How to buy a Used Personal Watercraft (PWC) or Jet Ski (2024)

Buying a used personal watercraft or jet ski is a common alternative to spending a boatload of money for a brand-new model.

Generally, used PWCs cost substantially less while offering just as much value. However, like all second-hand products, you need to be cautious before buying them.

In this article, we talk about how to buy a used jet ski, factors to consider before choosing a jet ski, and the precautionary steps to take before finalizing the sale. Having been in the industry for many years, we can help you make an informed investment decision.

Table of Contents

Reasons to buy a Used PWC or Jet Ski

Jet skis are synonymous with summer and having fun with friends and family at the beach. Compared to boats, they cost a fraction of the price and are much easier to maintain. Moreover, jet skis don’t have to be kept in the marina and can be easily towed with the help of a small trailer.

If you plan to buy a jet ski, here are some reasons to consider getting a used one.

  • This comes as no surprise, but a used personal watercraft features a much cheaper price tag than a brand-new one. This means you can buy a bigger and better PWC for much less and still save a lot of money. If you buy through a jet ski broker, you can negotiate the price further and take advantage of even bigger savings.
  • There are numerous platforms, including yard sales and online marketplaces that sell used jet skis, such as PWC Trader, Boat Trader, Boats and Outboards, used jet ski on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Craigslist, and many more. With a little research, you can find the exact PWC size, model, and manufacturer you’re looking for at a very attractive rate.
  • You can be sure about the jet ski’s performance since it has already been on the market for a long time. This means you can watch YouTube videos, read online reviews, and thoroughly research its performance to avoid buying defective or less popular models.
  • You can start using the personal watercraft or jet ski shortly after making the payment, benefiting from shorter wait times.

Types and Brands of PWC

Personal watercraft, or PCW, covers numerous types and brands of small recreational watercraft. PWCs are sometimes referred to as water scooters but are primarily known by the brand names of the three most popular manufacturers: Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, and Wave Runner. The rider sits or stands on a personal watercraft rather than sitting inside as on a regular boat.

  • Jet Ski: Manufactured by Kawasaki, Jet Ski comes in over a dozen offerings, including stand-up, supercharged and three-passenger models.
  • Sea-Doo: Manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products, Sea-Doo includes six different models and has won the Red Dot Design Awards.
  • WaveRunner: Manufactured by Yamaha, WaveRunner currently comes in four series of 18 different models.

PWCs are primarily divided into types: stand-up PWCs and sit-down PWCs.

  • Stand-up PWCs –This is the original type of PWC and is smaller in size. This makes it easier to transport and maintain compared to larger PWCs. Stand-up PWCs fit a single rider and are commonly used for racing and doing tricks.
  • Sit-down PCWs – Sit-down PWCs are bigger than stand-up PWCs to accommodate a more comfortable ride. They can normally fit more than one rider and tow objects like wakeboards or rafts.

If you are confused about what type of personal watercraft to buy, here is our detailed guide to help you make the right decision.

Things to Do When Buying a Used PWC

While there are many benefits of buying a used personal watercraft, you should know a few things before making the purchase.

1. Do a Sea Trial

A sea trial is a test run to examine the performance of a used personal watercraft and prove its seaworthiness. Take the PWC you plan to buy on the body of water you wish to use it on and give it a test run. This will give you a good idea of it will perform post-purchase.

2. Examine the Engine and Check the Engine Hours

Even though examining an engine is difficult and time-consuming, it pays off. Get an expert to perform a compression test and see if the engine is in good condition. Another thing to check is the PWC’s clock-up hours.

Fewer hours are not necessarily good, just like more hours are not always bad. It all comes down to how well the PWC has been maintained and its age, model, size, and manufacturer.

3. Supercharged or Not?

If you want personal watercraft with the highest performance and speed, supercharged jet skis are your answer. If you are a beginner or don’t want to pay a lot for maintenance, you shouldn’t buy a supercharged PWC. Always contact a professional for their advice before your purchase. Decide how much horsepower (HP) you need but usually people go for the highest.

4. Get an Inspection

Hire a professional who can examine the jet ski for any underlying issues and give you a clear picture of whether or not you should invest in it.

5. Check the Registration Documents / Do a Hull Lookup Using

Go through the PWC’s registration, including the bill of sale, title, and jet ski license.

