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A couple enjoy their jet ski. A couple enjoy their jet ski.
Watercraft, Jet Ski, Outboard Boats
July 12, 2021

JET SKI MAINTENANCE GUIDE

Is jetting across the surface of the water, breaking waves on your Jet Ski, WaveRunner, or Sea-Doo the best part of your summer? There’s a lot to love about owning a personal watercraft (PWC), from visiting your favorite ports to sharing your love for the water (salt or fresh) with friends and relatives.

However, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” to quote Spiderman’s Uncle Ben. Owning a Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Sea-Doo, or other personal watercraft isn’t all fun and games. These small craft require a lot of love and care to continue performing to the best of their abilities, and you’ll definitely notice the difference if you neglect them.

Are you a first-time owner? Perhaps you’ve had a personal watercraft for a long time, but you want to make sure you’re doing everything right. Either way, it’s important to understand how to maintain your PWC so it remains not just functional but fast throughout the season.

PROPERLY WASHING YOUR JET SKI OR OTHER PERSONAL WATERCRAFT

When maintaining a Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, or WaveRunner, the most crucial step is learning how to clean it properly. This may appear paradoxical at first, especially considering your PWC spends most of the time in the water anyway. Isn’t this already ‘washing’ it? However, lake water and saltwater don’t clean well. Even if they did, there are numerous places that require a human touch to reach. Not to mention the debris and other matter that floats in the water. If you want your personal watercraft to last for many years, you must provide more than a wave wash on a regular basis. Here are the procedures we recommend when cleaning a Jet Ski or other PWC after taking it out on the water:

  • First, become familiar with your watercraft. Consult the owner’s manual that came with the unit or look it up online. Each unit can be slightly different, so knowing where things are located for your specific model and craft will make moving forward a lot easier.
  • Remove as many aftermarket or added accessories as possible. Open the hood, storage compartments, and glove boxes, as well as any detachable seats or covers. This exposes every part of the craft possible, allowing for the most thorough cleaning.
  • Open any bung plugs and remove any bungs. This allows any water in the compartments to drain as quickly as possible. With these plugs open, any grit or debris that has made its way into the craft may drain out more readily. It’s also a good idea to remove these plugs entirely after few rides for optimal drainage.
  • Carefully chock the trailer’s wheels. Place a box beneath the jockey wheel to raise the front of the ski to further encourage drainage of the PWC.
  • Spray the entire watercraft, both inside and out, from top to bottom and tip to tip with a hose. Make certain to protect the air intake, coils, electrical regions, or fuel breather from being introduced to the water while cleaning.
  • Pay special attention to the supercharger belt and pulley. Also, the siphon bilge may quickly become clogged, so take particular care to clean beneath the fuel tank, coupler, and engine.
  • Salt and sand can easily accumulate below accessories like the tubs and seats, so after you’ve cleaned the body, don’t forget to wipe down these areas.
  • Corrosion can happen around the pump at the rear and intake areas due to salt accumulation. For this reason, be sure to spend additional time cleaning this region of the craft. You can lift the reverse bucket if you’re having trouble getting to it.
  • After washing, rinse everything with clean water. Use a microfiber towel to dry everything since these types of towels tend to not leave any fibers behind. Use a wet/dry vac or pump to remove any water still inside the unit.

FLUSH YOUR PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AFTER USE

Flushing isn’t cleaning. It’s a distinct procedure that’s critical to increasing the life expectancy of your PWC and directly affects its health and ability to function properly. To eliminate any salt residue that will cause corrosion and breakdown of the unit’s system, this procedure uses water to flush out the pump, cooling system, and intake.

While freshwater riders don’t have an issue with salt buildup, sand and algae can still make their way into the system. Because of this, you should still flush it. Follow these steps for flushing a Jet Ski, WaveRunner, or other personal watercraft:

  • There isn’t a specific flushing procedure that applies to all watercraft, so the amount of time this will take can vary. The best course of action is to consult your owner’s manual to discover what the manufacturer recommends for your specific model. The manual will also describe the best methods for flushing. This will decrease the chances of running into problems during the process.
  • Begin by ensuring that the craft is level. This prevents water from becoming stalled in any one area of the system internally.
  • Blipping your throttle lightly is the usual approach used to “blow” out any remaining water in the water box. Because the PWC is out of the water and there is a lack of backpressure and cooling, be sure to review your owner’s manual for precise instructions on the number of revolutions.
  • Now would also be a good time to apply a gentle additive cleanser, which will help to keep your craft’s interior components clean and help prevent future corrosion.

PERSONAL WATERCRAFT PROPER FUELING

A proper fueling process is an important element of any PWC maintenance routine. This includes not only keeping the gas tank filled, but also getting rid of old or unused fuel. Doing so will make sure your vessel is safe, functional, and ready to hit the water.

Fueling a WaveRunner, Sea-Doo, or Jet Ski, isn’t always as simple as it seems. Depending on the model, it may require a different process. Never guess what your model demands. It’s always best to refer back to your manufacturer's manual if you have any doubts. Early PWC models, for example, need an oil/gasoline pre-mix. More modern versions don’t require this pre-mixing. Instead, they have separate containers for oil and fuel.

Ask yourself; do you intend to store your personal watercraft for the winter? Will you be riding it in the near future? Before putting it into storage, make sure to top out the gas tank. This helps prevent condensation from developing while sitting idle. You may also want to add a gasoline stabilizer to guarantee that your fuel does not create any issues when you go to start it up in a few weeks or months.

When pulling your PWC out of storage after an extended period of time, make sure you empty any old fuel from the tank and replace it with new fuel.

Man spraying water on the camera after sliding up on his jet ski. Man spraying water on the camera after sliding up on his jet ski.

SUGGESTED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE FOR PERSONAL WATERCRAFT

You’ve now covered washing, flushing, and fuel maintenance of your craft. So what other forms of maintenance are there? Here are a few other suggested items to add to your checklist:

DAMAGE CHECK

This is something you should do before you go out on the water, but checking after a ride can be just as important. This way you can catch something and get it repaired before it becomes a major issue or spoils a planned trip on the water. This doesn’t have to be a thorough examination. Simply inspect your personal watercraft for anything out of place, damaged, or missing. If you handle your craft well, it’s unlikely you’ll find anything of major concern. However, it’s still a healthy habit to develop.

GET YOUR PERSONAL WATERCRAFT OUT OF THE WATER

It’s been proven that leaving your PWC in the water for extended periods causes damage to buildup. If possible, after you return from a ride, use a lift to store your PWC. These lifts aid in the prevention of lamination issues with the hull and intake fouling. Plus, this also makes cleaning and flushing your boat much easier.

COVER YOUR PWC

When storing your personal watercraft outside, use a cover to keep it safe. This shields it from the elements and other things that may cause surface damage. Simply replace this cover once you’re done cleaning and flushing it after each ride.

OIL CHANGE

How frequently should you change the oil in your Sea-Doo, WaveRunner, Jet Ski, or other watercraft? We would definitely recommend you do so at the beginning of the summer season each year. You can change both the engine and the pump oil at the same time since both require care.

PROPER FITTING LUBRICATION

Apply a small amount of lubricant to the moving components. A year of inactivity can cause joints, fittings, and seals to operate rough or even seize up.

GET OUT THERE AND GET WET

We hope this helps you keep your favorite summer toy working for a long time, giving you years of fun and memories. As always, The ROP Shop is here when you need replacement parts for your Jet Ski or other watercraft. Even when it comes to gliding across the water, we want to help you stay rugged.

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