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The Wear Ring: Purpose, Slipping, and Solution

I want to do a post on the lesser known Wear Ring. The wear ring is apart of the drive of a Jet Ski or more importantly Sea-Doo. The wear ring can be a love-hate relationship but serves an important role in protecting your Watercraft.

The Purpose of the Wear Ring

The reason why Seadoo does a wear ring is to protect it from any major damage that might come from not having a wear ring.

A wear ring is quite simple, its a thick piece of plastic that wraps around the impeller. The gap between the impeller and the wear ring is very tight because it needs to be in order to push the water out.

It’s best to think of a Jet Pump on a jet ski as a jet engine on a plane. The Jet Planes engines have blades with very tight tolerances in order to create the thrust for taking off. Jet Ski’s have very tight tolerances for the purpose to create thrust in water to have you move forward.

The problem is that water is more likely to contain debris like sticks, rocks, dirt, or sand in them. So you’re likely to suck up such debris. Some of this debris can really do damage like sticks and rocks.

So what happens when you do suck something up? Well if it’s small enough then nothing really happens. If it’s big enough it can stop the impeller and thus shut the engine off.

The good news is that the Engineers at Seadoo have figured out the solution. You can’t remove all the rocks and sticks from the lakes and oceans, but you can better prepare your watercraft for an event where it sucks something up.

So what Seadoo did and what many other manufacturers refuse to do is place a plastic guard around the impeller which will take the abuse. The idea is that it’s easier and CHEAPER to replace something that is plastic than the whole metal housing.

Other manufacturers don’t use anything to protect the impeller and its housing from damage and if you do suck something up it ends up costing you $1000’s instead of $100’s like it would if you had a wear ring.

How Often Do You Suck Stuff Up?

Sounds kind of scary doesn’t it? Sucking up rocks and stuff into the watercraft and doing damage.

The truth is that is quite rare to do it unless you’re not being careful. I’ve been playing with watercrafts for most of my life and I have yet to suck anything up. But that does not mean I’ll never suck up anything, and If I do then it’s nice knowing my Seadoo has a wear ring to help protect me the best it can.

To avoid from sucking up stuff its best to follow some rules…

  • Always start the engine in waist deep or deeper water.
  • Avoid shallow ground and markers.
  • Avoid sucking up ropes.
  • Avoid riding after a heavy rainstorm since many sticks break free and hide in the water.
  • Avoid debris in the water like you avoid potholes in the road.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

I’ve seen just about anything getting sucked up into the pump of a Watercraft. Here is even a picture of someone who sucked up a Lake Map. The blue outer ring is actually the wear ring and didn’t take much damage but this little bit of paper can stop any watercraft with or without a wear ring. So make sure to avoid sucking stuff up.

jet ski wear ring damaged by sucking something up

Slipping Gears

One common thing many people say after damaging a wear ring is that they say it feels like its slipping gears or not shifting. Jet Ski’s do not have transmissions if the engine is on the then impeller is moving.

The forward and reverse are done by moving a bucking up and down to redirect the thrust.

The slipping or not feeling like the engine is catching until later is because the wear ring has a groove cut into it. This grove allows water to escape around the impeller instead of through the impeller. This makes the craft feel like it wants to take off and is giving you all the power in the world but you’re just not moving that much.

The reason for the Grove is due to sucking something up. It could be many things, but its best to get the machine to your local jet ski dealer to have them fix the issue.

Is the Wear Ring a Maintenance Thing

You know I’m always surprised I get this question, but many people are told lies about the wear ring. One question I get is that someone at another competing dealership says you need to replace the wear ring often, like doing it as apart of the oil change.

This is NOT true.

The wear ring only needs to be replaced if it becomes damaged. If it becomes damage its because it is protecting the drive system from any major damage do to sucking up rocks or sticks. The wear ring actually can save you some money in the event you do suck something up compared to a watercraft without a wear ring. A wear ring is a good thing.

Is a wear ring perfect? NO, but its better than the other options out there.

But Rocks Don’t Float

It can be shocking to be going or just starting your engine and you hear a noise you never heard before and the engine shuts off. Sucking up rocks is not the end of the world.

Many people believe that they didn’t do anything wrong. Some of the responses I’ve gotten from people after sucking up rocks is that “rocks don’t float, so how can I suck up rocks?”. What happens is that the engine gets started too close to land and the watercraft is basically a super powerful vacuum and will suck anything in that is close enough to the intake. Or more common is when someone drives over a shoal marker or drives over shallow water and the pump sucks up some rocks (we see this often when the lake water is down)

Its best to avoid shallow markers and always start your watercraft in water that is more than waist deep.

Don’t Flip It!!!

If you do suck something up the golden rule is to never flip the machine over. NEVER!

