Breaking in a New Jet Ski: The First-5-Hour Rule Explained

Feeling a bit puzzled with your jet ski by all the conflicting advice on the steps to break in your brand-new engine?

It’s no surprise; these high-performance PWC engines can be a bit tricky when it comes to the break-in process.

But fret not, I’m here to help! Let’s dive into some tips and suggestions that will ensure you get the most life out of your new watercraft. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about why breaking in a new engine is crucial.

Why Do We Break In Engines?

The primary goal of engine break-in is to make sure all those internal parts get seated properly. It’s like giving your engine a warm-up exercise before it hits full throttle.

During this break-in period, various components within the engine gradually settle in, and everything gets worn into the correct tolerances. It’s all about creating that perfect harmony inside your engine.

Now, here’s the deal – jet ski engines are a bit unique. They’re high-performance beasts, and the more horsepower they pack, the more critical the break-in becomes. Think of it as unleashing the true potential of your jet ski. It may not hit its full power until the computer sets it free from its break-in period.

Your owner’s manual gives the exact procedure, but this post I’ll go over the general best practices from my many years of helping beginner jet ski owners.

The Break-in Timeframe

The first 5 hours are the most critical break in time. This is when your jet ski’s engine is most sensitive and wearing things into place.

The first service or oil change is 50 hours or 1 year, whichever one comes first. Consult your local dealer or owner’s manual as the specs can change. Some manufacturers still require a 10-hour service, keep this thought handy and ask your local dealer.

I do the first service between 10 and 20 hours to get the wear in oil out of the jet ski engine. I don’t like waiting a whole year or 50 hours, that to me is too long for that oil to be in the engine.

After those first 5 hours, you can really play around, but those first 5 hours, it’s important that you follow the best practices that I list below.

How to Break In Your Jet Ski

  1. For new jet ski engines you need to vary your speed, don’t keep the engine at one speed for no more than 30 seconds.
  2. Avoid cruise control or the speed limiter mode.
  3. Avoid SKI-MODE if you have it.
  4. Avoid pulling tubes and tow sports.
  5. Stay in touring mode or the slower speed modes.

Most importantly, don’t keep the engine at one speed for too long. Going full throttle is fine, you should explore the full RPM range of your jet ski.

Some watercraft are equipped to use a forced period, during which you may not experience full power until after 5 hours or until the engine’s computer determines it is safe to do so. Given that jet ski engines are compact yet powerful, their breaking-in process is generally more critical than that of a typical car engine.

After you complete the break wear in, you’ll need to look into your first jet ski service. Your first service is the most important one you’ll do, it’s best to let the dealer do it for you. After that, you can follow the normal jet ski maintenance intervals as talked about here.

Do You Need to Use The Slow Modes & Keys?

Sea-Doo watercraft used to have a learning key, and you can still get them for your watercraft. Kawasaki and Yamaha both have a speed limiting option that you can use too.

With these speed limiting options, should you use them at the first 5 hours for your break in procedure?

Honestly, it’s up to you!

You can use the normal keys and modes, the only thing that matters is not keeping your speed the same for too long. You should go fast every so often, short bursts are fine, the engine wants the full range of power to set everything.

No need to overthink it, just vary your speed every so often for the first 5 hours.

Please Change Up Your Speed Every So Often

When you have a new engine, you’ll need to change up your speed often to make sure things wear into properly. Of all the things you’ll need to do for your brand new jet ski, this is the most important.

So let’s say, for example, you’re in touring mode, and you’re driving at 55 mph. From there, go to 40 mph. Then go to 50 mph. Maybe go to 30 mph. Or 31 or 46 or 59 mph.

There is no wrong way to do it. Just change the speed every so often.

If you’re thinking too much about it, then you’re not having fun! (Just go easy and enjoy yourself, it’s hard to do it wrong.)

If You have A High Horsepower PWC

If you got a high HP Sea-Doo watercraft, then you get the pleasure of a forced break-in.

The engine will not get to full power until certain hours and conditions are met. It will slowly get faster and faster as you get more hours, but won’t get to full power or RPMs until the computer releases it when it’s happy.

Jet Ski Gear & Tips

Now that you got your jet ski, you’re going to need a few items to keep you safe, legal and having fun!

I have a list of the must-have jet ski accessories here, along with other tips.

If this is your first jet ski, I have a post on how to dock them, and I suggest you get a solar battery charger if you want your jet ski battery to last for more than one season.


