Why Won’t My Boat Motor Trim Up

Video why won't my boat motor trim up

You’ve encountered a common issue with your boat’s power trim – it’s not functioning correctly, leaving you perplexed about how to adjust it. Rest assured, you don’t need to rush to an expert just yet. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this problem and provide you with solutions. So, let’s dive in and find out why your power trim won’t go up or down.

Understanding Power Trim

Power trim is a modern feature found on most boats, allowing operators to adjust the angle of the boat’s outboard or sterndrive engine while in motion. This adjustment can be made remotely from the boat’s steering wheel or control panel, eliminating the need to manually adjust the trim tabs on the transom. By altering the trim angle, you can optimize your boat’s performance, fuel efficiency, and ride comfort in response to changing water conditions such as waves or currents.

How Does Power Trim Work?

Power trim operates by adjusting the angle of the boat’s engine while it’s in motion. This adjustment is made possible by an electric or hydraulic motor mounted on the engine or transom. The motor is controlled by a switch or lever located on the boat’s helm or control panel. When you activate the switch, the motor moves the trim cylinder, which adjusts the engine’s tilt bracket. This alteration changes the engine’s angle relative to the boat’s transom, enabling you to adjust the boat’s trim angle according to water conditions.

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Common Issues and Solutions

Problem 1: Hydraulic Fluid Is Not Flowing Properly

One possible cause of the power trim not moving is the inadequate flow of hydraulic fluid within the system. This can hinder the trim’s upward or downward motion and leave it stuck in a specific position.

Solution: To resolve this issue, locate the bypass valve to ensure that the fluid can flow freely. Place a board beneath the boat to provide support, then identify the small hole beneath the engine. Open it using a screwdriver, allowing the engine to be freely raised or lowered a couple of times. Finally, tighten the crew and recheck the trim function. For product suggestions, refer to the table provided.

Problem 2: Insufficient Hydraulic Oil

Another reason your trim motor may not move is a lack of hydraulic oil.

Solution: Adding trim oil to the motor is a simple process. First, pull the motor up as far as possible, using a stick for support. Next, locate the large yellow nut in front of the lower machine and unscrew it using a screwdriver. As you open the nut, you will feel oil pressure from the engine. Don’t worry, simply use any type of hydraulic oil to fill the reservoir. Test the trim by moving it up and down, adding more fluid if necessary. If the outboard motor is still not functioning, further troubleshooting is required.

Problem 3: Wire Damage

Sometimes, after replacing the fluid, you may find that the trim or tilt does not move at all.

Solution: If you notice that the motor starts when you press down but doesn’t respond when you press up, it’s likely a wire issue. Check the voltage and amps at the point where the cables from the motor connect to the solenoids. If you have voltage but the motor is faulty, consider replacing it. Additionally, ensure the O-ring has a good seal and the small coupler is in place between the motor and the pump. Lubricate these parts with a small amount of oil to keep them in place. If the problem persists, it may be a faulty switch, so check the connections and consider replacing it.

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Problem 4: Tap The Trim Motor

While running your boat, you might suddenly hear a “click-click” sound from the back.

Solution: In such cases, a simple solution is to tap and trim the motor with a hammer. Ask a friend to operate the power trim while you tap the motor several times. Although this may provide a temporary fix, it’s advisable to eventually replace the trim motor for a long-term solution.

Problem 5: Malfunctioning Relay

If you’ve thoroughly checked your boat and found no significant issues, the trim motor may still not respond.

Solution: Confirm whether the relay is functioning correctly. If the trim is not going up or down, the relay is likely the problem. Jiggle the relays and swap them with each other. Restart the engine and check if the trim is now functioning. If you notice scratch marks on the piston rods or rusty end caps, consider replacing the relay. This affordable solution (priced between $13-20) can fix the issue. Remember, if the trim motor runs, the relay is not to blame.

Problem 6: Hydraulic Leaks

Hydraulic leaks are a common issue that can complicate your power tilt and trim system. When there is a leak, the hydraulic fluid will escape, allowing air to enter the system. This can cause the motor to frequently tilt downward and refuse to move up or become stuck.

Solution: While seeking professional assistance is the best option for addressing hydraulic concerns, you can also attempt to identify and repair common trim and tilt problems yourself.


1. How should I leave the outboard motor?
To prevent marine algae and rust, tilt the outboard motor when leaving the boat in the water.

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2. What kind of fluid is best for tilt trim?
Ensure you use high-quality marine-formula grease to avoid rapid washout. When not in use, leave the trim rams completely retracted to prevent rust buildup.

3. Why is my trim system not working?
Corrosion, failed solenoids, and relays are the most common culprits when the trim and tilt system malfunctions.

4. What is the difference between power tilt and trim?
Power tilt and trim are related features found on boats and watercraft. While both serve slightly different functions, power tilt refers to adjusting the boat’s outboard motor or stern drive in relation to the transom, while trim refers to altering the boat’s angle relative to the water’s surface.


We hope this article has provided you with insights into the reasons behind your power trim’s malfunction and offered solutions. Feel free to explore our site 5 WS for more informative articles. With these solutions in hand, you can confidently tackle the issue yourself. Happy boating!

The 5 Ws and H are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. 5ws.wiki will best answer all your questions

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