Sea-Doo Driving Modes and Key Functions Explained

Sea-Doo jet skis have multiple different driving modes and key options, with each one doing something unique.

Not many Sea-Doo owner’s know about all these driving modes or what they do, so in this post I want to cover them and when you should use them.

Sea-Doo is not the only one with different driving modes or keys, Yamaha and Kawasaki have them variations, but Sea-Doo has a lot more, so we’ll spend most of this post talking about them.

The Different Driving Modes & Keys

Here is the list of all the driving modes a Sea-Doo could have. Not every Sea-Doo has these modes or keys, some can be added to some models, and a few can only be done on select models.

  1. Touring Mode (Default Mode)
  2. Sport Mode
  3. ECO Mode
  4. Slow Speed Mode (Trolling Mode)
  5. Speed Limiter Mode (Cruise Control)
  6. Ski Mode
  7. Learning Key
  8. Rental Key
  9. Normal Key
  10. Launch Mode
  11. Neutral Adjustment Mode
  12. Drown Mode
  13. Dock Mode (Sport Boats)

Touring Mode (Default Mode)

Touring mode on a Sea-Doo watercraft is the default mode that most Sea-Doo have.

Almost every Sea-Doo with iBR (brakes) will have this mode and a few models without iBR will have it too, like the 90HP+ Sparks. Sea-Doo has changed the name to “Default Mode” instead of touring mode, but it’s the same thing.

Touring mode is a slow take-off that still reaches top speed.

Even when in touring mode, you will still reach the top speed for your PWC, but will be much slower to get to that top speed than in sport mode.

Since touring mode is a slow take-off, it will give you better gas mileage, but still uses more gas than ECO mode.

Sport Mode

Sport mode is not the default mode, and you must enter it manually.

Sport mode on a Sea-Doo is full power, fast take-off and top speed, there is nothing holding the jet ski back when in this mode.

The only thing that could limit sport mode is if the jet ski is in “break-in mode“, but otherwise, the jet ski has full power.

Sport mode is only available when using a normal key, so learning keys or rental keys won’t have the sport mode option.

To turn on sport mode, press and hold the mode button on current model watercrafts. Some Sea-Doo will have a “Sport Mode” button, and a few older ones will have you hold down the “SET” button to turn it on. You will often need to press the same button again to confirm you’re in the sport mode, the gauge cluster will also confirm it too.

ECO Mode

ECO mode is not as old as touring or sport mode, so fewer older models will have it, but it has still been around for a good bit.

ECO is a slow take-off and a top speed around 45 mph depending on riding conditions.

ECO will give you the best gas mileage out of all the modes, but it’s a very tamed mode. ECO feels much like using a learning key, and one of the reasons why Sea-Doo doesn’t do learning keys as much.

To turn on ECO mode, cycle through the mode button or press the dedicated ECO button if your Sea-Doo has it.

Slow Speed Mode (No Wake Mode)

Slow speed mode is intended for around no-wake areas, it’s very similar to Yamaha’s No Wake Mode.

Slow speed allows you to set your speed from 1 to 9 mph on newer models, or 1 to 5 mph on older models. In slow speed mode, you don’t have to hold the throttle, which makes it perfect for long no-wake zones.

Not Autopilot

Slow speed mode is NOT an autopilot, you still need to steer and control the watercraft.

Trolling Mode

Slow speed can be used as a trolling mode, as it’s basically the same thing.

To turn on slow speed mode on newer Sea-Doo’s you let off the throttle and go at idle. Press the speed control button on the left handlebar. You will go into slow speed mode, setting 5 (~5mph) is default. Use up and down arrows to speed up or slow down.

Older Sea-Doo’s with iBR required you to be in neutral and then hold down the cruise control button located on the right side of the handlebars. Then you would start moving and can adjust the speed up and down with arrows buttons.

Speed Limiter Mode (Cruise Control)

Speed limiter mode is very similar to the cruise control you find in your car, but not 100% the same. Sea-Doo used to call it cruise control, but people misunderstood and thought it was like their car, so now use the more accurate wording “speed limiter”.

Speed limiter allows you to set the speed you want to stay at, but you must keep the throttle pulled in at all times.

Car Cruise Control, NOT The Same

In a car, you would set the speed and then take your foot off the gas for cruise control. On a Sea-Doo you set the speed and when in speed limiter you must fully pull in the trigger to maintain that speed. When kept in speed limiter mode, your Sea-Doo will only go that max speed you set.

The reason you need to hold the trigger all the way in is if you fall off, the Sea-Doo won’t run away.

The speed limiter mode is great for pulling tubes, as it won’t go over the speed you set. Combined with touring mode, you have a nice and easy take-off. If you do a lot of pulling, Sea-Doo makes the WAKE models that have ski-mode.

Hitting the brakes on the Sea-Doo will turn off the speed limiter mode.

To turn on speed limiter mode, go the speed you want to stay around, then press the speed control button on the left pad.

Older Sea-Doo with iBR and don’t have the keypad above, you could do the same, but you press the cruise control button on the right side. It was much harder, but one trick was to put the jet ski in forward then hold down the cruise control button, pick your speed, and then take off as it would stay around the speed you set.

SKI Mode

SKI mode is only found by default on the WAKE and WAKE Pro models from Sea-Doo. You could add the SKI mode to other models that had iBR and iTC systems. Ski mode is a more advanced version of speed limiter mode.

SKI mode allows you to pick a ramp setting, the take-off power, and the top speed, which makes it perfect for pull sports.

With SKI mode, you have 5 ramp settings, setting 1 is the slowest and easiest take off and 5 is the most aggressive take-off. You also need to set your target speed, the max speed the watercraft will go.

With SKI mode, you get constant and predictable pulls, which is ideal for wakeboarders and tubes.

