Can You Run Your Watercraft Out Of Water?

I often get asked if you can run your Jet Ski out of water or can a Jet Ski be run on a Trailer? This fear comes from other forms of boats that require them to be in water before starting. Watercraft use a totally different system for cooling the engine.

spark side on trailer running

Can You Run A Jet Ski Out Of The Water?

Yes, you can run a jet ski out of the water but only for 15 seconds MAX!

If the jet ski is not in the water or hooked up to the water hose the engine and exhaust is overheating and alarms will eventually go off.

There a few proper things you’ll need to do if you want to run your Sea-Doo out of the water.

Running a Sea-Doo Out of Water

A Seadoo is very different than all the other brands of watercraft on the market when it comes to cooling the engine. A Seadoo doesn’t use lake or ocean water to cool it down but instead uses antifreeze just like your car does.

Click here to learn more about closed loop cooling vs. open loop.

But this does not mean you can run a Seadoo out of water or on a trailer for very long. This is because the exhaust system uses lake water to keep it cool and when it’s not in water it starts to overheat.

Every watercraft is different but I wouldn’t run it out of water for no more than 15 seconds – its best to use your own judgment.

There is a flush adapter in the rear of a Sea-Doo that allows you to run the watercraft out of the water because it’s getting its water from the garden hose. Consult your owners manual for any procedures for running the watercraft out of the water. If you don’t do it right you run the risk of hydro-locking your engine which is very bad. In most cases, you need the engine on first before you turn on the water hose. Then you turn the water hose off before turning the jet ski engine off. If you can’t find your owners manual then click here to download it. 

Some of Seadoo require a flush adaptor. If you ride a lot in salt water get some Salt-Away to clean out the jet ski.

Yamaha, Kawasaki, and others

The other brands don’t use closed-loop cooling and they do take in water to cool the engine. They still can be run out of the water for a few seconds also but the entire engine and exhaust is not being cooled.

The way these jet skis get water is not like a boat where it has a spinning fan that needs to be in the water. These Jet Skis use the impeller as a pump and there is a little hole in the pump for it to flow water through to cool the engine.

Please consult your owners manual for the correct procedure on running your jet ski on the hose. If you do it wrong you can hydro-lock your engine.

In most cases, you need the engine on first before you turn on the water hose. Then you turn the water hose off before turning the jet ski engine off. Here is a video that better describes how to do it on a Yamaha.

Many manufacturers don’t make it easy and require you to buy a flush adaptor for certain models. To make this easy I’ve listed off some options below. It’s still best to consult your owners manual first.

Yamaha Flush Adaptor (Amazon Link Ad)

Kawasaki Flush Kit (Amazon Link Ad)

Jet Ski Are Loud Out The of Water!

If you do fire up your watercraft out of the water it can be loud and even sound like metal balls rattling in the back. This is normal. The rattle sound you hear is from the pump and since it’s not in the water it’s not floating so it bounces around.

The other part of the sound is the exhaust because it’s not in the water and the water is used to muffle the sound.

You May Also Like

If you’re running your jet ski out of the water you may be also cleaning it too. I have a post that shows you how I like to clean jet skis and the tricks I’ve learned over the years.

9 thoughts on “Can You Run Your Watercraft Out Of Water?”

  1. I want to buy a used ski. I have riden and gassed them, nothing more. What resources are there to guide a purchase..other than putting the ski in the water.

    • I’m actually working on an ebook that is a used jet ski buying guide at this very moment. The book will cover what to look for when buying used and techniques I’ve used for haggling and buying. Would this be something you would be interested in? I plan on releasing it next week. Let me know if there are any nagging questions you have about jet skis that I could answer in the book.

  2. I’m praying I didn’t mess up too badly. I connected the hose to my jet ski and turned on the water, then tried to start it. It tried to turn over once but then it wouldn’t turn over the battery acted dead. It never would start. Did I mess it up? I am getting a new battery but hoping I didn’t damage it. The battery looks old but I’m concerned because I didn’t know you don’t run water. I figured it was similar to the boat. I have a JH900 zxi

    • A jet ski is not the same as a boat when it comes to hooking it up to water. From the sound of it, you hydro-locked your watercraft. Most, if not all watercraft, you have to turn the engine on first then the water. Then turn the water off then the jet ski engine off. Since there are many watercraft its best to consult the owners manual on the proper flushing procedure. If I were you I would stop trying to turn the engine on as this can bend the rods and destroy your engine. It’s best to get it to a repair shop right away and tell them what happen.

  3. Thanks for your articles. They are very helpful.

    I’m researching buying a used jet ski. Say the jet ski owner lives hours from a lake or the lakes are still frozen in the off-season. Is it possible to substitute a lake-test with a test hooked up to a hose (assuming all the other systems are obviously working, like steering, electrical, compression, etc)? Or is it necessary to wait until an in-water test is possible?

    Obviously, an actual lake-test is preferred. I haven’t found a machine to look at yet, but I ask just in case.



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