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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.

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

  1. Hi Steven, Great information. I am looking at a 2020 RXTX 300. The machine has 140 hours on it which makes me worried. Is there anything I should be looking for on a newer machine with that many hours. They want $13,775 for it with trailer. Is that a good deal? Thank you!

    Reply
    • That is a lot of hours but it does show he really liked it. At 200 hours the supercharger will need to be inspected so something to keep in mind. Since it’s so new I would get the VIN and call the local dealer to see if there are any open recalls or bulletins on that model. That price is super fair in this market, especially with a trailer.

      Reply
  2. Hi Steven, I have found these 2 Skis even though they are 2003 models what do you think they sound ok to me?
    2 x 2003 SeaDoo GTX 4-Tech 185 Supercharged Jet Skis. Terrifically well looked after and come with a range of spare parts if purchased together.
    One has a fully rebuilt motor with 2 hours on it! Just run in! Still under warranty! Rebuilt Supercharger, new battery. Incredible condition for its age. Full mechanical history available.
    Number 2 has just had the valves replaced, also still under warranty. Excellent condition, Rebuilt Supercharger also. Trailers and Skis are registered.
    Kind Regards,
    Wayne

    Reply
    • Sounds sweet to me. One with a rebuilt engine, kind of worries as to why it was rebuilt, but still, it’s rebuilt. The superchargers being rebuilt lately is good too. If you can get it for a fair price then go for it. Do keep in mind they’re over 18 years old, that is old for a jet ski, but it’s the Sea-Doo 4-tec engine so it’s a good engine.

      Reply
  3. Hi Steven,

    I am looking at a combo deal of a 2006 Kawasaki STX-12F with a little over 100 hours and a 2013 SeaDoo RXT-X with around 100 hours as well. Though was told the supercharger was not rebuilt and they don’t see the need. Comes with 2015 double trailer. I was able to negotiate down to $11,500 for all. Do you think it’s a good deal? Anything to watch out for other than the supercharger?

    Reply
    • Me personally, I would get the supercharger rebuilt at least every 100 hours. The manual says 200 hours for that model, but the safer bet is every 100 hours. What’s impressive is that you got two jet skis with a trailer for $11,500 in this market. I’m seeing people pay that much just for one Sea-Doo with a trailer. That’s a good deal if everything checks out.

      Reply
  4. Hi Steven.

    2018 Seadoo GTR230, 55 hours with trailer, $11,000

    2020 Seadoo Spark, 28 hours with trailer, $8,000

    2008 Seadoo Rxp 215, 30 hours with trailer, $6,500

    It will be my first jet ski though I’ve ridden others before. I really care about best value, keeping value, fun value and then speed as they all tend to have similar top speeds. Do you know the fuel consumption for cruising on all ski’s?

    Thank you for the great website.

    Reply
    • Speed and value would be the 2018 GTR 230. The GTR is the only one with ECO mode that gives you good gas mileage but if all you care about is gas mileage the Spark will be the one to go with but you give up a lot on comfort and speed compared to the GTR.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for the great information Steven!

    I am looking at a 2008 Sea-Doo RXT 215 with 64 hours on it. Comes with a 2008 Triton trailer, all for $6,500. The current owner says they’ve had it for 5 years and they purchased it from good friend prior who took very good care of it. In the pictures it does look very nice for the year. Supposedly serviced every year and new battery installed recently.

    I’m cautious of the superchargers on these as I’ve heard they sometimes don’t last. What are your thoughts on the deal and the all around about the ski? Thank you in advance you are doing us all a favor.

    Reply
    • I would for sure get a 2008 RXT 215 supercharger looked at before buying or see when it was serviced. If it’s been over 2 years since the supercharger was serviced I would go ahead and get it done.

      Reply
  6. Hi Steven,

    I’m looking at 2 2016 Yamaha VX w/galvanized trailer for $14,000. Hours in the 70’s on one and 80’s on the other. Some salt water use but not much. It sounds like your’ a VX fan. Is $14K in the right range for these?

    Reply
    • With the way the market is now that is a great deal on two 2016 VX with a trailer. Those hours are quite low for that model too. Sounds like you found a good one if it checks out.

      Reply
  7. Hi Steven,

    Someone is selling a 2007 GTI SE 130 and a 155, each with under 10 (ten) hours on them. Said they were stored for years without use but did put two hours on them this year with a new battery. Selling em for $7,500 each. What are your thoughts? They’re rather old but look to be in great, like new condition and so little hours. Should I be looking for something? We are new to the PWC, but my Uncle always loved his sea doos. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • That’s a rare find, 10 hours is unusual. The 2007 GTI’s were great in both engines and nothing really stands out. Since the hours are so unusual I would see if you can take it to a dealership and have them hook it up to the computer to read the hours just to make sure they didn’t swap out the gauge and it’s reading wrong. The true hours will be reported on the Tech’s computer.

      Reply
      • Thanks so much. So, if the hours check out, with a like-new trailer but no cover, is $8,000 ok? Seems a middle aged couple bought it new and then he had some medical issues. Thanks again, Steven

        Reply
        • $8k each is a little high but right now all jet skis are priced high. If the hours do check out and they run fine you found a gem for sure.

          Reply
  8. Hi Steven-

    I am looking at two 2006 Yamaha vx110’s. One is a sport, the other is a deluxe. They each have around 300 hours. With trailer for 8k. It seems like a fair deal and both have had annual oil changes. I am just wondering if it makes sense to buy a 15 year old PWC with 300 hours?

    Thanks!
    Brad

    Reply
    • The VX has always been a good jet ski and one of Yamaha’s most reliable. Prices are high right now due to current events but you can’t go wrong with this machine if they check out fine. 300 Hours for a VX is quite low, it can go well beyond that.

      Reply
  9. Great site and awesome information. looking at a 2006 gtx sc with 345 hrs. with sc rebuild at 293 hours on double trailer for $4200. what do you think about this? thank you

    Reply
    • It’s a great riding jet ski for its time and the thing that is going to give you the most trouble will be the supercharger. That model did not have fuel-saving features so it will consume more gas than other jet skis made after 2010 with similar engine. The double trailer is a huge win, those always hold their value in the used market as everyone is looking for one. The price doesn’t seem too crazy in this current market. I would get it checked out especially the supercharger by a tech as those 215 engines were the ones that had the most issues during that time with the superchargers failing.

      Reply
  10. Hi Steven

    I am looking at a 2004 Polaris virage that comes with a trailer and has 80 hours on it. He is currently asking $3,000 for it. Is this a good buy or no? Are there things I should be looking for? This is our first time looking at buying a jet ski so we need to know if we are doing the right thing. Thank you

    Reply
  11. Hi Steven. I’m considering buying a 2013 Sea-Doo GTX S155, with 57 hours and a trailer for $9K. I’m interested in your opinion of this machine in general and if you think this is a fair price. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    Reply
    • The S model was the simple suspension model and did not have much trouble. It does ride top-heavy due to the suspension but it is a nice ride. The price is a little high but everything right now is high but those hours are really good. Plus it has the best engine Sea-Doo ever made, you can’t go wrong.

      Reply
  12. Hi there, I recently purchased a 2013 gti 155 limited for $7500 with trailer. GTI had 75 hours on it. I took it in had it serviced right away and there were a few very minor issues. The ski runs great, now at 81 hours. Are the 2013 gti 155 limited reliable? The mechanic opened it up and was shocked that it was so clean. He said it looked brand new and did not appear to be ridden in salt.

    Reply
    • Yes, the GTI 155 was a great machine and that is one of Sea-Doo’s best engines. That is also very few hours for that machine too. You may have found a gem!

      Reply
  13. Hi Steven,

    Amazing article thank you! New to the sport hit after renting for the past year and a half I’m wanting to make a purchase. What are your thoughts on 2 2018 VX Crusiers with 260 hours including the double trailer. They’ve been well serviced and look very clean. Is it worth lake testing or is this not a good buy based upon how many hours they have already in such a short timeframe. I appreciate your help!

    Thanks,
    Alex

    Reply
  14. Just found this article hoping it is still active. Great read! Looking to buy 1st ski (experienced rider). Found 19 VX Cruiser HO with 120hrs. Selling for 9950. Curious your thoughts. Trailer not included.

    Reply
  15. I am new to the PWC arena. I am looking for new or used equipment. I live in NO. Cal on the Delta and all dealers are sold out of new product and the used equipment is priced crazy $$$. I was told that for every hour on a PWC, maintenance cost $100 per hour. That number seems quite High. Any comment on upkeep costs? Next question , if 4 stroke engine lasts 500 hours, how much does it costs to rebuild the engine and is it worth it? Thanks for the response and this is a great site. been looking for a site like this for a few months now.

    Reply
    • Due to current events manufacturers are having a hard time getting units made and shipped. This has caused the used market to skyrocket in price because there is only used stuff. I’ve never heard of a jet ski costing $100 per hour you put on it, you could be confusing the labor rate that many repair shops have which is around $100. So if you need to fix something and it takes the dealership 1 hour in labor to fix it then it would $100 in labor cost plus the cost of the parts. Ideally, you should do a service every 50 hours or once a year which can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on what you need. The average person puts 30 hours a year on a jet ski so you’re looking at about $200 to $500 a year maintenance cost. A 4-stroke jet ski engine can last longer than 500 hours, it’s just that 500 hours is considered a lot of hours (it would be like 500,000 miles on a car). I’ve seen them go well beyond 1000 hours, it’s all about how well you take care of it. If the average person puts 30 hours a year on a jet ski it would take over 16 years to get to 500 hours and at that point, parts start to get harder to find, and why I tend to avoid jet skis that old.

      Reply
  16. Hi Steven – great article. Looking to purchase a 2008 Yamaha Waverunner VX 110 Sport, for $3300. It was part of a rental fleet, synthetic oil changes every 50 hours. Has some minor flaws but otherwise good condition. Has 800 hours on it. I am concerned about the hours, what are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • That’s a lot of hours for any jet ski but the VX can handle it. To me, the price is really good especially in this market right now but rental jet skis are rode the hardest of all jet skis. At that price, I would probably get it and understand I might not be able to sell it for much later or expect it to last too long. It would be a great starter jet ski that is for sure.

      Reply
  17. Hi Steve, I’m looking at a 2019 kawasaki stx 15f with a trailer and cover for $11,000. The ski has 61 hours and has been winterized and serviced every year. Just wanted your opinion on this particular model of jet ski and how reliable it is. And does this seem like a fair price? Thanks

    Reply
    • It’s a great jet ski but that price is a little high but all jet skis are high due to current events. The hours I would say are spot on and have many more to come. You can’t go wrong with it.

      Reply

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