Do Jet Skis Have Brakes, Gears, & Propellers?

do jet skis have brakes

Are you planning on jet skiing for the first time? Trust me, it will be amazing. But I completely understand if you are slightly anxious about driving one. After all, will your jet ski come with brakes, are there gears to work, do they have propellers?

What I’ve done below is answer the most commonly asked questions that newbies ask about jet skis, including whether they have brakes, gears, and propellers. This should put your mind at rest before you go.

Do jet skis have brakes?

Let’s start with the stopping. After all, we all know how fast jet skis can go so it’s only natural you want to know how exactly it is you are going to stop when out on the water.

Is there a brake on a jet ski? No, jet skis do not have brakes. You slow down a jet ski without brakes by stopping the throttle thrust or by placing into reverse. This slows down the jet ski to an eventual stop. With some jet skis you can also place it into reverse to act as a brake.

Pretty simple right? Well, not quite.

Whilst there are no brakes on a jet ski (you need to stop throttling to bring it to a standstill), that will mean you will lose the ability to steer.

do jet skis have brakes
Jet skis don’t have brakes as such, but you can cut the throttle or place the jet ski into reverse.

This is why it’s so important to drive your jet ski responsibly. If you suddenly needed to make an emergency stop, without brakes it will be virtually impossible.

Yes, you can stop the throttle thrust but that also means you lose the ability to steer the jet ski properly. Instead you should keep your distance and start to steer away from any potential dangers given enough time.

As there are no brakes on a jet ski, you can also cut the power completely. If you do this, the jet ski will continue to travel and coast for a while.

To conclude, jet skis do not come with brakes, but there is one exception; the SeaDoo GTX. Released in 2009, it was heralded as the first ever jet ski to come with brakes – but to be honest, it’s just a fancy reverse mechanism.

How does a jet ski brake work on a Seadoo?

The SeaDoo GTX jet ski brakes work by using their Intelligent Brake and Reverse system. It still uses a reverse action to slow the jet ski down, but is said to let jet skiers brake up to half the distance before a jet ski without brakes.

Here’s what they say on the SeaDoo website:

“Recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard for improving boat safety since 2009 and now in its third generation, the Sea-Doo exclusive iBR (Intelligent Brake and Reverse) system allows you to stop up to 160 feet (48 m) sooner than watercraft not using a brake. With both hands on the handlebars, riders can engage forward, neutral, and reverse for stable, worry-free maneuvering at low speeds.”

And here’s a video of it in action.

Do jet skis have gears?

Next up, lets talk about gears and shifting through a transmission. Will your jet ski have gears so you can increase and decrease your speed? Let’s find out.

Do jet skis have gears? Jet skis do not have gears. Instead they use direct-drive and can be sped up by using the throttle. The engine is on the impeller to get you moving with either a forward or reverse position.

OK, so that means there is no neutral or clutch then?

Well, not quite. Jet skis do have a neutral state between the forward and reverse position. When your jet ski is in neutral the engine will stop powering.

And as you’ve probably guessed by now, jet skis don’t have a clutch. There’s no need for one due to the lack of gears.

Do jet skis have propellers?

Another aspect you might be worried about will be propellers. Propeller strike injuries are one of the most common ways people get injured or die out on the water.

But you don’t need to worry.

Do jet skis have propellers? No, jet skis do not have propellers. Instead the jet ski or PWC is powered through the water by pushing a high-powered water jet out of the back to propel it through the waves.

More about how jet skis work

So that’s the real basics covered, and I hope it’s given you some insight into whether jet skits have gears, propellers, or brakes. But how about some questions you might want answered?

Don’t worry, I’ve got this for you.

do jet skis have gears
This could be you on your next vacation: no jet ski propellers, brakes, or gears, but still a lot of fun!

Do jet skis have alternators? 

Jet skis do not have alternators, but they do have charging systems onboard called a stator.

The stator kind of works like an alternator, but it won’t charge the jet ski battery. Instead it will maintain a charge for the onboard electrics.

Do jet skis have air filters? 

Some jet skis do have air filters whilst others will have flame arrestors. The jet ski air filter will prevent harmful debris, dirt, and contaminants from getting into the jet ski engine.

A jet ski flame arrestor acts sort of like an air filter and will prevents flames from coming out of the carburettor. 

Do jet skis have bilge pumps?

Not all jet skis come with bilge pumps. Some do though, and jet skiers who don’t have a bilge pump will often add one to their jet ski to protect against a hose clamp malfunction.

Jet ski bilge pumps work by quickly removing a lot more water compared to other solutions and could stop your jet ski from sinking.

Do jet skis have drain plugs? 

Yes, jet skis do have drain plugs. Jet ski drain plugs let you drain any water out of the jet ski once the personal watercraft is back on land. 

Do jet skis have headlights?

Jet skis do not come with headlights. This is because it’s illegal to ride a jet ski at night or in dark conditions. Therefore, having headlights on a jet ski makes no sense, and none of the current manufacturers install them.

However, some jet skiers do buy headlights and fit them to their jet ski themselves as an aftermarket accessory. 

Do jet skis have keys?

Jet skis do have keys. They are small keys that will fire up the engine. Some of the more modern jet skis and PWCs use a newer key design very similar to an electric key fob found on modern cars, with no traditional key design.

Do jet skis have ladders?

Jet ski do not come with ladders like some boats do for getting on and off. However, you can buy re-boarding ladders made from plastic and vinyl rope to attach to the rear of the jet ski if you have difficulty getting on and off.

Do jet skis have odometers?

Modern jet skis do come with odometers. A jet ski odometer will let you see how many miles in distance the jet ski has travelled. This can be very helpful for those looking to buy a second-hand jet ski (read some tips here).

Do jet skis have reverse?

Jet skis do have reverse. Whilst there are no brakes or gears on a jet ski, the reverse throttle action lets drivers manoeuvre and dock, plus place the jet ski into reverses to help with stopping.

Do jet skis have radios?

Jet skis don’t come with radios built in. However, some jet ski riders will have portable radios to call for assistance and communicate if needed.

Do jet skis have speakers?

Some of the more high-end and luxury jet skis do come with speakers built in. It’s mainly the Kawasaki brand that sell jet skis with speakers, and only one a few select models.

Do jet skis have storage compartments?

Yes, many jet skis do have storage compartments where you can store your valuables when out on the water. The storage compartments are typically found at the front (large), one in the back, and then one additional storage area between your legs.


So, there you have it. I hope that’s answered any questions you had about the important parts of a jet ski; e.g. do they have brakes, gears, and propellers.

Jet skis are quite simple to operate, so get out there and have some fun.

You might also be interested in these other jet ski guides I wrote:

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