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Buying your first jetski

What brand should I be looking at?

In New Zealand there are only 3 brands which have good support and some level of service support available Nationwide:   Yamaha, SeaDoo, Kawasaki.


I have seen an ad for a Sea Jet chinese jet ski, are they okay?

There is a company in China producing PWC's and small sport boats with a Suzuki (car) engine in them.  They have come out with various names on them but they are all produced in China.  This is possibly one of the biggest mistakes a person could make to buy one of these.  These PWC's started to appear in NZ as private imports around 2007 and continue to arrive.  Landed price is around $8,000 - $10,000 which does seem appealing.  Close inspection of any examples will show;  extremely rough and pourus hull with little or no gel coat, loose seat fabric, non-accessible storage compartments, and a huge amount of incredibly bad engineering too big to list.  Often they do not run at all and after-sales service from China becomes non existent.


How many hours do jetski's do before they are worn out or need a rebuild?

This answer needs to be split into two sections:  two stroke & four stroke.

Two Stroke:

Most two stroke ski's are now very old and it is very common for them to have had one rebuild in their life.  Some models had rebuilds before they had done 40 hours and other would have done 100+.  The reasons for rebuilds usually are either user error or mechanical error, very often not associated with hours.

Four Stroke

The four strokes are capable of hundreds of hours which are normally only seen in rental situations and not without wear and tear part replacements.  For an average user (family and recreational use) they will turn over around 20 hours per year, and only in the last few years we are seeing jet ski's which are used for fishing doing 100+ hours per year.  Don't be afraid by hours, it is more important that it has been serviced regularly and more often low hours are more troublesome than high hours.


Two Stroke or Four Stroke?

The era of the 2-stroke is mainly from the beginning (1970s) to early 2000's with the exception of the pole ski's.  So the 2-stroke ski's are now getting long-in-the-tooth and require ongoing repairs.  Again, if you are buying a 2 stroke - check to see who can service/fix them as many of the dealers won't touch them at ALL!

The 4-stroke is generally preferred simply because of age and being fuss free starting and fueling (no fussing with 2 stroke oil).  Some of the early 4 strokes are over 10 years old now, and have started falling into the "too old" bracket for reliability.


Do I buy from a dealer or privately?

With the popularity of Trade Me in New Zealand, anyone who wants to sell a jet ski advertises on Trade Me.  This typically sets the market price and does make it harder for a dealer to compete and make enough to cover their 'warranty' period.  The advantage of dealing with a shop is an easy place to return to if you have an issue and you should get some basic operation guidance which can save a lot of heartache.

Buying privately is very common and there are two things to remember.  You are covered by the consumers guarantee act if you pay an agreed price (not an auction) but if you have an issue you may have to fight it in court.  It is your responsibility to have a pre-purchase inspection performed prior to buying to help avoid any major issues.  If you are un-sure of operation, download an owners hand book and make sure you know how to operate the craft correctly, especially for maintenance and flushing.


What are the maintenance costs?

This is a good question that some don't even consider!   All service manuals differ slightly, especially in new models but the best general rule of thumb is;

2 Stroke:   Every 25 hours or annual.

4 Stroke:   First service at 10 hours (see very important notes below).  Then every 50 hours OR annually.


Some SeaDoo supercharged craft require a supercharger service every 100 hours - which increases the maintenance costs to a huge $19 per hours (plus fuel).

Some Kawasaki models have expensive service items and can be one of the most expensive models to own.


My budget is not very big, I want to get a 1999 ski and try fishing, will this be okay?

People who are new to jetski's are overwhelmed by the range of models and styles and it is now a common sight for people to be buying older ski's to give fishing a go.  The early ski's of the 90's were generally all small hulls and the shorter/narrower the hull the more unstable it will be.  Some models are not possible to sit and fish from!

We also have great reservations with older ski's as to their general reliability and would not recommend someone go further from shore than they can swim or always go with a friend.


My budget is $4000, what would you recommend?

We would recommend you take a hard look at your total budget. It is genuinely impossible to find a good, reliable jetski for this amount and it may be expensive to keep an old ski running.  Another serious option is to investigate using some of your budget for deposit and financing a bit extra - it can mean the difference of getting into a later model 4 stroke for around $9,000.

Also factor in the annual running costs, which can easily be close to $2000 per year - not including fuel.  These include things like:

Servicing: allow $450

Other repairs:  (batteries, trailer wheel bearings, wear rings etc) $100 - $500

Insurance: $500 - 800

Trailer rego & WOF: varies between $35 - $100


I'm looking at buying a new jetski, I don't have anything to worry about buying new right?

Most models have good 2 - 3 year warranties but that doesn't mean that there aren't bad models out there for sale.  There certainly are and you can risk having your new jet ski at the workshop getting warranty repairs more often than it is on the water..  not cool!  Ask the dealer what has changed on the latest model, refinements are good, completely new designs can be the ones that cause headaches.  It's more of a concern with new electrics, fancy moving gadgets, extra buttons, new hull materials, and the occasional new motor designs. 


I want to buy a new jet ski - what is the best one to buy?

There are roughly 30 different models to choose from between the top 3 brands and each one serves a slightly different purpose.  Begin by answering these questions, then talk to a couple of different dealers for their recommendations.

- What is your MAIN use, eg: fishing, family use, tow-in surfing, touring, racing?

- What is your budget?

- Who is your nearest PWC service agent?

- Are you content with good fuel consumption or usually have to have the fastest? Remember, once you've gone supercharged, you won't go back.

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