Contact Our Parts Experts: 1-888-625-5460

Hablamos Español

Transom Saver, Outboard Motor Support – Are They Needed?
Transom Saver, Outboard Motor Support – Are They Needed?

Transom Saver, Outboard Motor Support – Are They Needed?

Well, we thought we would dive headfirst into one of the most hotly debated issues among boaters. Is a transom saver or motor support needed? If so, which is better – a transom saver or a motor support? Can they do more harm than good for outboard motors?

We know full well that just posting this article is likely to stir emotion, but we think the debate is a valuable one. Perhaps most importantly, we don’t believe there is one single, straightforward answer. As with so many things in life, it depends.

So, what is the damage we most are concerned about when trailering a boat? Generally, the concerns fall into the following categories:

Transom damage – the concern here is that as your trailered boat encounters bumps, potholes, and other hazards on the highway, the engine will bounce around and risk cracking or creating other damage to your boat's transom.

Lower unit damage – the worry here is that you run the risk of your lower unit making contact with the road as you traverse potholes, bumps, inclines, and other unevenness.

Hydraulic trim and tilt assembly and transom bracket – stress caused by the outboard engine bouncing around or drifting from side to side while the boat is trailered can lead the motor toter to suffer problems

General engine stress – damage from general vibration and bouncing around as you trailer your boat.

So, let’s think through these issues one by one.

Transom Boat Damage

Plenty of boaters entirely dismiss the possibility of transom damage while trailering. Yes, outboard engines are heavy, but boats’ transoms are designed to handle the rigor of engine weight as it bounces around speeding through the water. Given that transoms withstand the rigors of waves and moving quickly through the water, they can handle the stress the highway can dish out.

It is not sound logic to conclude that just because a boat can handle a lot of stress in one environment, it can handle a lot of stress in another environment. However, the transoms of most modern boats, especially those with a cast aluminum head with high strength aluminum shaft are quite sturdy. That said, some boats are at higher risk.

For example, smaller jon boats and bass boats generally have higher motor-to-boat ratios (heavy engine, light boat). Therefore, they are more susceptible to transom damage. Also, aluminum boats are at higher risk of broken welds and popped rivets than reinforced fiberglass transoms.

Lower Unit Damage

If you can trim your engine all the way down when towing, you very well might not need a transom saver or motor support. However, if the lower unit of your outboard engine is too close to the ground when trimmed down, your engine is at high risk of damage during trailering. Hit the wrong bump or pothole, and you could inflict a lot of damage.

A considerable part of this question circles back to your tow vehicle and the trailering support it offers. As simple as it sounds, a larger, high truck, and a smaller boat, you might be okay. A smaller tow vehicle might not offer enough clearance when the engine is trimmed down. What is sufficient clearance? Some boaters are comfortable with 8 – 10 inches, but we believe that a pothole not noticed in time, an ill-timed speed bump, or a steep driveway might make this small amount of clearance to be insufficient. We feel a lot more comfortable with 15 – 20 inches of clearance.

Hydraulic Trim and Tilt Damage

Trailering without your outboard engine completely trimmed down can cause a lot of strain on your hydraulic trim and tilt system if left unsupported. A lot of boaters advocate using your engine’s service or engine lock. While there is a lot of debate on the transom savers or motor support issue, we do not recommend trailering using your service/engine lock for engine support when trailering. Both Yamaha and Mercury recommend against it as well.

General Engine Stress

Vibration and bouncing around are not good for your engine. How much vibration is needed before your engine life will be affected? How much bouncing around is too much? These questions are impossible for us to answer. You will never be able to eliminate vibration, jarring, and bouncing entirely. However, reducing the movement of your engine while trailering and reducing the impact of shock are excellent ideas. This can be done using a good engine bracket.

You’ve Decided That a Transom Saver or Motor Support Is a Good Idea

If you’ve decided that a transom saver or motor support is a good idea, the debate is far from over as there are seemingly countless options from which to choose. Which is the best transom saver or motor support? Again, we do not advocate for a specific solution or product but will share some thoughts.

Solutions to support your outboard engine and protect your transom while trailering generally fall into two categories – transom saver and motor support. Even the debate as to what is a transom saver versus what is a motor support seems to be endless. So, for this discussion, we will define a transom saver as an outboard engine to trailer support system. We’ll think of a motor support as a solution that utilizes the outboard engine’s hydraulic trim and tilt system to facilitate support.

Transom Saver

While they come in a lot of different styles and are made by numerous manufacturers, the general concept of a traditional transom saver is a device that runs from the lower unit of your outboard engine to your boat trailer. The transom saver prevents the engine from drifting from side to side and, in general, will keep the engine in place while trailering – particularly when you do not have the clearance to trim your outboard all the way down.

Transom Saver Trailering Outboard Engine

Arguments against transom savers: The most common argument against is based on the fact that a transom saver transfers the weight and energy from the transom – an area that is designed to handle it – to the trailer which is not designed to manage this energy. Additionally, while the boat and motor move together, the boat and trailer move independently from one another, causing road vibrations to be transferred back to the lower unit, potentially causing damage.

Also, some transom savers can scratch your lower unit. Finally, some products are a bit flimsy and likely will not last more than a couple of years.

Motor Support

There are different motor support approaches. The M-Y Wedge is an example of one popular approach. The motor support is manufactured from a high-tech rubber, and it slides over one of the trim rams. Once in place, the motor is trimmed down until just pressing against the motor support, and the motor support is slightly compressed. After the outboard is trimmed down against the support, there will be little movement in the trim and tilt, and stress is removed from the boat’s transom. Additionally, the motor support removes the strain from the trim and tilt system. A rear cross member can also be used to support your boat's engine.

Another style of motor support is a steel device with rubber tips for the engine to trim down on. The general concept of this style of motor support is very similar to that of the M-Y Wedge style approach; it just achieves the objective a little differently.

Transom Saver and motor support

Motor support drawbacks: Unlike a transom saver, motor supports can be insufficient in preventing the engine from drifting from one side to another. So, if you decide to use a motor support, you will want to consider using steering centering clips as well.

So, which route should you take – transom saver, motor support, no additional support at all? Generally, we believe these products are inexpensive insurance policies and, in many applications, are truly needed. However, the purpose of this article is to merely layout information and arguments.


I’m so damn confused. I have a f150 yamaha 4 stroke on a 20’ Clearwater boat. Fiberglass transom. What should I do?

Vic Willoughby,

I’ve been using the support from motor to trailer and clips to keep motor from drifting! 22 years same process. New Mercury 225 on a 2000 Triton CC.


Reinforce a fiberglass boat transom is an ideal solution. You have to remove the old transom on a stable platform. If there’s an outboard motor, you’re obliged to take off the existing pieces of equipment. After you remove the transom, don’t throw the parts away as you may need them for reference. Measuring for the boat transom reinforcement plate is essential too.

Dalton Bourne,

I have a friend who is outboard mechanic as well as does body work on boats. It is humble opinion, that a support from the frame is stronger, with less stress on the transom. He noted, he has repaired more stress fractured transoms than damaged trailers. I have both and was using a motor mate, when he explained the difference. I switched back to the original.

Michael Miller,

Wondering why you have not featured Lock-n-Haul, a preminent Transom Saver?

Mike Sherwood,

Leave a comment