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11 Reasons Your Jet Ski Isn’t Reaching Top Speed

Is your jet ski not reaching the speeds it used to? Is it making odd sounds? Either way, a jet ski not reaching its top speed is very annoying, and I want to help.

There are several reasons why you may not be reaching top speed anymore. I want to list off the most common reasons and what you can do about it.

Key Points:

Here are the more common reasons why your jet ski is not reaching its top speed anymore:

  1. You’ve sucked something up.
  2. Damaged jet pump.
  3. Supercharger failure or loose hose.
  4. Wrong key.
  5. Wrong driving mode.
  6. Still in break-in mode.
  7. Not trimmed right.
  8. The Speedometer lies.
  9. Bad gas.
  10. Bad spark plugs.
  11. Blown engine.

This list is geared more towards 4-stroke jet skis, if you have a 2-stroke some of this will still apply to you, and if none of the above work, then it’s probably your carburetor, and it needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Let’s go over each point and show you want you can do about it!

1. You’ve Sucked Something UP

Sucked up something in pump wear ring

The most common problem people have with is sucking something up.

Rocks, sticks, sand, and everything in between can get sucked up and cause all kind of running issues.

So, if your PWC is not reaching its top speed, I would check the pump to make sure you haven’t sucked something up.

2. Damaged Jet Pump

Usually, sucking something up leads to damaging the wear ring and/or impeller, which is a part of the jet pump.

Though, you can get a damaged jet pump in other ways.

Through-Hull Seal

One way is a damaged through-hull seal, which can keep your watercraft from reaching its normal top speed.

Inspect the jet pump for any damage, it will require you to remove the pump to fully see the problem. Some parts of the jet pump require special tools, so you may need to let a repair shop do this for you. But you can look through the intake and rear for anything that is out of the normal.

3. Supercharger Failure Or Loose Hose

If you have a supercharged engine, which is most engines that are over 200HP, and the supercharger fails, it will keep you from hitting top speed.

Where your machine may have done 70MPH before, but will only do 60MPH now, is a common example of a supercharger that has failed.

Hose Blow Off

300HP Sea-Doo engine showing the hose that can blow off randomly

One thing to look out for is the supercharger hoses have not blown off. I’ve seen this quite a bit, as the superchargers put out a lot of pressure. Look around the rear of the engine for the supercharger hoses and make sure they’re not loose.

Check RPMs

If you have a supercharged engine, you need to check it for boost, but most often if you have a supercharged engine, and it’s not going above 7,000 RPMs then it’s most likely your supercharger.

4. Wrong Key

Sea-Doo Green learning key RF model

Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki all have key options that control the power of the watercraft.

For example, Sea-Doo has a learning key that limits the speed from 32 MPH up to 50 MPH, depending on the model and how it was programmed.

Yamaha has key fobs and Kawasaki has similar keys to Sea-Doo, they all can limit the power.

Avoid Mixing Up Your Keys

It’s quite common for people to forget that these keys exist and grab them because they lost their normal key. So make sure you don’t have a slow key or the fob set to a slower speed.

Rental Key

There is even a rental key that limits the speed to 45 MPH. If you bought a rental waverunner, make sure they made the key fast and removed any other limiters that their insurance company makes them have.

5. Wrong Driving Mode

Sea-Doo Wake Mode Button

Just like the keys, most watercraft have different driving modes.

You have

  • Touring.
  • Sport.
  • ECO.
  • And many others with similar names.

What is interesting is that these driving modes are more about slower take-off than affecting top speed. But some modes like ECO will limit speed from 40MPH to 50MPH.

Make sure you’re not in a different mode that is limiting your top speed, it will clearly state the mode on the display.

6. Still In Break-In Mode

It’s becoming more common for new models of all sizes to have a break-in mode. Even the lower horsepower models still have high-performance engines, and proper break-in is important.

Not many people do engine break-in properly, so the manufacturers are now doing forced break-ins. This means the engine is not fully unlocked, and you will not get to full speed for a bit.

5 Hours

Usually, after the first 5 hours the engine will unlock itself, but it can go up to 25 hours to fully be broken-in or could happen after the first service. The more HP your engine has, the more the break-in is forced.

7. Not Trimmed Right

VTS button location on Sea-Doo Handlebars

If your PWC has trim, sometimes called VTS on Sea-Doo, make sure you have the trim set correctly.

If you’re drag racing you want the trim all the way down, then when you get on plane, raise it up.

Don’t trim all the way up, or it will want to jump out of the water.

Every machine is different, you will need to find the sweet spot for your trim, the wrong trim height will affect full speed.

8. The Speedometer Lies!

If you’re sweating over a few MPHs, then the honest truth is that the speedometer can lie.

The speedometer on a lot of jet skis is not accurate at all.

Some do use GPS to get their speed, but even that can be fudged a bit or get off due to cloud cover.

RPMs Matter More

It’s the RPMs that matter, not the speed. It’s when the RPMs are not what they used to be that you need to worry.

I’ve even had people mix up KPH with MPH. One person insisted his GTI previously reached 100 MPH, but now it only achieves 60 MPH. It turned out that it was initially set to KPH, and 100 KPH is approximately 60 MPH.

9. Bad Gas

non ethanol fuel pump at BP gas station

Gas isn’t what it used to be ever since they started adding ethanol, and it’s been super annoying for boats.

If you did not put stabilizer in your gas when storing your boat for months, there is a good chance the gas has gone bad. Bad gas can lead to all kinds of running problems, especially with supercharged engines.

If the gas tank is under a half a tank, put some premium gas in and see how it responds. Add marine fuel stabilizer (Amazon Link Ad) to the gas to help with any water that may have gotten in the gas.

10. Bad Spark Plugs

You should change the spark plugs in your jet ski every 50 hours, or once a year.

Bad spark plugs can cause all kinds of running issues, and with how easy they are to change, it’s a no-brainer to do it every year.

11. Blown Engine

Sea-Doo engine block on engine stand

A bit on the extreme, but worth saying, a PWC that won’t reach top speed can be due to a blown engine.

The compression, bearings and a good once over needs to be done on the engine to make sure it’s not blown.

A severely neglected engine can blow, and an engine that was treated right can blow too, but a blown engine will cause a waverunner to not reach its top speed, or even not run at all.

A blown engine should be the last thing on your mind if your watercraft is not getting to its normal top speed, but engines do blow, so it needs to be mentioned.

Author

Steven

I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created StevenInSales.com in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

Comments

  1. I have a 2011 yamaha waverunner 1.8 high output. I changed the oil, filter & plugs. I took it to the lake and warmed it up, and then proceeded to ride. It would not reach over 35mph at 7000 rpm. It doesn’t run rough, or anything just feels like it’s in limp mode. I was asked if it was over filled with oil, it was some. I evacuated some of the oil and took it back out but got the same results. I’m not sure if it has set a code to a limp mode or what. Any help with this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Wayne

    Reply
    • Your RPMs are close to max, but your speed is not close at all, so I would look at the pump. Either something stuck in it, damage impeller/wear ring, or sucking air.

      Reply
  2. Steve,
    I have a pair of 2007 Gtx 155. On one screen the digital display is becoming dark and unable to read. What is the best option to repair or where can I buy a replacement. I have searched countless hours and am leary of buying a used as unable to test the majority of the time. Thank you for your time and advice on this website.

    Reply
    • You will need a whole new display, and your local dealer should have them. Unfortunately, they’re not cheap. You can buy used ones on eBay, but either way the whole jet ski needs to be taken to the dealership to have the display programmed to the machine, or it won’t work 100% perfect.

      Reply

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