5 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Used Jet Ski

What to know when buying a used jet ski?

Before writing this, I went around and looked at the websites that supposedly gave you pointers on what you should do before the purchase of a Used Jetski. All the sites I ran into pretty much gave junk advice. Some of these sites were just News sites. Taking advice from a News site is like taking advice from me on how to fly a plane, I never been on a plane so why would you listen to me?

Some of these sites did offer some good advice, but from all the years of selling and working on Jet Skis, I have compiled my own list of things I look out for when selling or buying a Jet Ski that will be very useful to you. I’m not going to say I know everything about selling and buying a Used Jet Ski but I’ve sold and bought a few hundred so I do have some pointers and tips that you might find useful.

1. Don’t Buy 2-Stroke Jet Ski

I made this the first one because it’s got to be the most important one. Some manufacturers still to this day make 2-Stroke Jet Ski’s, but that does not mean you should consider one.

2-Stroke Engines are being phased out since they pollute so much more than 4-Stroke Engines. Also, parts are getting harder to find which means shops are less likely to work on them.

About the only thing a 2-Stroke Jet Ski is good for these days is parts. Just about every 2-Stroke I run into nowadays has low compression or something else majorly wrong with it.

If you’re wondering what a 2-Stroke Jet Ski looks like then you need to see if it has a dip-stick. A 2-Stroke Jet Ski will not have a Dip Stick since it burns the oil instead while a 4-Stroke will have a dipstick. If it’s a Sea-Doo and made on or after 2008 then it’s a 4-Stroke, these are good models and I have a link below going into more detail about each year and what model to buy.

Check out the Checklist for buying a used watercraft here

2. Engine Hours Don’t Really Matter

When reading the News article, they said a Jet Ski is made to last for only 300 hours. I burst out laughing when I saw this. Yes, 300 hours is quite a lot of hours, but I’ve seen Jet Skis with over 300 hours last longer than some with under 50 hours.

Would I buy a Jet Ski with 300 hours on it? Probably. It all depends on the shape of the craft, the compression, the pump, the hull, and many other factors.

Tip: Buy a Compression Gauge to check compression of each cylinder. You want the compression to be above 100PSI and each cylinder to be close to each other in compression.

used jet ski compression checkWhen a watercraft has 300 hours on it, that tells me that they had 300 enjoyable hours. Someone with that many hours has taken care of the Jet Ski to be able to achieve that many hours.

I’ve seen a couple of low hour Jet Skis blow up because it was never taken care of. You would be surprised by how many people never did their yearly service. If you want to keep a watercraft in tip-top shape just do your yearly service and get it winterized every year and you’ll be fine. You can even buy oil change kits and do your own oil changes if you wanted to. Just make sure when you do your own oil changes that you have an oil extractor like this one to remove the oil.

So what I’m trying to say is that don’t base your buying decision on engine hours as there are many more important factors to consider such as maintenance, hull condition, and water testing it.

To help you better understand hours, we have a chart below that shows you the scale of what is good hours compared to how old the machine is. So, a jet ski that is 10 years old you would expect 300 hours on it. Anything that is over 13 years old or over 400 hours might not be worth it to buy in my opinion.  Always get it checked out like I’ve mentioned above as I’ve seen low hour jet ski’s break too.

jet ski hours chart graph

How many hours can you get out of a jet ski? – I’ve seen Jet Skis go over 300 hours before and that wouldn’t stop me from buying like I mention so far. But when you get a watercraft that is over 10 years old with over 400 hours on it then I consider that a good lifespan for that jet ski for the market’s sake. Sure, it’s possible to find jet skis with over 400 hours on it and they could be fine but the market has a bad stigma with such a high number.

Jet Ski Engine Lifespan? – If it’s a 2-stroke engine I would happy to see 300 hours out of that engine. If it’s a 4-stroke that has been taken care of you could possibly see 1,000 hours. I get that 1,000 hours from rental companies as they often overachieve that number quickly.

Average Hours Per Year for a Jet Ski? – The average jet ski gets anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a year put on it.

How To Check Hours on Jet Ski? – If the jet ski has a gauge for speed then it has an hour meter. Luckily the hour meter on watercraft made in the last 10 years has been easy to see with it often right on the gauge sometimes at the bottom. Some models do have a smaller screen that you might have to scroll through by pressing a “menu” button either on the gauge or handlebars. If you can’t find it you can always take it the local dealer to have them read it or have the seller supply service records with the hours on it to give you an idea.

If you want even more helpful advice when buying a Used Jet Ski then check out my checklist here.

3. Water Test It!

This should be common sense, never buy a used Jet Ski unless they let you water test it. When Water Testing it make sure the watercraft takes off instantly. It doesn’t usually matter the power of the Jet Ski as they all take off like a rocket. Also, check the RPM’s, you want something over 7000 RPMs at full throttle, but this can be different for every ski.

Basically, when you go full throttle with the Jet Ski, it should put a smile on your face!

Important! Even when buying from a dealership you always want to water test it before buying it! The dealer may say the watercraft is fine, but only a test drive will confirm that.

4. Check For Damages

The first thing I check is the seats on a Jet Ski. If the Seats are tearing it means that the person never really kept a cover on the watercraft. If you’re too lazy to put a cover on a Jet Ski, then that also means you’re too lazy to do regular maintenance.

Slight tears on the seat is not that bad. There’s going to be some tears on seats of jet ski’s 8 years or older. This is due to people riding it and bouncing up and down when they ride. It’s when you have chunks of a seat missing is when you need to worry, not tears where people sit. You can always get a seat cover to replace the old seat. Seat covers may need a upholstery person to install it.

Fiberglass damage is to be expected on used Jet Skis. No one is perfect, and docking can be hard to do on a watercraft so do expect some damage. I don’t usually sweat the small stuff like fiberglass damage smaller than a quarter, but I do concern myself with fiberglass damage on the bottom of the ski.

