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How Full Should You Fill the Fuel Tank on a PWC? [Fueling Tips]

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What is the best way to fill the fuel tank on a PWC? How full should you fill the fuel tank on a PWC?

These are a common question asked by beginner jet ski riders, and with good reason.

Refueling a jet ski is not rocket science but it requires some attention. