Do Jet Skis Have Air Filters for Dust Control?

I was asked an interesting question the other day, “where’s my air filter on my watercraft”?

It’s a good question, not something many people ask, but many are surprised when I tell them that most PWCs don’t utilize air filters. The few that do, need them, but they don’t get as dirty as the ones in your car.

I always get a laugh when I say jet skis don’t need air filters because it’s not that dirty on the water (but it’s true!).

In this post, I want to cover this topic in more detail.

Not That Common

Sea-Doo watercraft do not come with air-filters, but a few models of Yamaha and Kawasaki can come with them.

The reason why Yamaha will use them is that they repurpose motorcycle engines to use in their PWCs. Kawasaki does this too, but they don’t always use air-filters.

A jet ski doesn’t need an air-filter as there is not much dust and dirt while on the water. (No seriously, it’s not that dusty on the water!)

If your jet ski came with a filter, I suggest you keep it on, as that is how the manufacturer designed it to run.

There are modifications you can do for increasing performance and many of these mods utilize air-filters like in the video below:

Not Much Dust

The reason jet skis don’t often have an air-filter is because they don’t need one – There is not much dust and dirt when on the water.

  • If yours came with an air-filter, it will need it to run, as that is what the engine was designed to run with.
  • If yours did not come with one, then you don’t need to add one.

You may see future jet skis start to come with air-filters to keep up with “government regulations”. The move has been done to Jet Boats, so expect future jet skis to contain some type of air-filter.

Models With Them

When it comes to Sea-Doo and Kawasaki, they rarely, if ever, come with air-filters from the factory.

Yamaha & Honda

Yamaha and Honda, on the other hand, will give most models that come with them from the factory.

Sea-Doo Jet Boats

I say Sea-Doo rarely has any air-filters because the company Rotax (who makes the Sea-Doo PWC engines and is owned by BRP, who also owns Sea-Doo) will put on jet boats.

Jet boats use the same engines found in Sea-Doo PWCs, but they may get an air-filter added. The picture at the very top of this post is a Jet Boat with a Rotax engine with them attached.

Twin engine Scarab jet boat with air filters pointed out.
Twin Engine Scarab Jet Boat That Uses Rotax BRP “Sea-Doo” Engines

The Sea-Doo will certainly use a flame-arrestor, but that is not an air-filter and not something you need to mess with!


The reason why other manufacturers utilize air filters is that their engines are “marinized” motorcycle engines.

This is not a bad thing, but the engines were built for motorcycles first and then retrofitted for watercraft, which are just motorcycles of the water.

Jet Boats

Since jet boats use the same engines as jet skis, then why do they get air filters?

The biggest reason why jet boats get them and jet skis don’t is due to government regulations. Jet boats also have a catalytic converter and jet skis don’t... yet. 

If your jet boat is equipped with an air filter, it’s important to keep it installed, as the boat is tuned to operate with it. While it’s possible, the boat may not run noticeably worse without the filter, removing it could potentially impact the warranty!


Another reason why jet boats get air-filters is to cut down on noise – Jet boats tend to be much louder than similar boats.

Changing Filters

Since it’s not that dusty on the water, many boats air-filters don’t get that dirty, especially after using it for years.

So changing your air-filter is not something you always need to do when you do a service on your boat or jet ski.

It may never look dirty, but it won’t hurt to change it at least every 3 to 5 years, as the fibers of the filter do break down over time.

Air Intake

A PWC will take in air mostly around the seat or around the gauge console. There isn’t a perfect seal around all the plastics, so air does find a way into the hull.

Pointing out the air intake for Sea-Doo under the seat.

If you look inside, you’ll see black tubes either from the seat or around the front console that are used to guide air in. The tubes often go to the floor of the hull to keep water from dumping in too quickly if you flip, when upside down, the lowest point becomes the highest point.



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.

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