I don’t know where the idea came from where everyone flips over a jet ski to get to the intake, but it needs to STOP. It’s dangerous to do that and if done wrong you can do serious damage to the machine no matter who makes it.

The best thing to do is to tow it land and put it on a trailer. Disconnect the battery and then look at the intake for damage.

Or call your local Jet Ski Dealer for help.

Why Don’t They Put A Screen Over The Intake?

I get this often. A screen over the intake would solve many of the problems with sucking rocks and other debris in. But it also stops the water from coming in too.

All watercraft have an intake grate which blocks big things from coming in, but you’ll never see a mesh or anything being placed in front of the intake of a jet ski.

No matter the style of mesh you can’t place something in front of the intake to stop rocks. With engines going as high as 300HP many of the small mesh would get destroyed by the power of the engine of the watercraft.

Don’t put anything in or near the intake of the watercraft. If the mesh idea worked then the manufactures would be doing it.

Is The Wear Ring Perfect?

No, the wear ring is not perfect but it does help the whole housing. Sometimes something so big can come in and damage the wear ring and the impeller. So it’s important to be careful when riding and be aware of your surroundings.

Here is a picture of a damaged impeller and wear ring…

damage wear ring and impeller

76 thoughts on “The Wear Ring: Purpose, Slipping, and Solution”

  1. I’m wondering if wear ring is bad on my ski I started my ski in 2 foot of water sucked up a bunch of dirt and last week I took it out again worked fine all day went for my last run it felt like it was slipping kinda like car with trans slipping

    Reply
  2. Hi, I have two 2016 Spark 3UP 900 H.O. iBR Each at 40 hrs. Last trip out one of them started making a clunking noise (more than the normal vibration) especially at idle and low speed. It also seemed to have a mind of it’s own as far as steering. Not excessively, but it would dart slightly in one direction or the other while holding the handlebar still. We are not aware of having sucked anything into this ski, but I’m wondering if we could have a damaged wear ring. When back on the trailer, and reaching up inside the intake, I noticed the shaft on this ski has a significant amount of play (probably 3/8″ total side to side) while the other only a slight amount. Found the same with the deflector/steering nozzle. The nozzle on the unit of concern has a great deal more side to side/up and down play than the other ski. Final note, this one has always been more noisy when running it on the trailer with the hose connected. Any help pointing me in the direction to look would be greatly appreciated. I’m about to pull the top off it. Thanks for the helpful articles posted thus far!

    Reply
    • This does not sound right at all, sounds more like a manufacturer defect then sucking something up. I would take it to the dealership and see what they say.

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  3. Hi Steven, 2006 wake edition, my wear ring is knackered and needs replacing, whilst riding it I found the usual symptoms.. but the 12v low came on the dash, I’ve charged my battery, I’ve been told by my friend dad that he read/heard something that the ecu will discharge the battery to eventually cut it out, to stop the engine over heating from high revs(7500rpm), is this correct? Thanks

    Reply
    • It’s more likely you just need to replace the battery completely. Even if the battery charger says it charged fine the battery could be bad enough to throw a 12-volt low warning.

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  4. Replacing the wear ring and foundation that mine has four screws to hold it. Two are my missing and two are loose. I realize that my ring is slipping. .is it common to see the screws because nobody in a video shows them?

    Reply
    • There are some models that have tiny screws to hold them in. If they’re missing that is not good and should be replaced.

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  5. Hi, I have a 2010 sea doo 155. I destroyed the wear ring on by sucking up rocks. I then replaced it and put everything back together, now when I give it fulll throttle it basically doesn’t take off fast and then once it hits 20mph or so it goes like it should. I pulled it back apart and the wear ring looks good. Do you think that the whole jet pump assembly should be changed out?

    Reply
    • Sounds like cavitation. The impeller is not making a perfect seal with the wear ring. I would double-check you have the correct wear ring. Also, since you sucked up rocks you more then likely chewed up the impeller too and if there is any damage to it that can cause cavitation.

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  6. Question, brand new 2018 Sea Doo…had her out, started making an odd noise and had minimal power…limped back to the pier and had riders get off, then drove it to the ramp…new owner/new ski, so we took it straight to the dealer. We were told it sucked up a rock and there was “some” damage done, but he’s seen worse. We could replace the wear ring for $240 or just take it and try it out. He really wouldnt give a solid opinion either way. I asked about power and he said we wouldn’t know unless we put it back in the water. Makes me nervous. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • From what you say I would go and replace the wear ring. A rock stuck between the impeller and wear ring will cause a loss of power and make the engine struggle which would give off an odd sound. Since the 2018’s have a way better and stronger wear ring he could be saying he could just take out the rock and see how it goes. For me personally, I would have them replace the wear ring and be done with it. The slightest of grove in the wear ring could affect the take off power of the watercraft.

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      • I have a 17 rxpx 300. In take off there is hesitation for about 3 to 5 seconds. When I’m doing 10 mph and clamp the throttle there is no problem taking off. Could this be wear ring? Impeller looked fine.

        Reply
          • The jet pump, that’s where the wear ring, impeller, and the house is called. What it sounds like is either a bad wear ring, a spinning wear ring, damaged impeller, damaged seal, or maybe even a bad through-hole seal. It’s hard to say but most often its either a wear ring or impeller making the trouble.

    • Hello, We are new to PWCs, today in deep water something must have got sucked up in my wife’s GTI, I went back to see what was going on. The engine didn’t shut off but the machine wouldn’t move much ( she didn’t know that she should have shut it off) after a few minutes it must have cleared and seemed to work ok after that. Can I inspect the impeller and ring somehow at home With it on the trailer?
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Since it was not strong enough to turn the engine off there is a good chance it damaged the wear ring or if you’re lucky nothing happened. You can see the wear ring and impeller with the engine off and on a trailer, just use a flashlight and avoid getting your fingers near the blades. If you see a groove in the wear ring it’s going to need to be replaced. But you don’t have to put it on a trailer to know if the wear ring is damaged. In a clear area go full throttle on the water and if the PWC hesitates or feels like its slipping and not catching then the wear ring is bad. If the PWC takes off like a rocket then the wear ring is fine.

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        • Thanks,
          Here is what I found,
          one scratch around the circumference of the ring, the entire scratch is behind the impeller on the intake side. The impeller has a few tiny marks on the blade edges on the blade that is not next to the ring. I have a good picture.

          Reply
          • It could be bad, the only way to know is to take it out and ride it. When you take off going full throttle and it hesitates or feels like its slipping then the wear ring or impeller needs to be replaced. If it takes off like normal then no real issue.

  7. Hi ive got a gtr 230, recently it feels like it takes a second to take off and its not as quick from the start.. also 3-4 kilometere slower on top speed? What could it be ? Ive recently started to beach it

    Reply
  8. I got something stuck in the impeller today on a 2018 gti. Limped to a boat ramp 500 metres away and took it straight to the dealer. They had to strip it and found 2 shells but gave it a clean bill of health once removed. Would limping home cause any other damage and is there a chance the dealer wouldn’t have checked the wear ring or impeller…not had it back on water yet so I’m worried I could have damaged it.

    Reply
    • You should be fine. If they had to physically remove the seashells that means they were looking directly at the wear ring. If anything was wrong with the wear ring they should have noticed it and recommended you to get it replaced. Seashells are not usually strong enough to damage the modern day wear ring, it’s the rocks and sticks that do the damage.

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  9. Hello Steve.
    My 1996 Seadoo GTX has the symptoms of a worn wear-ring, lacking get up and go. I examined the wear-ring and impeller, and to my untrained eye, everything looked fine. No groves or chips.
    I am very careful to not start or run in shallow water and it gets minimal usage. The grandchildren have grown to appreciate tubing and I enjoy taking them.
    Could there be another cause for this cavitation other than a wear-ring issue?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  10. On a spark I sucked up a rock and blew the ware ring. Would that also cause overheating when trying to limp home?

    Reply
    • Yes, destroying the wear ring can make the engine overheat. The engine is closed loop cooling so it never takes in water but the exhaust still takes in water from a hole in the side of the pump. Something must have blocked the hole, maybe the shattered wear ring? But this can happen and it doesn’t hurt have a repair shop give it a good once over.

      Reply
    • On some Sea-Doos it can if the seal around the wear ring is not on correctly or missing a part. But it’s more likely to be something else making you take on water.

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      • i have a 97 sea doo gti and i have that issue,,,, pin it and seems like it takes a long time to take off. i can hear a sound like grinding. i am also taking on water. Sits in water and its fine. idle speed its fine. no water in hull. i take off and ride for 10-15 minutes and i get water. im lost

        Reply
        • Sounds like you have multiple things wrong. If you’re taking on water when the engine is running then you have a leak in the cooling system since its open-loop cooling, the jet ski takes in lake water to cool its engine. The slow take-off is a damaged wear ring but a grinding sound could the thing that is stuck in the wear ring.

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          • Wouldn’t I see it leaking from the coolant system even when idling? Or is it possible that it happens when I pull on the throttle? I had a hose hooked up and rev it a few times and didn’t see anything.

          • It could be a small hole that doesn’t open up until you give it throttle. The inputs of water is different than where you would hook up to the water hose so you wouldn’t see the same thing.

