There is a lot of information out there about how long jet ski engines last. It depends on the kind of jet ski you have, and what condition it is in. I will explain how long a jet ski engine should last and how to track how many hours it has been used.
A jet ski with a 4-stroke engine lasts about 350 hours, while a 2-stroke engine will last around 150 hours. Many factors go into how long your jet ski will last, but you should get a few hundred hours out of it. The better you take care of it, the longer the engine will last.
Factors That Affect Jet Ski Hours
Averages say that a jet ski engine will last from 150 hours to 350, depending on the type of engine it has. There is never an exact answer to how many hours a jet ski will last because there are several factors that affect what is considered high or low hours. Here are some of the things that affect jet ski hours:
Of course, not every jet ski is like the other. There are a ton of differences, even from jet skis of the same make and model. The way that it is used, the tiny differences when it was manufactured, the waters you use it through, all these things make a difference in the exact amount of hours you will be able to get out of your engine.
Jet Ski Year:
The year the jet ski was made is a pretty obvious factor when deciding if it has high or low hours. If there is a jet ski that is older, it probably has more hours than a newer jet ski. However, there could be a jet ski that is only 2 years old with 100 hours on it which is considered a high hour jet ski. You may also find a jet ski that is 7 or 8 years old that only has 100 hours; it all depends on how much the owner used it.
Most people spend about 30 hours on their jet ski every season. A jet ski that is used more than 30 hours a season is considered a “high hour jet ski”, while one that is used less than 30 hours a season is considered a “low hour jet ski”.
When you are looking for a jet ski, keep this in mind: a jet ski that is over 13 years old or over 400 hours is not worth buying because it has most likely reached its limit.
Keep in mind that the less a jet ski is used does not mean it is better for the jet ski. If the jet ski is not used a lot, then it means it is just sitting there in the garage, which is not ideal for the health of the jet ski. Maintenance is a big deal with jet skis and even though a jet ski may have a lot of hours, does not mean you should not consider it because if it has been taken care of then it will last longer.
Jet Ski Manufacturer
You probably have your own opinion on which jet ski manufacturer is the best, but it is worth doing some research to see how different engines on different brands hold up.
If you are looking to buy a jet ski from manufacturers like Honda, Arctic Cat, Tigershark, Polaris, or Wetbike then you are looking at older models. These models have all been out of business for 10 plus years! The standard for high hours is going to be different when considering these brands because they are older models.
If you are looking at a newer manufactured jet ski, which I recommend doing, then the standard high hours will be lower than looking at an old model. For example, a newer jet ski that only has 50 hours on the water can be just as cherished as an older model with 150 hours on it since the older model has more years on its belt.
Jet Ski Model:
2-stroke engines do not last near as long as 4-stroke engines do. Not only do 4-stroke engines last longer, but they are also more eco-friendly. You should not purchase a jet ski with a 2-stroke engine because they are known to cause more trouble, and since they are not as common anymore, parts can be expensive as hell.
High hours on a 2-stroke jet ski is not usually equivalent to high hours on a 4-stroke jet ski. This is because 2-stroke engines do not last near as long as 4-stroke engines do. 200 hours on a 4-stroke is usually only halfway through its life while 200 hours on a 2-stroke is reaching its limit.
You should stay away from supercharged engines because they do not last as long and require more maintenance than the standard engine. Unless you are a professional jet-ski racer, you will not need a supercharged engine. Most beginners do not want to go more than 30 or 40 miles per hour so do not worry about getting a supercharged engine because you do not want too much power.
An entry-level jet ski is more popular than a more advanced model. This is because the engines in entry-level are much simpler than in the advanced models. Even people who have little experience with maintenance can work on simpler models like the Sea-Doo Spark or Yamaha’s EX. However, the complicated model’s engines are more intricate and will cost more to repair.
Maintenance of the Jet Ski
If the previous owner did not maintain the jet ski correctly, then there will be many different problems. Just because there are very few hours on a jet ski does not mean it is worth buying. There are jet skis out there that have died after 50 hours because the owner did not change the oil or the battery when they needed to.
When thinking about buying a used jet ski, ask to see all of the oil change records, and any other paperwork they may have on the maintenance of the jet ski. You would not usually buy a car that is missing a bumper, the same way you should not buy a jet ski that has not been taken care of correctly.
Winterizing is one of the most important things that a jet ski needs to stay in great shape. If a person does not get their jet ski winterized by a mechanic, then you will want to make sure that the equipment they use to do it themselves is good quality.
