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Jet Ski Hours – What Is Too Many and What They Mean

I’ve talked briefly about jet ski hours in my post on what to look for in a used jet ski. This topic is so vast I feel jet ski hours deserve there own post.

So let’s cover all questions like…

  • What are too many hours for a jet ski?
  • Should you buy a jet ski over 300 hours?
  • Do jet ski hours matter?
  • Despite the hours what jet skis to avoid.
  • How to tell the hours on a jet ski.
  • How are jet ski hours counted?
  • Engine hours and maintenance.
  • Use hours as a gas gauge?

What Are Too Many Hours for a Jet Ski?

The average person puts 30 hours a year on their jet ski. So if the jet ski is 5 years old, I would expect it to have 150 hours.

jet ski hours for the years

If that jet ski has under that number, I consider that a win.

If that jet ski has over 40 hours a year, I start looking for other factors to determine if the jet ski is worth it.

Jet Ski Hour Calculator

Enter the year the jet ski was manufactured and its current hours to calculate if it has a lot, a little, or an okay amount of hours.

How Many Jet Ski Hours Is a Lot?

As a general rule, anything over 500 hours is too many hours for a 4-stroke jet ski. If it’s a 2-stroke jet ski anything over 300 hours is too many.

A common trend I’m seeing when buying and selling jet skis is that most people will sell them before 200 hours and a lot will even sell with under 100 hours on them.

Any jet ski under 100 hours on it is a good buy and still has a long life left in it especially if it’s a 4-stroke.

Why Jet Ski Hours Don’t Matter

I’ve made a point in my “5 factors to consider before buying a used jet ski” that hours don’t matter.

I say this because in the years of buying and selling jet skis, I’ve come across so many cases that counter hours being the decisive factor for a jet skis worth.

I’ve seen jet skis with over 300 hours on them do better than a jet ski with 20 hours.

What matters more than hours is how well the jet ski was taken care of.

When someone sees 300 hours on a jet ski they usually think it’s worn out. I instead see a guy who took care of his watercraft so it could last that long.

Someone selling a 10-year-old jet ski with only 20 hours on it I start to question everything. 20 hours tells me they never done much servicing on the PWC if at all. It also tells me either they did not like the machine or something has always been wrong with it.

I’ve seen engines blow at 5 hours and jet skis with so many hours I’m left scratching my head as to how it’s still going.

Used jet ski buyers guide ebook cover

All I’m trying to say is that hours are not the end all be all thing to determine a jet skis worth. The context of how well the owner took care of the PWC and conditions of things like the seat are way better-determining factors.

I go over this and many more in my ebook here. Enter “hours” at checkout for 50% off.

Should You Buy a Jet Ski over 300 Hours?

It’s not like as soon as you hit 300 hours the jet ski won’t work anymore. But you should still be cautious of a watercraft that has that many hours, especially when it’s over 10 years old.

All manufacturers make their jet skis to last 10 years, and at 30 hours a year, that is 300 hours.

Would I still buy a jet ski with 300 hours on it? Maybe, it depends on how well they took care of the PWC. Another thing that would affect it is what kind of watercraft it is?

If it’s a muscle watercraft, then that would be a hard NO from me. The jet skis made to go fast have more moving parts like superchargers. The more moving parts the greater the chances of something to go wrong especially as it gets older.

If it’s a Recreation Watercraft like a Yamaha VX or Sea-Doo GTI, I would consider it over any musclecraft.

At the end of the day, I would be open to the idea of a 300 or more hour jet ski so long as nothing is majorly wrong with it. But I would also understand this thing is not going to last another 10 years and would consider it disposable. This is not a bad thing if it’s your first watercraft, something used and broke in is a great way to get into the sport.

Don’t Forget the Manufacturer or Lack Of

There are only 3 main jet ski manufacturers today, Sea-Doo + Yamaha + Kawasaki.

There was a time when you could get a Honda, Wetbike, Polaris, Tigershark or Arctic Cat. You can’t get these jet skis anymore and no matter there hours you should avoid them.

Not because they’re bad machines, but the manufacturer doesn’t make parts for them anymore. The aftermarket stock parts is not a thing for jet skis so you can’t go to your local parts store and get an aftermarket replacement.

