How Many Hours on a Jet Ski is a Lot?

How Many Hours on a Jet Ski is a Lot

Jet skis can be very expensive which is why so many people decide to buy on the used market. But this is where things can get a little confusing for beginners as there are certain things you should look out for in a jet ski. One of the biggest considerations are how many hours are on it and what is too much.

How many hours on a jet ski is a lot? As a general rule of thumbs, 150 hours or more can be considered too many hours on a jet ski. Most jet skis will have an average lifespan of around 300 hours, so a jet ski with 30 hours on it could be considered low usage.

This is only a general rule of thumb though as the number of hours on the jet ski won’t always be a true reflection of how good it is, and how much you should pay.

Jet ski hours don’t always tell the full story

The average lifespan of a jet ski with a 2-stroke engine is estimated to be around 300 hours. With a 4-stroke engine, that lifespan could extend up to 1,000 hours.

If you can find a jet ski that has between about 50 to 150 hours on it, that could be a great buy. But of course, hours on the jet ski don’t always tell the full story.

jet ski usage hours
it might look like a great deal – but how many hours of usage is on this jet ski?

For example, a beaten-up jet ski with just 20 hours on it might sound like a bargain, but you might want to question how well it’s been maintained down by the owner.

How well it has been maintained during ownership is also very important.

There are several factors to consider when shopping for a fairly used jet ski, and I will be breaking these factors down a little to give you a better idea of how to select the best jet ski for you at a fair price.

The age of the jet ski

A jet ski bought five years ago with 150 operational hours might sound like a lot, but not when compared a one-year old jet ski which has 50 hours on it.

It’s recommended that a typical PWC should operate at an average of 30 hours in a year. Anything more than that it might not be a great purchase.


Another factor to consider when considering how many hours on a jet ski is a lot, is the manufacturer. I’d tend to stick with a big-name brand such as Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki.

These companies set a very high benchmark for workmanship and engine life – in other words, you can get away with more hours on it, compared to a lesser known brand not renowned for quality.

The model and spec

Jet skits can differ hugely, even from the same manufacturer. For example, when we compare the how many hours of use might be a lot on a 2-stroke engine versus 4-stroke engine, it’s a different consideration.

The average lifespan of a jet ski with a 2-stroke engine is estimated to be around 300 hours. With a 4-stroke engine, that lifespan could extend up to 1,000 hours.

There are also some jet ski models that come with supercharged engines which need a lot more maintenance compared to the conventional motors.

If the previous owner didn’t maintain it properly, you might get sold a pup. The jet ski might not last long; even if it does have fewer hours on it.

Another indicator is that a jet ski model with a sophisticated engine may seem difficult to maintain that could constitute some degree of problems for the users and consequently, reduce the lifespan of the craft even when it still has a low hour of usage.

Maintenance records

The previous owner should be able to present the history of maintenance of the entire lifespan of the machine to a new purchaser. Don’t buy a jet ski without records.

Records will give you an idea of how the jet ski has been cared for in the past, what’s been replaced, what’s been repaired and so on.

It also gives you the peace of mind that even if there are a lot of hours on the jet ski, it might have a lot of life left in it if it’s been maintained and updated regularly.

If it has ever been involved in an accident, that should also be logged in the maintenance record book too.

If the seller cannot provide you this essential information about the watercraft you are about to obtain from him/her, then I suggest you proceed to check another jet ski; because that could be an indication that the seller is trying to hide something from you about the ride.

Depreciation level from use

After prolonged use, the jet ski will inevitably have scratches and dents on it. The fiberglass is bound to have some scratches, you won’t find many used jet skis without a little wear and tear. I’d also recommend checking the pumps and engine for signs of rust.

How the owner has cared for the jet ski will tell you a lot about how it should be valued.

For example, something as a small as the seat can be a great indicator; if the owner did not use a seat cover, it could mean that this owner was too lazy to care for any form of more complex maintenance.

Another thing to look out for is how the jet ski has been stored. If the jet ski has been kept indoors, in a garage, and away from direct contact from the elements it’s a good sign that it’s probably going to be a decent buy, depending on the hours on it.

Engine type

The nature of the engine installed in a jet ski also determines whether to judge the number of hours of performance of the watercraft as high or low.

The performance expected of a 4-stroke engine should be higher than the performance of a 2-stroke engine.

However, in recent times, there has been gradual reduction in 2-way engines being available on the market due to the high degree of pollution they can produce. But you will still find them when buying on the used market.

Another reason to consider a 4-stroke engine is that the spare parts of the 2-stroke engines are scarcer, so maintenance and repairs can be more difficult and expensive.

This scarcity of parts can mean you get a lesser lifespan with your jet ski if you decide to buy it.

Based on this, I’d choose a 4-stroke jet ski, even if it does have a lot more hours on it compared to a 2-stroke you might be considering.

Professional check

Whilst you can go on forever debating how many hours on a jet ski is too much, it might be worth just getting a professional to check it over.

A professional can check both the engine and body of the jet ski and also take it out for a test run it on water.

They will give it the full throttle out on the water and take the RPMs up to the maximum to check for any jerking which could be a sign of engine problems.

They will also check the pumps and compression in case any fault. With the aid of a compression gauge, they can examine the cylinders. The indicator should have a value above 100PSI, and anything less means that the engine is blown.


To conclude, how many hours on a jet ski is a lot really depends on various factors. Read through what you see above but compare the listings you see for similar models and engine sizes online.

But, there is that rule of thumb you can use to get started; 150 hours is a lot in most cases.

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