Avoid 10 Common Jet Ski Buying Mistakes Most First-timers Make

Learn how to buy a Jet Ski without getting hosed or suffering buyer’s remorse. New Jet Skis are a costly investment in your recreation, and 10 common mistakes when buying them likely as not will turn the fun gadget into a dangerous money pit.

1. Newbies should not buy new Jet Skis. If you are surprised to learn that there is actually a proper flushing procedure and that running the Jet Skis in shallow water is a really bad idea, it is best to buy Jet Skis that are used. There is a learning curve associated with this watercraft, and it is best to make mistakes with a cheap machine — rather than an expensive one fresh off the lot.

2. Forgetting to consider the number of riders. Single-person Jet Skis are great for the single rider or the buyer who will purchase an additional model for the other potential rider in the household. Three-person models are excellent for the buyer who will only invest in one machine, but who has more than one rider in the household.

3. Underestimating the machine’s weight. A one-rider Kawasaki 800 SX-R has a curb weight of 396.9 pounds; not exactly light, but relatively easy to lift for two grown-ups. By comparison, a three-person Ultra 300 LX has a curb weight of 1,018.7 pounds. Try lifting that one alone.

4. Buying a protection plan without reading the warranty. Manufacturers frequently offer product protection plans that span one to four years. Signing on the dotted line is one of the common mistakes when buying new Jet Skis; if the warranty coverage is excellent, then the extra protection is really a waste of money.

5. Failing to appreciate the difference in length. A one-person craft may be as long as 90.6 inches, which makes travel around tight corners simple. A three-person jet ski may be as long as 132.7 inches. For the sake of maneuverability, this is a huge difference.

6. Neglecting to factor in maintenance costs. Marine parts are expensive. While stats associated with learning how to buy a Jet Ski usually discuss the cost of the machines, newbies forget that oil and filter changes are part and parcel of ownership. It is not uncommon to spend almost $100 on this type of maintenance for the average four-stroke engine.

7. Taking a do-it-yourself approach. Unless you are an old hand at maintaining Jet Skis, you cannot do it yourself. First-time buyers take one look at the maintenance costs and figure that — since they do oil changes in their cars in the driveways — doing the work is simple. There is a world of difference between a Jet Ski and a car; failure to heed this warning leads to hundreds of dollars in re-built parts costs (trust me) and painful cuts.

8. Having the jet skis delivered. Common mistakes buying new Jet Ski equipment involves a deferring of the learning curve. Do not buy Jet Skis until you have a trailer, know how to hook it up to the tow vehicle and understand what its limitations are. You will not be tempted to buy that monstrous three-seater if your trailer can only handle the more modest one-seater. Struggle with getting the machine onto the trailer yourself; the sales person is there to help you, if you need assistance. It is better to tackle this little bit of training at the dealership than at the dock.

9. Skimping on the Jet Ski covers. New jet skis have air intake openings that are susceptible to the damage caused by bird droppings and debris. The machine’s finish is easily faded by the sun. Buy a tight-fitting cover that is custom-made for the machine you are choosing. No, a tarp and a length of rope is not ‘Ëœthe same thing’ as a custom-tailored Jet Ski cover.

10. Spending too much money on extras you’ll never miss. That oval-edge impeller sure would be nice, wouldn’t it? What about the supercharged induction? Did you know that plenty of one-seaters have neither and they are just as cool as other machines? Do not spend more than you absolutely have to on optional items you do not need.


Kawasaki: “Jet Ski 800 SX-R”