To properly break in your jet ski, start by being gentle with the throttle, varying your speed, and avoiding tow sports during the first 5 hours.

Additionally, adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule and refrain from making performance modifications. Your first service is anywhere from 10 to 50 hours, depending on the manufacturer. I like doing it between 10 and 20 hours, just to be on the safe side.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.


  1. I just put in a remanufactured engine in my 2006 RXP sea doo. Do I need to break this engine in and when should be changing the oil on it?

    • Yes, you should break in a rebuilt engine just like you would with a new jet ski. I would change the oil after 10 hours on that model.

  2. Hello, just picked up a 2021 Wake Pro 230. We have 12 hours on the ski now and followed all break in procedures. I am only getting 7,300 max RPM and speeds of 55 – 57 MPH. Nowhere near the 67 MPH advertised speed. Do you think this could be a case of the ski in rental mode? I feel like the engine should be running more at 8k RPM correct? Perhaps the super sharper isn’t kicking in?? Thoughts?


    • You should be getting closer to 8k rpm. It sounds like your supercharger is not kicking in if you stay around 7k. I’ve seen a few new units have the supercharger hose come loose so that could be a possibility.

  3. Just picked up a brand new Rxp300 and am 3 hours into my break in period, avoided jumping waves as much as possible but it still happened sometimes, however upon impact of landing the engine would cut out, it would start again straight away on the button.

    Wasn’t sure if this was to do with the break in period to stop you from wave jumping?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!


    • It sounds like you have a loose connection somewhere. Maybe the battery connections are not tight, sometimes this will throw a check engine light too.

  4. Hello Steve

    I’m pickup my brand new 2020 sea food rxpx 300 this Monday and I was wondering should I do 5 or 10 hours for a break in & when using it in salty water what should I do to maintain it I notice a lot of people are always having issues, what’s a good routine for a new watercraft before during and after usage….

    Should i change the oil and filters as soon as I finish the break in period ?

    Thank you

    • Don’t keep it at one speed for too long, change speed every minute or two, and avoid towing anyone for the first 5 hours. Get the oil changed before 25 hours. When leaving salt water make sure to flush it with fresh water.

  5. 2020 90hp spark 2 up no IBR option, cant get into sport mode, 15 hours only 40mph, dealer says i didnt purchase IBR so no sport mode option, even though display shows Sport and Touring? They hooked up scanner and said not available on base model?

  6. Steve,

    I am picking up a 2020 Wake 170 this Friday. As mentioned above Sea-Doo recommends the 10 hour break-in period. After the first 5 hours would it be OK to tow as long as you avoided a 30 sec at the same speed. We are towing on a pond so there is lots of variation speed. Thanks

    • Yes, the first 5 hours are the most important. Adjust the speed often and don’t keep it at one speed for too long in those first 5 hours. This means avoid pulling tubes but after the first 5 hours, you can pull tubes.

  7. Hey Steve , recently purchased a 2020 gti 130 and am breaking it in , manual says break in period is 10 hours , so no tubing or sport mode till at least 10?

    • Yes, you don’t want to keep it at one speed for too long which is what you do when you’re tubing. You need to change up the speed every minute and avoid pinning the throttle too much.

  8. Hey mate I just bought a 2020 300 rxtx . After the 5 hour mark could I drive it however I wanna drive it at high speeds for a long time in sports mode etc

  9. Hi Steven just picked up a 2019 spark trixx took it out on the the like for 2 hours and about 20 minutes kept it in touring kept on changing RPM’s never hit over 5000 RPM’s never went over 20 miles an hour was wondering if next time I take it out can hit full throttle and get up to around 7000 RPM’s want to know your advise as well as should I change the oil and filter after 10 hours bench mark?

    • For the first 5 hours, you don’t want to keep the throttle at one speed for too long. This means you can go full throttle but after minute go to a different speed. You don’t want to pin the throttle and keep it there while traveling across the lake, change the throttle’s position every so often in the first 5 hours and you should be fine. You want to change the oil before the 25-hour mark. If you ride rough changing at the 10-hour mark will be fine. The quicker you get the storage oil changed the better, just don’t do it before the 10-hour mark.

      • Thank you Steve was wondering after the first 5 hours is ok to put it in sport mode or keep it in touring till 10 hour mark? And will prob ride it pretty rough so I guess will change the oil after 10 hour mark thank you again.

