How Long do Jet Skis Last? [Average Jet Ski Engine Hours]


Generally speaking, 4-stroke jet skis last around 300-500 hours and you can expect about 150-250 hours on a 2-stroke jet ski. However, as you will see, this depends on many factors like the jet ski’s performance and how it’s used, but primarily on the maintenance. You can find perfectly running rental jet skis with 1000+ hours on their engines, while many neglected crafts blow up in their first season.

If you are in the market for a used jet ski, or would just like to know what the average lifespan of a jet ski is, this post is for you.

Without further ado, let’s start with the most important factors that affect the available hours on a jet ski!

5 Factors That Affect a Jet Ski’s Lifespan

It’s safe to say that there are 5 major factors that affect the lifespan of a jet ski. These are as follows:

  • Maintenance
  • Year of manufacture
  • Performance and features
  • How it’s used
  • Environmental conditions

Let’s take a closer look at each!

1. Maintenance

As a rule of thumb, the most important factor that affects a jet ski’s lifespan is always maintenance. As you might assume, the better the jet ski is maintained, the longer it will last.

When it comes to purchasing a used jet ski, in many cases its service history is more important than the engine hours! A well-maintained jet ski with more hours is typically in much better condition than a neglected newer model.

This is because contrary to popular belief, jet skis are not easy to maintain! They are not like jon boats, which don’t require a lot of attention.

Just one improper yearly service or winterizing can completely ruin a jet ski!

2. Year of Manufacture

Another important factor is the year of manufacture. Generally, the newer the jet ski the more durable its engine and parts.

Compared to older and newer models, it’s clear that vintage 2-stroke crafts require engine rebuilds more often. On the other hand, rebuilding these engines is much easier compared to the new, more complex 4-stroke power sources.

Also, keep in mind that the newest jet skis come with tons of bells and whistles. And these features can go wrong! In contrast, vintage jet skis were pretty simple without all these sensitive parts.

So which is better, a new or an older jet ski?

Simply put, if you don’t like working on engines, it’s recommended that you avoid the older 2-stroke models. They require continuous attention, and a lot of “carb work.”

It’s also good to know that many service shops refuse to work on jet skis that are more than 10 years old!

3. Performance

In the world of powersports, high performance and a short lifespan come hand-in-hand. And unfortunately, jet skis are no exception.

The more power the jet ski engine produces, the fewer engine hours you can expect to have. This is especially true for supercharged models!

The supercharger not only puts a lot of wear and tear on the engine, but this unit also has to be periodically rebuilt on many jet skis. As a blown supercharger can ruin the entire engine, neglecting it is not a good idea.

Our recommendation is that you steer away from used supercharged jet skis. You can probably find brand new, non-supercharged models for the same price.

4. How it’s Used

The attitude of the rider can also dramatically affect the lifespan of a jet ski. Sadly, many owners just jump in the saddle and hit the throttle without warming up the engine!

If he/she regularly rides the craft at full speed, or prefers “race-style” starts, it can ruin the engine pretty fast. This is because operating at full speed is bad for any type of vehicle, especially when it’s cold!

Additionally, the popular practice of wave jumping can also lead to broken parts or a misaligned engine.

So, as you see, a lot depends on the attitude of the owner!

5. Environmental Conditions

Finally, environmental conditions can also affect the available hours on a jet ski.

Riding a jet ski in saltwater can lead to corrosion, while wind and choppy water can add more wear and tear to the engine. That’s why jet skis wear out faster if they are used for offshore tours.

It a jet ski regularly runs in dirty water (or water less in 3 feet deep!) this can damage its pump, impeller, wear ring, and so on. In a worst case, debris can clog the cooling system causing major engine damage.

How Many Hours Does a Jet Ski Engine Last?

As you can see, it depends on countless factors, but in general 2-stroke jet ski engines last around 150-250 hours. The main advantage of 4-stroke jet ski engines is their longer lifespan, as you can expect around 300-500 hours on them.

Keep in mind that engine wear is the main lifespan issue on jet skis, although many other parts can go wrong over time.

Corrosion is a pretty common problem on jet skis, which often leads to electronic problems as well. And finding bugs again and again in the electric system on jet skis can become tiring in a short time!

Another issue is that if a newer jet ski has a malfunction, it simply displays a fault code on its screen. In this case, you have to check this code in the manual or read it with a code reader.

