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Connecting Kicker Motor to Main Motor: Step by Step Guide

Going on a boat is an excellent experience as you can go fishing, explore the surroundings, or simply relax as your boat moves through the water.

But before taking your boat to the water, you need to make sure that you’ve arranged the best setup that allows it to work properly throughout your journey.

This is where a kicker motor comes in handy. Connecting the kicker motor to the main motor on your boat will give you the confidence you need before hitting the water.

So, keep on reading to learn more about it.

What is a Kicker Motor?

A kicker motor, also known as a spare outboard, is an extra motor that’s installed next to the bigger main outboard or motor on your boat.

This motor usually has a horsepower of 10hp or even less because its main purpose isn’t to increase your boat’s speed.

A kicker motor’s main purpose is to provide backup in case your main motor stops functioning or for trolling for fish at slower speeds. It can also be used on a sailboat to help steer it.

Author Note: When you’re catching fish, a kicker motor will come in handy when you catch fish like salmon and trout because it slows down your boat to a trolling speed.

In most cases, a kicker motor will be a better option than a trolling motor because it doesn’t need batteries. A trolling motor can be your backup only when you have spare batteries within reach.

Having extra batteries on board isn’t always accessible, and they add to the weight of the boat and occupy much space. However, a kicker motor will work on its own, providing you with a sense of security when your main motor malfunctions.

What Are the Benefits of Installing a Kicker Motor?

connecting kicker motor to main motor

In addition to providing you with security backup, a kicker motor provides several benefits.

  • A kicker motor helps you to save on gas when you’re trolling. It’s a cost-efficient option compared to the main outboard.
  • Using a kicker motor is a great way to reduce the wear and tear on your main motor.
  • The cost of fixing and changing the spare parts of your kicker motor is so much less than that of your main one. So even if it eventually fails, replacing a kicker motor is an easier job.
  • It doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your boat, so it can help you achieve the right speed.
  • When you choose a main outboard and kicker motor that are both compatible with each other, your boat will move smoothly.
  • A kicker motor usually comes with a tiller handle that allows for easy steering.

Controlling the kicker motor to steer your boat can be done using different tools. The cheapest one is using a tie bar to connect both the kicker and main outboard together.

Author Note: You can use an auto-pilot to control the kicker motor. It’s a great way to stay on course and adjust your boat according to different conditions, especially in windy conditions. You can also use a hydraulic to connect both motors.

How to Connect a Kicker Motor to a Main Motor

Before connecting your kicker motor to your main motor, there are a few things you need to consider.

  • It’s best to pick a kicker motor that is designed to be compatible with the main one. Some of the biggest brands offer kicker motor models that are compatible with main motors to provide a seamless experience in all boating conditions.
  • Determine the main purpose of installing a kicker motor. This will help you decide on the adequate horsepower to buy.
  • Think of where you plan on taking your boat. If you usually use your boat in saltwater, you need to make sure that you’re using hardware parts that are corrosion-resistant so they won’t rust or get affected by the saltwater.
  • Consider the time and cost needed to set up your kicker motor. There are multiple ways that you can follow, so if you can’t do it on your own, it might be better to hire a professional to do the job for maximums safety.

The following method is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to connect your kicker motor to the main one. Here is what you need.

  • Screw clamps
  • Washers
  • Pipe collars
  • A metal rod to connect both motors


  1. Start by bending the washers at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Choose an adequate rod to connect both motors. Think of the suitable distance that allows both motors to work properly. Stainless steel or aluminum are both good choices because they’re corrosion-resistant. Aluminum is also lighter than stainless steel, so it won’t add unnecessary weight to your boat.
  3. Attach one washer to the steering handle of the main motor and the other one to the kicker motor.
  4. Use the screw clamps to secure the washers in place.
  5. Install a pipe collar to the main motor to keep the washer in place.
  6. Repeat the process on the kicker motor.
  7. Bend your metal rod at the ends, so it can go through the openings for easy steering.

This setup allows you to control both motors using the same steering handle. For example, when you move the handle of the main motor, the kicker motor will move, and vice versa.

How to Maintain Your Kicker Motor

maintaining outboard motors

It’s easy to keep your kicker motor in top shape to keep your boat running and protect your outboard from failing. When you check your kicker motor regularly, you guarantee that it will be able to do its job well when you’re using it to support the function of the main motor. This will guarantee your safety when you’re in the water and will also protect the outboard because the backup motor is working the way it should.

It’s recommended to do a decent maintenance job at the end of the season. This way, you can replace any of the damaged parts and not waste much time getting your boat ready.

Author Note: At the beginning of the season, you should also inspect the parts before taking your boat into the water. Here are some of the maintenance tips and steps that you should follow.

  1. Flush your kicker motor after every trip, whether you’re taking your boat on a trip in fresh or saltwater.
  2. Start your kicker motor and use a water pump to clean the different parts of the motor. During this phase, it’s important not to shift the motor into gear.
  3. Make sure that the water pump has good water flow to flush away any residue or impurities that might affect the performance of the kicker motor.
  4. Use warm but not hot water to flush the motor. When the water flow isn’t strong enough, you’ll end up with some debris stuck in the outflow tube, which might cause overheating and damage.
  5. After flushing, disconnect the fuel line and allow the motor to burn all the remaining fuel in the carburetor.
  6. Turn off the key and take off the engine cowling to check for any fuel or water leaks. Fixing leaks is crucial. In most cases, you need the help of a professional boat mechanic who can do the job to guarantee the safety of your equipment.
  7. Use a clean cloth to wipe everything clean and use a lubricant to lubricate the engine’s moving parts. Using an anti-corrosive lubricant will protect your engine from damage. Whether you’re using your boat in salt or freshwater, you need to protect the moving parts from corrosion to keep them in the best shape.
  8. At the end of the season, always drain your kicker and main motors of the remaining fuel. Proper maintenance involves getting rid of all the old fuel and taking it to a recycling facility where it can be recycled for other uses.
  9. When the engine isn’t used, cover it with a plastic cover to protect it.
  10. Before starting the kicker motor, check the fuel line for any cracks that might cause leaks. The fuel line is subject to wear and tear, and in this case, it should be replaced.
  11. Make sure that the fuel line fittings sit properly to prevent leakage. You should also ensure that the fuel primer bulb isn’t cracked.
  12. Check the clamps on the fuel line to see if they’re in good shape. If the clamps are rusty or corroded, they have to be replaced.
  13. Have a boat mechanic inspect the fuel tank itself. In some cases, there might be some worn spots that only a professional can detect.
  14. Make sure that there’s no water in the fuel tank and check that the vent is working the way it should.

Final Thoughts

A kicker motor is a great backup because it can be used when you’re trolling or when you want to give your main motor a break. This kicker motor will provide the needed safety if your outboard fails, so you need to be careful about choosing and installing it.

Luckily, there are multiple ways to connect your kicker motor to the main one. But the easiest one is to use a metal rod that allows you to control both. After installing your kicker motor, it’s important to maintain it regularly, so it’s always ready for use.

Happy Hunting!


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