I quickly found myself shopping for the newest and most expensive Jet Skis after being inundated by YouTube recommendations – it was in the middle of spending $100,000 I didn’t have, that I started to wonder how much it would actually cost to own a jet ski. What is the maintenance like, how much work is involved, etc.? There’s that meme that everything for a boat costs at least a thousand. So what about the smaller PWCs?
I spent about a day reading about all the different costs of owning and maintaining a jet ski, then I headed down to the Sacramento River and Delta to interview real owners to see how their experiences matched up with my research. Owners of jet skis interviewed were all between 5 and 20 years, having bought their jet skis both new and used.
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Indoor storage is usually around $350 to $400 for a flat rate at some marinas or $60-$80/month at many storage facilities.
Along with storage, you’re also going to need to winterize the jetski with fuel stabilizer, flush it with antifreeze, and drain the engine bay. This cost ranges from $150 to $200 depending on the engine type.
Shrink Wrapping is another aspect many jet ski owners talk about being important for maintaining a jet ski long-term. This runs about $15/sqft. Wrapping your jet ski prevents damage from airborne pollutants and winter elements while being stored. It will also keep moisture out from your jet ski, which a simple tarp or storage without will not do. The total cost will be another $200 or so.
If you are covering your jet skis and leaving them outside, you will have to replace the cover every two to three years, which will cost $180 each time.
At the beginning of the season, after winterizing your jet skis, you will need to get them tuned up. A boat mechanic will charge $150 on average.
Total winterization costs: $850 to $1100 per year.
Insurance is more than just a plan you pay to a company. It is also backup supplies for emergencies.
For boat insurance, make sure to get the kind of insurance with Tow Boat membership. This is $140/year.
Supplies are dependent on your general usage and activity with the jet ski. Examples include:
These are going to be either a one-time cost or you will only need to replace them every 5 years or so, depending on wear and tear.
Total cost: $140 to $385
Skim through the article on Paddleboard Accessories for more ideas on fun water toys to pair with your jet ski.
License and Registration
Prices will depend on your state. Florida is about $25/year. California is $65 the first year and half that for renewals.
You also need trailer registration, which is another $20 or so.
Total cost: $45/year
This could very well be the biggest cost of jet ski ownership outside of the initial purchase. Its essentially a tank of gas every day you go out, or burning it as fast as every 2 hours if you’re full throttle the entire time.
If you have a 2 stroke, you need to also keep some oil on you for the mixture.
Gas prices are sold at a premium when filling up on the water. A lot of people will use Costco or Arco and fill up while the jet skis are trailered to save a few bucks. It’s just regular 87 for most people.
Jet Ski Maintenance Over Time
Up until this section, jet ski maintenance is mostly a fixed cost you can easily budget for. But after owning your PWC for some time, you’re going to start to encounter some additional issues.
An owner of two jet skis told me they were 20 years old. The owner had the engine rebuilt with all new seals and all that jazz for $1800 several years ago. The second jet ski required a brand new engine, which cost $3500. Certainly way cheaper to rebuild or replace the engine than to buy a new one. The price difference of almost $20,000 for a replacement has much more diminishing returns.
One jet ski owner had their seat leather split after 7ish years, with that costing between $150-$300, depending on your jet ski model.
Buying New or Used Jet Skis
After talking about maintenance and costs of ownership, I wanted to know if any of these owners would buy used jet skis again or buy new ones. The consensus was if you are buying a jet ski as an accessory to a boat, or as a toy and secondary water transportation, used models are totally fine.
If the jet ski is your main mode of transportation and it is not second to a boat on the water, you will probably have a lot more enjoyment and fun with a new jet ski or a touring model that can hold ice chests, fishing gear, tow inflatables, etc.
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.