Embarking on the thrilling world of jet skiing opens a sea of questions for both novices and seasoned enthusiasts. My experience at a jet ski dealership has equipped me with valuable insights into the common questions and concerns of buyers, whether they’re splashing out on their first personal watercraft or adding another to their collection. In this post, I’ve compiled the essential points that buyers often overlook, shedding light on key things to enhance your jet skiing experience.
From determining your preferred riding style to navigating the diverse models offered by top manufacturers like Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, I’ll guide you through making an informed decision that matches your needs. Whether you’re seeking a playful ride or a comfortable cruiser, understanding the nuances of each model is crucial. For instance, while the Sea-Doo Spark and Yamaha EX promise an exhilarating ride, they may not be as comfortable for longer rides, unlike the Sea-Doo GTX or Yamaha FX HO.
Moreover, the article delves into practical aspects like pricing, dealership selection, promotional offers, and the plethora of features that modern watercraft boast. Understanding these facets, from horsepower to high-tech amenities like GPS and rearview cameras, can significantly influence your choice.
1. Determine Your Riding Style & Where You Ride
A lot of people come into the boating world fresh and not knowing there are many models to pick from.
Each manufacturer has different types and riding styles to pick from, and the list keeps growing every year. You have models that are super playful to models that won’t get you wet on it unless you really want to. We must not forget that we have fishing models and adventure models, too.
The 3 manufacturers:
Playful Or Comfort
When buying your next watercraft, you need to determine if you want one that is playful or one that has comfort.
For example, the Sea-Doo Spark or Yamaha EX are super playful and a blast to ride, but they will get uncomfortable after 30 minutes of riding. On the other hand, a Sea-Doo GTX or Yamaha FX HO will be super comfortable but not as playful.
Leave a comment at the bottom, and I can help guide you towards the body style that fits your needs.
Please keep in mind Where You Ride
I once had a couple come in wanting to buy Sea-Doo Sparks, but they told me they ride in rough waters. They were not aware the Spark was not going to be an enjoyable ride (unless you want a workout every time you rode it in rough waters!).
I was able to get them into a bigger GTI, which is a better option compared to the Spark if you ride in some rough waters.
I know price is a strong point for many and why so many want the Sparks, but you must not forget where you ride matters. You don’t want to get a model that is a pain to drive, and it puts you off from the sport.
Price is probably the “number one factor” for most people wanting to buy.
You don’t want to overspend, and you want your money to get you the most PWC you can afford.
They can range from $7k to over $20k in 2024.
Many dealerships will have financing options, and it’s not as bad as many think. Most often, the manufacturer will have better rates than your local bank.
There are some things to keep in mind, cash is not king and credit cards can be tricky. Also, price shopping can be tricky as many dealers will play games, I cover this next.
3. Pick Your Dealerships Wisely
I have a whole post going over 25 tips to consider when buying a jet ski from a dealership.
I spill the beans as I worked at a dealership, so I hold nothing back in that post and seen all the tricks.
4. Check For Promotions
The manufacturers are good about having some kind of promotion, especially during the off seasons.
The promotions can be rebates, warranty offers or discounts on accessories.
These promotions are often direct to the dealership, and if the dealership is not honest, they could pocket the deal themselves, leaving you with nothing.
I suggest you go to the manufacturer’s website and be aware of any promotions.
The watercraft you get today are vastly different from the ones from even 10 years ago.
We have so many features on many different models, it’s important you consider them all for yourself and your family.
Just to name a few features that are worth considering:
- Fishing gear – life well, coolers, etc.
- Driving Modes
- Making and receiving calls
- 325 HP
- Launch Control
- Rear view camera
6. Understand Operating costs
I’m going to be honest and say a watercraft is not the cheapest thing to own.
The fuel tanks range from 5 Gal to 20 Gal. At $4 a gallon, a fill up could cost you $80 and that last a few hours depending on how fast you go.
Getting the dealership to do an oil change will cost hundreds of dollars. If you have a supercharged model, it can cost over $1k to replace or maintenance a supercharger. You also need to winterize the watercraft if it gets below freezing where you live. If you don’t buy a trailer, there will be a cost to pick you up and drop you off on the water if you bring it to the dealership for repairs.
While insurance is not required in many states, it’s still a good idea to have it.
Owning a PWC is just like other hobbies, it can be expensive, but the joy it brings is worth the costs.
7. Where Are You Keeping It?
You will need to keep your machine, either in your backyard on a trailer, a drive-up slip at your lake house, boat storage place or at a marina.
Each option has its cost, but I go over all the places you can keep them here.
8. Test Ride or Test Sit
Test riding can be tricky at many dealerships, as they’re not always on the water.
Not only that, but they would need a demo model or deposit on the one you want to buy. This is one of those things that separate waverunner dealers from car dealers.
When a dealership won’t or can’t do test rides, the next best thing to do is sit on the model you want to buy. Sitting for at least 15 minutes will get you a feel of the watercraft better than riding on the water. When you test ride you have so many things coming at you, from unloading, watching other boaters, and getting confused on the water, that you tend to “forget how the watercraft feels to your body”.
All PWCs are fast, they all will put a smile on your face, and if you know how to operate one brand, you know how to drive the rest in the line-up. You just don’t want to buy one that doesn’t fit your body because you forget to consider that because of all the craziness that goes on during the test drive.
Sit on the watercraft, reach for the glove box and front storage, and see how it feels to you without all the distractions.
9. Buy Used
You don’t have to buy new, there are plenty of used ones on the market.
The biggest things I suggest you do when buying used is to avoid 2-stroke, avoid supercharged models, and stick to models with a brake. This trifecta is what I consider makes a good model for new people to the sport. As for engine hours, I cover that in this post.