When Does a Jet Ski Need a Rebuild ?

Watercraft life is fun for most people, and a time out in open water is always special and looked forward to, especially if you go jet skiing with a friend or loved one. Jet skis require proper maintenance from time to time, especially if you often take them out on the water. Beyond maintenance, jet skis might occasionally run into problems that require fixing, a rebuild, or ultimately, purchasing a new one.


A jet ski needs a rebuild when basic functioning becomes difficult due to the age of the jet ski, lack of proper maintenance, engine problems, or accidents and collisions. There might be deeper problems that might make it less expensive to purchase a new jet ski than to attempt rebuilding it.


Remember that not all problems with your jet ski need a rebuild. A simple fix here and there can get you the desired result, so long you know what you’re doing or get an expert to do it for you. So read on if you want to learn more about this topic.

Conditions That Make Your Jet Ski Require a Rebuild

Various jet-ski users have opted for a rebuild at different points. Some chose to rebuild an old model into something quite modern, while others encountered faulty piston issues and opted for a rebuild. So when does your jet ski need a rebuild? When it ticks any or all of the following boxes.

Water Gets in Your Engine Quite Often

Jet skis are made for water fun, but not the engines.


If you enjoy performing a couple of stunts with personal watercraft (PWC) while in water, you most likely should watch out for water in your engines. Sometimes if you do it right, you might not have water problems with your engines.


But doing it wrong can escalate things pretty fast.


This might happen if you didn’t know that water got in your engines, but it stopped working all of a sudden. If you then try forcing the starter on at any point, that could put your jet ski engines at risk and require a rebuild to get it back on the water.


Also, if the water stays too long in your engine, unknown to you, the engine crank may begin to rust, and the piston rings may start to seize to the walls of the cylinder.

Accidents or Collision

While this doesn’t happen quite often, an accident or collision might require that you change the outer parts of your PWC or rebuild some internal areas that were affected. A thorough inspection should be done on your jet ski after an accident or collision, so you can take stock of how much repair is required or where a rebuild is necessary.

Experienced a Hydrolock

A hydrolock is more likely to occur in engines of PWCs than those of road vehicles like cars and trucks, because of the type of environment they operate in. It can be due to a large wave approaching your jet ski, which can cause water to be pushed into the engine.


A lock-in of your PWC’s hydraulic system can cause damage to your PWC while forcing the engine to circle, thus getting water in the cylinder. If this happens, you might need to rebuild your jet ski engine.


You might also have to replace important components around the crankshaft.

Faulty Gas Tank

A faulty gas tank definitely requires fixing or a replacement and doing this requires you to disassemble your PWC to fix it. Ultimately, you’re going to be doing some rebuilding to get the jet ski back in whole.


The entire process starts with removing any extra gas in the tank and removing the seat.


When you get to the jet pump, you’ve got to take it out, albeit carefully. Just unscrew the pump, and disconnect the lines carefully. After this, take out the battery after removing all visible electrical connections, then go for the engine.


Carefully disconnect all pipes and tubes connected to the engines, and don’t forget to label all parts, so it doesn’t mix up. Once you clear out everything on the gas tank, you can then take it out, fix, or replace it with a new one.


You’ll need to be extra careful while reinstalling all other parts of the jet ski when you’re done. You might as well take it to an expert to fix it for you if the entire process seems like a big deal.

Base Gasket Failure

If your jet ski runs for a couple of hours, and you notice the engine’s internal temperature is quite higher than usual, it can cause piston damage on your jet ski and may stop it from running in the long run.


The failure of the base gasket often induces piston damage. If you’re up to the task, open the jet ski engine to investigate what the problem is. You might need an engine rebuild to get your jet ski back in good shape.


If you don’t have the luxury of time or expertise to perform this, get a jet ski mechanic to observe it and possibly rebuild the engine.

Seize Engine Won’t Start After Lubricating and Maintenance

There are several ways to free a ski engine when it’s seized. However, some methods even pose a higher risk to the engines.


A forceful application of tools within the cylinders of a seized engine may lead to further damage, as well as intense use of a hammer to fix the engine. If this happens, it might force the engines into a worse state, requiring a rebuild to get the engine working again.

Engine Running Lean Hours

Your jet ski carburetor might need a rebuild if the engine is running lean. This could result from age or extended use of the jet ski over its lifespan.


If it’s only been a couple of months or a few years, you might need to troubleshoot the fuel levels, take out old gas, and do other general maintenance to fix the problem as a final step before rebuilding.


