Jet Ski First Aid – How to Save a Jet Ski Engine

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Interviews

If you’ve read last week’s post about what to do when you capsize a jet ski, you know that uprighting it properly can prevent a ruined day on the water. There are some cases, however, where you might not be so fortunate. Anytime you capsize a jet ski, you run the risk of soaking the engine. If this occurs, you will probably not be able to start the engine, and the clock starts ticking for you to perform some cost-saving maintenance.

Todd Bello, RaftUp’s jet ski expert, offers these 4 first aid tips for what to do when your jet ski engine is submerged. Following these steps can save you a lot of dough, and they may save the rest of your season.

Todd bello with his arms crossed looking very much like an expert.
STEP 1: Pump it (LOUDER!)

After you’ve ensured that your passengers are safe and sound, the boat will need to be towed to the dock. You’ll need to get a pump so that you can pump the water out of the hull. Using a hand pump will take quite a while, so it is preferable to use an electric pump.


STEP 2: Take out the spark plugs and crank it over – carefully!

Once the jet ski’s hull is bailed out, you will remove the spark plugs. Then you will attach the key and press the start button. Water will start shooting out of the engine. It’s okay to crank it over while the water is spitting out of the engine, but once only a little bit of water is coming out of the cylinders, it’s very important to stop. Once most of the water is out, the cylinders are no longer being lubricated by the water. It will be metal on metal, and cranking over the dry engine can cause a lot of damage to the ski.


STEP 3: Lubrication station!

When most of the water is displaced, it’s a good idea to take some two stroke oil or some fogging oil and spray it into each one of the cylinders where the spark plug hole is. Then crank the engine over it again, and let the rest of the mist and water come out. If you listen, you can hear when the engine is not lubricated. There will be a noticeable scraping sound. If the sound is persistent, you can add some motor oil into the spark plug holes.


STEP 4: Pop some new spark plugs in that puppy!

Once you’re pretty confident you have all the water out, you want to get a new set of spark plugs and put them in the engine. For a two stroke jet ski, once you’ve got the spark plugs in, you would reattach the spark plug wires and see if you can get it to start at that point. If you were able to address the situation quickly, displace the water, and lubricate the engine, then it should start.  


If you follow these steps and you cannot get the engine started, it may need to go to a dealer to be serviced. Also, even if the engine starts after this first aid, you may want to take it to get serviced if you are not familiar with changing crankcase oil or balance shaft oil.  

Pro tip: If you have a Sea-Doo with a 951 engine, the balancer shaft has an oil reservoir. If the engine fills up with water, this oil reservoir also needs to be drained and the oil would need to be changed. If you have a four stroke Sea-Doo, which includes all jet skis made after 2004, it would need an oil change. You have at most 24 hours to follow these steps to address a waterlogged engine before water damage develops, even with fresh water.

Todd bello driving the hell out of a seadoo boat

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