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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 have a 2020 Sea doo GTI 130, it was absolutely fine when my friend was on it but when we switched, I started it up and the engine revs but it didn’t accelerate and felt some heavy vibration. Didn’t feel or heart anything and can’t see anything through the intake or the back.

    Reply
    • It sounds like something got sucked up and thrown out. A lot of the time you won’t feel or hear anything when you suck it up because of the power of the engine.

      Reply
  2. Hello, one question about accessories. I have two 2021 Sea-Doo GTX-230s. I’m 62 years old and in pretty nimble shape, but some relatives (in their 60’s) aren’t in such nimble shape. The back ladder is great, but what would be perfect is a LinQ grab bar attachment. Then someone could put a foot on the ladder and grab the grab bar, it’d be easy, instead of the current configuration where a person has to put a foot on the ladder and then try to grab the little/odd-shaped grab handle attached to the third seat. So my question is, is there a LinQ grab bar attachment, instead of a cooler (which I don’t need) or a fuel tank (which I don’t need)? Or in lieu of a LinQ grab bar attachment (the LinQ attachments are in exactly the right place for a grab bar), is there some other solution to get a grab bar there? Thanks

    Reply
    • I don’t know of any accessory like that and I don’t think Sea-Doo would make something like that. I’ve had a few people complain about it being hard to get on but I think the reason why the manufacturers don’t make something is that they worry about it being a liability issue. It needs to be strong but also not in the way. I’ve seen some physical therapy places make custom grab handles to help people get on the PWC but I can’t honestly recommend them as it never looks sturdy to me.

      Reply
  3. Hello, I’m a relative newbie to all this, I’m learning a lot from your site. I have two 2021 Sea-Doo GTX-230s and I love ’em. The problem is that one of them sucked up a tow rope and it was wrapped around the impeller shaft. I spent hours gingerly cutting the rope with a serrated knife (through the intake grate) and got all of the rope out with no apparent damage to the shaft or anything else. But the Sea-Doo still doesn’t work: in the water it has no reverse and at 6 mph or higher, there are large jet-streams of water (reminiscent of a Yamaha but with much more water volume) shooting out and up in the back. I’m getting IBR Module Error message. But I can’t see any other debris nor can I see any differences between my undamaged Sea-Doo and my damaged Sea-Doo. Presumably the bucket is not positioned properly but I’m just guessing. Any suggestions? Thanks very much for your site! I have one other question about an accessory but I’ll ask it separately. 🙂

    Reply
    • It sounds like something is keeping the iBR from moving. It’s possible you have sucked something else besides rope into the intake either during or right after. You’ll need to get the jet ski out and someone to look at the iBR bucket to see what’s wrong.

      Reply
  4. Hello steven, im impressed with your dedication with this and you seem extremely smart so I figured this is the best place to ask my question. i have a 1994 wave raider 700 and there is quite a bit of vibration at idle and slight throttle, once you get up and going it goes away. it also takes awhile to get up on plane and is about 10 or so mph slower then my buddys 700 ( same engine). it hits rev limiter at full throttle and about half throttle is where its max speed of around 30-35 is at. based on your replies i figured it was the wear ring but the impeller is also dinged up. could the vibrations be from the impeller and wear ring or could that be drive shaft? thank you.

    Reply
    • Yes, a damaged impeller can cause what you described. The impeller and housing/wear ring need to be perfect or cavitation happens and other odd things too.

      Reply
  5. I have a 1995 seadoo hx that seems to overheat and shuts down and hard to start after 20 min when run it at the lake, but when i hook up the hose to it on the trailer runs cool and fine all lines seem to be clear i was wondering if yoy might have any idas

    thanks

    Reply
    • The intake of the hose and the intake from the pump are different so you have something blocking the pump from sucking water into the system.

      Reply
  6. What is stance on metal versus plastic wear rings for sea doo sparks? I take big groups out to the lake at times and despite my instructions get a broken plastic wear ring 1-2 times a year. It is an annoyance and I am seriously considering going metal.

    Reply
    • For sure go with a metal wear ring if you can. The wear ring on the Spark is more flimsy compared to the bigger models so metal is a must.

      Reply
  7. 2018 Sea Doo GTS – I do lake riding and this is my first PWC. We don’t have a dock or pier to use except when unloading. I am pretty sure I damaged my wear ring last time out due to beaching the craft. I was in a rush and started the GTS in about knee deep water. It feels exactly like you described, a slipping clutch. Ive checked the grate under and nothing is stuck, nothing on the impeller shaft, and I flushed the GTS out w hose. I put in and the power only hits enough to get the thing moving, like it has thrust until the nose levels off then its nothing.

    Do you think it is a wear ring?
    How much is involved to replace the ring?
    I have basic skills as I grew up working on my motocross bikes.
    I am certainly not fluent in jet ski, I’ve only replaced plugs and changed the oil.

    For future reference, I guess it is best to leave the GTS floating and swim out or push out to deeper water? Is it frowned upon to beach skis like boats do? Thanks!

    Reply
    • It sounds like a damage wear ring, sometimes the sticks and rock can hide from you when looking through the intake. The price will vary from dealership to dealership but around 300 to 600 is common. If you do it yourself it will be around 50 to 200 depending on what parts are needed. A GTS doesn’t have an iBR so it should be easy to do if you got basic skills working on powersports things. You should only start a jet ski in more than waist-deep water. Once I get to waist deep I jump on the ski while pushing away from shore to get me in deeper water when I board.

      Reply
    • So I fixed problem it was the floating bearing it was shot now I notice 2 stoke oil line was leaking went to local boat shop the didn’t have exact size hose it was bit bigger wondering if that could foul my plucgs? Took to lake I could only reach 20 tops and and died and would not start up till few hours later and also while driving it seem to mis a bit ran good before hose replaced

      Reply
  8. Hi Steven,
    2018 GTI90SE about 22 hours cruising at the lake today when all of a sudden, the sea doo stopped moving but the engine remained on. Tried to apply throttle again, it does rev up but still won’t move forward or reverse although it does seem to move a bit on idle. Turned engine off and on again but machine still won’t move. Engine does turn on. Ended up being towed back to the ramp by good samaritans.
    Please advice.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • If the engine is on the impeller is moving, what controls forward and reverse is a bucket in the rear redirecting thrust. Something is keeping the impeller from moving, could be a stripped driveshaft? I would get this to a repair shop to have them look at it as this is not normal.

      Reply
  9. Steven i start by saying your blog is excelent and the fact you havd stayed active on it so long is very impressive. My wife crossed at sand bar and sucked up lots of gravel and the wear ring is shot. I also see a lot of abrasion on the blades…..my question is should i replace the wear ring and impeller seperatley including all the orings and grease work or is it possible to buy a complete new pump assembly as one preassembled unit?
    2005 seadoo GTX 4 tec cheers

    Reply
    • You should for sure get a new impeller, sometimes you can grind down the spurs if the damage is not bad enough. Rocks do some big damage to the impeller and often you need to replace them. I’m not aware of any housing kits, you must buy them separately.

      Reply
  10. I recently picked up a 96 sea doo hx. It starts right up but kinda puts around and seems like it’s almost the propelling is moving freely. Every so often (maybe 15 seconds) it was rev up super high but doesn’t feel like it should get going where it should be. Never gets past 1/3 throttle speed. Could may be a wear ring?

    Reply
    • It could be a fuel line or a dirty carb especially since it’s a 2-stroke. If it was a bad wear ring it wouldn’t be acting up every so often, it would be every time.

      Reply

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