Thoroughly check your carb to see if it’s leaking, use a carb cleaner, and clean the inlet. If it appears that some of these problems do occur, then it might be time to schedule a rebuild for your jet ski.

The Lifespan of a Jet Ski

Many people focus on how long a jet ski engine can last when they want to purchase it. This can make their choice very difficult as a jet ski’s lifespan varies depending on factors like the type of engine, how old it is, the level of maintenance, and the usage.


Jet skis come with either a 2-stroke engine or a 4-stroke engine. On average, the 2-stroke jet ski engine can last for about 150 hours, while the 4-stroke engine lasts for about 350 hours.


The engine of a jet ski can last longer or not as long depending on the level of maintenance.

How To Maintain Your Jet Ski

It’s important to maintain your jet ski to ensure durability and proper functionality. Otherwise, it’ll suffer breakdowns and malfunction that could incur more cost on you. There are several things to do before getting your ski started on the boat ramp. It’s important to do things right to avoid severe damage to your PWC or risk an explosion.


Here’s a list of things to do to maintain your jet ski properly:


  • Don’t miss any aspect of maintenance. Maintaining your jet ski covers about five separate areas of care, including pre-ride, after-ride, regular, annual, and winterization maintenance.
  • Read the owner’s manual. You must know your PWC in and out, and if you’ve never read the owner’s manual, you might be missing out on vital care tips for your PWC.


The manual shows you what is where and how everything connects.


If you have some technical experience, it could serve as a guide that you can use to fix minor issues on your jet ski. But if not, scheduling a regular visit to your jet ski mechanic will save you a lot of money in the long run.


This basic understanding helps you to know what to do and what not to do while riding your jet ski and can arm you with sufficient riding basics that you need to know.

General Maintenance Guide for All Jet Ski Models Before Riding

Here are some things you need to do to make sure your jet ski is ready for take-off:


  • Check your PWC for possible signs of leaks and vapor around the engine area. It’s important to do this to avoid more problems like an explosion.
  • Don’t ride on your jet ski if your battery isn’t charged. After this, ensure that your gas tank is full and you don’t want the gas finishing mid-water.
  • Check your gauges and indicators for any error signs and fix them if it shows an error code.
  • Ensure that your drain plugs are properly attached so water easily drains out of your hull.
  • Check out the safety kits to be sure everything is in there. You don’t want to find out that you don’t have a life jacket on your jet ski when you need it the most. Doing this will help you prepare for and prevent any unforeseen circumstances that could cause direct or indirect damage to your jet ski.
  • After your riding session, the next priority should be to do a total clean-out of your jet ski so that it’s in proper condition for your next use.
  • When you are out of the water, you’ll need to do a thorough flush out of your jet ski as described in the manual for your model. It makes it easy to take out dirt and impurities that could cause damage within the jet ski system.
  • Don’t store your jet ski right after riding it. Look for a shady area where you can set it down, and the water can drain out, take out the drain plugs for the hull to drain properly. Then open up storage areas and take out the seats for cleaning and drying.

In-Season Maintenance Tips

Here are some in-season tips you can use:


  • Constantly check your oil level by wiping the dipstick clean and re-checking to see if it’s still within the recommended level. After this, you might want to check for the texture of the oil. If it feels milky, you should get the engine serviced as it is a sign that water has already got into it.
  • Ensure you check your oil tank for signs of leakage if the oil level seems to have diminished drastically. A drop in the hours you get to use the PWC might be a sign that it’s time to get it serviced.
  • Look out for parts that are worn out from use and need a replacement.
  • Check through the hull to see if all cables are properly connected and that no hose is loose.
  • If you observe physical cracks or damage on the hull, try fixing it as soon as possible, so it doesn’t lead to further damages and expenses later. Such cracks can allow water into the inner compartments of your jet ski.
  • If you notice any sign of corrosion on any part, try to get it fixed or replaced immediately.

Annual Servicing Tips

It’s important to service your PWC engine if you’ve used it for up to 50 hours or up to a full year cycle, depending on which comes first. The servicing covers a full-body inspection, engine oil change, lubrication, and replacements where necessary.


A jet ski rebuild is a go-to option if you consider it fun and have the time and expertise to fix your jet ski. If fixing or rebuilding a jet ski seems like unfamiliar terrain, you can ask other users or pick up your PWC user manual to learn simple ways to fix it.


After trouble-shooting your jet ski, you might need to settle for an engine rebuild or a total revamp of your jet ski, depending on the severity of the problem. You can do this yourself or hire trained hands to give your jet ski a rebuild.

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