  11. Hey sir, I appreciate all the info. I have a question for ya.

    So I bout a 1997 Sea Doo Bombardier XP. The first time I rode it, started up fine, idled fine but as soon as I got out of the no wake zone I pinned it. It took forever to plane and I knew right away something was very wrong. I continued to ride for about 8-10 min probably going a max of 30mph if I had to guess. But after 10 min I couldn’t get RPMS at all! I couldn’t go faster than idle speed because it wouldn’t even rev up.

    I took it in and paid $500 for a compression check (150 PSI) and a new wear ring with brackets. The mechanic says I shouldn’t need to go through the fuel system and if they did it would be another $600. The mechanic said the wear ring was destroyed.

    MY QUESTION to you- is there any reason the RPMs would eventually be affected by the wear ring? The RPMS and engine seemed fine for the first 10 min and then went bad. It took me 50 min to get back after a 10 min ride out. specifically, will the engine bog down if its overheated? will it make the engine feel like it was flooded or bogged down? I’m concerned that something else is wrong but the mechanic is a complete lazy moron who is giving me a hard time. I want to get it fixed but he said he wont guarantee it will work after that. at this point I’m already in 2500 bucks on a ski that is only worth about 1800. Please help lol.

    Reply
    • A bad wear ring can make the jet ski feel sluggish or bogged down. If it was fine for 10 minutes you must not have sucked something up and then after that you sucked something up. Sometimes you don’t notice it as the engine is so powerful it will suck it up and spit it back out but still leave a groove in the wear ring making it run rough.

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  12. What if you just bought a seadooo and looked in the back and notice that the wear rings is completely gone all but 1 small peice left on the edge and the blades look chewed up and it sounds horrible from the back…is it still fixable with out having to buy the pump

    Reply
    • It should be still fixable but the best option is to let a jet ski mechanic take a look at it. Avoid firing it up until you fix it to avoid doing more damage.

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  13. So I have a 1995 wave venture and I recently replaced the wear ring due to what I believed was cavitation. After replacement, the problem got better but is still there. At about 6-7 mph it starts to rev and then eventually catches up to itself. Almost as if it catches a gear or the clutch on a motorcycle. The impellar doesn’t seem to have damage but there was corrosion in the original wear ring that this was rubbing on. Does this sound like an impellar problem? Thanks

    Reply
    • Sounds like you still have cavitation. The impeller could be a problem even if it “looks fine”. Also, make sure you have the right wear ring in there because if the tolerances are not right it could create the cavitation you’re talking about. I would say check the drive shaft to make sure it’s not bent, but a bent drive shaft will shake all the time. Something is not right with the impeller or wear ring from what you’re saying.

      Reply
    • A wear ring despite its name is not something you replace when it wears out. You only replace it if you suck something big up and damage it. All watercraft no matter who makes it are all affected by sucking something up, but each manufacturer uses a different solution to the problem than the others. Sea-Doo’s idea is if you suck something up you only damage a plastic wear ring which would be cheaper to fix then replacing the entire metal housing. The other manufacturers have their own solution but all will cost you if you damage there solutions too. There is no perfect answer, but whatever is the cheapest to fix is as close as we get. The best thing to do is to avoid sucking things up the best you can.

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  14. I just had it winterized and looked over and they said everything looks and sounds good , would they have been able to notice a damaged impeller ?

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    • Unless they water tested it or took the pump off there is no real way to see if the impeller is good or bad. But your loss of 5mph could be something other than the impeller, other factors like a dirty bottom hull, supercharger failed or failing, intake getting clogged, bad gas, bad key, and many other factors can play a role. I’ve even seen the speed sensor in the rear have a missing part and that throw off the speed reading.

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    • 2-strokes use oil and 4-strokes use grease in the pump to keep them lubricated. If you run out of either the pump will seize up due to all the friction.

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  15. I have seen replacement part wear rings offered that are metal instead if plastic. I assume replacement with metal is a bad idea since the metal wont break as easily and therefore will be more likely to cause damage to the motor if you do suck something up. I just had a wear ring replaced in my spark.

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    • Metal is fine. Just like the plastic one if it breaks you just replace it. It’s when the whole entire housing is one piece without a wear ring that is the problem.

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  16. My wear ring is definitely damaged, but it was caused bff the impeller shearing off. Why does an impeller shear off? I only have 75 hours on the ski.

    Reply
    • I’ve never heard of an impeller shearing off, but anything is possible. Usually, when a wear ring gets damaged it’s from sucking something up. You may not notice running over something and you may not feel anything getting sucked up, but 99% of the time when a wear ring is damaged it’s from something getting sucked in. If I were you then I would take it to the dealership as there might be a new drive shaft for your machine that you might not be aware of and could be why your impeller is shearing off.

      Reply

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