I’ve done a post on 5 things to look for when buying a used watercraft before. I want to branch off of that and have a single checklist of the things to be on the look out for when buying a used jet ski.
It’s nice to have something to go through and check out when looking at buying a used watercraft. Feel free to print this page and take it with you so that you can make buying a used watercraft a bit easier.
I do have to say that this is merely a guide to help you find a used jet ski. If you want to learn more I have a Used Jet Ski Guide Here.
_____Not a 2-Stroke. Make sure it is a 4-Stroke ( 4-strokes will have a dip stick like a car).
_____Seat condition is fine. Has no tears in the seat and is not heavy due to it being water logged.
_____No major fiberglass damage. There is no physical hole in the watercraft. Some scrapes and dock rash are normal for a used watercraft.
_____No damage under the hull. Look under the watercraft to see if you see any holes or fiberglass exposed. It’s important that there is no exposed fiberglass here as water will get into it and do more damage.
_____Pump is clean and clear. Check the pump to make sure it has no sticks, rocks, or other debris in them. Also, check the wear ring for any damage and the impeller too.
_____Are the foot mats in good shape. Sometimes they come apart or get torn.
_____Does not have too many hours. See chart below to see what is too much.
_____Compression is good. A good compression gauge like this one (Amazon Link Ad) is key. You want compression for all pistons to be close to each other and above 100 PSI for most watercraft. If it’s supercharged something around 120 PSI is good. If it’s Non-Supercharged then something around 150 PSI is good. It’s important to look up the exact specs of the watercraft to see the exact compression you need. If it’s lower than 100 PSI then run away or if one cylinder is 150 PSI and the other one is 110 PSI then the engine is going out. It’s normal for one cylinder to be 145 PSI and the other to be 150 PSI, that much of difference is not bad.
_____Had the oil changed. Ask for oil change records, you want the person to have changed the oil every year.
_____Info Gauge works. Make sure all the lights on the gauge turn on and display correctly.
_____Has a free and clear title. You don’t want to buy a stolen watercraft or mess with someone who has not paid the machine off yet.
_____Does it have a trailer? Check the welds and screws to make sure they’re not falling apart from rust. Also ask them when was the last time they greased the bearings, the answer you want is once a year or every other year depending on how much they used it.
_____Is the battery good? Does the machine start no problem or does it seem to struggle? A new battery can cost $100 to $200 and if its bad factor that into the price when buying. You might as well assume the battery is bad and buy a new one, it’s better to not get stranded on the water because of a bad battery. Here is Guide on what battery to buy.
_____Is the battery new? On the side of the battery is a round sticker that says something like “D2” or some type of letter and number. The number would tell you what year it is, so a “D2” would be like a 2012 battery. Every decade it changes over. If the battery is over 3 years old I would use that as negotiation for a lower price because you’ll need to replace it soon and these suckers can cost a bit, check out the prices on a size 30 battery. To prolong the life of your jet ski battery use a solar panel (Amazon Link Ad) to keep the battery charged up when in the sun.
_____The Hull is Clean? Check inside the watercraft to see if the hull is nice and clean. If the hull has oil, water, or something nasty in the bottom of it then you might want to walk away. A bad sign is a liquid that looks like chocolate milk, that means oil is leaking and mixing with water.
_____Do the buttons work? Check to make sure all buttons on the handlebar works.
_____Does the nozzle move? Have someone move the handlebars and look in the back to make sure the nozzle moves.
_____Does the reverse work? Check to see if the reverse moves, sometimes you have to have the engine on to use the reverse.
_____Is the Paint on the engine flaking off? If the paint is peeling off the engine of the watercraft then that is a clear sign that it’s a ski used in the ocean. Corrosion is taking over and soon the engine will have electrical problems that will be hard to chase down.
_____No Rust. Make sure you don’t see any rust on the engine or the screws. Rust is a sign of a craft that was used in saltwater and was not taken care off.
_____Runs fine. The last thing to do is lake test it. If it takes off and puts a smile on your face then you have a winner.
_____Does it have a warranty? Find out if it has a manufacturer warranty left, this is worth it and raises the value of the watercraft up.