Learning Key

The Sea-Doo learning key has been around since 1996 when Sea-Doo first got DESS (digital keys) that were programmed to your PWC. It was a perfect for new riders as jet skis kept getting faster.

The early versions of the Sea-Doo learning key limited the top speed to 35 mph. When iBR came around, the Sea-Doo could have the learning key programmed, using the normal key, to 5 different speeds as shown in the video below.

The learning key has become less common as other driving modes are easier for owners to understand and use. The great thing about the learning key is that it could not be overwritten or changed, so the rider could only go the speed the normal key set.

Where To Get Learning Key

If you want a learning key, you need to visit the dealership and have them program it to your machine. The dealership will need the whole jet ski with a good battery to program the key.

If you have a learning key, you can ask the dealership to make it a normal key instead. Both keys are the same, just different colors, and the dealership only presses different buttons to assign it. You could even make your normal keys into learning keys or even rental keys, but the Sea-Doo will need to be at the dealership to do so.

Today, new Sea-Doo’s don’t come with a learning key anymore, but many models can have them added. To be honest, most owners would lose the learning key, so them not having them is not a huge loss.

Rental Key

The rental key is not something that many know about or even need, except for rental jet ski companies.

The rental key is similar to the learning key, but its top speed was ~45 mph. Sport mode was also not an option, and the restriction was in place for rental companies that needed it for insurance purposes and safety.

If you ever rented a jet ski before, it’s common for them to be limited in power. Some even have restricted plates in the pump to limit top speed. Please keep this in mind when you have only ridden rental jet skis and go in to buy or ride a non-rental jet ski.

Rental keys were special orders and had their own unique color.

Just like the learning key, the rental key could be programmed to different speeds, from 32 to 46 mph on models with iBR or iTC.

Normal Key

Every Sea-Doo comes with the normal key, it’s the yellow key, but it did have a few LTD models that were black.

The normal key is your standard key, the one with full power and full control over the jet ski.

The color of the key does not matter, they are all the same, some just use a ROM chip or an RFID chip. Each key has a unique number that gets assigned to the jet ski and told what type of key it is so when you put it on the Sea-Doo it knows what to do.

All Sea-Doo keys work as the safety lanyard, one end connects to the Sea-Doo, the other attaches to you. So if you fall off, the engine shuts off. If the key is not attached, there is no guarantee the jet ski will spin in a circle, so make sure to connect the lanyard correctly.

Launch Mode

Launch mode controls the trim of your Sea-Doo to give you quicker take-off and control.

Launch mode is usually found more on high-performance models like the RXT-X and RXP-X. Launch mode is ideal for a drag race with someone else or a quick off the line start in a race.

See a launch mode review here:

Neutral Adjustment Mode

The neutral adjustment mode is a well hidden feature in a lot of Sea-Doo’s with iBR (brakes).

Jet skis don’t have a transmission, so when the engine is on, the impeller is spinning. That means neutral is just a spot between forward and reverse, and overtime that spot can change or need to be adjusted.

How To

  • On older Sea-Doo with iBR, you would put the Sea-Doo in neutral and move the VTS or up and down arrow buttons to adjust the neutral position. The gauge will say you’re adjusting neutral.
  • On new Sea-Doo’s, hold down the VTS up or down buttons until the gauge says you’ve entered the mode.

Only adjust neutral in a safe area and go slow. Keep in mind, that wind and current can move the jet ski even when in neutral. You will never a have a perfect neutral on a jet ski when the engine is on.

Drown Mode

Not many jet ski owners know about drown mode, and it’s not something most need to know about.

Drown mode keeps the jet ski from starting when turning the engine over.

Drown mode is used in compression testing or getting the last bit of oil out when doing an oil change. Or you simply want to know if the engine spins over without firing up the jet ski.

To do drown mode on a Sea-Doo, you hold the throttle all the way in and press the start button with the key on. The Sea-Doo engine will spin over but not start, only do this in short bursts.

It’s because of drown mode that you don’t touch the throttle on a 4-stroke Sea-Doo when starting it. I would get a few people calling in saying the Sea-Doo won’t start, and come to find out they’re trying to start it like it’s a dirt bike by giving it a little gas.

Dock Mode

Dock mode is a super rare mode that mostly exists for Sea-Doo jet boats and Sea-Doo’s that had suspension.

Dock mode would limit the throttle, so people would not accidentally hit it and damage the boat, dock or themselves.

The Sea-Doo PWC’s with suspension would enter dock mode, automatically if you had a depth finder, it would lower the suspension down to lower your center of gravity while at the dock. Sea-Doo made suspension models from 2009 to 2016, and automatic ones from 2009 to 2015. They were cool but too top-heavy, so they stopped making them.

Jet Boats

Dock mode was more helpful for the jet boats, as it kept drivers from getting too crazy with the throttle while at the dock. Driving a jet boat is a bit different from other boats, and quick steering and throttle movements are a must. On a jet boat, you do the opposite, slow and steady is what you want.

Sea-Doo now has the Switch and dock mode is not needed as it’s already slow and predictable around the docks.

Driving Mode Video

I have a video showing a lot of the driving modes that still hold true to models today:



I began working at a jet ski dealership in 2007, initially in the parts and service area. I then transitioned to the technician side before eventually joining the sales team in 2013. I've done it all! While in sales, I created this website in 2014 to assist others with their common questions about watercraft. I now manage this site full-time, where I answer common questions, offer advice, and assist others with their PWC needs.

I've owned several watercraft and continue to buy, sell, and repair them. Currently, keep my Sea-Doo Spark as my main PWC. Additionally, I have developed tools like a used watercraft value calculator, a pricing calculator, an hour calculator, and more to better assist my readers.

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