hold a trim! The motor has about 50 hours on it. It is practcally new!

  9. I have a 2000 evenrude 115, The trim went up and down ok but now it is stuck in the
    up posistion and wont go down I can here the pump but nothing happens.
    Thanks for any advice.

  10. I have a 50hp 90 Mercury. Trim motor is sluggish moving the motor up and down and will sometimes not respond at all. Motor/Solenoid/fluid issues?

  11. 92 model 40 HP Mercury
    Tilt and trim goes up and down, stays up when I want it, stays down when I want it. My problem is both up and down are slow. Doesn’t have the high wind sound when traveling up or down. Sounds sluggish. Time to replace the motor?

  12. Have 84 bay liner with 85 force Chrysler tilt and trim work fine going up and down will stay up or down while out of water, put boat in water going forward the motor won’t stay trimmed will collapse all the way down, in reverse motor will rise up out of water any suggestions

  13. Hello I have a 1985 Mercury 150 XR2 Black Max, The motor raises and lowers slow and seems to be under a load. It does bleed back down from the raised position in a few minutes, and the switch at the motor does get hot because I’ve changed it a couple of times also when raising for more then 20seconds or so it quits I wait and I can resume the lift. What do you think I should replace or try and repair
    Thank you for your time

    1. You have two different things going on. The motor needs to be replaced if it shuts down from getting too hot. As for the engine bleeding down, that means the pump is bypassing. You would be best buying a new trim and tilt system. Give Go2marine a call they should have something for you.

  14. have 1998 50 hp merc.the trim motor keeps blowing fuses if you hold the up button more than a few seconds.thanks

  15. Trim was working fine. had replaced both solenoids last year, one went out so I replaced both. Trim has worked great ever since. Yesterday got back from a trip to the lake and the trim had worked great all afternoon. When I got out of the truck at home a heard the trim motor running. I walked back to the back of the boat and the trim motor was running and would not stop. It would not go up or down. Motor was still in the transport position with the transom support bar in place. I had to disconnect the battery to stop the motor from running. Once the motor cooled off I tried reconnecting the battery but it went right back to running without moving. The motor is a 50hp Mercury about a 1999 model.

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