On top of that jet ski manufacturers only make their watercraft to last for 10 years. When I say last, that is the number they shoot for, but they’re not surprised if they go over that easily. But this does mean that is the cut off time for many of the parts they make. If the manufacturer is not making replacement parts, it makes fixing a jet ski harder if something breaks.

The good news is that jet ski manufacturers don’t change big things that often. Components like the engine or pump, the two most important things have been around for a long time for most of these manufacturers. For example, Sea-Doo still uses the same 155HP engine block they released back in 2002.

But that plastic decorative piece on the hood from 2002 is more than likely not around anymore. The general cosmetic things like replacement seat covers do have a thriving aftermarket supply even for stuff that goes back to the ’90s. Just don’t expect to be able to get that one GTX 4-Tec decal on the bottom left of the hood for your 2003 GTX.

How To Find The Hours on a Jet Ski

Figuring out the jet ski hours is super easy. In the 90’s many jet skis never had an hour meter on them but those are all 2-strokes, and I don’t recommend buying anything that old.

Your modern 4-Stroke jet skis will have hours either displayed on the gauge as soon as you put the key on or reveal when you press the Mode button. The button is usually located next to the gauge, or on the handlebars or right below the handlebars next to the glovebox.

Tip: The hours on the gauge can lie… well, the owner can. Some bad people will buy a new gauge to “reset” the hours to make their watercraft seem newer than it is. So if the hours seem too good to be true, then they just might be. The good news is that the hours for your jet ski is not only stored in the gauge but in other places of the PWC. To get the accurate hours of the watercraft, you’ll need to take it to a dealership and have them read the jet ski’s computer.

How Are Jet Ski Hours Counted?

When the jet ski’s engine is on the hour meter is counting. What you see for hours is engine hours and nothing else.

Even when idling the hours are being counted so it’s best to turn the engine off when you have docked. Not only should you do that to save on hours but it’s not smart to leave the engine running on your jet ski if you’re not riding it.

Jet Ski Engine Hours and Maintenance

When it comes to jet ski hours, the best thing they’re good for is telling when you need to service the PWC.

When you get a new jet ski, you’ll want to break the engine in and take it really easy for the first 5 hours. Then you need to get your first service done, which is anywhere from 10 hours to 50 hours depending on your manufacturer.

From that point, you’ll want to get it serviced every 25 to 50 hours depending on your manufacturer. Or once a year if you never reach those numbers.

Your modern jet skis have service timers built in just like cars. So you’ll get the alerts for service for when they’re due. But for older watercraft, you’ll have to pay attention to the jet ski hour meter to know when you need to service them.

On top of that specific components like the supercharger needs servicing every 100 or 200 hours.

Every manufacturer and model is different but your owners manual will tell you what components need to be replaced at certain hours.

Can I Use the Jet Ski Hour Meter as a Gas Gauge?

Never use the jet ski hour meter as a gas gauge.

In a span of an hour, you can use more gas if you’re blasting around then you would cruising.

I know some people use the miles on their car to determine when they should fill up, but jet skis are not as predictable on gas.

112 thoughts on “Jet Ski Hours – What Is Too Many and What They Mean”

    • That is really low hours for that type of Sea-Doo. It’s priced a little high but right now the market is booming especially as the riding season is here.

      Reply
  1. Hi Steven,
    I am considering a 2014 Yamaha VX110 Sport with a trailer at the price of $4500. The boat shop that picked it up is currently servicing it inside and out. (hose lines, SS clamps, seat cover, traction mats, body and hull buffed and painted, and not sure about the engine) It runs well and looks like a new ski although it has around 720 hours. This is my first ski and I would like to use it for just the summer and resell for around 2/3k. What do you think?

    Reply
    • 720 is a lot of hours for a 2014 model. Sounds like a rental model especially if they’re putting that much bodywork in it. I would personally not be looking at it.

