Reasons Why Your Jet Ski Won’t Start

It can be very frustrating when you go out to hop on your Jet Ski and find out that it won’t start. I’ve created a list of the most common reasons why your Jet Ski won’t start and what you can do to fix the issue.

WARNING! Batteries and the starting system of your jet ski carry HIGH ELECTRICAL CURRENTS, which can hurt or seriously harm you if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, please have your local dealer look at it for you.

Dead Battery

Random jet ski batteries that are dead

Having a Dead Battery is usually the biggest reason why your Seadoo, Yamaha, or Kawasaki jet ski won’t start.

8 out 10 times, it’s the battery. Even if you charged the battery or it’s a new battery, it still can be the battery causing the jet ski to not start. Even if you think the battery is good, check the battery. We talk more below about how to check the battery. 

  • If you put the key on and nothing happens then, the battery is completely shot and needs to be replaced.
  • If you put the key on and the display turns on, but when you press the start button, and all you hear is clicking that means the battery is weak. A weak battery will need to be charged.

You may also like this post: REASONS WHY YOUR JET SKI BATTERY DIES

To charge a battery, you want to use a smart battery charger (Amazon Link Ad) that does not exceed 2 amps. Also, you need to let the battery charge for hours, or overnight to get it to be fully charged. To keep the battery from dying all the time I highly suggest getting a Solar panel like this one (Amazon Link Ad). Just hang the solar panel off to the side when you’re not using the jet ski.

Sometimes you’ll need a new battery. Your local dealer can help you find the correct battery for your machine.

One Solid Click or Thud

If you go to start your watercraft and all you get is ONE solid click or thud, then the Starter Relay (Amazon Link Ad) has gone bad. Also, you know the starter relay is bad is when you press the start button multiple times before the jet ski will finally start.

I have even had customers tell me the procedure to start their watercraft, like waiting for the dash to turn off, then you press the start button 11 times while tapping the handlebars 4 times before it will start. There is no special procedure for starting a jet ski, and if you have to do something very similar, you need a new starter relay.

The starter relay is the device that sends the power from the battery to the starter motor to turn the engine on. The way you determine if the starter relay is bad or if the battery is bad is by the clicks. A bad battery will cause the starter relay to make multiple quick clicks, while a bad relay will do only one click when you press the start button.

Your local dealer will more than likely have Starter Relays in stock. For some model Jet Ski’s, I highly recommend letting the dealer install them as some can be very painful to install. It’s only a couple of wires, but the location of the relay can be very difficult to get to, and having the dealer do it could be worth it.

Battery and Starter Relay are Fine, now what?

If the battery and starter relay seems fine and has passed all test above then, I would check the battery again. There have been plenty of times where the battery charger says the battery is charged and ready to go, but when I put a load tester on the battery, it was a different story.

I would even take the battery to your local dealer or even an auto parts store to have them load test the battery to make sure it’s okay.

If the battery passed the load test, the gauges come on, and the starter relay is good or has been replaced, then you only have a few more options left. The next thing in line is the Starter, and it could have gone bad. It’s not common for the Starter to fail, but the starter relay and battery will fail eventually because of the stress they go through (they’re wear-and-tear items).

If you have gotten to this point, you’ll need to take it to your local dealer. If the problems are beyond the battery and starter relay, then something is going on beyond your control. Your local dealer can hook the machine up to the computer to see what is going on and what needs to be fixed.

Sucked Something Up

It’s rare, but one reason why your jet ski won’t start could be due to you sucking something up. A stick, rock, or even rope can get in there and wedge itself in keeping the pump and also the engine from spinning over.

I go into more detail about this here. Usually, when you suck something up, you notice it, but maybe a friend returns the machine and doesn’t tell you about it, and this would lead you to this conclusion.

Sum Up Jet Ski Won’t Start

  • Why your jet ski won’t start can be a bad or weak battery, bad starter relay, bad starter motor, or you sucked something up.
  • 8/10 times a jet ski won’t start is due to a weak battery or bad starter relay.
  • In rare occasions, the key or other electronic parts could be the reason why your jet ski won’t start.
  • If your jet ski clicks once when you hit the start button then it’s more than likely the starter relay.
  • If you have to press the start button multiple times or put the key on and off before the jet ski starts then it’s a bad starter relay.
  • If your jet ski clicks multiple times when you hit the start button then it’s a weak or dead battery.
  • If you’ve put a new battery in your jet ski and it still won’t start then it could be that the new battery is dead and needs to be load tested.
  • Never go off on what a voltmeter says but instead what a load tester says when checking if a battery is good or not. You can get load testers at many stores but most auto parts stores will have a load tester you can use for free.
  • If your new battery load test fine and the watercraft still won’t start then it could be bad grounds or other electrical issues.

