Minn Kota Spot Lock Troubleshooting Guide

UPDATED 15 JANUARY 2022

by Eric Bartlett

Is your Minn Kota spot lock not working properly? While Minn Kota makes some of the best GPS trolling motors in the world, even their technology isn’t 100% failure proof.

But the good news is that often the problem is not due to the Minn Kota hardware or software, but instead caused by incorrect setup or use. If that is the case, it’s usually quite straightforward to fix any spot lock issues that you’re facing.

In this article we’ll cover the most common spot lock problems, how to diagnose them, and what you can do to fix them.

What are the most common Minn Kota spot lock issues?

The four most common Minn Kota spot lock problems are as follows:

  • Spot lock is inaccurate
  • Spot lock jog doesn’t work
  • Spot lock keeps turning off
  • i-Pilot remote doesn’t work

Each of these issues can be due to more than one underlying cause, but in many cases it’s relatively easy to diagnose and fix the problem.

Let’s dive into the details and look more closely at each issue.

See alsoWhat is the best trolling motor with spot lock?

Spot lock not accurate

Under regular circumstances, spot lock should be able to keep your boat accurately within a 5 foot radius of a specific spot lock GPS point.  If you notice that it isn’t able to do this, there are several underlying reasons that most often cause this issue:

No GPS signal

Since spot lock depends on GPS signaling in order to function correctly, you need to make sure that you are in a location with a strong GPS signal, which you can check on your i-Pilot remote, which has an indicator for this. If the signal is weak (i.e. just one bar, or none at all), spot lock will not work.

Lack of GPS signal is a common issue if you try to set a spot lock below a bridge, since the bridge blocks the GPS signals coming from satellites overhead. But this can also happen if you’re fishing inside a narrow gorge, between steep cliffs or mountains on both sides. 

The only way to correct this problem is by moving to another location where you have a stronger GPS signal.

Underpowered or overpowered trolling motor

It’s important to use a trolling motor that has the right amount of thrust for the fully loaded weight of your boat, and as a rule of thumb your trolling motor should have 2 lbs of thrust for every 100 lb of fully loaded boat weight.

Unfortunately, it’s quite common for bass boats to be sold with underpowered trolling motors, and as a result, the motor isn’t strong enough to keep a spot lock accurately when the boat is fully loaded with gear and passengers (especially in strong wind or current), and the boat will slowly drift away from the position.

If the root cause of spot lock inaccuracy is an underpowered trolling motor, you’ll notice that the spot lock works fine when there is less wind, or when the boat is not fully loaded. Conversely, if your trolling motor is too strong for your boat, it will tend to overshoot the spot lock coordinates every time it corrects your position.

While the best solution for this problem is to use a trolling motor with the correct amount of thrust for your boat size, the Minn Kota i-Pilot remote allows you to “adjust boat scale,” which helps to compensate for an under- or overpowered trolling motor.

On the home screen of the i-Pilot remote choose ‘System,’ and then scroll down to ‘Boat Scale’. The default setting of boat scale is 0.  If your trolling motor is underpowered for your boat weight, increase boat scale to +1 or +2, and if it is overpowered for your boat weight, decrease boat scale to -1 or -2.

After changing the boat scale on your i-Pilot remote, check the results and adjust accordingly.

Incorrect battery voltage

Providing your trolling motor with the correct voltage is essential in order for spot lock to perform correctly, and if your battery voltage is incorrect, this can cause spot lock to be inaccurate.

Make sure that you’re using a battery with the correct voltage (depending on the thrust of your trolling motor, it should be either 12V, 24V, or 36V). You can also check whether the actual voltage supplied by the battery is what it’s supposed to be, by having it load tested at a local repair shop.

See alsoHow long does it take to charge a trolling motor battery?

Weeds wrapped around propeller

Another issue that can cause spot lock malfunction is when water weeds or other debris gets wrapped around the propeller. Since this is usually an easy fix, it’s always good to start troubleshooting your spot lock by pulling up the trolling motor and checking if the prop is clean and unobstructed.

Spot lock jog not working

If your regular spot lock is working, but spot lock jog isn’t, then this is most often due to a problem with the Minn Kota heading sensor. The heading sensor communicates via Bluetooth with the i-Pilot controller inside your trolling motor, and gives it the heading of your boat, plus the direction of magnetic north, which is required for spot lock jog to work.

In order to troubleshoot spot lock jog malfunction, start by checking if the heading sensor is properly paired with your trolling motor (in which case it should blink once every 3 seconds). Also, make sure that the heading sensor is mounted at least 24 inches away from any ferrous boat parts, batteries, or electrical wiring, all of which can interfere with its built-in compass. 

For more details on this topic, check out our article on Minn Kota heading sensor problems.

Spot lock keeps turning off

This issue was more common with the early versions of spot lock, but is less frequent with the newer models. When this problem occurs, it’s most often due to one of two causes: the GPS signal cutting out, or a faulty setting of the foot pedal.

Check if there is any debris stuck under the foot pedal, or between the pedal and the recessed tray. Also check if the wiring coming out of the foot pedal is bent, and that it has enough room to move even when the trolling motor head moves a full 180 degrees from side to side.

The foot pedal is designed to override spot lock whenever you tap it with your foot, and if it malfunctions, can trigger spot lock to turn off on its own.

Minn Kota i-Pilot remote problems

Since you can’t use spot lock if your i-Pilot remote doesn’t work, this is another issue to cover here. In some cases the hand held i-Pilot remote won’t turn on, and in other cases it turns on and off erratically.

The first thing to do if your i-Pilot remote doesn’t work is to change the batteries, since they might just be drained. Also, many people report that gently banging the remote on the side of the boat often gets it to start again. 

If changing the batteries doesn’t help, take the batteries out, put them back facing the opposite way, and keep them like that for about 20 seconds. Then turn them back in the correct direction, and see if it works now. Finally, you can also try to use sandpaper to scratch the surface of the contact points of the battery holder.

If none of this works, and you still have warranty, just get the remote replaced by Minn Kota.

Conclusion

This wraps up our article on how to troubleshoot your Minn Kota spot lock. Hopefully you won’t run into th issues in the first place, but if you do, I hope this guide helps you find a solution.

Additional resources: