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How To Get A New Sea-Doo Key [Fast & Cheap Options]

You wouldn’t believe how many times customers reach out, wondering about getting a new key for their Sea-Doo. The most common question that pops up is, “Can you just copy the key?” Well, let me clear this up – a Sea-Doo key isn’t like your regular keys that you can easily duplicate.

You see, a Sea-Doo key is no ordinary key; it’s a digital one. To get a new key up and running, your Personal Watercraft (PWC) needs to cozy up with a dealership’s computer. Unfortunately, there’s no way to mimic or copy an existing Sea-Doo key. If you need a new one, the whole Sea-Doo has to make a trip to the shop for key programming.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the cost, whether you need a special key, or if your Sea-Doo needs a charged-up battery for this magic to happen. Hold on tight because I’m about to answer all those questions and more in the info below. Let’s dive in and demystify the world of Sea-Doo keys and programming!

Why Is Power Sports Security So Important?

I have noticed that when people lose their key to their Sea-Doo, they often ask why such a thing is needed? Why can’t they have a simple key, or why have any key?

Thieves love stealing power sports vehicles, from ATVs to jet skis and everything between. There is a huge market to either sell them to unknown buyers or part them out online.

The great thing about Sea-Doo, or BRP, who also owns Can-Am, is that the wrong key makes the vehicle a dud. You can’t bypass it and will require a lot of work to get it going again. This makes Sea-Doo’s less of a target than other brands.

I still suggest getting a lock to the watercraft to the dock or trailer. Or get a lock for the trailer to lock it down.

The Types Of Sea-Doo Keys

Sea-Doo has two types of keys, and both types can have many different shapes. One key is a simple kill-switch style and the other is a digital.

The digital key came about in 1996 and has changed once, it used to be metal contacts, but now the new style uses an RF signal. The digital keys need to be programmed to the watercraft and done with special software and hardware found at the dealership.

The kill-switch style is a simple rubber tab, or the newest style is a plastic clip with a magnet. These keys can be found on Sea-Doo’s before 1996 and even today on some Sparks. These keys don’t need to be programmed, and you can buy them online.

How The Digital Keys Work

The digital keys have a chip inside, and that chip has a set of numbers unique to that fob.

When a Sea-Doo key is programmed to the watercraft, that set of numbers is added to a slot in the Sea-Doo’s computer. You have 8 to 16 slots depending on the model and year, so you can have 8 to 16 keys, with 8 being the most common.

The Sea-Doo knows to read the key because there is also a magnet in there. This magnet also tells the watercraft to shut off if it’s taken away, as Sea-Doo keys also work as the kill-switch in case you fall off.

The Sea-Doo key needs to be programmed by special software and hardware that the dealership has. This often done with a laptop, the dealerships will require you to bring the whole watercraft to them. They can come to your home for an extra charge. The process is quick, and many dealerships can squeeze you in, especially if you bring the watercraft to them.

Can You Bypass A Sea-Doo Key?

The honest truth is that you can’t bypass a digital key. I know people try, but the stuff that controls the keys is hardwired into the computer.

If your Sea-Doo doesn’t use a digital key, then any non-digital key will work, that is made for that model.

The Sea-Doo key is a theft deterrent. The new Sea-Doo’s in the crate are not programmed, and no key will work. The watercraft needs to be programmed by the dealership computer and the keys added if you want it to run.

You can turn off the DESS (digital encrypted security system) function of your watercraft, but you need the dealership to do it for you with the software and hardware. Once off, the non-digital-keys can start your watercraft.

How To Get A Replacement Sea-Doo Key?

If yours uses a non-digital-key, you can buy the keys online. For example, here is a Sea-Doo Spark key that is NOT digital (Amazon Link Ad).

Digital keys can also be bought online too, but it’s best to buy it from the dealership or repair shop so you don’t buy the wrong one. With so many styles of digital keys from Sea-Doo, I’m seeing people buy the wrong keys now.

All Sea-Doo’s made after 1996 and are not Sparks, will have a digital-key. Some Sparks do have a digital-key, you can tell it’s a digital-key because it will have a white plate that says “Sea-Doo” like in the image below.

Older Sea-Doo’s have the style below that are digital.

Sea-Doo replacement key

The digital keys need to be programmed by a dealership or repair shop with the correct software and hardware.

You will need to bring the whole unit to the dealership and the battery must be charged. They can NOT duplicate a key, and they can NOT help you if you have the VIN. The whole watercraft has to be hooked up to a computer and the new keys added.

The Costs to Program A Sea-Doo Lanyard Key

How much does a new Sea-Doo key cost? The key can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on whether it’s a digital key or not, along with its style.

The dealership may even charge extra for labor to program the key or to do a house call.

What The Multiple Color mean

Why do Sea-Doo keys come in different colors? Below, I listed what each color means.