You will get some marks on the underside of the watercraft from people beaching a jet ski but if you have chunks missing from the lower part of the watercraft then run very far from that deal.

Check for Rust around the engine and pump. If the paint on the engine is flaking off, I would avoid the craft as it is just a matter of time before you have some issue. Rust or Corrosion is notorious for giving electrical problems in the future due to the grounds getting eaten away and giving you crazy errors on your gauge.

Make sure you get your local dealer to check it out before you write the check. Your dealer will know about all the quirks about that particular model and can tell you things that you might have overlooked. Your dealer can also check the compression and pump for any damage.

Low compression means the engine is blown and you should avoid any watercraft with a blown engine.

Has it been sunk? To check to see if the watercraft was sunk is simple. Take the seats off and see how heavy they feel. A watercraft that has been sunk will have very heavy seats, like to the point where you can’t lift them. It doesn’t matter if it was sunk last year, the water stays in the seat’s foam for a long time. Waterlogged seats can tell you if you might have problems in the future from a sunken watercraft.

Bonus: How Much Should You Pay?

I’ve been getting a lot of comments here lately about how much should one pay for a used Jet Ski.

A good starting point is to check out what KBB Watercraft says retail should be. You can even check out NADA Watercraft too.

Using those 2 sites you can have a good idea of what you should pay. If the jet ski needs service or repairs then take those cost off of retail and explain to the seller why.

If you’re buying a used watercraft from a dealership then you can also look up wholesale for the watercraft on KBB here. Wholesale will also be your trade-in value and sometimes go by the same name. Sometimes a dealership will have more in the unit then what wholesale says, but if they’ve been sitting on it for awhile they might want to move it.

More Factors
used jet ski buyers guide

It is not possible for me to squeeze 10 years of my knowledge of buying used jet skis into one post. Instead, I created a book that goes over the 17+ factors that I look at when buying a used jet ski. If you ever wonder if the used jet ski you’re looking at is worth it or you don’t know where to start then this book is a must-have.

Don’t Be Fooled! Learn Things Like…

  • The truth about supercharged jet skis.
  • What to pay for a jet ski and trailer.
  • What are good or bad hours for a jet ski?
  • What Jet Skis to avoid and what ones to buy.
  • When the best time to buy and from who.
  • What good engine oil and a good battery look like.
  • Why a jet pump can tell us a lot about a used jet ski.
  • The SCAMS that sellers try to play when selling a used jet ski.

Click Here For ” Used Jet Ski Buyers Guide “


5. Consider New!?

Why are you buying a used watercraft? Price? Did you know Seadoo makes a new Jet Ski that starts at $5,399 in 2018? It’s called the Spark, and it really has hurt the used market. You get a new Jet Ski with a warranty for the price of a used jet ski. The Spark is half the cost, half the weight, uses a third of the gas of some new Jet Skis.

If you’re interested in new, then check out my guide on all 2018 Jet Skis here.

If you’re not sure what used Seadoo watercraft you should buy, I’ve created this list of the units I recommend. This will help you get a general idea of what I consider good machines and have given the least amount of problems.

One More Thing!

If you’re planning on getting a Jet Ski then make sure you get all the correct safety gear and accessories. There are many other little things and tips you should also be aware of too! I’ve compiled a HUGE list of accessories and tips into one helpful guide here that can help you with this.



If you liked this post make sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter!


  • hi there what is the most reliable jet ski to buy?
    i know if you l
    you look af8them they will last a long time..
    im looking at getting a Yamaha new
    or seadoo..
    What would you recommend??

    • Anything that is a 4-stroke and made after 2010 will be the most reliable. The most reliable watercraft I would say is a 2006 and up 155hp Sea-Doo GTX, or any Sea-Doo with a 155hp or 130hp engine. Here is a post I wrote on which Sea-Doo’s are good for each year.

  • Hi I know you strongly recommend a 4 stroke but you also say a 155 hp or better. What are your thoughts on a 99 and 01 Yamaha 1200. Thanks

    • My idea on 2-Strokes is that you don’t buy them, you just rent them. By this I mean a 2-stroke is not going to last. A 2-stroke is fine if all you want is a cheap machine for the season to blast around on. 2-strokes like the Yamaha 1200 are nimble and easy to spin out. A 2-stroke can be fine if you just want a cheap machine to see if you like the sport, but don’t expect it to last especially since 2-stroke parts are getting harder to find.

  • Is it 2007 Kawasaki a good price at 3300 I don’t know how many hours but I’m getting ready look at it now he wanted 3900 please text me back for any details to look at

  • mckinley S Lewis

    Considering buying two 1996 wave runner jet skies if everything checks out with your 5 tip process will I be going wrong thanks

    • Yes, you would be going wrong. Tip #1 is not to buy a 2 stroke jet ski and if they’re 1996 models then they’re 2-strokes. Unless you only want to ride them for a season then it might be worth it, but overall they will be a headache to deal with. Parts are hard to find for 2-stroke, especially for 1996 models. It’s 2017 so that means those ski’s are 21 years old, that’s like 40 in jet ski years. Jet Ski’s are rode hard and put up wet, literally, and the manufacturers build them to last for 10 years (4-strokes can easily go 15 to 20 years if taken care of). I would avoid them. Look for a 2004 to 2007 4-stroke jet ski non-supercharged, they’re out there and would be a way better value.

  • Garrett seartz

    I’m looking at a 2015 Yamaha vx 1100 with 500 hrs on it. The guy said that a diving instructor had it and that is the reason for the high hrs. The current owner said it runs great and selling it for $4800. Not a good choice?

  • I am looking into a 2010-2012 sea challenger of some sort. Is 100-150 hours normal/high for these type machines? And what should I watch out for? Thanks!

