9 Common Jet Ski Problems And Their Solutions (From Real Experiences)

When handling a jet ski, you’re sure to run into some problems as it gets older. Taking care of those problems can be pretty expensive, depending on the type of your problem. Thankfully, they aren’t unsolvable.

If your jet ski won’t start, the problem lies with the battery nine out of ten times. You can quickly solve this problem by jump-starting the battery for your sea-doo. Or if that doesn’t work, try checking for loose battery cable connections.

Apart from this, there are a few other problems that you may encounter. Each one has a specific solution as well. So, let’s take a look!


What Can Go Wrong In A Jet Ski?

As time goes by, you’ll notice different problems with your sea-doo. But fret not because there’s an easy solution to all of them. Here’s a brief breakdown of the most common issues faced by jet-ski owners.

  1. Jet Ski Won’t Start

If your jet ski doesn’t start, don’t freak out. You’re not the only one who went up to their sea-doo and found it unresponsive when trying to go for a ride.

It’s one of the most common problems with jet skis that have a few years on them. Most of the time, the problem lies with the battery. It may happen that while the battery has enough juice to run your vessel, it doesn’t have enough juice to use a large enough spark to ignite the fuel.

In some other cases, the problems with the battery connection rather than the battery itself. Any loose battery connections can lead to your PWC not wanting to start.

The Solution

To ensure that the Jet Ski’s battery has enough voltage to fire up the ignition system, use a smart battery tender at the start of the season. Always remember, keeping your battery charged will prevent its electrolytes from drying and stop the crystals from depositing.

If you’re already too late and your ski isn’t running, you can try to jump-start the PWC with a lithium-ion battery. You should always keep one with your sea-doo in case of an emergency. Just remember to wrap the battery up in plastic to not let in any moisture.

Finally, if you find that the battery’s okay, check the battery cable connection. If loose, clean it and tighten it, and you should be good to go.

  1. Rope Stuck Around The Main Shaft

Many PWC owners tend to ride across a ski rope. Of course, it looks fun, and many think that since the propeller isn’t exposed, nothing can go wrong. However, it’s a huge misconception.

As you may be able to tell, the Jet Ski has a majorly powerful motor with a uniquely designed intake grate to suck in vast amounts of water. What you may not know is the intake grate can suck in any foreign objects, like the ski rope you’ve been using.

As the rope is sucked in, it gets wrapped around your vessel’s main shaft. In the best-case scenario, it stalls your jet ski’s motor. Worst case scenario, the rope bends the shaft. You may also find a significant amount of damage done to the bottom jet pump hall.

The Solution

If you find that any foreign material has gotten wrapped around your jet ski’s intake grade, quickly turn off the engine before it can damage the shaft. Then, tow the vessel back to the shore and check the main shaft. If you see anything wrapped around it, cut it away.

If you can’t reach the rope, locate the bolts that secure the intake grate. There should be three of them. Remove the bolts to give yourself a little working space. You can use a socket set to detach the bolts.

  1. Not Reaching the Top Speed

If you find that your jet ski is running slower than usual, there may be something wrong with it. For starters, if your jet ski has been with you for quite a while, check its impeller. If the impeller is worn down, it may lead to cavitation, reducing the PWC’s top speed.

Alternatively, check the main shaft or the intake grate to see if there’s anything stuck to it. If there isn’t any debris stuck in the intake grate, see if you’re using a learner’s key. A learner’s key restricts the top speed and RPM to prevent any unfortunate incidents from taking place.

And if that’s not the case, check your speed mode. If the speed is set to ECO mode, that can restrict your top speed. Change it back to sports mode.

The Solution

Your solution will depend on the nature of the problem itself. If it’s a worn-down wear ring, replace it and ensure the gate is entirely in position. If there’s something stuck in the intake grate, clear it out. But be careful not to damage the main shaft while you’re at it.

If there’s a problem with the engine sensor, then you’ll need a professional’s help. Take it down to a shop and get your PWC diagnosed.

  1. Spark Plugs Are Hard To Remove

Suddenly you realize that you haven’t serviced your jet ski in forever. Well, better late than never.

So, you get down to the doc and try to remove the spark plugs only to find that the rust has forced the plugs to bind into the engine head. But, don’t worry, there’s an easy fix for this problem.

The Solution

If the spark plugs have rusted into the engine head, use some penetrating fluid. Leave it for the night for it to work its magic. Try again in the morning to remove the spark plug. Use a long extension bar and the correct socket. The spark plugs should come off.

If the spark plugs break, don’t worry, it can happen. Take out the broken spark plug with an easy-out extraction device. But be careful not to leave behind any splinters. If you’re not sure how clean the removal process was, use a camera to check inside the piston.

  1. Reverse Grate Not Working

What happens when you try to back your car? You simply put it in reverse, and the wheels spin in the opposite direction.

In the case of jet skis, it’s a bit different. As you put the PWC in reverse, the circular exhaust portion of the impeller gets shielded by the reverser shield. And the guard reverses the direction of the moving water in the opposite direction to move the Jet Ski in reverse.

The sea-doo uses the intelligent brake reverse (IBR) system, which moves the shield down as you put it in reverse.

So, what will happen if the shield can’t come down to cover the impeller housing? The Jet Ski won’t be able to back down. And due to the nature of its rides, it’s actually a common problem.

The Solution

If your reverse grate isn’t working, check it for any debris. Sometimes rocks or branches from a tree can block it off, preventing the reverse grate from working. Remove it and try again, and you should be good to go.

Or, if your PWC uses a manual system, check for broken cables if there isn’t any debris stuck in the grate.

  1. Engine Misfiring

If your jet ski’s engine is misfiring, there can be several possible reasons behind it. It may be a bit tedious, but you’ll have to carefully check for each of those reasons to fix the problem.

