If you are considering purchasing your first jet ski or upgrading to a higher performance model, cost is likely to be a major factor in your purchasing decision.
The cost of a jet ski ranges from $5,499 to $18,199 for a new model and $1,500 to $15,000 for a used model. The jet ski’s performance characteristics, manufacturer, and model are key price factors. Maintenance costs over the lifetime of a jet ski average $500 annually.
Read on to learn more about current jet ski pricing and other information pertinent to determining the actual cost associated with owning and enjoying a jet ski.
Jet Ski Price Comparison Chart
The following chart provides you with a sampling of prices for new jet skis in 2021.
If you are already familiar with the different types of jet skis on the market and have an idea of what you want, this chart will provide you with the information you need to conduct an effective price comparison between different models.
|Sea-Doo||GTX Limited 300||Luxury||3||$17,999|
|Yamaha||FX Limited SVHO||Luxury||3||$17,699|
|Krash||FootRocket Pro||Stand-up||1 (stand-up)||$16,799|
|Yamaha||VX Limited HO||Recreation||3||$13,549|
|Yamaha||GP 1800 R HO||Performance||3||$12,549|
What Should I Know Before Buying a Jet Ski?
Before purchasing a jet ski, you should know the price you want to pay. It’s also best to consider what you want to get out of your jet ski. Everyone will have different expectations and budgets for personal watercraft.
Are Jet Skis Worth the Money?
If you have owned a jet ski in the past, you know what you want in terms of performance. You would determine the value by getting the most powerful craft that fits within your budget.
Jet skis are worth the money provided that you purchase a craft that fits within your budget, inclusive of its operational and maintenance costs. Additionally, the performance specs of the jet ski should be within your level of experience for handling the craft.
Are Jet Ski Prices Negotiable?
The price of a jet ski, by and large, is governed by the market forces of supply and demand. This pricing paradigm holds for new and used jet skis.
Jet ski prices are usually not negotiable when purchased new at a dealer, as they’re often sold at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price. However, it’s possible to negotiate on price for added options and to lower destination charges if your desired model is not in the dealer’s current inventory.
If you decide to purchase a used jet ski, your opportunity to negotiate a better price will be greater when it involves a private seller. If buying a used jet ski from a dealer, the opportunity to negotiate will be present, but you may reduce your negotiating margin.
Seasonality also plays a significant role in obtaining a better price for a new or used jet ski. There will be more information on that further into the article.
What Is the Cheapest Jet Ski?
The cheapest jet ski is the Spark model from Sea-Doo. Its price for a new model based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $5,499. It’s classified as a rec-lite personal watercraft and can accommodate up to three riders.
Should You Buy a Used Jet Ski?
You should purchase a used jet ski if the model or performance type you seek falls outside your budget range for a new model. Points to consider when purchasing a used jet ski include the mechanical condition, engine run time, and overall state of the craft at the time of purchase.
Used personal watercraft are listed online on reseller sites such as Boat Trader and Boats. The average price for a used craft in 2021 on those sites is $14,399. That said, you can find units as low as $1,500 in the used market. However, such units will usually be in less than optimal conditions mechanically.
What Is the Best Jet Ski for the Money?
Trying to proclaim the best jet ski for the money objectively would not be possible—at least not honestly. The question is entirely subjective. The best jet ski for you may be the worst choice for another person.
it’s best to consider what makes a particular personal watercraft ideal to an individual buyer in terms of desired characteristics and conform it to your afforded budget.
The best jet ski for the money is a craft that combines the most performance characteristics desired by the buyer while being the newest or least used option on the market. The craft chosen shouldn’t place undue burden on the buyer in terms of upfront cost or maintenance.
When Is the Best Time To Buy a Jet Ski?
The best time to buy a jet ski is governed by seasonality. Although jet skis can have commercial and industrial applications, for the most part, they are recreational craft. That means that their owners will use them primarily in warm weather. Late spring and summer are when most people make use of their jet skis.
As such, in the run-up to this peak season, the demand for new and used jet skis will be at its greatest. The basic economic principle of supply and demand dictates that this would be when jet ski prices are at their highest.
The best time to buy a new or used jet ski is during the fall months. At that time, the demand from recreational users has dropped. Many used units come on the reseller market at this time. Fall is also when dealerships begin to mark down leftover models.
Insider Tip: During the fall months personal watercraft manufacturers tend to announce their new models for the next season. The presence of these new models creates a situation where dealerships might still have that year’s model in stock and need to liquidate those units. That is the best time to negotiate a discount for a new jet ski.
Remember, a carry-over or leftover model is still a new craft.
How Many Years Does a Jet Ski Last?
A well-maintained jet ski properly stored during the off-season and used within the recommended parameters recommended by the manufacturer should last ten years before issues develop that may require investing in major repairs or overhauls.
A jet ski will last for ten years based on an average of 30 hours of use per season. A jet ski with a four-stroke engine will last on average 300 engine hours before major repairs or overhauls are required. Two-stroke engine models have a lifespan of 150-200 engine hours.