    • It’s going to be common to see higher hours on Sea-Doo Jet Boats since people spend more time on them. 100 to 150 is low if you ask me for 2010 to 2012 models. Here is an interesting fact, the Sea-Doo Jet Boats have the same engine that their watercraft use. Another interesting fact is that the engines on the jet boats were a year behind, so a 2012 Sea-Doo jet boat would have a 2011 engine tech in it. Not an issue since not much change year to year but it is interesting. Pretty much the same guidelines for checking out a jet ski is the same for a jet boat, make sure to water test it if you can to see how strong the take off is. Boats will be slightly laggy compared to jet skis but still feel fast – except for the 180 challenger with a 155hp engine those things felt slow.

  • great help and info for us newbys thanks. found 2 skis, 2001 seadoo gtx 951 cc, 97 hrs. and 1998 seadoo gsx ltd 951 cc 40 hrs, with trailer. 3 ft scrape on bottom of hull of the 01. pics of engines show no signs of rust or corrosion, no tears or rips in seat. both skis come with covers, owner says maintenance is up to date and serviced regularly. clear titles for 2 skis and trailer in hand. owner wants $5800 or best offer.

    NADA guide says average of $3900 for skis and $300 for trailer. may I please have your opinion? thanks.
    I have read your other responses, and cant afford newer items. so hoping to find a deal on 2. I know GOOD LUCK!!!!!

    • I would personally avoid them. They’re 2-strokes and those are a losing battle and parts are hard to find for them. They started making 4-strokes in 2002, look for a 2002 or a 2004 “4-tec”. KBB says retail for a 2004 4-tec is around $3,600 and that would be a way better machine if you ask me. Or even a 2002 or 2003 would be fine too.

  • Hi Steven, looking for advise. just retired at 68 & very fit.
    Now have time to enjoy a pass time on the sea.
    At my age, should I get a jet ski & some lessons or should I look at a jet boat such as the Sea-Doo Sportster instead. What would you recommend.

    • Get whatever you feel comfortable with. I have met a couple in their 80’s who ride Sea-Doo’s and put more hours on one in a year than most people would in a lifetime of there jet ski. They do ride the top of the line with suspension and take them anywhere there is a riding event.

  • I’ve had reliable two strokes for years. Can still find parts of course. Check compression and test drive before buying and go have fun!

  • was in the process of buying a 2005 Yamaha FX1100A Cruiser HO with only 31 hours until the seller told me, when I asked about service records, that he was second owner, he got it with 23 hours on it, and it still has the break in oil since it hasn’t reached 40 hours. That’s 12 years with the same original oil! Should I run away from this?

    • I’m sure a 2005 Yamaha should have had the first service done at 10 hours. Would I buy it if it hasn’t had the oil changed in 12 years? Probably not. Oil does go bad and for someone to be that out of it in terms of services makes me wonder what else have they neglected?

  • hey man!! If you can email me back thatd be easier, if not its cool! Im purchasing a 2007 yamaha vx1100 tmw 46 hours for 5k (is this a good deal), the guy lives far from the water and doesn’t want to drop it in, he says he will run water thru it and its the same as dropping it in the water.. whats your input on that??! please get back to me asap im going tmw! thanks for much i love this website!

    • I’ve updated the post with a “bonus” section where anyone can check out what KBB and NADA says a jet ski should go for ($). Running the jet ski on the hose is not the same as running it in the water. You need to be on the water to be able to feel if it has a strong takeoff and running it on the hose can not tell you that. There have been many times when a jet ski runs fine on the hose but runs like crap on the lake.

  • Looking at a 2010 yamaha wave runner vs deluxe wirh 200 miles but I’m thinking hours for 4250.00, a dealer has it. What would you do to test it and would you buy or pass? First time jet skiers so not wanting new.

    • Try to see if they let you test drive it, it should take off quickly and put a smile on your face. The great thing about buying from a dealership is that some can give you a warranty of some kind. Ask them if they have any warranty, even a 30-day warranty would be fine and give you piece of mind. Some dealers don’t give warranty on used but if they don’t do test rides then ask them to supply you a check list of them checking it out to make sure it’s good to go. If they can’t supply a checklist paper from a tech who checked it out then I would walk away from it.

  • wondering if i should by a spark or go for used i am using it on a bay with some waves and beach herd about some issues with the hull of the spark! what do you think? thanks again

    • I would go with used but not because of the spark hull. The Spark’s hull has been reinforced in 2015 and up but if you do a lot of riding in rough water that hull is too small and it is not comfortable.

  • thanks!! anything after 2008 with seadoo but does polaris or yamaha do a 4 stroke earlier than 08?

    • Any Sea-Doo 2002 and up that is a 4-stroke is great, just watch out for some that have superchargers and see if the owners did what they’re were supposed to do with it. I go into great detail about superchargers and other factors to watch out for in my ebook here…https://www.steveninsales.com/used-jet-ski-buyers-guide/

      As for the Polaris don’t buy those, they never really got into the jet ski market and only made 2-strokes. Yamaha has some nice 4-strokes too and made many before 2008 too.

  • Steven – what are your thoughts on the following. Which do you prefer? There is a large selection of used skis at our local dealer. Many models are the same year with varying hours and therefore varying price. What range of hours should I look for?

    2008 Yamaha WaveRunner VX110 Deluxe

    2005 – 2007 Yamaha WaveRunner® FX High Output

    2005 Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC

    2008 Sea-Doo GTI 130

    2006 Sea-Doo RXT

    2010 Sea-Doo GTI SE 130

    Thanks. Just bought your buyers guide as well.

    • The VX or GTI are the most reliable of the options you have listed and I personally would look into those. Unless you want to go fast maybe consider the rxt and others but understand the rules on superchargers that I cover in my used jet ski buyers guide. Make sure to ask for a check out sheet from the dealer like I go over in the book. Thank you for buying the book!

  • Steven – thanks for the help. I’ve made a long list using your buyers guide book to take to the dealer this weekend.

