Can You Run Your Watercraft Out Of Water?

I often get asked if you can run your jet ski out of the 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 the water before starting. Watercraft use a totally different system for cooling the engine.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when running a jet ski out of the water, so let’s talk about it.

15 Seconds – Max Out Of Water

A jet ski can be run out of the water for about 15 seconds.

If a jet ski is hooked up to a water supply, like during flushing, it can be run for about 90 seconds. You want to avoid going over 90 seconds when hooked up to a water supply, as certain components are not being cooled.

You should avoid flushing a hot engine, allow it to cool for 30 minutes.

Note: When out of the water, you want to avoid aggressive engine revving, especially if you have a Sea-Doo with a carbon ring. 

Jet skis use water to cool the engine, exhaust, ride plate, and other critical components. If the jet ski is not in the water or hooked up to a water supply, these components will overheat and ruin your jet ski.

So it’s best to not leave your jet ski running out of the water for too long.

Running A Sea-Doo Out Of The Water

A Sea-Doo is very different from all the other brands of watercraft on the market when it comes to cooling the engine.

A Sea-Doo engine doesn’t use lake or ocean water to cool it down but instead uses a heat exchanger just like your car.

Showing where the Sea-Doo Heat Exchanger is located

This does not mean you can run a Sea-Doo out of water or on a trailer for very long. This is because the exhaust system still uses lake or ocean water to keep it cool.

If you want to run the Sea-Doo out of the water for a little longer, you’ll need to hook it up to the water supply to flush it.

Flushing a jet ski is important if you do a lot of saltwater riding or ride somewhere that doesn’t want water cross-contamination. Flushing is also needed if you want to winterize a jet ski, but you don’t use water and instead flush it with biodegradable anti-freeze.

How To Flush A Sea-Doo

In the back of the Sea-Doo is a flush adaptor that is threaded to fit a regular garden hose.

For complete instructions, please refer to your owner’s manual. Here are the general instructions…

  1. Screw on the garden hose to the Sea-Doo. It doesn’t need to be tight, it’s best that it’s not tight.
  2. Turn the Sea-Doo on and let it idle for 5 seconds.
  3. Turn the water on.
  4. 3 seconds later, you should see water coming out of the jet ski from the pump and exhaust. This is how you know it’s being flushed.
  5. Flush it for no more than 90 seconds.
  6. Turn the water supply off from the hose.
  7. Turn Sea-Doo off.

It’s very important that you have the jet ski on before you turn on the water and when done you turn the water off before turning the jet ski off. Doing it any other way can hydro-lock the engine.

Video Instructions:

Some of the older Sea-Doo’s (2-strokes) require a flush adaptor. 

The flushing point on a Sea-Doo will always be in the rear for 4-strokes. 4-stroke Sea-Doo’s came around in 2002 and there were only 4-strokes after 2008. Newer Sea-Doo’s flushing port is gray and easy to find on the outside, like the picture at the top of this post shows. In older 4-strokes or Sparks, the flush point is black and tucked away near the nozzle.

Running Yamaha, Kawasaki, And Others Out Of The Water

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

The way these jet skis get water is not like a boat, where it has a spinning pump 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 owner’s manual for the correct procedure for running your Yamaha, Kawasaki, and other jet skis on the hose. The instructions are very similar to the instructions for using a Sea-Doo as talked about earlier.

Video Instructions:

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 some options below. It’s still best to consult your owner’s manual first.

Running A Jet Ski On The Hose Is Not The Same As Test Riding It!

I need to make a note that running a jet ski on the hose is not a substitute for taking it for a test ride.

Don’t let someone selling a jet ski fool you with “it runs fine on the hose” as it is not the same as running it in the actual water.

Water intake and simply being in the water affects the jet ski very differently compared to running it on a hose and on the water. I’ve had several jet skis run fine on the hose but give a different story once in the water.



I began working at a jet ski dealership in 2007, initially in the parts and service area. I then transitioned to the technician side before eventually joining the sales team in 2013. I've done it all! While in sales, I created this website in 2014 to assist others with their common questions about watercraft. I now manage this site full-time, where I answer common questions, offer advice, and assist others with their PWC needs.

I've owned several watercraft and continue to buy, sell, and repair them. Currently, keep my Sea-Doo Spark as my main PWC. Additionally, I have developed tools like a used watercraft value calculator, a pricing calculator, an hour calculator, and more to better assist my readers.


    • Since jet skis are direct drive, when you put it in the water the engine has to turn over the impeller too, which is harder to do in water than air. So you may have a weak battery, bad starter or bad connections that are just strong enough to crank the engine on land but not water.

  1. I have a gtx 230 new
    In the manual it says never flush a hot engine.
    How long after using the ski is safe to flush or should youwait until completely cold ie over night
    I use mine until about 7 pm
    Leave standing on the water for maybe 30 mins
    Recover and drive home. Maybe another 30 mins
    Engine is still warm
    Is it ok to flush?


    • After 30 minutes, the engine is cool enough.

      They don’t want you blasting around all day and then directly hooking up to the cool tap water 1 minute later; It stresses the metal too much.

      • Thanks for that
        Very helpful

        I’ve got some good info off your site.

        I’m pleased that I went for a 230 rather than a 170

  2. 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.


  3. 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.

  4. 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.


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