How to Buy a Used Jet Ski Guide
A jet ski is great for anyone—individuals, couples, and families. They are a fantastic way to spend your time on the water and satisfy the need for speed.
The question becomes whether you should buy a new jet ski or one that is preloved from a private seller. Buying a second-hand jet ski from a private seller can be a little intimidating and risky unless you know what to look for and the right questions to ask. There are some things you need to know before you start looking for that used jet ski to ensure you make the right decisions.
There are a lot of things to take into account. First you need to decide whether to buy a new or used personal watercraft.
In this article we give you an overview on how to buy a jet ski from a private seller, what to look for, and how to get the best deal.
Decide Your Budget
Before looking for a used jet ski, decide how much you want to spend. Take into account how many people you want to accommodate, size of the engine, and also factor in the price of a trailer to transport it from home to the water.
A used jet ski starts as low as $2000 depending on its age, how many people it can carry at a time, the size of the motor, and whether being sold with a trailer or not. A brand new one will start at around $5500 for the lowest cost SeaDoo model that carries two people and the cost goes up from there depending on the accessories you want included. And that is without a trailer.
You may also consider whether renting is a better option rather than buying but this may only be cost effective if you will only use your jet ski for a few hours a year. Renting one is expensive, starting at around $90 an hour. The price depends on where you rent from and what part of the country you are in.
Also research the market value of different jet ski makes and models so you know the average price of what interests you on the open market. After all, it is a major purchase.
Obviously one advantage of buying new is it will come with a warranty. Do not let this put you off when buying a used jet ski. If you ask the right questions and check it out thoroughly, you can get a fantastic deal. So, what should you look for when buying a used jet ski?
Jet Ski Size Matters
Jet skis come in sizes that can carry from one to four passengers. It is important to buy one that fits your use and the number of people you want it to carry at any one time. You also need to consider what you want to use your personal watercraft for.
Solo Jet Skis
A solo stand up jet ski is smaller and operated while standing up. They are agile and super quick with speeds up to 65 mph on the water. These are perfect if you are a solo rider, want to go fast and go wave jumping. Stand up crafts are for the more experienced operator, are quick to maneuver, and often used for short races and freestyle competitions.
There are also larger solo jet skis that allows the operator to sit down. While these are easier to control in the water, it still takes a more experienced person to control them.
Kawasaki and Yamaha are two manufacturers of solo personal water crafts with prices starting at a little under $9000.
Multiple Rider Jet Skis For Two People
Multiple rider jet skis for two people are larger so there is space for passengers and have bigger engines. These are not as agile as solo jet skis, but are still highly maneuverable at high speeds and remain stable.
These also have different features such as a tow hook, cupholders, and watertight storage. Basic models start from round $9000 new depending on the features included. And they get more expensive depending on the options you require. SeaDoo basic models start at $5500 but the price goes up as you add options.
Multiple Rider Jet Skis For Up to Four People
Multiple rider jet skis for three or four people are much larger, heavier and have much better stability. They engines are larger so it does not mean they go any slower. Additional to the normal feature there are luxury options such as cruiser seats and navigation systems.
The main brands in this space are SeaDoo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. Prices start at around $12,000 for a basic new SeaDoo and go up to $18,000 for all models depending on features, options, and specifications.
The advantage of buying a used jet ski is you get the best of both worlds for a cheaper price. The best places we found for private sellers are eBay and PWC Trader.
Passenger Jet Ski Safety
Passenger safety is key when out on the water. Most newer jet ski models come with an emergency cutoff switch in case you end up in the water. For it to work, you need to attach a lanyard to the switch and the other end to you. When the lanyard disengages from the switch it cuts the motor off. Check for this feature when looking at used jet skis, it is an important feature to have. Also check that it is working. Older models may not have them but you can purchase one on eBay and install it.
Where a jet ski has the emergency cutoff switch, most state laws require you to use it. Even if it is not a law where you live, it is a must have a safety feature that can save lives.
Another safety feature worth looking for is self-circling. This is valuable if you get thrown into the water. The jet ski idle in a circle so you can get back onboard. It is important the idle speed is set properly for this to work.
Jet Ski Functionality
It goes without saying that you have spent some time on jet skis before looking to buy a used one. You need to at least rent a few different types to get a feel for what suits you. This is really important if you want to make the right decision when buying one. You need to know what to expect if you can take it out on the water before making a financial commitment.
You also need to know the options you want. You need to consider:
- How many people will use it—are you a couple or a family, or maybe single?
- How do you want to use you jet ski—inland lakes or open water?
- Do you want to do clever tricks, cruise around or even tow the kids on a big rubber ring?
- How much you want to spend.
- Size of the engine—two or four strokes?
- Features and options such as:
- fuel efficient engines
- additional storage space
- boarding steps
- tow hooks
- seat straps
- lanyard attachment systems
- tilt steering
- waterproof Bluetooth audio systems
- dual wide side mirrors.
Inspecting a Used Jet Ski
Whether you are checking out a jet ski close by or in another state, you need to know what to look for. When you buy from eBay or a private seller not local to you, arrange a local pickup service to inspect the machine. Get them to check if it functions, has no damage, and look for anything the seller has not told you about. Also ask if it is still covered under warranty and check the paperwork for proof of ownership.