    Looking at prices, I’ve also considered the Spark. I saw 2 comments above. Would you reocmmend the Spark (lake only)? How is the stability on the Spark?

    Spark vs 2010 Seadoo GTI SE 130

    Thanks again.

    • The Spark is great, I own a 2014 model. The Spark is very playful and better on gas compared to a GTI but each has its purpose. The Spark is great on the lake or anywhere that the water is not too rough (unless you like that). The Spark is stable for what it does, but a 3-seater is really a 2 seater and a 2-seater is really a 1 seater. The only thing I wish the spark had was a better seat, the GTI seats are really nice compared to the Spark seat. If you’re looking for an affordable watercraft that gets on you on the water then the Spark is the ticket.

  • What do you think of buying a seadoo xp limited 2000? just for occasional use and fun.
    The owner asks 1500 for the ski and a trailer and he is a friend of the family. I know it’s a two stroke but I want to know if I like the hobby or not. the jetski has a cover and the hull looks clean. I didn’t check the engine yet. I would like to know your opinion.

  • What is some of the common factors i need to look at when i buy a seadoo that has been sitting for 2 yrs ??

    • An engine that is locked up from rust in the cylinder walls and piston. Bad gas, Bad battery, bad fuel lines, corrosion are things to watch out for. It would be best to let a dealership or repair show do a check list on it to see what all is wrong with it.

  • thank you for all the info. the ebook was really helpful too!

  • Comparing two used jet skis…..the first is a 2008 Sea Doo GTX 215 and the other is a 2008 Kawasaki Ultra LX. Both have low hours. Comparisons online seem to make the two very similar. Any insight?

    • The Kawasaki will run better in rougher water but other than that they’re very similar machines. I would see about letting a repair shop look at them to make sure the compression, pump, and super chargers are fine before buying.

  • Considering this 1997 seadoo explorer.
    What are your thoughts? It looks like it’s in good shape and well taken care of.

    Price: $ 2,300

    • It’s not every day someone mentions a Sea-Doo Explorer. It’s a rare machine much like how the HX is becoming rare. It’s a 2-stroke and I normally would not buy it unless I wanted to get it as a collector’s item or if I’m a diver that REALLY needs one. The worse part about that craft is also the best part, the tubes often don’t last and wear out too quickly that it becomes a headache to deal with. All the Explorers I see have the tube deflated because you can only patch up so much.

  • Thanks so much for all the info! Can a Spark tow a skiier or tuber? Total newbie to the PWC market – just looking for an inexpensive but reliable unit to get 2 teen boys and dad on the lake. Any info appreciated!

    • A Spark can tow a Tube or a Skier, but you must be aware of your local laws on tow sports. The Spark doesn’t have mirrors so in many states you will need a spotter sitting backwards when you pull. Since many watercraft have a limit of 3 people that means on a Spark you can only pull one person on a tube at a time. Here is info and videos showing Sparks and other watercraft pulling people to give you an idea of power…https://www.steveninsales.com/look-can-jet-ski-pull-skier-tube-wakeboard/

      For a little bit more I would recommend looking at a GTI or VX since they’re a little bigger and will better support your needs.

  • Steven,
    Thanks in advance, I’ve been reading your article, ebook and replies to post and I’ve been learning alot…TY!

    My request is for your feedback on a 2015 Yamaha V1 Sport (2 seater) with 60 hrs in the low 5K. What things should I look for before I hand over the check, it sure looks like a great deal still under warranty and well serviced from the dealership.


    • Hey, Thanks your reading! I would see about getting the service records and see that they serviced it every year. Also, if it gets cold where you live ask if they got it winterized too. You’ll start to see some great deals this time of year as the season is ending. As for the V1 Sport, it’s a simple and fun jet ski. Check the compression and the pump like how I recommend in the ebook and if it all looks good then ski should be good. It wouldn’t hurt to look at new ones right now as the end of August and the start of September is when the best deals for new jet skis come. The dealership is about to order 2018 models and the manufacturer wants the dealers to have as few leftover so they order more new ones, to help the give good rebates and warranties this time of year.

  • Hi Steven,

    You are very knowledgable. I have learned a lot reading your blog here. I am looking for a standup jetski and much of the research has led me to the superset. I know you said no 2 strokes, so curious your thoughts on the Yamaha Superjet? Thoughts?


    • I think the Superjet is probably the best stand up on the market. They use 2-strokes in stand up’s to save on weight so you don’t really have much of an option to that unless you want the new Kawasaki one.

  • hi a am looking at 17 vx crusiser ho or fx ho with one would be stable for two bigger people and better ride

  • I will second your advice about buying a used 2 stroke. Last summer I bought a 2005 Kawasaki ultra 150 it ran great for the first few months lots of power and fun, I was hooked. Then suddenly it’s lost top end and then no power at all. 1st plug good, 2 plug good, 3rd dreaded gray colour.

  • Hi mate I just bought a 2003 Yamaha gp1200r the body is in fantastic condition no rust anywhere to b found done a compression test all around the 110 mark got it for $2500 with galvinized trailer my question is I know there being phased but does that mean I can’t use it in dams or oceans because it’s 2 stroke

    • Some lakes and other locations have banned 2-strokes because they pollute more. They usually have it posted at the lake if it’s banned or not, it’s usually the small ones.

  • I have a question, How does the hours are counted in PWC ? Same hours if you go slow or fast or when the engine is in idle ? Is there a way for people to cheat on the hours by messing with the vessel computer ? Thanks

    • When the engine is on the hour meter is counting. It doesn’t matter how fast you go. There’s not an easy way for the average person to mess with the hours. Often, the hours are stored in more than one place on the watercraft just in case you have to replace one of the parts. Like the gauge might store the hours but so does the other computers on the machine. If you replace the gauge sometimes it might not get updated and the gauge won’t reflect the correct hours. The only true way to get the correct hours is to take it a dealership and have them hook it up to the computer as that will display the correct hours. Also, it can be obvious that it’s not the right hours if they’re low and the watercraft is all banged up – that is when you take it to the dealership to get proof of the hours before buying.