209 thoughts on “Reasons Why Your Jet Ski Won’t Start”

  1. Hi Steven amazing articles by the way… I have a pair of 2018 season spark trixx. I was wondering if you can give me some tips on how to clean them after riding. As well as tips you think I should know as well.

  2. Hi steve running a 2008 seadoo – ran like dream today for 2hrs then went to restart on the water – nothing no click no thud – new battery 12 months ago and new genuine stater solinnoid- tried other learner key no good – dash instruments come up – but no start click or thud – biggest concern – no likely to get into mech for 2 weeks – so was unable to flush with water on return – salt was very concentrated today – btw disconnected and connected batt – still no good- tony

  3. I have a 2000 GTX that got water in engine compartment and wouldn’t start only clicked so I replaced starter relay and now only partially turns over want stay turning over I have to keep pushing starter over and over and I noticed circuit box and wires get hot and I hear some noise coming from circuit box . Also don’t make beeping noise when you stick key on anymore. Thanks

    • Sounds like it’s hydro-locked. Avoid trying to start it and get it to a repair shop so they can remove the water from the engine.

  4. Hello I have a seadoo gtx I was running and then stop for a couple of hours after that I try to turn on and just make a click click noise please can you help youwith an advice. Thank you

  5. 2004 SeaDoo GTI has hard time recognizing the key, Sometimes it beeps right away and other times it takes a long time for it to beep so you can start it. Could this be caused by a bad Dess post?

  6. I have a 2007 GTX Seadoo and it ran fine last year. When I put the battery back into this year, I had trouble getting the gauges to come up, so I could start it. When you put the safety lanyard on sometimes the gauges came up and it beeped and sometimes they didn’t. When it did start everything seemed to work fine. I was riding it the other day and all the sudden it shut off with no alarms or codes and now it won’t initialize or start at all. Could this be a battery problem?

    • It could be a bad battery, weak or poor connection, bad electrical component, and many other things. But I would start with the battery first and make sure the connections are properly connecting the battery.

  7. Hi, I’m female and new to jetskiing. I have a 1997 seadoo gti, ran good the first 2 times out, then on the 3rd time, it started to bog down at full throttle . Limped it back to the dock . It shut down so I tried to start it again, and now it just makes a loud click (clunk) sound and won’t turn over . Battery is charged, but it only clunks once and does nothing. I’m not sure what happened.

    • Usually, when you hear one clunk it’s a bad starter relay. As for the bogging down, it will be a different story and a lot of things could be it.

  8. Hello Steven, kind of you to answer all of these questions.
    2006 Kawasaki STX-12F
    I went for a ride yesterday and everything was fine. After the ride tried to install a battery tender adapter to the battery that would click-in as opposed to attaching with two clamps. I was having an issue getting the right angle with the screw driver I was using and gave up.

    Today I try and start it won’t. maybe I need to ensure the termindal block tightly screwed in?
    I took a video with sound to show my attempt to start it.
    Heres the YouTube link:

  9. I have a Yamaha FXSHO and was out this morning cruising at about 60kph and suddenly no power (electrical). Motor stopped immediately and no power to anything. Completely dead. Brand new battery and showing good voltage. Any ideas?

    • Sounds like you sucked something up. Usually when you’re moving along and the jet ski shuts off something got sucked into the intake. You might not have heard or felt it but it does happen. The click would be because whatever is in there is keeping the engine from spinning over because jet skis use a direct drive anything that blocks the impeller also blocks the engine from spinning.