If a jet ski was well maintained, it might be able to surpass the average engine hour expectation.
How to Check the Hours on a Jet Ski
Most jet ski models should have an hour gauge included on the dashboard, making it easy to check the hours. But, if there is not one it is likely an older model. A jet ski without an hour gauge will typically have high hours anyway, but if you want to know just how high the hours are you can take it to a dealership where they can see the exact number of hours. It depends on the dealer, but some will do this diagnostic test for free, while some will charge you up to $100.
Why Engine Hours Do Not Always Matter
You should not base your buying decision solely on engine hours because there are many more important factors to consider. When a jet ski has 300 hours on it, you can be confident that the owner has taken care of it. As long as you do your yearly service and winterize your jet ski every year, then your jet ski should last a long time.
Some brands are known to last longer than others. The older brands that have been out of business for a decade or more obviously do not have the newest technology and will not last as long. Yamaha and Sea-Doo are some of the best jet skis when it comes to how long they last.
I would recommend purchasing a used jet ski or buying a brand new Sea-Doo Spark or Yamaha EX because they are the most inexpensive jet skis out there. Instead of spending $5,000 on a used jet ski, why not buy a brand new one? Because the Spark and EX are the most bought jet skis, they are getting updated with new perks every year.
I have seen jet skis last well over 300 hours before but I have also seen jet skis blow up with just 50 hours because the owner did not take it gets serviced. In the end, maintenance has a big effect on the life of a jet ski, so just because there is a lot of hours on it already does not mean it would be a bad choice to buy.
What is Considered High Hours on a Jet Ski?
Technically, a jet ski with more than 100 hours is considered a “high hour jet ski”. This means that it has been used for about 3 seasons already, which in my mind is not a lot. I have seen that jet skis which are maintained properly will last longer than the average lifespan of 300 hours.
Again, you should consider what year the jet ski was built and what shape it is in physically and mechanically. These things are more important than the actual hours of the jet ski.
Why Maintenance is More Important than Hours
The main way you can make your jet ski last longer even if it has high hours already is by maintaining it. Through proper maintenance, your jet ski will stay in tip-top shape and give you more time on the water. You may be wondering what consists of proper maintenance. The main things you will have to worry about is keeping up with oil changed, replacing spark plugs, and properly winterizing the jet ski.
For the most part, maintenance is pretty simple and inexpensive. Your jet ski is much more likely to be bought if you maintain the outside and the inside of it. People will be able to tell by one look if you took good care of your jet ski or not.
Again, if you are thinking about buying a used jet ski you should ask about all the maintenance that has been done on it. If they have receipts then it is a good sign they took care of it correctly. If there have been any major repairs done to the jet ski in the past then I would be cautious because this indicates that the jet ski was not taken care of in the past. It could also just be that the PWC is prone to breaking down which is something you want to stay away from.
A jet ski that has been maintained properly will not cost you your arm and leg to keep. It is not a good idea to purchase a jet ski you will have to pay thousands of dollars in repairs for. Repairs can cost a lot on a jet ski, especially the more expensive and complicated ones. Keep this in mind when looking at used jet skis.
Is it Worth it to Buy a Jet Ski with High Hours?
There have been cases where buying a jet ski with high hours has been a smart idea, but there have also been countless cases where this has been a terrible decision.
To help you decide whether or not to buy a certain jet ski that has high hours, consider taking it into a dealership. They will usually gladly run some tests to see just how much it is worth and give you an appraisal.
It is always a good sign if the previous owner is knowledgeable and responsible because this means the jet ski has the chance to last many more years.
At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself whether the jet ski is in good enough shape to buy. By looking at the history of the jet ski and how it has been kept, you should be able to see whether it is a good choice or not.
What Jet Skis are Most Reliable?
This is a tricky question to answer because it really depends on what kind of jet ski you need. You should ask yourself some questions like what is my budget? Am I looking for a family jet ski or one just for me? Do I want more speed or more durability? Etc.
In my opinion, Yamaha and Sea-Doo are the most reliable jet skis on the market today. Both of these brands offer lots of different kinds of jet skis for all kinds of families out there.
Yamaha’s Waverunners are very dependable and are easy to work on. Taking your jet ski to the mechanic can get expensive, but the nice thing about Waverunners is you can do your maintenance on them. You can do your own simple repairs and save money in the process. To learn more about reliable jet skis, read my other article right here.