  • Hi Steven, I’ve been cramming my head with knowledge all week and I’m glad I found your site before I make my first ski purchase this weekend. Let me start with saying I’ve only been on a seadoo before (’07 GTI se and ’13 GTI se) on lakes in the south. I live in Ohio and will only be riding on Lake Erie during the summer months. All my friends have sea doos ranging from 2-strokes up to new supercharged models. I’m a Honda guy at heart, and have driven honda automobiles most of my life. I just sold a modified turbocharged honda civic for $5k to purchase a ski, as it’s deal season here in OH. As a honda enthusiast, I immediately became interested in a 2005 Aquatrax, specifically the 3 seat F12x, turbocharged model. I found one local for $4500, 175 hrs, has a replaced turbo & new propulsion system. That price ALSO includes a double trailer AND a 2001 Kawasaki 1100 STX D.I. 2 Stroke with 39 hrs. Both have new batteries and are ready to ride – no issues. The STX would mostly be a spare ride for friends/relatives to use, as I plan on spending most of my time on the F12x, as the previous owner did (second owner btw.) Both are 3-seater, which is important, as I will sometimes have my wife and 6 yr old daughter on the seat with me. I’m a fan of the turbocharged 4cyl and honda’s reliability in general.
    Now, my sea doo friends say skip that whole deal and get a 2010 GTX 155. A particular one available with 85 hrs comes with a trailer for $6k. They say I’ll appreciate the S3 hull on Lake Erie, as well as the iControl and braking. The iControl does sound nice, as docking is stressful to me, only riding other people’s skis on occasion.
    Also important to note that all these skis are freshwater and have no damage. I’ll be doing any repairs/maintenance myself. I haven’t seen mention of the Aquatrax on your site and wanted to get your opinion on my two final choices.

    2005 Honda Aquatrax F12X 3 Seater + 2001 Kawasaki STX 1100 Direct Injection (2-stroke) 3 Seater for $4500
    Pros: Honda, turbocharged, most fun, fast, new propulsion system. Second ski for friends/relatives to ride. Great price for 2 fast skis.
    Cons: Older models may mean less available parts. Read online that although more stable than the 2-seater R12x, the F15x at idle speeds with 3 people is considered unstable by some riders of other skis- no mention of what models they were comparing to… I’m used to the stability of a 3 seat GTI and would like something that stable again. Paying insurance for 2 skis, towing 2 skis, maintaining 2 skis.

    2010 Sea Doo GTX 155 for $6000
    Pros: S3 Hull, Newer technology, ease of finding parts, Less weight to pull on the road, only 1 ski to insure/maintain. I know sea doo experts who can give advise on any issues that may happen with this model.
    Cons: Not a Honda, not as quick, $2k more expensive, less storage, no second ski option for friends/family to ride.

    Looking forward to your response and reading through all of your articles over the long Ohio winter!

    • Honda did make a great Jet Ski and I’m sure you would love it. But your friends are right, Lake Erie can be busy and that S3 hull will be a better ride if you ask me. And iBR will make docking a lot easier not only for you but others who ride it – and everyone will want to ride your machine. Since Honda doesn’t make Jet Skis any more parts will soon get hard to find for it so based on that the GTX will be more future proof. And the GTX 155 is what I call the Goldie-Locks of watercraft, it’s “just right”. Make sure all the updates and services have been done for it and I’m sure that ski will be the better deal. The Honda will be fine too, but I wouldn’t let the fact you get a 2-Stroke Jet Ski with it be something that you factor in. That 2-Stroke Jet Ski could be more trouble then it’s worth.

  • Hi Steven im looking at a yamaha vxs 2011 with 165hrs it has $8700 on it. Is that abit high priced?

  • Hi Steven, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’m looking at two 2011 Yamaha VX cruisers with the dbl trailer for about $9K. My primary concern is something that is safe and comfortable for my family. We will be in saltwater on a bay on Long Island and it can get snotty, especially in the afternoons. They have about 70 hours each. Anything you think I should be mindful of? It is a private sale and, although I have a had a boat, I’ve never had jet skis and I’m worried about getting something that will be be a headache. Thanks for any feedback you have.

    • I would take them to the local dealer to see if they had all warranty items done on them. There were some older VX models that had timing chain issues and you want to see if you have anything like that. You could even get the VIN’s from the guy selling them and call your local dealer to make sure there are no outstanding warranty items and ask about the timing chains on that model. I also have an ebook that goes into more detail about buying a used Jet Skis here https://gumroad.com/l/iBOac

  • Steven, I have read your comments about 2 stroke skis but please tell me what you think of this deal. A 2001 yamaha XL 1200 limited which looks really nice and clean and has only 40 hours on it Price $3000 with a trailer. Thanks for all your help

    • I think that is too much for a 2001 no matter if it’s a 2 stroke or not. You could get a nice 2006 or 2007 GTI or VX for around that price. Plus, winter you can find some really good deal too!

  • Steven, what’s your take on supercharged vs non supercharged? I have found a 300L and a 300LX, both 2012 and both close in price.

    • Superchargers are fine, just make sure to get them serviced at the right times and you’ll be fine. If you’re new to the sport non-supercharged would be a better way to start because many of those are fast enough for many people. If you’ve owned many Jet Skis in the past and need something faster then go supercharged.

  • steven, Any comments on how V1 compares to Vx , thanks

    • The ride is going to almost be the same but the VX is going to be a better overall experience. The seat on the VX is going to be nicer and the features you get on the VX compared to the V1 is going to be noticeable too. The V1 was a quick release by Yamaha to have something that could compete with the Spark til they could come out with the EX. Since the EX is out now the V1 is phased out. The V1 was more popular with rental companies so you’ll expect used ones to have high hours on them.