While 300 hours might sound like a minimal amount of time compared to an automotive or motorcycle engine, you must consider the following—you will only be using your jet ski during the recreational season.
Your craft’s engine will only be running when it’s in operation. Storage and transportation time to and from the body of water where you will be using your jet ski do not enter into the calculation.
For Saltwater Users: Also, unlike engines for land-based vehicles, your jet ski is exposed to water. Using your jet ski in saltwater can reduce its lifespan if it’s not adequately flushed afterward.
Popular Brands of Jet Skis
While there are other brands on the market, the three best-known brands of personal watercraft are Yamaha, Sea-Doo, and Kawasaki. The term “jet ski,” in fact, is a trademark of Kawasaki.
In terms of ease of availability through dealership networks as well as availability on the used reseller market, Sea-Doo and Yamaha will be your surest bet.
Should I Buy a Sea-Doo or Yamaha?
Buy a Sea-Doo instead of a Yamaha if you seek a jet ski with the lowest barrier to entry in price and with top-level performance and innovation. If you prefer optimal engine reliability and easier maintenance and can afford a higher price tag, a Yamaha jet ski would be preferred over a Sea-Doo.
Yamahas have a reputation for reliability. When properly cared for, Yamahas also retain their value better than other brands of personal watercraft on the used market. Yamaha engines tend to be more robust and forgiving. The tradeoff for these attributes is that Yamahas tend to be more expensive than comparable Sea-Doos.
In contrast, it’s not that Sea-Doos are less reliable than Yamahas. Instead, those who purchase a Sea-Doo tend to seek ski jets that deliver performance at a more affordable entry point. As such, owners of Sea-Doos tend to push their units to the limit faster than those who operate Yamahas.
While both manufacturers produce quality machines, the question of whether to purchase a Sea-Doo or a Yamaha comes down to what you are seeking from your jet ski investment.
How Long Does a Sea-Doo or Yamaha Engine Last?
The latest models of Sea-Doo and Yamaha jet skis incorporate four-stroke engines. Due to the dynamics of this type of engine, they will both last a minimum of 300 hours when adequately maintained.
It’s essential to keep in mind that 300 hours is an industry average. Though it’s not uncommon to find Sea-Doo and Yamaha engines functioning without issues for 500 hours and beyond. However, once any jet ski engine gets past the 300-hour mark, relying on its continued performance without a major overhaul would be a gamble.
Another difference between Sea-Doo and Yamaha engines is related to what was mentioned earlier about how each brand tends to have a different user profile.
Since Sea-Doo owners have a reputation for over-running their craft, it’s feasible for a Sea-Doo engine with an equal amount of runtime to a comparable Yamaha engine to have more wear on it due to how they rode it.
An analogy for this would be having two cars with the same type of engine. Each vehicle is driven the same number of miles every day for three years. One is driven solely on a country road without any traffic. The second car is driven in big city stop-and-go traffic and on the weekends is used for amateur drag racing. While accumulating the same mileage, the second car will have a more worn engine due to its method of use.
Three hundred hours for both the See-Doo and Yamaha is a fair expected engine life, regardless of how each engine is used. However, a Yamaha engine will have a better chance of reaching the 500-hour mark than the Sea-Doo beyond that runtime.
Jet Ski Maintenance Cost
A cost involved with owning a jet ski that first-time buyers often overlook is associated with maintenance.
A well-maintained jet ski not only ensures a rider’s safety and lowers operational costs, but it also helps to maximize the life of your jet ski and leads to higher resell values if you ever decide to sell it.
On average, the yearly cost for jet ski maintenance starts at $500. When you apply the average 30 hours that a jet ski is used per season, that means that the average hourly maintenance cost for a jet ski is equal to $16.67.
The average cost is calculated by considering those owners who do all the maintenance themselves and those who outsource it entirely. If you were to have all maintenance on a jet ski performed by outside professionals, the cost of winterizing, pre-season prep, and regularly scheduled tasks could surpass $1,500 per year.
Note: Those estimated costs do not include fuel and ferrying costs.
Those who are mechanically inclined and are comfortable doing their maintenance work can significantly lower the costs.
How Often Do You Need To Service a Jet Ski?
How often you need to service a jet ski is affected by frequency of use. “After-use” maintenance is conducted each time you use your craft. Seasonal maintenance is performed before you winterize your jet ski for the off-season and just before bringing it back online for a new season.
How Much Is an Oil Change for a Jet Ski?
The oil change is an excellent example of where do-it-yourselfers can save money.
How much an oil change for a jet ski costs ranges from $200 to $500 when conducted at a certified personal watercraft service facility. The service includes oil replacement, new O-rings, and a new oil filter. Doing the oil change yourself can save you $50 to $350 off those prices.
Jet Ski Maintenance Checklists
Jet ski maintenance tasks can be broken down into four different categories: Tasks you need to perform each time you use the jet ski, those for winterizing your craft for the off-season, those required before you put your jet ski back into action for a new season, and those that need to be completed at specific time intervals.
“After-Use” Jet Ski Maintenance Checklist
After-use jet ski maintenance involves the routine maintenance and upkeep that you must perform on your jet ski each time you use it.