      Reply
  2. Hello. Great site. 2003 seadoo gtx 155 4 tech. Has 135 hours. Has all service records. I know the hours are good. Comes with trailer. Good shape ski. Only issue is year. Thoughts? Price is 3100. Price is good but kinda an older ski.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • The 2002 models had a few issues as it was the first year Sea-Doo had a 4-stroke but the 2003 and 2004 were fine. Nothing crazy to write home about and I think the 155 is the best engine Sea-Doo ever made. OPAS on something that old can be an issue, it’s the fins in the rear. Also, I had a few models in this range develop a clicking issue and would deplete the battery. There is a value that flips if the ski thinks it’s upside down but would get confused and flip it all the time. The only fix was to replace the ECM which is not cheap. Other than that it’s a great machine.

      Reply
    • I think the 155HP Sea-Doo engine is one of the best engines they ever made. They had a rough time when it first came out in 2002 but 2004 and up were always good to me. Prices are going to be high right now due to current events and going into season at least here in the US.

      Reply
  3. Hi Steve, I’m looking at a 2006 kawasaki stx-15f with only 46 hours on the original engine. He is asking $6,000 with a single trailer. Just wanted to see what your thoughts are on that model jet ski?

    Reply
    • Kawasaki hasn’t changed much on that machine and those hours are really low, that kind of worries me but it’s a solid machine either way. I would get it checked out or at least do a test ride, that’s low hours. It makes me wonder why he did not ride it much? Was there something always wrong with it?

      Reply
  4. In Northern California, looking at two 2013 Sea-doo gti 130’s w/traileristed at $12.9k. They have between 60-70 hours each and are at a car lot. The story is the guy is always buying stuff like that to do with his kids and all they want to do is play video games so they just sit. I think the price is a little high.

    Reply
    • With the current market that is a fair price and those hours are very low too. I would still check them out to make sure they run fine but I would not be surprised if a lot of people are already looking at them.

      Reply
  5. Hi Steven, I’m looking at a 2005 seadoo RXT 215 with 312 hours and single owner. He is asking $2,500. This would be my first purchase of a jet ski and I just want to make sure this is a fair price? Also is this a good/reliable jet ski? Thanks

    Reply
    • That model has the supercharger issues back in the day. It’s mostly fine if he’s done the proper maintenance on it but when you own it you’ll want to get the supercharger rebuilt every 100 hours or every 2 years whichever comes first. That model you don’t want to miss the supercharger maintenance.

      Reply
  6. Great info here, learning a lot!!
    I am on Maui and looking at a 2016 FX HO with 155 hrs. Well maintained, but used mostly for tow-in surfing in high surf.
    Ask is 12K, but will sell for 11K with trailer and rescue sled.
    What should I be looking for in a 5 year old salt water only?
    Everything is pricey here, is this way out of line?
    Mahalo for the info and advice!

    Kimo

    Reply
    • Check for corrosion and if you can water test it. Pricing is going to be high, even new jet skis are hard to come by. I would take that deal if everything looks good as it’s going to be a crazy summer.

      Reply
  7. I’ve a 2004 yamaha GP 1300R with 20hrs from new its now 17yrs old , its been stored in a Heated Garage and winterised, it runs like a clock ive only rode it possibly 5 times , love it people just call around to see it because its like a Barn find ? id say its worth more than I bought it new?

    Reply
  8. Hi. I’m looking at two Yamaha VX Deluxe models. A 2009 with 141 hours on it for $6250 ($6750 asking but came down) or a 2013 with 179 hours on it for $8000. I have not made an offer on the 2013 yet. Both come with a trailer. Different sellers. 1) what do you think about the price of the 2009? 2) what would a good price be for the 2013? 3) which do you think would be better to buy? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Price is going to be tough this time of year and with the way the market is going. I’m shocked he went down that much, to be honest. I created a new guide that helps people get a good idea on what to pay for a used jet ski here. https://www.steveninsales.com/how-much-used-jet-ski/

      The VX lineup is one of the most reliable models Yamaha made so you can’t go wrong with either. I would lean more towards the 2013 as it is newer. Also, around that time Yamaha had some models with timing chain issues, just something to be aware of.

      Reply
  9. What a helpful site! I’m looking at two Sea Doo Spark Trixx 2ups (both 2017’s) both with ~50 hours on them.

