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If your Boat Lift won’t go Down, this is what you Do…


As we are coming into the boating season, some problems with your boat lift could arise. One of the reasons behind the boat lift not going down is a winch cable, that could be rusted and stuck due to inactivity. To fix this condition, you may need to use some WD40.

The motor can be stuck due to winter inactivity as well. Some people suggest that tapping on the housing of the motor with a hammer will do the trick. This reminded me of this situation:

The reason for this is that moisture can get inside and rust up the brushes and brush holders, which are released upon gentle tapping.

If your boat is having trouble going down and at the same time is making a loud noise, then it is either not greased properly or incorrectly installed. The release brake could be stuck as well.

There are two basic problems with boat lifts:

  • Mechanical
  • Electrical

Of course, there may also be some problems with your patience! You were expecting to hit the waves and instead, trying to solve boat lift problems!

Best solution? Get yourself a drink and call a marina technician! Now, let’s go over what could possibly be wrong with your boat lift.

When a boat is on the lift

If there was a mechanical failure, you will need to lift the boat up some other way and release the tension. You can use bumper jacks or chain hoists with lifting slings (make sure to size it properly).

After that, you will need to get the cable loose and check it for problems. If it was stuck, it will probably be frayed and require a replacement.

Some companies offer a solution of cutting the cable and letting the boat drop! Of course, do not do any of this without professional supervision!

If you find this to be your only solution, make sure you take pictures of the cable in order to reroute it back correctly.

#1. Undervoltage problem

In some instances, if not mechanical, then electrical failure could be your problem. The most common electrical problem in boat lifts is – undervoltage.

If the motor is running, but the lift is not lowering (or lowered a little bit and stopped), the voltage delivered to your motor needs to be checked. This is a common situation as the boat lift goes up, but since the motor is still involved in the taking down procedure (you don’t drop the boat, do you?), any voltage drops will stop movement in any direction.

#2. Capacitor problem

You can suspect that your capacitor is dead if your motor is making a humming noise. Using a stick to turn a motor fan, will make you act as a “capacitor” and therefore there is a chance to start a motor.

#3. No power

Check with the marina administration to see if there is a general power problem. You should also check the breakers and GFCI.

Wiring should be checked by a licensed electrician only!

When a boat is NOT on the lift

If you want to get a boat on the lift that is not going down fully, here is a video about that:


As I mentioned in one of the articles “Boat Lift Problems“, you can use this tool (see video below) to make sure you will not be stuck with this boat lift problem in the future:

Of course, the best solution to any problem is to actually call a specialist! It’s their job and they are good at what they do (they get to do this daily). You don’t want to risk a falling boat, do you?

** Warning! Hanging on the lift and trying to bring it down yourself is risky and your life (or health) could be in danger. Electrical problems should be handled by an experienced person only!

So, what do you do when your boat is stuck in the up position and a maintenance guy at the marina is not in a hurry? Time to consider alternative transportation:

May be they can help:

Attention! This article is for informational purposes ONLY and is NOT a replacement for professional advice! ALWAYS consult your local specialist for an appropriate solution to your problem. All statements, prices, contact information, recommendations, and reviews contained herein came from sources that we believe to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. Please contact the service provider for complete details and updates.

1 Comment

  1. Jim

    My battery operated lift goes up fine but goes three feet down then stops. I know I have a good charge on my lift. Any suggestions?

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