  10. I have seafood 2015 jet ski. Yesterday I started after 4 months it did start and I went in water it stopped I try to start it is clicking but not starting on display it says BR. Please help me out

  11. Hi, Seadoo gsx starting problem.When i press start button the engine makes half a turn and stops. It does it several times in a row. Starter solenoid is new, battery is good, cleaned grounds. I put a test light on the yellow/red wire from the ecu to starter solenoid and if i press start button the light comes on, but when engine makes half a turn only the light only makes a flash as long as the time engine makes half a turn. Is it possible to have a problem in ecu or what can it be? If i get the engine running it will start better, almost every time i press start, but still makes half a turn starts occasionally. It is like starter solenoid will loose signal from ecu and then stops.

  12. ive had my 2004 seadoo sit all winter in the shed and getting ready for the warm weather battery was disconnected the whole time I’ve connected it but it was flat so I charged it over night while the terminals where off as you should hooked the terminals on after being charged and started up had it running for approx 5mins on the Trailor with water then turned it off since then it won’t start again just making a clicking noise can a starter relay fail that quick also the button on the handle bars doesn’t Spring out the best can that cause a issue

    • Yes, the starter relay can fail out of nowhere especially if it’s the old brown style one. The black Sea-Doo starter relay will be the better one to get. But you said you had it running on the hose and if you didn’t follow the correct procedure of turning the water off before turning the engine off you could have hydro-locked the engine and that would make it click. If that is the case avoid starting as you could do damage. You can buy a new starter button just about anywhere, they just pop out.

  13. I have a 95 Sea-Doo GTX. I’m sure the starter relay is going because I have trouble starting it but also I think there’s some sort of fuel issue because when I try to start it, if I try to start it, it will chug and then I will pull the throttle open all the way and then it will start. Today it actually died spontaneously in the water twice. I have a guess that it has to do with the fuel issue or a carburetor issue. Any thoughts?

    • Sounds like carburetor to me, but it could be many things and it’s best to let a repair shop look at it hands on to see what the problem is.

  14. Hey Steven, we have a 2005 Seedoo GTX that is giving us starting fits this summer. It starts intermittently and has a new battery. One time it will start, the next time it won’t. We’ve had it into the shop twice and they can’t replicate the problem. Starts right up for them every time. It almost seems like it could be a loose wire somewhere. Are there wires in the steering assembly at the start/stop switch that could be loose? Called the shop again today and they think it might be the starting post. What’s your opinion. I’m not a mechanic and can’t find any you tube videos on any starter problems with the key post or start/stop switch. Ideas?

    • I would have them clean all the grounds to perfection and the connectors that go to the battery. I’ve seen dirty grounds cause odd problems. They really need to clean them, there is like 3 on the front of the engine that should be cleaned well. I’ve also seen fuel rail or injectors go bad and cause a jet ski that will start sometimes but not the other time. It was like a leaking fuel injector that flooded the engine but it would still spin over but never start. There are many options to go from and the dealership should be able to figure it out or use their chat with Sea-Doo to figure it out.

  15. Hey man. I have 2 95 seadoo Xp’s I’m having trouble with. Yesterday they were running fine when my buddies took them a little shallow and sucked rocks into both of them. I took apart the jet and had to replace the wear rings. Easy enough. But now both won’t start. They have new batteries that are holding charge and I suspect the solenoid so I ordered new ones. I tried jumping the solenoid with a screwdriver. It turns over that way but won’t start. Both don’t respond at all when I put in the key and push the start button. No click or anything. Any ideas??

  16. I got a tiger shark tsl 900 I have 2 problems 1 st is hard starting turns over good but takes a bit to start 2 no is when you do finally get it running you have to hold the gas down and it hesitates then just goes full bore only you basically get idle or super fast any help would be great

  17. Hey Steven I have a seadoo spark that was not starting or gauges turning on at all so I replaced the battery because the other one tested bad and now that it has the new battery in, still nothing turns on as though there is no battery at all

    • It’s best to take it to a dealer, some models sparks had a wiring issue where it would rub. It could also be a bad kill switch or even a blown fuse. Also, don’t forget to make sure the battery is connected the right direction – I’ve done this before and can blow a fuse.

  18. Hi. I have a 2007 kawaski stx15f. New battery from Walmart. This is the 2nd one in 1 month. No lights on panel. No clicking. I even tried to jump the starter solenoid with nothing. What is my next move.

    • It could be a bad kill switch or blown fuse, it’s best to take it to a repair shop let them see what is going on with it. Too many possibilities and a repair shop might be the best way to go with electrical issues.


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