  10. Hi Steven,
    I put 3 hours on my new ski yesterday. I mixed up the speeds the whole time changing every 10-15seconds however, in the second hour I did give it a bit of a play around jumping in and out of sport mode. I then read you recommend only using touring mode for the first 5 hours. I never went full throttle however still gave it a bit of stick.
    Hope I haven’t caused any issues for the long run of my engine.
    Thankyou for your above information.

    • Something doesn’t sound right, what’s the max RPMs it’s hitting? Things that come to mind is the supercharger is not kicking in so a hose could have come loose. Maybe you have a rental or learning key but that speed is usually too high for those. You could have sucked something up – there are many possibilities and the best option would be to take it to the dealership since it’s so new.

  11. Just purchased a used 2017 gtr230, 12 hours on it. Feels like the supercharger isn’t working. Only going 48mph. Super charger kicked in a couple of times and got to 68mph but now nothing.

    • That is for sure not normal. It could be the supercharger but it also could be many other things like bad gas, ignition coils not inserter properly, and many more. You should be close to 7.5k to 8k RPMs at full throttle, if you’re not it needs to be taken into the shop.

  12. Yes, it’s a totally different machine. Very pleased with it now. I put 10 hrs on mine in rental mode, because the dealer told me it would unlock on its own. I think some of the higher performance models do that.

  13. My 2018 GTI 155 had that same issue and the dealer realized that it was in rental mode and they had to uncheck that box with the laptop. Apparently it was part of the setup process and they did not know this.

    • Awesome. Wish BPR would inform dealers, so they could inform us! When I called they were so sure I was using the rental key ?.

      I had a heart attack bringing home a 130hp 40mph sea doo lol!!! Have you ripped it yet w the proper settings? I haven’t yet. I can’t wait. It feels like a Cadillac compared to my 3 up spark.

      • Had it out today on Lake Geneva. 51 in chop. Night and day difference. It also unlocked eco mode. So all is good now! I’m very happy w this GTI.

    • Some manufacturers like Yamaha recommend around 10 hours for the first service. Sea-Doo has gotten less picky and allowing 50 hours or the first year. I personally do the first service around 20 to 25 hours no matter what for my Sea-Doo and then a service once a year after that. The first 5 hours is meant to take it easy with the engine, avoid keeping it at one speed for too long.

  14. I recently bought a 2018 Wake 155. The dealer didn’t mention anything about a break in period so I completely ignored it for the first 3 or 4 hours. We did a decent amount of skiing behind it in that period at continuous speeds. Since then, I’ve noticed that the jet ski doesn’t hit the advertised top speed of 55 mph, and instead only gets to 53 and maybe 54 mph. Do you think that this slightly lower than advertised speed is due to the ignored break in, or is it just a normal top speed variation for a jet ski? I’d also like to know what, if any, problems I may encounter down the road due to ignoring the first 3-4 hours of the break in period and. Thanks.

    • 50 MPH to 55MPH is normal for that watercraft. Just make sure to get the first service done and winterize it if it gets cold where you live.

  15. My 2- 2018 GTI 130 seem to have a break-in program… I’ve used them both for over 6 hours and they still will not reach over 5500 rpms (42 MPH) and slow out of the hole, and no difference between sport and touring mode. Do you think Sea-Doo is forcing the break-in 10 hour program on us now??

    • First 5 hours vary your speed, don’t keep it at one speed for too long. You should avoid towing someone for those first 5 hours because that is all you do in pull sports is keep at one speed. After that go have some fun and make sure to follow your service schedule in your owners manual.

    • Every jet ski will be different in the way you break it in. The break-in procedure is more important the more HP and the more moving parts you have. An improper break-in could damage the engine in the long run or cause other issues down the line. The good news is that many of the modern watercraft you get these days have a forced break-in mode to help you break it in and also they can take some abuse. The best thing to do is change up your speed often and DO NOT keep the watercraft at one speed for a long time when in the break-in mode.

        • You should be going much faster than that during the break-in period. Most watercraft, except the performance ones, are not limited to top speed during the break-in period. The goal of the break-in period is not going too fast but keeping it at one speed for too long. You want to go 30mph for a few minutes then change it to 50mph for a few minutes, then change it to 35mph, and so on. Just don’t keep it at one speed, this means avoid pull sports and cruising for too long before the 5 hours are up.

          • We are having the same problem. Wouldn’t go over 8mph without it shaking. Does it have anything to do with the modes?

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