Avoid Paying Upfront
Avoid paying any money before you are satisfied the jet ski is in good working order and matches the seller’s description. This can be a tricky situation so try to check the seller’s reputation online. Many have found out the hard way when something you pay for upfront fails to turn up or, if it does, it costs more than it is worth. On the other hand, a seller needs to be careful and find a way to ensure they get paid. There is a simple answer that protects the buyer and seller—escrow.
Escrow.com is the only licensed escrow service to use to protect both parties in a buy and sell transaction. The buyer transfers the purchase price to escrow.com and it is not released until both parties meet the terms of the contract. This makes it easier to buy a preloved jet ski from another state. And gives the seller peace of mind you will not run off without paying. Escrow.com tracks delivery to ensure it is delivered according to your agreement. You never have to worry about getting paid.
Each party is equally protected. Give the buyer possession of the jet ski only when they escrow the full payment. Ideal for shipping across the country with the buyer releasing payment once they receive it and check it is in the condition expected.
Look For Signs of Damage
Every little bit of damage on a jet ski has a story behind it. Thoroughly inspect a used jet ski before buying it or you could pay out more for repairs. Look out for:
- Signs of rust. Signs of rust or corrosion around the pump or engine is a sign to walk away. It may be alright for a while but is likely to cause problems eventually. Look for chipped and peeling paint which can cause rust or corrosion.
- Damage to the seat. Is it in good condition? Is it cracked? What signs of wear is there? Is the seat hard or heavy to lift? When a jet ski seat is heavy it is a sign it has water in it. It can also indicate it has been out in the weather uncovered or under water at some time.
- Damage to the hull. Check the hull closely. It should be easy to see any damage. You can expect to see a few scratches and small dings in the hull if most are on the sides. It is not a good sign if they are on the bottom and can cause future problems.
Water Test It
It is all well and good that a used jet ski starts while on the trailer. Also test it in the water. Check how it performs. Take the opportunity to find out how it feels and whether it suits your needs.
Treat the water test seriously. It is not a fun outing. Make sure the gauges work properly and there are no warning indicators on. Check it maintains rpms at full throttle. Check out what the rpms are as they will vary for different makes and models. How well does it handle? Question the owner about anything you find or are not sure about.
Two or Four Stroke Engines
All advice leads to avoid buying a two-stroke jet ski. These cause more pollution than a four- stroke and manufacturers are phasing them out. It can also be difficult to get spare parts for them. You can tell the difference between the two by checking for a dipstick. A two-stroke does not have one.
Let’s Talk Maintenance
Check a used jet ski’s hours of use. This is a good indication how much time it has been out on the water. The benchmark is an average of 30 hours a year. While you should look at the hours, it is not the only thing to consider. A well-maintained jet ski can get up to 300 hours or more of regular use. When analyzing the hours also take into account its maintenance record:
- Parts replaced. Aside from normal wear and tear ask what other parts have needed replacing. A new hull or engine, for example, is not a good sign.
- Type of jet ski. Consider the make, model and year. Is it still in production? How difficult is to get spare parts and are they expensive?
- Where was it maintained? Ask who maintained the jet ski. Was it the seller or a dealer? It is simple enough for an owner to do regular maintenance such as oil changes, basic repairs, and tune ups. It is a good sign they took good care of it. For major work, it can be a red flag if the owner also did the work unless they are a mechanic. If so, ask for proof that they are qualified to repair major problems with personal watercrafts. Also ask for receipts of the maintenance done.
Look at how much it will cost to keep your jet ski in top condition so it is safe to operate and reliable from year to year. There are costs every time you use it such as fuel and others include:
- Changing the oil. The oil needs changing every 50 hours of use. A PWC service centre charges upwards of $200. Doing it yourself around $175.
- Spark plugs. Change the spark plugs every year but more often if it has a two-stroke engine. A pack of four spark plugs will only cost about $10.
- A new battery. Batteries need changing every three to five years for a cost around $100.
- When not in use. A jet ski needs special attention, if it is going to sit for two or more months before its next use. When you fail to do this, it may not operate next time you take it out. This is expensive and costs anywhere between $200 and $600. The jet ski needs draining and refilled with gas as well as filters fitted to keep the engine in good condition while not in use.
Storage is something else to consider. Where are you going to keep it? Is there enough space in the garage to store it safely or will you need a cover to store it outside? Jet skis deteriorate quickly out in the weather so you need to protect your investment and avoid repair costs.
Take Out Insurance
Make sure you have jet ski insurance before you take it out on the water. Depending on the make, model and engine size it will cost up to $100 a year. This will vary depending on the operator’s history. Shop around for the best price.
A jet ski is a major purchase so do your research before you start looking to buy. Decide on the makes and models that fit your budget and lifestyle. And remember you need a trailer so factor that cost into the budget.
Add up maintenance and unforeseen costs to evaluate ongoing expenses. Are you prepared for these? Make sure you have any vehicle thoroughly checked before it is shipped to you.
In times where there are many online scammers, use Escrow.com to protect both you and the buyer. It is the safe way to guarantee you receive the jet ski and the buyer gets paid.
Most of all have a blast out on the water in the sun with friends and family.