And when you look for the remedy, you can find the same text beside the majority of issues: “See an authorized dealership.”

Yes, manufacturers don’t want you to know how to fix your jet ski! Instead, they want you to take it to a dealer. THis makes fixing and servicing a jet ski costly and time-consuming!

When it comes to engine rebuilds, the general rule is that rebuilding a 2-stroke jet ski engine is much easier and cheaper. However, it’s required more often, typically after 150-250 hours.

There are many owners who simply rebuild their 2-stroke engine themselves. But it has to be mentioned that this requires some mechanical skills and the right tools!

Unlike with 2-strokes, a 4-stroke engine rebuild is not an easy job. Therefore, this is usually done by repair shops, which can lead to costly repair bills.

How Many Hours is Considered a Lot for a Jet Ski

Let’s take a look at the engine hours of used jet skis.

If you are a beginner, it’s recommended that you purchase a newer 4-stroke jet ski. Unless you especially want a stand-up, it doesn’t make sense to purchase a 2-stroke jet ski.

It takes a lot of skill, time, and patience to maintain a vintage 2-stroke jet ski, thus, it’s not recommended for beginners. Instead, you should take a look at the newer 4-stroke models!

To make the right decision, you probably want to know how many hours is considered a lot for a jet ski. Simply put, over 100 engine hours is lot on a jet ski, even if it’s a 4-stroke. Therefore, it’s not recommended that you purchase a jet ski that has more than 100-150 hours and that is older than 3-5 years. Why?

This is because the average owner puts around 30 hours on their jet skis each year. Consequently, after 3-4 years the 100-150 hours seems to be “average” usage.

Additionally, you will also probably want to use it at least a couple years before selling it, which will probably put another 100-150 hours on it.

So if we do the math, it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t buy a jet ski if it has more than 100-150 hours on it.

Best practice is to find a jet ski with less than 100 hours, as you can expect to get many more hours on its engine!

Why do Jet Skis Only Last 300 Hours?

There are two main reasons why jet skis last around 300-500 hours. First, they deliver extreme performance, which ends in a lot of wear and tear. The problem is that they are used in water, which means you can virtually find water in the engine compartment after each ride. This leads to corrosion and other damage in the long run, especially if the jet ski is used in saltwater.

Regarding performance, keep in mind that jet skis have 900-1,800cc engines and they typically offer 100-310 HP. This is very high performance! In contrast, cars with the same displacements usually offer less horsepower. Thus, they last longer.

How do You Check the Hours on a Jet Ski?

You can easily check the hours on a jet ski because this number is displayed on its gauge. Sometimes you have to press a button (e.g. “Mode” button) to find it. However, you must be careful because when the gauge is replaced the owner can easily reset the engine hours!

Therefore, before you purchase a jet ski it’s wise to take it to a dealership for a thorough inspection. Since the usage history is stored in the computer, the dealer can read the real engine hours by using a diagnostic cable and software.

Conclusion

As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most frequent questions asked on the topic!

How are jet ski hours counted?

When you start the engine on a jet ski, the hour meter starts keeping track of how long the engine is on. This number is known as “jet ski hours” as well as “jet ski engine hours.”

How do you check the hours on a jet ski?

You can simply read the engine hours on a jet ski on its display. As it can be manipulated, best practice is to have it checked in a dealership before you buy!

How many hours do jet skis usually last?

Generally speaking, 2-stroke jet skis last around 150-250 hours, while 4-strokes last 300-500 hours. However, keep in mind that it depends on many factors like engine performance, and how the jet ski is used or maintained.

Is 100 hours a lot on a jet ski?

As a rule of thumb 100 hours is considered to be high usage on a jet ski. Since the average user rides about 30 hours each year, you can expect to see 100 hours on jet skis that are 3-4 years old.

Why do jet skis only last 300 hours?

Many jet skis last only 300 hours due to excessive engine wear and corrosion from saltwater. What’s more, there are jet skis that blow up in their first season! In contrast, you can find properly maintained rental jet skis with 1000+ on them! So finally, it seems that it depends on luck to some extent.

As the final word, if you are considering buying a used jet ski, it’s recommended that you stay away from supercharged models. The best practice is to purchase a 4-stroke, non-supercharged jet ski with less than 100 hours on it!

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