If you don’t fix this problem, it can permanently damage your jet ski’s motor. Besides, it isn’t safe to drive while your engine’s misfiring.

The most common reason behind a misfiring engine is defective spark plugs. Alternatively, your motor may misfire if there’s any water in the ignition leads or the spark plug well. If it’s neither of these reasons, your engine may be failing due to a faulty ignition coil.

If all that’s okay, check your fuel level. If it’s too low or water-contaminated, that can lead to a misfire. Also, make sure the injectors aren’t clogged.

The Solution

If the fault is with the spark plugs or the ignition coil, you’ll have to replace them to fix the problem. And if you find that the fuel is water-contaminated, use a fuel pump to siphon out the contaminated fuel. When you’re done, refill the tank.

For clogged injectors, you’ll have to clean them out. You can clean them with an injector cleaner. If that doesn’t work, replace them. And finally, if there’s water inside the ignition leads or the spark plug well, try drying them out.

That should take care of the problem. And if none of these solutions work, take your PWC to a professional to get it diagnosed.

  1. Not Recognizing The Sea-doo Start Key

Sea-doo has introduced a groundbreaking technology into their jet ski, which adds a whole new dimension of security to your jet ski. They call it the Digitally Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S).

This digitally encoded security system uses a uniquely designed function to determine if the actual owner is riding the Jet Ski. It does so by matching the implemented keys that it has in its memories with the inserted one.

But as with all technology, the DESS can fail at times as well. In its case, the security program won’t recognize the start key and lock you out of the system.

The Solution

The simplest thing to do is try the key again at a different angle. Or maybe trying to push it harder may work. Sometimes when the key or the DESS post is wet, the system may not recognize the key.

Clean them both up and try the key again. Check to see if the DESS post has any visible damages or corrosion over it. The saltwater can mess with the internals of the post, so if there’s any damage to it, you need to replace the post.

Finally, there may be something wrong with the programming of the DESS start key itself. In that case, you can take it to a mechanic to replace the key, which will set you back a couple of hundred bucks. Alternatively, you can program the key yourself with the help of a diagnostic tool.

  1. Mildew and Mold On The Seat And In The Engine Bay

Because of the nature of its ride, the Jet Ski is susceptible to mold and mildew. They’re hard to remove and can have harmful effects on your jet ski.

The Solution

Your jet ski can attract mold and mildew if you don’t air it out after each use. If there’s any leftover water in the engine bay or the fabric, it can lead to such situations.

Fortunately, you can prevent any mold or mildew by draining any water inside the Jet Ski. It’s a good idea to use a sponge to dry out the areas where the water may pool.

If the mold has already set itself on your jet ski, use a bathroom mold cleaner to remove it. Spread a thin layer of the cleaner and leave it for a few hours. After the cleaner has dislodged the mold, wash it out and rinse the area with fresh water.

  1. Jet Ski Waterlogging

If you think your jet ski is filling with water, you’ll need to find out the nature of this problem. First, try to determine if your jet ski is waterlogging when it’s running or when it’s idle or stationery.

If you think that your vessel’s waterlogging, don’t use it under any circumstances. If there’s any water leak in your jet ski, it can quickly fill up the hull and cause the vessel to sink. Moreover, it’ll fill the engine with water, causing it to shut down in the middle of the sea.

The Solution

If your PWC is waterlogging when idle or in stationary mode, it’s relatively easier to find out the leak.

First, take off the seat and see where the water is flowing in. In most cases, it’s a compression fitting that has come loose or just a bad seal on the shaft. If it’s a loose compression fitting, you simply need to tighten it.

However, it gets a little complicated if the PWC is waterlogging when running. That’s because you can’t check for leaks when the vessel is running.

The best thing to do is put the PWC in the water while keeping it on its trailer. Feed the bottom of the intake grate into the water and run it. That way, you can check where the water is coming from. In most cases, it’s either the cooling circuit or the pump seal.

  1. Broken Hinge

The hinged compartment is a feature that most PWCs come with. You can store different things in that compartment, such as ski gear, water bottles, and many more. However, it has limited space, and overstuffing can cause it to break down.

The Solution

One primary reason for the hinge breaking down is most people overstuff and then slam it shut. Doing so can crack or break the lid to the compartment.

To prevent this, if you pack the space entirely, slowly close the lid and avoid putting any additional pressure on it. If it’s already broken, you can look for replacement parts online.


Must-Have Tools For Any Jet Ski Owner

Despite the various types of problems, almost all of them can be solved with a small range of tools. So, as a precaution, keep the following tools in your toolkit.

Drive Socket Set: The drive socket set has to be a part of your emergency preparedness kit. It’ll allow you to tackle different types of fitting projects if necessary. And it’s better to choose the ⅜ drive socket set as this set can do most jobs with accuracy.

  • Screwdriver: Apart from the drive socket set, the screwdriver can come in handy during emergencies.

Torch: You can’t work on anything if you can’t even see it. So, to help you with the task, especially for those places where it’s hard to see, a torch is a must-have tool.

  • Long Sharp Knife: If anything gets tangled with your intake grate, having a knife can make all the difference between you being stranded on water and safely returning to the shore.
  • Wrench: A wrench is an all-purpose tool that can tackle a wide range of problems when they arise. So, it just makes good sense to include a wrench in your toolbox.

Fire Extinguisher: Having a fire extinguisher makes good sense. As a mechanical device run by fuel, there’s always a possibility of your jet ski catching on fire. Having a fire extinguisher can literally help you put out the fire.

  • Shackle And Rope: In any case, if your PWC shuts down on the water, a shackle and a rope will make sure that you don’t get stranded out in the sea.

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