  • Steven – your knowledge and advice is awesome! I’m currently “watching” at a pair of 2006 FXHOS (160hp). Around 75 hrs on them (haven’t seen them in person yet). Comes with a double trailer. Current price is $7500. Location is within driving distance before auction closes. Got any advice for me? Thanks!

    • Good machines but the best thing you can do is ride them. Or even better get a someone to test the compression on them beforehand. Don’t forget to check out KBB watercraft and eBay to get an idea of what to pay for them.

  • If you had $4K and wanted a 3 person PWC what would be your top 3 choices in that price range?

    • A 4-stroke GTI or VX or GTX. If I can find a 2006 GTX or 2008 GTX in the 155HP I would be all over that. It’s a bulletproof engine and has a great ride.

  • I’m looking at a 2006 GTI 4-tec 130 with only 88 hours for 2700 with trailer. What are your thoughts on that deal as well as the craft overall

  • Hi Steven. Where can I find the definition of Poor, Fair, Good and Excellent condition for a PWC. Kelley Blue book has these four conditions for used cars, boats and motorcycles but doesn’t list PWC. Does that matter? Does PWC fall under boat or motorcycle? I wanted something more specific states PWC. I’ve been clicking everywhere! Thanks.

    • Poor, fair, good, and excellent can be open to any definition. If you ask me, Excellent is not a scratch on it and looks like it came off the showroom. Good is that the engine looks clean and perfect, no rust, but the hull might have a few scratches or even a ding from the dock. Fair is some rust on the engine and more scratches and more dings from the dock and might have faded. Poor is tears in the seat, a lot of damage to the fiberglass, missing parts, rusted and nasty engine compartment and faded so bad it’s a different color. What I found though is that all sellers think their craft is in excellent condition no matter how faded and damaged it is. This gets even more tricky as watercraft don’t seem to age well compared to cares. Fiberglass fades quicker and seats split more often due to the sun. This is is why I spend more time looking at the engine and the things that make it go as I can always make it pretty again.

  • HI Steven – great article… very informative. what are your thoughts on a couple 2007 yamaha vx cruisers. 85 hours… asking $9500 with trailer. i’m new to jet skis. most important feature is stability. my only experience was about 20 years ago, i got on, rolled over and never got on again. thanks for any input!

    • They have come a long way since 20 years ago. The VX will feel more stable than anything from back then, but it’s not the most stable. You’ll want to stick to GTX or FX models if you want the most stable. But the average person could stand on the side of the VX and not flip it, or they could if they really tried. 85 hours is not bad, but I would still have a dealership check them out. Check the bottom hull for any damages and see if he has maintenance records. The great thing about 85 hours on a ski means they used them regularly but not too much. So it’s a good chance they took care of them. If there is no tear on the seats that would be a good sign too, that shows they took care of the machines and would build my confidence in buying them. If everything checks out those are good machines and you should get years of fun out of them. Don’t forget to check out the trailer too. I’ve found a lot of guys these days will sell for cheap but give you a really bad trailer with either broken axles or wheel bearings.

  • Steven – thank you for your informative webpage. Very helpful. I am a first time PWC buyer and looking around currently for a good used ski to use on a fresh water river in FL. I’ve come across 3 but not sure which way to go.

    2013 Sea Doo GTI 130 $5,990 184 hrs
    2008 Sea Doo GTX Lim $5,999 150 hrs
    2007 Sea Doo GTX 155 $5,499 71 hrs
    2016 Yamaha V1 $4,999 Hrs not listed

    I’m leaning towards the GTX Lim but should i be concerned about the hours? Any advice would be helpful.


    • All of them seem like great models. When it comes to ones that are supercharged like the GTX LTD I would be worried about when it had the supercharger rebuilt done. If it never had it done I would not buy it or I would get it done before I even rode it. I personally would go for the 2013 GTI 130 because it would have iBR. My second pick would be the GTX 155 as that ski looks good, rides good, and you can’t beat the 155HP engine that Sea-Doo makes. Just make sure the ski runs good and if you can get a dealership to check it out or have the seller provide service records. I cover a lot more details in my ebook about buying used watercrafts… https://www.steveninsales.com/used-jet-ski-buyers-guide/

  • What do you think about the Kawasaki stx 15 2008-2010 with 78hr and also looking at a 07 gtx 155 with 116hr

    • I would prefer the GTX 155 for engine, storage, power, and comfort. Plus, it looks better if you ask me and was the luxury model back in the day.

  • Is $2500 a good price for 2007 sea doo se 130hp with 120 hours on each of them with the trailer?

    • Combine I feel that is too cheap and would worry if something is wrong with them. I would personally pay that much for just one.

  • im looking to buy my first jetski. yes I am budget but I just want something for the couple nice months I get then ill get rid of it, is it possible to buy a decent machine for 1000? iv seen a ton that say there ready to go most are from the years 1996 – 1999 they look like good shape? should I be worried if someone said they re did the whole engine? or is that a good sign ?

    • For $1k it’s more than likely going to be a 2-stroke or a beaten down 4-stroke. But if you plan on getting rid of it at the end of the season then you should not have too much trouble finding something that will run. A rebuilt 2-stroke would not worry me if anything that is a good sign so long as it was put together by someone who knows what they’re doing. I’ve seen many people do this, buy something cheap for the summer and then sell it again – it’s often cheaper to do this than to rent one. I would still recommend getting insurance on it and know that it’s going to bet harder to sell it the closer you get to winter.

  • What do you think about 2008 sea doo RXT 57hr for $6300 with trailer?

  • Hi, thanks for all of the info you have provided!
    We are first time PWC buyers looking at a 2006 Yamaha VX deluxe from a dealer with 260 hours on it for 3700$. Do you think this is too many hours?

