What is a Transom Saver And Do I Need One?
Chris Riley Updated on May 17, 2021. In Boatsby
The transom saver is a device that protects your boat’s transom from stress or eventual damage from forces exerted on it by the weight of the outboard while you are trailering it.
There is a great deal of impact on the transom from weight shifting as the outboard bounces constantly while navigating rough terrain, bumps, and potholes.
A transom saver also keeps the skeg elevated and protects it while trailering. Since it is the lowest part of the boat, it has high chances of hitting the pavement or road bumps and getting damaged.
It is a bar that extends from the outboard to your trailer. It comes either in the form of a fixed shaft or a spring-loaded one to help absorb the shock from the road. The transom saver connects to the trailer’s rear cross, absorbing stress for the engine bracket and transom.
Why Do You Need a Transom Saver?
This transom saver will support the weight of your outboard throughout your road travel, steadily bracing it against the trailer frame to relieve your transom of the weight and impact from consistent bouncing. Most transom savers can support up to a 150HP motor, which is sufficient for most regular boats.
It is very versatile as it generally has multiple mounting variations included, which are adaptable to your trailer’s rear rollers and length adjustment options. It applies to any boat trailering you may need.
Depending on what you’re looking to haul, you’ll need to make sure to get the right transom saver for the job. While the majority are largely made of square tubing aluminum and are susceptible to breakage, you can purchase ones made of heavy-duty steel which are much more durable.
If you’re looking for a more durable transom saver, a good option is the Extreme Max Transom Saver. These products are an established American outdoor gear manufacturer with an entire marine department that deals with lift systems, anchors, trailer accessories, among other things.
How to Know If a Transom Saver Will Work for You
Using a transom Saver does not in any way imply you question the structural integrity of your hull. Forces exerted on your transom while it is being trailered have a more direct impact than those it gets under normal boating conditions.
The transom has not been designed to support the engine’s weight or the motor over potholes, bumps, and dirt roads. The impact of water waves is much milder.
The skeg can also easily hit the pavement and get damaged while trailering it without a transom saver as it is always the lowest point.
Small skiffs and bass boats are also more prone to transom damage from their motors as their motor-to-boat weight ratio is naturally higher. Aluminum boats are also more fragile than those made of reinforced fiberglass.
Therefore, a transom saver is crucial if you want to avoid seeing those popped rivets, broken welds, and a bust skeg. In this regard, below are a few things you should watch out for when selecting a transom saver:
Most transom savers are made of metal, while the boats and, by extension, their outboards are either aluminum or fiberglass.
Direct contact will mean the outboard will be scratched or damaged if it touches the metal. Rubber or any other insulation is preferred.
This also helps to absorb the shock as the trailer moves over rough terrain.
There is usually a rating assigned to the transom saver in terms of engine horsepower. A higher horsepower translates to a larger and heavier outboard. The rating should never be lower than your engine.
This is measured as the distance from the outboard to the trailer or the transom saver’s length. It is usually adjustable to some extent.
If you are only going to be ferrying one boat, you don’t need a wide range since you can pick the one that best holds your outboard from your trailer and use a fixed length.
If there are multiple vessels involved, on the other hand, you may have to look for a wider range.
A transom saver distributes the impact of the weight of the outboard on the trailer. To effectively achieve this, the boat and the trailer have to be in sync so that the weight distribution is even; otherwise, the transom will still feel the strain.
A good transom saver has mechanisms to lock the outboard in position and maintain this position up to your destination.
The best transom saver is the one that gives you the longest service. Durability is largely attributed to the material with which the transom saver is made.
A vast majority of them are made of aluminum, but other metals like carbonated steel is tougher and more resistant to wear and tear.
Warranty or Return Policy
It is good to get the warranty and return policy details correctly in the off chance that you will need to be the one saving your transom saver.
It covers your investment, gives you peace of mind, and may save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Why to Look For When Buying a Transom Saver?
A good transom saver with heavy-duty steel tubing can last a very long time and is durable under almost any conditions. If you’re hauling heavier objects, make sure to look for the rubber ‘V’ where the motor wedges are as this allows for heavy duty hauling and guaranteed to last for years.
Agreed this makes it somewhat heavyset, but the benefits outweigh this minor setback. It actually makes the trailing more stable.
A few people have even modified the ‘U’ cradle to successfully fit over their bigger rollers without breakage, further attesting to its strength.
Depending on what you’re hauling, get a transom saver with the rubber ‘V’ block as this is the sole contact point between the outboard and your transom saver. The soft-touch ensures there are no scratches from the metal parts of the transom saver on your lower unit while acting as a shock absorber.
The holding bungee straps that lock the outboard in place are also made of tough rubber.
It really depends on what you’re going to be using the transom saver for, but here are a few factors to consider to make sure the transom saver is stable:
- How far does it extend? You’ll probably want a transom saver that extends from 21” to 31” which gives many options to position your outboard optimally on the trailer
- Does it strap on tight enough? You want to ensure that the outboard is wound tightly to the transom saver using rubber bungee straps, leaving no wiggle room. Look for these additional features before purchasing anything.
- What material is it made of? Having heavy set steel makeup enables the transom saver to hold its position despite the terrain, ensuring the weight is evenly distributed. Again, this will depend on what you’re hauling, but it’s important to know before looking into transom savers.
No one wants to return a product due to manufacturing issues but always check what the return policy is just in case the transom saver you purchase isn’t right for you or any issues come up. Most transom savers have a 1-2 year warranty, but always check the manufacturers site beforehand.
In a Nutshell
Quite a number of boat owners trailer their boats without giving a thought to a transom saver. Some for lack of knowledge and others because they believe in the strength of their transom. Maybe they have those heavily reinforced fiberglass transoms.
Most of them dedicate a lot of their time and resources to look for the best trailer winch without giving a thought to the transom saver later since the boat will be on the trailer already.
It would be extremely unfortunate if you ended up trailering your boat to the scrap yard instead of the lake after all the preparation. It is better to be safe than sorry.
A transom saver is a worthy investment as an accessory to protect your bigger investment.
Paul on March 3, 2021
OK, so I just purchased a used boat with a transom saver. I have never used one before. I figured out how to use it while driving but what do I do at the boat ramp when I need to launch my boat? Do I remove it completely from the trailer when I launch the boat and then re-attach it when I drive home?
John Grager on April 29, 2021
Yes you remove it completely and then re attach it for the drive home.
Mike on June 30, 2021
I just bought a used boat, that has an i/o engine, do I consider a transom saver in that situation?
Robert Hogward on December 2, 2021
I found your article very informative, thank you for taking the time to write this all out! Most folks have to learn this the hard way.