  • Yellow – Normal
  • Green – Learning
  • White – Old learning color.
  • Black – Normal but for higher-end models.
  • Orange – Rental.

All keys are the same, but labeled different for what they’re meant to do.

Since all keys are the same, you could program the learning keys to be fast, but you must have the dealership do it with their computer. I would do this all the time, I would make a customer’s learning key fast because they would never use the learning mode.

They don’t include the learning keys anymore, and only do one key per jet ski. I find most people would lose the learning key anyway, but you can still get them if you want one.

You can Program Multiple Watercraft alike

Can you program your Sea-Doo watercraft alike? You can program your two jet skis alike, so all keys will start either machine. But you need to let the dealership know to do this, and both units need to be there.

I would try to do this for customers who got two or more units from me because it’s not too difficult to do when prepping the units at the same time.

Get A new key Without going To The Dealership?

Do you really need to bring the whole jet ski to the dealership to get the keys programmed? Unfortunately, you do, there is no other way.

You need special software and hardware to program a Sea-Doo digital key.

I understand this can be a problem if you don’t live near a dealership.

The good news is that there are other companies that sell programmers. Many 3rd party jet ski repair shops tend to use these programmers so they can program the watercraft for you. The CanDooPro is an option if you want your own.

You could also buy the actual BUDS that the dealerships use (Amazon Link Ad) and program your own keys, reset your own maintenance lights and see any fault codes.

If your Sea-Doo is made before 2002, you’ll need to use the CanDooPro.

Author

Steven

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 StevenInSales.com 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.

Comments

  1. I have a 1999 Sea Doo Bombardier GTI. We bought it used, and it had no key. A local shop has an after market programmer that says they can program key for it if it was the metal and not the plastic. How do I find that out?

    Reply
    • Sea-Doo had two keys back then, a DESS key with the metal pins and a regular rubber key that was only a safety lanyard, that is what they’re probably talking about. You can only program the DESS version that has the metal pins inside the cap of the key. A 1999 Sea-Doo GTI will have a DESS key that needs to be programmed.

      Reply
  2. I have a 2004 bombardier rxp supercharger and some one stole the key. we live in copperopolis ca and the dealership we bought it at in lodi has shut down. I need this to do my job cleaning bathrooms at lake melonas. I was told I could buy a mpem. is that a good idea and for the cost would I even be able to install it myself?

    Reply
    • I would look for another dealer. Those programmers are not cheap and often break due to Sea-Doo releasing patches as they don’t like those devices.

      Reply
  3. Thankful I found your website. It has been incredibly informative. We are looking to buy our first Jet Ski (used). Do you think a 2012 Sea Doo GTI-130-SE, 59 original hours with a Triton aluminum trailer for $6500 is a good price? Would you recommend this model? We would like to use it eventually for tubing etc.

    Reply
    • As of now (APRIL 2020), KBB watercraft says retail is $5,700 and for a Triton Single Used I would expect $500. The price is not too far off for that many hours. I would get the VIN and call up your local dealership to make sure all the warranty items are done on it. Other than that the GTI’s are a great buy.

      Reply
  4. I have a 2008 seadoo speedster 200 430 hp boat. I’ve lost the keys. Do you know if a can just purchase any of the dess lanyards? I know I have to take the key and boat to get programmed. I just wasn’t sure if I needed a special key since it is for a boat and not a jet ski.

    Reply
    • For that model, any of the Sea-Doo watercraft DESS keys will work (not the RF ones). The trick will be to call a dealer ahead of time to make sure they can still program that boat and to see if they have the keys in stock.

      Reply
  5. My son lost the 2005 3D seadoo key.. what shall i do or where will i ask or go to have a new key.. what nearest location to go to get a new key.. i live in Lancaster Ca…thank you i appreciate your help

    Reply
  6. How do I tell if my seadoo has dess. Or do they all have it. It is a 2004 gti std 720 and I just lost the key in the river

    Reply
    • Pretty much anything older than 1996 will not have DESS. But a way to know is the post where you plug in your key will have metal connectors on it.

      Reply
  7. Help! Lost key to 2000 Bombardier Seedoo. Our dealer in town could not get us another. Said computer did not go back that far. What am I supposed to do?

    Reply
    • This is a tough one. Older Sea-Doo (2-strokes) used an old handheld computer to program keys. Over the years these handhelds have started to fail and only a few dealerships even have one that works. Sea-Doo did come out with a computer adapter but it also has faded away. The best thing to do is call around to all dealerships to see if they can program 2-stroke Sea-Doos. Also, call other repair shops since they may have an aftermarket programmer that works with 2-strokes. Other then that there is not much you can do.

      Reply
  8. Can you please confirm if a 2016 sea do spark 3up model can also get a leaner key.
    I see yes on some forum’s but our local dealer said never seen one.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Only the Sparks with iBR had the option for the learning key. They did have an option to get a DESS key installed on a Spark without it, but I think you only got the fast key.

      Reply

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