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8 Most Common Problems with Sea-Doos [Video]

8 Most Common Problems with Sea-Doos [Video]

It’s safe to say that the eight most common problems with Sea-Doos are as follows:

  1. Carbon ring failures
  2. Lack of a bilge pump and shut-off valve
  3. Supercharger failures
  4. IBR Reverse gate failures
  5. Overheating
  6. MPEM/ECU/Electrical Failures
  7. Loosened connections and broken hoses
  8. Cavitation
If you want to find out more about these issues, you’ve come to the right place. We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know under one roof!

8 Most Common Problem With Sea-Doos

Sea-Doos are known as amazing and innovative machines, so it comes as no surprise that the Canadian company has the biggest market share each year.

But just like any other vehicle or vessel, Sea-Doos have their specific problems of their own, which require special attention.

Without further ado, let’s drill into the details and talk about these issues one-by-one!

1. Sea-Doo Carbon Ring Failures

There’s no question that the biggest design flaw of Sea-Doos is their carbon ring sealing.

What is a carbon ring on a Sea-Doo?

In a nutshell, it’s a seal on the driveshaft that prevents water from entering the engine compartment. This ring is housed in a rubber bellow that presses against a metal ring, known as the “hat” or “support ring.”This setup wraps around the driveshaft, as can be seen in this picture:Sea-Doo Issues No.1.: The notorious carbon ringA perfect connection between the carbon ring and the hat ensures a tight seal, as long as the carbon ring is in good shape! This is because the ring is made of a unique carbon-graphite composite material that is considered to be a wear item.

Because of this, Sea-Doo’s carbon ring requires periodic inspections and replacement as per the service manual.

Lack of maintenance or improper use can damage the ring, resulting in water leaks. Due to this risk, the carbon ring on any Sea-Doo requires extra attention!

2. Lack of a Bilge Pump

Despite water leaking being a common problem on Sea-Doos, these machines are still manufactured without bilge pumps.

Instead, they feature a much simpler bailer system that uses the jet pump’s suction to remove bilge water. The biggest drawback of this bailer is that it only generates a sufficient vacuum when the craft is running at a higher speed.

The bailer can’t remove bilge water at low or zero speed, so a simple carbon ring failure can even sink the machine!This is why installing an aftermarket bilge pump is a must on each Sea-Doo!

Another simple but important part that is missing from Sea-Doos is a shut-off valve. This ball valve is required for higher-speed towing, so it’s a big mystery why this unit is not standard on each Sea-Doo.

3. Supercharger Failures

Another common problem on Sea-Doos is supercharger failure. It’s a lesser-known fact that the supercharger on most Sea-Doos requires periodic inspection and rebuilding.Although the manufacturer claims the supercharger to be “maintenance-free” on the latest Sea-Doo models, they still need a regular inspection.

What’s more, experts recommend periodically rebuilding the supercharger on every Sea-Doo!


On Sea-Doos the supercharger shaft protrudes into the engine, so a simple washer failure can spray metal debris into the engine.

The first supercharged Sea-Doos were manufactured with ceramic washers that were prone to causing catastrophic engine failure. Although later models come with metal washers, their superchargers still need to be inspected and rebuilt.

Another common problem with Sea-Doo superchargers is “bearing failure.” Defective bearings enable the shaft to become unstable, allowing the impeller to connect with the housing.

Due to these risks, Sea-Doo superchargers require continuous attention and care!

If we compare a Yamaha with a Sea-Doo supercharger, we can see that the latter protrudes into the engine due to its design. In contrast, the supercharger on WaveRunners is driven by a set of gears, meaning that it’s further from the engine.

(However, this doesn’t mean that Yamaha superchargers are bulletproof!)

Sea-Doo vs. WaveRunner Supercharger

4. IBR Reverse Bucket Failure

The IBR (Intelligent Brake and Reverse) is a complex system on Sea-Doos that is also prone to failure.

Simply put, the key part of this system is a foldable gate (bucket) behind the jet pump. Folding this gate reverses the waterjet’s flow, causing the machine to slow down and even go in reverse.

Since it’s quite a complex system, it can go wrong in many ways. The most common iBR failure on Sea-Doos is when the gate gets stuck – if you are lucky, it will get stuck in up position, allowing the jet ski to move (even if only in limp mode).

In a worse case, it gets stuck in the down position, blocking the jet nozzle, which affects the entire machine.

The iBR gate can easily be damaged by incorrect docking or trailering, leading to various iBR malfunctions.

On top of that, it’s good to know that the reverse gate on Sea-Doos is made of plastic, while on WaveRunners this part is made of durable aluminum.

If you are looking for a simple ski without iBR you should look at entry-level Sea-Doo models that are still available without this complex feature!

5. Overheating

Jet skis are prone to overheating, and Sea-Doos are no exception.

In most cases, this issue is caused by a fouled heat sensor, but a defective cooling system can also cause it.

Sea-Doos feature a unique closed-loop cooling system that works similarly to a car’s radiator. The “radiator” on Sea-Doos is actually a heat exchanger mounted inside the ride plate.

However, this system is filled with a liquid coolant that requires regular inspection and periodical replacement.

Unlike the engine, the exhaust pipe and the intercooler are still cooled by an open-loop cooling system, which is also prone to clogging.

6. MPEM/ECU/Electrical Failures

Let’s face it; water and electricity doesn’t mix well. This is why Sea-Doo’s electrical system is prone to failure, especially if the ski is used in saltwater.

The corrosive water can find its way to the wires, connectors, and electrical units, causing various malfunctions.

The main computer on Sea-Doos is intended to control the various systems. This unit is known as the Engine Control Unit (ECU) on modern Sea-Doos, while on vintage machines, it was called MPEM (Multi-Purpose Electrical Module).Just like any other computer, Sea-Doo’s “brain” can also go wrong in many ways, causing a lot of headaches for owners.

7. Loosened Connections

Even if they don’t rust, wiring harnesses and battery terminals can also loosen over time. Besides electrical issues, hoses can break or fall off the nipples, leaving the systems without cooling or even fuel.

Broken and loosened oil lines are very common problems on vintage oil-injected 2-stroke Sea-Doos, often in a seized engine.

(This is why the oil lines should be replaced periodically on every oil-injected, 2-stroke PWC, regardless of its make and model.)Unlike their vintage predecessors, modern Sea-Doos lack oil pumps and oil lines, so owners should not be afraid of such cases. However, these modern machines still feature many wires and hoses that have to be frequently checked.

Just a loosened connection can leave the ski stranded on the water and end in a costly repair!

8. Cavitation

Like any other vessel propelled by a jet-propulsion system, Sea-Doos are also prone to cavitate.  This issue can be caused by various reasons, including:

You can read more about these issues by following the links above.

This was our short compilation with the eight most common Sea-Doo malfunctions.

We hope you find it useful!