The Real Jet Ski Maintenance Costs and Ownership

Jet ski maintenance was a topic I found myself researching after a spontaneous window shopping adventure for the newest and most expensive Jet Skis. 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?

The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership

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.


The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership winterization

How much does it cost to winterize a jet ski?

Winterizing a jet ski, an essential maintenance step for ensuring its longevity and optimal performance, involves a series of procedures that prepare the watercraft for the cold months ahead. The cost of winterizing a jet ski can vary widely, depending on several factors including the geographical location, the specific services required, and whether the owner opts for professional services or decides to undertake the process themselves.

At the core of winterizing a jet ski are tasks such as flushing the engine with fresh water to remove salt, dirt, and debris; stabilizing the fuel to prevent degradation; changing the oil to ensure the engine’s internal components are well-lubricated and protected against corrosion; and applying anti-freeze to the cooling system to prevent freezing damage. Additionally, the battery usually needs to be disconnected and stored in a cool, dry place, and the body of the jet ski should be cleaned and waxed to protect against rust and corrosion.

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.

When running your jet ski for the first time after winterization, you’ll want to consider some factors to keep it in tip-top shape and make sure you’re keeping up on jet ski maintenance.

  1. Make and model of your jet ski: Different jet ski manufacturers and models may have specific requirements or recommendations. Refer to the manual or documentation to see if there are any unique to the model jet ski tasks to perform.
  2. Type of winterization process followed: Did you perform the winterization yourself or did you take it to a professional? What steps were taken during the winterization process (e.g., engine fogging, fuel stabilizer, battery maintenance, etc.)?
  3. Storage conditions: Where and how was the jet ski stored during the winter months (e.g., indoors, outdoors, covered, heated, etc.)?
  4. Usage history: When was the last time the jet ski was used prior to winterization, and did you experience any issues or notice anything unusual at that time?
  5. Maintenance history: Have you performed any regular maintenance on your jet ski, such as oil changes, spark plug replacement, and impeller checks? If so, when was the last time these tasks were completed?
  6. Any visible damage or wear: Are there any visible signs of damage, wear, or corrosion on the jet ski that you have noticed?
  7. Local climate: What is the general climate in your area during the winter months?

If you need to transport your jet ski for servicing or storage, be prepared for additional costs. These can include rental fees for a trailer, fuel expenses for towing, and potential storage fees at a service facility. Planning for these costs in advance can help you budget effectively and keep your jet ski in top condition. One such vendor you can use or price out is A1 Auto Transport for jet skis.


The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership insurance

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.

When considering insurance coverage options for your jet ski, it is essential to evaluate various factors to ensure you have adequate protection. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when exploring insurance coverage options:

Liability coverage: This covers bodily injury and property damage caused to others while operating your jet ski. It is a fundamental part of any insurance policy and is typically required by law in most jurisdictions.

Comprehensive coverage: This covers damage to your jet ski caused by incidents other than a collision, such as theft, vandalism, fire, or natural disasters.

Collision coverage: This covers damage to your jet ski caused by a collision with another watercraft or a stationary object.

Medical payments coverage: This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers if injured in a jet ski accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Uninsured/underinsured watercraft coverage: This protects you in the event of an accident with another watercraft operator who either does not have insurance or has insufficient coverage.

Equipment and accessories coverage: This covers damage or loss to any equipment and accessories on your jet ski, such as life jackets and other supplies.


The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership supplies bumpers
Jet ski specific bumpers

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 then half of that for renewals.

You also need trailer registration, which is another $20 or so.

Total cost: $45/year


The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership gas station fuel
Fuel station on the water

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.

The real jet ski maintenance costs and ownership split seat pad

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

People on jetskis

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.

For beginners, considering a new SeaDoo can offer peace of mind with the latest safety features and easier handling, making the learning curve less daunting. Additionally, new models often come with warranties that provide added protection for those just starting their jet ski adventures.

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