    Asking price is $18,500 and comes with a Triton Double Trailer as well. It seems a little high but could just be due to crazy demand and lack of new jet skis available in the area? Anyway, would be interested to hear thoughts. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Demand is huge right now but that price just seems a little high. Is that USD? This could be possible if he added a bunch of accessories and upgrades. For a couple of grand more, you could probably find a dealer willing to sell you two new Trixx and a double.

      Reply
  10. Great site! Looking at two 2012 Seadoo Wake editions. One has 400 hrs the other 270. Selling for $10k with trailer.. Thoughts?

    Reply
  11. Sea Doo GTR 215 vs GTI 130? Is 130 hours too many? Wanting it to tow wakeboard etc..? Buying second hand, want a reliable ski. Or should I be going for a Yamaha

    Reply
  12. Hi Steven, I’ve been looking at a 2007 Yamaha VX Deluxe. It has 210 hours on it and was never driven in salt water. He just had the jet pump rebuilt in 2019 He says the motors have seen 800 hours. Is this true and is this a good buy??

    Reply
  13. Hi Steven, I’m looking at Sea Doo GTX 215 Supercharged in very good condition,with a few scratch’s on the bottom of the hull. Has done 158hrs
    Last serviced in Dec 2020- New plugs, starter solenoid, wear ring, oil pack.
    Alluminium trailer with new springs, bearings and sumersible lights. Will have new WOF, Rego expires Dec 2021 Road cover.
    The previous owner had done the supercharger at 100hrs. . He had steel discs put in.
    They are asking 10000 new zealand dollars approx $7,200 USD.
    Any thoughts appreciated
    thanks Ayv

    Reply
    • I would error on the side of caution and get the supercharger service again. The 215 engine was the pesky one about the superchargers especially the 2006 to 2009 models.

      Reply
  14. Hey Steven,
    I’m looking at twin 2007 Honda Aquatrax F12 for sale with 184 and 196 hours. The twin trailer is included and the asking price is $7900.00. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
  15. Hi Steven, I found an offer for a Seadoo GTI SE 155 2011 with around 50 hours (it seems a good deal including trailer), on the other hand there’s a demo GT 130 2020 from the dealership with around 50 hours as well but price does not includes trailer. New one is 50% pricier than used one. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  16. I am looking at a 2008 yamaha vx110 with 298 hours and a trailer. The ski is pretty scatched up, the owner is asking 3k? Would this be a good buy.

    Reply
    • If the scratches are showing the white fiberglass underneath and especially if it’s on the underside of the hull I would be less likely to buy it. The price is not too far off but fiberglass damage can be an issue as it will spread if not fixed.

      Reply
  17. Hello.

    I really appreciate your posts. I am moving to seaside and am buying two PWC for me and my wife (it will be in use a lot so am looking for reasonable maintance cost). I read that the most reliable is Yamaha VXS because is non charged. Here in EU is one selling for 8000€ with trailor it is 2011 year with 295 hours (1st owner in family use and well maintance) on the other hand the new VX-C 2019 is selling for 10600€. So is really VXS that better that is worth spending 8000€ for 9years old PWC with almost 300h?
    Than there is also one selling VX 1100 2008 year with 275 hours, first owner, well maintance for 4500€ with trailor.

    Thank you very much for your answers.

    Best regards,

    Theo

    Reply
    • The EU might be suffering the same problem as the US with everyone being home which made everyone want a jet ski so it drove prices high. I’ve seen used jet skis in 2020 sell for well over what I would normally pay for them but the demand is there. You’ll for sure want to avoid a supercharger model if you want to get the most life out of your jet ski. The VX-C is a very entry-level machine and the VXS was not back in the day. The VX-C doesn’t have reverse and it’s mostly rental companies that buy them and since yours is a 2019 I have a good feeling it’s a rental company trying to get rid of it. I steer away from rental units as they’re ridden hard by people who really don’t know how to drive them, this is especially true for ones that lack reverse. Since there was such a boom in 2020 with new and used jet skis I would personally wait till 2021 to see if the market becomes flooded with used jet skis that people are trying to get rid of.

      Reply
  18. My 2011 yamaha vx deluxe has 922 hours. It was a rental with over 800 hours when I bought it in 2015. I paid way too much for it in my opnion. $4000 for the ski and trailer. That said it still runs and never gives any trouble. I just plan to ride it till it quits.

    Reply

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