    • As long as the machine has been properly serviced and all proper warranty claims have been done on it the machine should be fine. See if they’ll let you do a test ride first and ask if the machine serviced at there shop and if so see if they have service records. The average ride puts 30 hours a year on there watercraft so after 12 years you would expect 360 hours so you should be good on that end. Plus, this also tells you that previous owner loved and used their machine because they actually put hours on it.

  • Hey Steven I’m looking into purchasing two sea doo jet skies 2003 4tec supercharged 2002 gtx d1 both have around 60 hours on them the asking price is 5500 which includes a double trailer the problem I’m worried about is they have been sitting for the last seven years what precautions should I take before buying them

    • I would not buy a DI of any kind, they have so many phantom electrical issues. For the 4-stroke I would make sure the oil is good and check the compression. I would take the 4-stroke out to a nearby shop for them to check it over before buying because its hard to tell when you’re at someone’s house. Plus, if it’s been sitting for 7 years I would for sure get it a full service anyways.

  • Hi Steve, I notice you don’t talk about Honda’s that much but I have a 2006 aquatrax 3 seater F-12 4 stroke…… I’ve owned it since it’s had 18 hours….today it has 76…..ive put 58 hours on it in 7 years….it runs beautiful never have had a problem and every year I have done full winterization and new oil ….only have run 93 octane in it and it’s just been a great machine……do u think it’s time to move on because it’s bound to start having things go wrong? or would u keep it untill it don’t run no more…:.i like the new looking sea doos but for what kbb says mine is worth I feel like that’s a steal for this machine and I’d rather not sell iT….the seats look brand new and it’s just a beautiful machine

  • Great info in this article. New to PWC and looking to buy our first. Our plan is to keep it at our cabin on a relatively small lake and have it for family use. Looking at a couple options:
    2014 Spark 2 up 900 ho with 96 hours-$4000
    2007 GTI SE 130 hp with 82 hours-$4600
    2007 Yamaha VX cruiser with 170 hours- $4500
    All three include a trailer. Thanks for the info!

    • I personally would go for the 2007 GTI SE 130. It has the lowest hours, a great engine in my opinion, great storage, and simple pretty stable compared to the rest. Next in line would be the Spark only because it has a lot fewer hours than the VX.

  • Hey, I’m looking at a 1999 Yamaha XL 1200 PWC it has 236.4 hours on it and it runs like new as far as I can tell they want 2200 for it and the trailer. Do you think it’s too many hours?

  • Do some manufacturers in general produce quieter models – Looking to buy new. We vacation at a lake with lots of seaweed and is rough – what type of haul would make ride smoother. My children are 13,11. I would like reliability, 3 person and not so concerned with a top speed. Would like more torque to tube when lake is smooth. Also would you suggest HO model jet skis. Thanks for great information !

    • All watercraft you buy today are pretty quiet and have to be due to some regulations. You’ll want to stay with the bigger hull watercraft like the GTX, RXT, FX, and Ultra models. Anything with 150HP or more like the GTX 155 or FX HO will be a perfect fit for you. The HO badge can get confusing these days, its the ones that say Supercharged that you should avoid. For example, the FX HO is an HO model but it’s not what I consider the extreme of power as it’s only slightly faster than the GTX 155. The good news is that most of the watercraft in this category have slow/learning keys or even better yet have different modes to allow you to pick the power you want. If your main concern is rough water then you’ll want to stick to the Sea-Doo or Kawasaki, but the Yamaha is a workhorse though.

  • Steve, I just returned from the lake of the Ozarks and I ran into a guy who had 3 used jet skis all various models. He likes to buy used ones, fix them up for his family to ride. I mentioned we were looking at the new sea doo jet ski. He said definitely not to buy sea doos unless you want to buy a new one every 3 years. Your article mentioned parts and mechanics being hard to locate and he mirrored that statement. This gentleman said the sea doo wave runner has electronic parts and if a shop doesn’t pay for that upgrade on the electronic metering device, will you could be out of luck adjusting certain parts. He mentioned replacing the fuel lines and other parts that have to be dialed in with this electronic sensing machine. I don’t know how much they cost but buying one to service a ski doesn’t seem like something I would want to be forced to buy. I would appreciate your input, I have learned a lot so far. I haven’t bought one yet, because I don’t want to make an expensive purchase mistake. Thanks Janice

    • I wouldn’t buy any 2-stroke no matter who makes it, parts for 2-strokes are getting hard to find because they don’t make them anymore. 4-strokes have replaced them and parts are easy to get for them and will be for years to come. The only Sea-Doo I have no for sure are the models like the DI and RFI models but those fall under the 2-stroke category so it would be a double no from me.

      As for electronics, all the watercraft these days use a computer that controls parts of the craft and it doesn’t matter the brand. This is not an issue to any credible dealership or repair shop but could be a problem for the backyard mechanic. Not trying to mock or discredit this guy but it’s not as big of an issue that he’s making it out to be. As for replacing the fuel lines that is only an issue a 2-stroke would have and another reason why I say to avoid them (this is the same for any manufacturer). It looks like there is something me and him agree on and that is 2-stroke Sea-Doo are not that great, but I also consider any 2-stroke not great too. Stick to 4-stroke watercraft and you’ll be better off than any 2-stroke.

  • Thank you for the prompt reply. I will leave out the 2 strokes as you suggested and start my search for good 4 strokes. Thanks for all the great information, I will download your used buyers guide also.

  • Hello Steve, first of all. Big THANKS for you knowledge. I am in the moment of buying a used 2006 Sea Doo RXT with 200 hours. The owner assure me that everything is in great conditions. The supercharger have never been work on and I know about the ceramic washer on this year because I did the research. Due to times that we both don’t have I am not doing a test run on water. Does 4000 sound good and what do you think about this sea doo?

    • If it has not had the supercharger job done by now I would not buy it. That is extreme neglect for years, its been over a decade that this problem has been known. Who knows what else he neglected to do. And $4k is too much since it needs the supercharger job done too.

