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The Basics Of Routine PWC Maintenance

The Basics Of Routine PWC Maintenance

A personal watercraft (PWC) can be defined as any small boat propelled by an inboard waterjet engine. Some have seats and others do not, so the rider stands while operating the craft. Like Band-Aid (adhesive strip) or Frisbee (flying disc), many personal watercraft are generically referred to by popular brand names, such as Jet Ski, WaveRunner®, or SeaDoo.

No matter what you call your PWC – JetWaveDoo? – like any other machine with an engine, it requires routine maintenance. Whether you use it in freshwater or saltwater, there are certain items that should be taken care of before and after each ride. Others can be done monthly or seasonally, depending on how often you use your boat during the season, and/or if you store it during winter.

Here are a few checklists from Boatline to keep your PWC running in top condition for years to come. However, before you take your personal watercraft out for its maiden voyage, be sure to refer to the owner’s manual to read the manufacturer’s recommendations and procedures for maintenance. This is especially critical during the break-in period where the manufacturer may recommend something like, “Do not exceed three-quarters throttle during the first 10 hours of operation so the moving parts of the PWC have a chance to properly seat and mesh as intended.”

PWC Maintenance Before Each Ride

Inspect Your Oil 

Always check the engine oil level before each use. If the oil level is too low, or if you’ve been running the boat a lot and the oil starts to get dark from contaminants, it could shorten the life of the engine. If the oil is low, top it off. If the oil starts to look dark, it might be time for a new oil and filter change.

Check Your Coolant

If you have a closed cooling system, check the coolant level in the expansion reservoir. Add more antifreeze as needed, but be sure not to overfill the tank.

Be Wary of Leaks

Always be aware of strong fuel smells. If you haven’t even started the unit yet and you smell gas, you could have a leak in the fuel system, which could be very dangerous.

Look Out For Corrosion

Check your battery to make sure the terminals aren’t corroded and the cable connections are nice and snug. If corrosion is present, remove the cables and use a wire brush to clean the terminals and contact points on the cables. A good connection will ensure you’re getting maximum power and the engine is running efficiently for the best fuel economy.

PWC Maintenance After Each Ride

Rinse Your PWC

At a bare minimum, you should hose your PWC down with fresh water after each ride. That includes opening up all the compartments and taking out all the plugs, then rinsing every possible inch of the vehicle. This is especially recommended after riding in salt water. But even after a freshwater ride, rinsing helps to remove debris and contaminants that could harm the paint, rubber, and plastic on your machine. After the PWC has completely dried, be sure to put all the plugs back in.

Flush the Engine

Be sure to check your owner’s manual on how to flush the engine and exhaust port. Again, debris and contaminants can cause damage when left unchecked, reducing the overall operating life of your PWC.

Inspect the Exterior

Do a visual inspection of your PWC to make sure there are no cracks or pressure strains on the hull. Left unchecked, tiny fractures can become bigger cracks that can create drag on your boat or take it completely out of service. If you find cracks, consult your dealer on what you can do to seal them up.

Annual PWC Maintenance

Read the Owner’s Manual

Whether you’re just getting your PWC out for the start of a new season after it has been in hibernation all winter, or if you’re getting ready to put it to bed for a few months, your owner’s manual can provide you with the suggested points to follow depending on the manufacturer’s specifications.

Complete an Oil Change

If your PWC has been in storage, always change the oil and oil filter before the start of a new riding season. Even if you didn’t use your PWC much before retiring it for the winter, moisture can get into the system, contaminating the oil and damaging the oil filter.

If you ever have any questions about the regular and routine maintenance of your PWC, or any issues that pop up that your owner’s manual doesn’t tackle, talk to your dealership. They have the tools, the materials, and the expertise to keep your PWC running in first-class style. They may also be able to show you new products, merchandise, and accessories as they come out to further maximize the fun and excitement of being out on the water. If you’re looking for your next stand up jet ski for sale, or any other PWC, make sure to check out new and used listings on

By Barrett Baker


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Shelby Ballou
Shelby Ballou

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