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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 (Amazon Link Ad). 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.

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

  1. hey – so i have a 2017 GTI SE. it often won’t start. no clicks. nothing. if i remove the battery and put it back in, this typically fixes the problem and it starts right up. usually can start and stop it fine after that until it sits again for a week or two.

    battery is for sure fine. i swapped it with one in our other GTI, which always starts fine and the problem stuck with the jet ski.

    also replaced the starter relay fuse – big black fuse inside the fusebox. no change. and i checked all the other fuses and cleaned them. all seem fine…..

    seems like it must be a short in the wiring perhaps? do i just start checking continuity and replacing wiring…?

    thx in advance for any thoughts….

    geoff

    Reply
    • If you’re chasing something like this you need to see what fault codes the Sea-Doo is throwing before going forward as this is quite strange. Only a dealership or repair shop can read these codes. I’m wondering if it’s an ECM problem as that is super odd.

      Reply
  2. Excellent guides and comment. Have a Yamaha FXSHO 2008, with very few hours, but suddenly one click and starter did not turn over. Multiple (up to 10), start button presses and the pwc started. Battery new, so not problem. I have the 700p service manual, so did the test on incomming current (from Battery) to the solenoid 12,6V ( grey taped) = OK. Then tested the old solenoid according to the servicemanual, by taking it out (Found a very good guide how to take out the solenoid (see below’)). NOTE test indicted the solenoid was OK! But I read this article and felt convinced so went and swapped to a new one in spite of the old one apparently working… Now All working perfect with new solenoid!! Lesson learned not allways trust manual… disasembly video below.

    Reply
  3. I have a 2006 Sea Doo RTX 4-tec super charged. it has been a great machine. recently we have had a problem with starting. after 1 use in the water we will tie it to a buoy and it may sit for an hour, we will try starting it to ride again. we place the fob on the starter and it chirps as normal. it cranks over just fine but will not fire. we have replaced the battery twice and this did not help.

    we will take it out of the water and let it sit overnight. the next day it will start just fine. we will ride it once for any length of time but when we turn it off and don’t ride for an hour and go try it again, it will crank over just fine but will not start.

    Reply
    • I had a similar Sea-Doo give me the exact same problem before and it turned out to be a bad fuel injector. The fuel injector would leak slowly and flood the engine and keep it from cracking.

      Reply
      • Hi Steven I just obtained an 02 seadoo gtile. Got brand new battery but it just turns over one time really weak then clicks repeatedly will turn over again really weak then foloweed by the clicking again and so forth I have jumped relay same exact thing happens any thoughts? Thanks again for any help

        Reply
        • Either the battery is weak or something is keeping the engine from spinning. Something in the pump or a jet ski that old some parts could be corroded shut. A start motor being bad is not out of the question either.

          Reply
  4. I have a 2010 Sea Doo GTI 130 it will start but it revs extremely high and it won’t go forward or back was thinking something could be stuck in it but not sure. Any ideas?

    Reply
  5. I have a 2016 Sea-Doo GTX and when I put the key on the port I’m not getting any display and the ski doesn’t start. This happened when out on the water after running just fine. I’ve load tested the battery and it’s good, changed any fuses that seemed blown and still nothing. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Make sure you press the start button once to wake the gauges up before putting the key on the Sea-Doo. If you still have the issue then you’ll more than likely need a new key.

      Reply
  6. Hey Steven…I just stumbled on your site looking to find an answer and super glad I did. There is a ton of information here.

    I have a 2007 Honda Aquatrax that I can’t get running. I took it out to “unwinterize” it and it ran great for 10-15 min. I stopped for a minute to rest and it wouldn’t start back up. I put the kill switch on and it beeps twice and the screen flashes and goes off. It will continue to beep twice every couple seconds and the screen flashes on and off, but nothing happens after. The start button does nothing when this happens. The battery is virtually brand new and I checked the charge and it shows fully charged. Any ideas???

    Reply
  7. Hi i have a wave runner and when i push the start button it clicks and then when i let go of the button it clicks. The lights and the gauges on the dash screen doesn’t come on. I got the battery tested twice and both times they said the battery is good. What do you think the problem could be?

    Reply
    • One-click would mean the starter relay is bad. As for the gauges, it could be many things. If the jet ski is old enough it could be a bad gauge or as simple as the battery connections are dirty and have corrosion. It could also be a blown fuse.

      Reply
    • Had the same thing happen to my seadoo, changed the solenoid, battery and still the same thing. Turned out it was a bad connection in the fuze box. Try pulling them one a a time and see if any rust or dirt is causing the bad connection. Oh and also use wd40 to help waterproof the fuze box.

      Reply
  8. I have a 2010 Yamaha fx ho which I fish off of.
    I always charge the battery when not in use and it fires up first go all the time.
    My issue is when I’m out fishing, stop at one spot then move to a new spot, shut the ski off, fish for a bit, then when I go to start it, the ski just won’t fire up- it sometimes takes 4-5 goes before it will actually kick over.
    I’ve been told that this could moisture in the exhaust from stopping and starting.
    Is this a thing ?
    Does anyone know how to stop this from happening ?

    Reply
    • If you’re pressing the start button multiple times before it starts then it might be a bad starter relay. I would start with the starter relay before doing anything else.

      Reply
  9. I have two 2012 gtx 155, one of them coming out of weatherization started fine, but when we went to the lake it wouldn’t start. The display doesn’t come on, and all I hear is one click. The fuses are good, and I believe the battery is ok. Any ideas on what it might be. Any help would be appreciated.
    Bryan

    Reply
      • So I replaced the starter solenoid, and used the battery out of the other ski that starts fine. Still nothing. And when I bypass the solenoid with a screw driver it cranks over. I even used the key on the good ski, no problems. Just not sure. Any other idea’s?

        Reply
        • Sounds like the low voltage side of the starter relay is bad. I would check the fuses and if that doesn’t work you have something else going on and will need to take it to a repair shop to read the fault codes.

          Reply
  10. Steve Thanks for the website it’s a great resource. I have a 2003 Seadoo Bombardier GTI, starts up and runs great for about a 45 minutes, then begins to stall. Typically gives a hard time restarting, but will restart and run for a few minutes before stalling again. Allows me to get it back to the dock and hoist it out of the water to flush it out and runs fine while flushing. Usually drop it back in the next day and same process happens again. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Start with spark plugs and then look into replacing the fuel lines and fuel selector. If it’s been sitting for a while the carb might need to be cleaned too.

      Reply
  11. Hello Steven, I sure do appreciate all of your shared knowledge. I have a 2002 SEADOO GTI LE (2 stroke of course) started up and worked great for a few hours, then on one trip the driver told me he hit a big wave and the unit just shut off, almost like the key was pulled off, now the seadoo won’t start… We get two beeps on plugging in the key, the starter turns over the engine, like its trying to start, but never does. Checked the plugs and there is spark, lots of gas and oil in the unit… It seems so strange that it just quit, almost sounds electrical in nature but i’m baffled by it. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Try a new battery or maybe something is stuck in the pump keeping the engine from spinning. It’s also 18 years old so I would not be shocked if the starter motor has gone out. Those are the only thing that sticks out to me for that model.

      Reply

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