A used jet ski is a handy solution for boat enthusiasts on a tight budget but still desire to have their water sports fix. Just like when shopping for any other used purchase, you must extensively do your homework to make sure that you land high-quality items at a pocket-friendly price.
One of the most important things you should be able to do is know how to properly assess any possible damages and give it a full and proper examination.
Before you make a purchase, always test your potential jet ski. You can assess the damages in two ways:
- The first option is to take it to a local dealership and have a technician inspect it. Dealerships have the right professionals to help you check things such as compression and pinpoint any flaws that you might overlook.
- The second option is to keenly review the watercraft yourself. In this case, you must have background knowledge of boats or motors.
Used jet ski buying tips
Consider the following factors when buying a used jet ski:
1: Check the maintenance records
Always request to have a look at the maintenance records for your prospective jet ski before making a decision. Check to know whether the current owner has given it proper upkeep.
Secondly, check to verify whether it has been involved in any accidents that needed a major rebuild or repair. Has the Jet Ski had more than one owner?
If yes, then make sure the maintenance records cover the ski’s entire lifespan.
2: Check the engine
Just like the pump, the engine is an equally important consideration when in the market for a second-hand jet ski. So how do you tell if an engine is great or not? A compression test coupled with other advanced tests is necessary.
However, there is a test you can do to check whether the engine is in great shape or not without having to whip out the tools.
The biggest indicator is flaking off the engine’s paint or corrosion. A paint peeling or a heavy amount of rust where the engine is covered is a sign that the engine spent quite some time in saltwater. Saltwater is bad because it corrodes everything thus making a boat have electrical issues.
Although you should avoid heavy corrosion, keep in mind that some little corrosion is normal and should be expected.
To actually know if the pump and engine are good, it’s prudent to place it in the water and then ride it. You should hit top speed really fast whenever you go full throttle (here are some top jet ski speeds you can expect to hit). If you happen to experience some form of hesitation or delay like it is trying to grab, then chances are high it may be having pump problems.
If there is a major issue with the pump or engine, you will just know because it won’t feel right. The best thing is to walk away if you do not have any warm fuzzy feelings.
3: Check for wear and tear
Another thing to look for when buying a used jet ski is damage. It’s normal for a used jet ski to have several scratches. However, ensure you thoroughly inspect it for any excessive or major damages such as excess rust. Are you buying it privately? If yes, seek to know how the current owner stores it as you inspect the wear and tear.
Does he or she leave it out in the sun? Is there a cover on it? Does the owner have it in the shade?
Some weather elements such as strong winds or hot sun can be severely damaging to a jet ski over a period of time.
Therefore, one that has always been stored in a garage or shed away from direct sunlight will certainly be in incredible shape.
4: Check the hours on the jet ski engine
One of the indicators of the age of a Jet Ski is the number of hours it has been operated. A low-hour Jet Ski should have been used for not more than 50 hours. Generally speaking, more than 150 hours of usage is considered high. 300 hours of usage should be the average lifespan.
Of great importance to note is the fact that usage alone does not paint a clear picture of the actual state of a jet ski.
For instance, a poorly maintained one that has been in operation for 30 hours might be in worse shape compared to a well-maintained one with 200 hours on the water.
Handy Hint: Find out here more details about how many hours is a lot on a used jet ski. You should walk away if the hours are way too high.
If your prospective Jet Ski is beaten-up and has a low number of usage hours, then definitely that’s a red flag if it has not been well maintained.
5: Check the mechanics and operation
Before you buy a used jet ski see if it’s possible to have it professionally checked over. It’s prudent to have your mechanic check out the Jet Ski’s engine before purchasing it. He’ll check for problems such as leaks that you cannot be able to see by only inspecting its exterior.
If the seller does not allow your mechanic to check it before purchase, then avoid purchasing it altogether.
6: Check the appearance
Some of the things you should be on the lookout for in terms of appearance include holes in the hull and dings in the fiberglass.
Nonetheless, just because your prospective ski is oxidized doesn’t mean that it’s not a good one. It only means that the previous owner never covered it and isn’t really an indication that they never handled the engine well.
Secondly, how do the seats look? Are they cracking? If they are, then it means the ski could be having some wear to it. This could help you have an upper hand with negotiations since a brand new seat skin might cost a couple hundred of dollars.
The most important part of a jet ski isn’t the appearance but what is on the inside. You can always wax it to new condition but is extremely hard to wax its engine to a new condition if it is in bad shape.
7: Check the impeller
Before you make your purchase, it’s wise to have a keen look at the impeller.
The impeller is what propels the watercraft forward. To fix a broken one might cost you hundreds of dollars. Therefore, you must be quite thorough when inspecting it. Blades with missing chunks are an indication that the previous owner did not take great care of the ski. Check out for anything that’s wrapped around it such as towropes or plastic bags.
8: Check the hull
Refrain from buying a jet ski with cracks or dents on the hull. Pressure while riding can cause the cracks or dents to get worse. Even if this part looks good, ensure you have a closer look at it to check whether it has been patched. Improperly repaired hulls usually leave you stranded or sinking in the water.
9: Avoid a 2-stroke
If there’s anything you should avoid like a plague when buying a used jet ski is the 2-stroke type. Many people would opine differently about this but the truth is that 2-strokes are a dying breed. In addition to parts getting harder to find, numerous shops are refusing to work with them.
So why is the breed drying off that quickly?
The major reason is that they were polluting air and water. The watercraft cannot meet the regulations on most water bodies so many manufacturers opted out of making them. Granted, the 2-strokes idea was great as the engines were lighter and smaller meaning they could make the ski more playful and cheaper.
The best way to identify a 2-stroke if you cannot to do so by having a look at the engine is by checking out where the VIN is situated at the boat’s back. Every VIN on a boat has two last digits that indicate the year, so 2001 should be 01, and 1998 should be 98. 4-strokes began coming out in 2002.
Therefore, it would be prudent to try to find a ski that’s not older than that. While at it, remember that you can still find 2-strokes made up to 2007. Some manufacturers such as Yamaha still own stand jet skis that utilize a 2-stroke to this present day.
After checking the VIN, the next step you need to take to determine it is a 4-stroke or 2-stroke is by looking for a dipstick. Only the former has a dipstick.
What is the most reliable jet ski to buy used?
Yamaha have the best reputation by far, with the Waverunners proving time and time again to be the most reliable on the used market.
Other brands to consider would be used Hondas and Yamahas – see the history of the jet ski including when they were invented.
Did You Know? Click here to find out why jet skis shoot water up in the air. You might be surprised at the reasons!