      • Steven,
        Your article was a great help, and q&a excellent. I live in Myrtle Beach and there is a tour company on the Intracoastal that buys a new fleet of Jet skis every year, use them for the season, then sell. Basically, they would be 2018 units that are ridden 4-6 hours per day for 3 months. A lot of hours, but like new on the other conditions. What do you think about purchasing one of these and what should I look for in inspection

        • I usually try to avoid buying rental units because they’re ridden hard and sometimes carelessly. I’m certain that most rental companies take good care of the units and get them serviced since this is how they make there living, but it’s the riders of the skis that worry me. If it’s your first jet ski it might be worth it or if you’re getting a second one, but I would still get it checked out at a dealership to make sure compression and the pump are okay. And if they have a lot of hours I would want a really good discount on them since it will hurt you later to sell it again. If it’s over 400 hours on a rental unit I personally would have a hard pass on them.

  • Dave Desmarais

    Thank you. Following up, I have 2 units I am looking at to purchase. This will be my first jet ski, so am thinking to buy used, see how much use I get out of it, then probably upgrade to new in a year or 2 if it makes sense. I only want to buy one, but a lot of the riding will be with both my wife and I on it, and have been told that for 2 adults, you are better off with a 3 seater. The 2 I’m looking at are:

    A 2009 Yamaha VX110 deluxe with 400 hrs. This is a 3 seater. Cost with trailer $4200
    A 2007 Seadoo RXT Waverunner with 80 hrs. This is a 2 seater. Cost with trailer $4700.

    It seems like this is a trade off of age (2 years newer) vs hours (significant), plus the seating. Also, the one item that concerns me a bit on the Yamaha is he said his top speed was 45, but articles I’ve read indicate it should be 50. Top speed isn’t a real driver for me, but wondering if that could be an indication something might not be right. I’m not mechanically inclined, so don’t know if I could actually use a compression gage. Test riding both units in a couple of days. Any thoughts on what I should look for or recommendations?
    Thanks in advance

    • Both options are not my greatest pick and I’m a huge fan of the RXT. But all Sea-Doo RXT models are 3 seaters, the RXP was a 2 seater. The Yamaha had its timing chain issue and the RXT had its supercharger issue and that is why I’m not jumping for joy on both options. And that VX has too many hours at that price point for me to even consider it. Before I would buy either I would make sure the RXT has the correct supercharger shims in it and if not factor in the price to fix that (above $800 depending on where you go) and same goes for the VX with it’s recalls and timing chain. Other than that, the RXT will be night and day faster than the VX and bigger and a better ride too (it’s like a Prius vs Camaro). Both should jump out of the water quickly. These two I would for sure have a dealership or repair shop do a deep dive in making sure everything is okay before you buy.

  • Randy Marshall

    I’m new to this jet ski but owned a boat my whole life 54yrs. I got to ride my niebhors Honda jet ski non turbo 06 an his 13 seadoo the Honda was a lot smoother no vibration an quick response what are your views on a Honda turbo vs non turbo or another brand comparable thanks

    • My only problem with Honda’s is that they don’t make them anymore. Another issue is that there is a recall on some for venting issues so I would get that looked at before I ever buy one. Other than that, Honda had a great machine either turbo or not. I lean more toward Sea-Doo after Honda got out and I find Yamaha to be the worse for vibration. Kawasaki is quite nice on there bigger models and smooth too if you want something beyond Sea-Doo or Yamaha. I have a feeling the 2013 Sea-Doo was maybe a GTI or Spark? There GTX is a lot smoother and quieter, maybe look at that one instead.

  • Such great information, thank you! How many HP would you recommend for a 6’3″ man, 240 lbs for riding and also if we wanted to pull him on a tube behind the jet ski, would that be possible?

    • I’m not too far off from those measurements myself. I’ve been pulled by a 90HP Spark before, but 130HP or 155HP felt stronger and better.

  • Hi Steven, we were looking at a 1995 Tigershark Montego jet ski and I was wondering if you had any opinions or experience with them, if they are worth it or what to look for ?

    • I would not get a Tigershark at all. They don’t make them anymore and parts are hard to find for them. I would recommend getting any model 4-stroke or something made after 2007 from Sea-Doo, Yamaha, or Kawasaki.

  • Hi Steven. I’m looking at two 2006 Seadoos right now. The one is a GTX LTD with 65 hours. The other is a GTI SE with 60 hours. One owner. They’re both in great condition. I would like to hear your advice or opinion. Thanks

  • I noticed that you do not recommend the Sea-doo Spark for ocean use. I want to purchase a 2 up small jet ski so we can jump boat wakes on a lake and do quick spins. This is for teenage boys so they are not into cruising but really want to jump waves. Are you saying that the Spark would not be the best choice for waves? Thanks!

    • The Sparks will be fine for the lake or jumping small waves if that is something you’re looking for. It sounds like they’ll love the Spark Trixx the most.

  • Hello Steven,
    First, I appreciate you, your time and your advice. I’m about to download your book. Can you tell me your thoughts on a 2009 FX SHO, 42 hours in MINT condition with trailer and cover? Everything looks as new. I am looking for stability and power to pull a toy. My wife and I are the only riders. I am 150 lbs max and she is about 165 lbs. She is not a speed freak but we do have fun on rentals from time to time. Primarily this will be used on the Columbia river way inland and on lakes. It has never seen salt water. Are there any issues? Do you like this year and model?

    • Nothing bad comes to my mind about this model. Should be stable and more than enough power for pulling tubes. Make sure to check compression if you can and call up your local dealer with a VIN to make sure there is no warranty or recalls on it.

  • Also looking at a Sea-Doo RXT-X 260 that I REALLY like the look of a lot! How does it compare with the FX with regards to stability? Thanks again!

    • If it’s a 2018 RXT then it’s going to be more stable. If its 2010 to 2017 you won’t be able to tell the difference compared to an FX of similar years.

Leave a Reply