Moreover, look for the model year found in the PWC’s Hull Identification Number (HIN). The HIN is generally located on the rear deck on a black plastic strip.

Use to perform a free HIN lookup by yourself – All you need to do is enter the HIN of the PWC that you want to buy in the tool’s search bar to check its basic registration details. Doing so will prevent you from buying a PWC that has legal or hidden lien issues. jet ski theft is on the rise.

6. Factor in Additional Costs

Be aware of additional costs like maintenance, depreciation, and insurance. This will help you budget more efficiently.

Here’s a table comparing used jetskis and new jetskis:

AspectUsed JetskiNew Jetski
PriceGenerally lower asking price, depreciation consideredHigher, reflects current market value
ConditionVaries, may have wear and tearPristine condition
WarrantyUsually limited or expiredTypically comes with a manufacturer warranty
MaintenanceMay require more frequent maintenance and repairsLess likely to require immediate repairs
FeaturesMay lack the latest technology and featuresUp-to-date with the latest features
CustomizationMay have aftermarket modificationsCustomization options available
AvailabilityWide range of options, depending on the used market and auctionsAvailability depends on current models in production
FinancingLimited options, may require upfront paymentFinancing options available through dealerships
ReliabilityDepends on the maintenance history and overall conditionGenerally more reliable due to new parts and components
Resale ValueTypically lower than the original purchase priceHigher, retaining more value over time
Buying ExperienceMay involve negotiating with private sellersSmooth buying process through authorized dealerships

Please note that these points are general observations and may vary depending on the specific circ*mstances and market conditions.

What questions to ask when buying a jet ski?

Are 2-stroke jet skis worth buying?

2-stroke jet skis are worth buying only if you are looking for the traditional riding experience. The engine typically lasts 300 to 500 hours, so keep that in mind.

Are jet skis a lot of maintenance? Are they expensive to fix?

Four-stroke jet skis generally don’t require much maintenance, but two-stroke ones require different kinds of fuel and care. Jet skis can be expensive to maintain, but the exact cost will vary depending on the size, model, and age.

What equipment is mandatory on a jet ski?

In addition to proper PWC registration and jet ski license, you will need the following equipment: a life jacket, fire extinguisher, whistle or air horn, and safety lanyard.

How many miles does a Sea-Doo last? | What is the lifespan of a jet ski?

On average, a Sea-Doo can go around 60 to 120 miles on a gas tank, and the average Sea-Doo uses 3 to 4 gas gallons per hour. However, this number can vary depending on the PWC’s fuel consumption, riding speed, tank capacity, and weather conditions.

On the other hand, the average lifespan of a jet ski is 300 hours, and it is designed to last for 10 years.

Buying a jet ski without a title

It is recommended to steer clear of used jet ski dealers who do not have a title. You can request the seller apply for a title before finalizing the deal. If you still decide to buy a jet ski without a title, make sure to do a proper background check on the seller, get a PWC history report through, and perform a HIN lookup online.

How much does Sea-Doo insurance cost?

Like other boats and PWCs, a Sea-Doo also needs to be insured to avoid the hefty costs of damage induced by unexpected accidents, storms, fires, and even traveling.

The exact cost of insurance will differ from insurer to insurer, as well as other factors such as the age, model, make, and condition of the jet ski, your age, driving history, and geographical location. It will also depend on the kind of coverage you want. In general, you can expect to pay around $85 to $100 a year for liability coverage, whereas more comprehensive can go as high as $500 or more per year.

Used jet ski blue book values (when you buy a second-hand jet ski)

When buying a used jet ski, be sure to check its value on different pricing guides, such as JD Power Guides and PWC Trader Price and Value Guides. This will give you a good idea of what the PWC is worth and whether you are making the right decision by buying it.

If you want to learn more about boat value tools and pricing guides, consider reading our blog. We also have tips to avoid scammers.


In this article, we discussed how to buy a used jet ski. We went over the types and brands of personal watercraft, what to do before finalizing the deal, and things to check. If you are unsure about which jet ski to buy, it is best to get in touch with a dealer who can guide you regarding the best options that fit your budget and satisfy your needs effectively.

#UsedJetSki #BuyUsedJetSki #UsedvsNewJetSki #used #PWC

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How to buy a Used Personal Watercraft (PWC) or Jet Ski (1)


  • Boat Buying
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How to buy a Used Personal Watercraft (PWC) or Jet Ski (2024)


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