- After-use washing and cleaning: It’s a best practice to rinse the hull and dry it with a microfiber towel after every use, even after freshwater use. This step is crucial if you use your jet ski in saltwater.
- Flushing the system: With the jet ski out of the water, attach a garden hose to the fitting in the flush port. Start the engine and keep at idle. Turn on the water hose. Idle for the length of time recommended in the owner’s manual. Shut off the hose and then turn off the engine.
- Filling the fuel tank: It’s best to fill your jet ski’s fuel tank when you finish using it, not immediately prior. Filling the tank will prevent water condensation in the tank in between uses.
- Covering your jet ski: Even if you plan on using your jet ski the following weekend, you should always keep your jet ski covered in between uses while stored. It protects against cosmetic damage.
Maintenance Tasks for Winterization
|Complete all normal “after-use” tasks||Before winterizing a jet ski, perform all of the routine after-use tasks.|
|Fill the fuel tank||Fill the fuel tank as usual. This action will prevent water condensation in the tank.|
|Add fuel stabilizer||Add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank. This action will prevent the ethanol in the fuel from separating. It helps to avoid corrosion.|
When adding a stabilizer, run the engine at idle for 30-second intervals three to six times or whatever your owner’s manual suggests.
This action will ensure a proper fuel to stabilizer mixture before long-term storage.
|Dry the hull, seats, storage spaces, etc.||With a dry microfiber cloth, ensure that all areas where water could seep in from using the jet ski or from washing and rinsing it have been dried.|
|Lubricate (fogging)||Fogging is the process of lubricating the exposed portions of the engine along with the seals.|
Make sure to expose the carburetors and spray them down. Also, remove the spark plugs and spray the cylinder heads of each one.
Then, wipe down each spark plug and place them back in their cylinder.
When fogging the carburetors, it’s good to turn over the engine and idle for a few seconds to ensure proper lubricating coverage.
|Remove the battery||Remove your battery from the jet ski before storing it in the off-season.|
It’s recommended that you keep the battery on a trickle charger during the off-season. In doing so, the battery will be ready to go once the next season starts.
It also improves the life of the battery by not going dead and having to be recharged fully.
|Wax and polish||Using wax or polish recommended by the manufacturer, polish the hull, seat covers, and other areas.|
|Cover||Cover the jet ski tightly using a jet ski cover.|
Maintenance Tasks Pre-Start of Season
|Install battery||Remove your battery from the trickle charger where it spent the winter.|
Before connecting it to the jet ski, check terminals, posts, and cables for corrosion. Clean the terminals and posts and connect the battery.
|Check spark plugs||Check that your spark plugs are on tightly.|
|Apply anti-corrosion spray||Take advantage of the thoroughly dry state of your jet ski and apply an anti-corrosion spray to the top, sides, and bottom of the engine.|
|Vinyl protection for the seats||Apply a healthy coat of vinyl protector to your jet ski’s seat and other trims.|
Avoid using vinyl protectors that are not meant for personal watercraft, as they leave a slippery residue that can pose a safety hazard when riding your jet ski.
|Empty fuel tank||Empty the fuel that you had left in your tank over the winter months. Replace it with a full tank of fresh fuel.|
|Shake-down cruise||Once all of the pre-start of season tasks have been completed, take your jet ski for a pre-season “shakedown cruise.”|
Ride it for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t perform tricks or stunts, but do accelerate the engine, test the handling, etc. Make sure the instrument panel is functioning correctly as well.
Do this to detect any oddities in the performance of the craft. Also, check for leaks, etc., at the end of the test ride.
Regularly Scheduled Maintenance
|Change spark plugs||Change the spark plugs of a jet ski every 25 hours of engine operating time.|
If you use your jet ski for less than 25 hours per season, change them as part of your pre-start of season checklist.
|Change air filter||The air filter should be replaced once every 25 to 50 hours of engine time. |
A new air filter is recommended at the start of each season.
|Change oil||You should change the oil in your jet ski every 50 hours of engine run time. |
Some manufacturers state you can change the oil filter every 100 hours or every other oil change. However, it’s best if you change your oil filter at every oil change.
Also, just as with the air filter and spark plugs, if you did not reach the 50-hour mark in the previous season, changing your oil before starting the season is a best practice.
|Replace the battery||Provided you remove the battery during the winterization process and keep it on a trickle charger, your jet ski’s battery should last for three to five years.|
|Engine compression check||You should run an engine compression check at most every three years or when you detect sudden or inexplicable loss of engine power during use.|
Ideally, you would run a compression check at the start of each season as a preventative measure or whenever you change your spark plugs.
Personal watercraft such as jet skis are something that can bring many hours of enjoyment. With an average lifespan of 10 years for a new model, its upfront cost should be seen as an investment in recreational fun over that period.
To maximize the enjoyment of your investment, ensure safety, and safeguard its resale value, it’s vital to incorporate maintenance costs into your calculations before purchasing a jet ski.
I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!
For more, check out Is It Safe to Swim in the Ocean at Night? | 7 Dangers to Avoid.
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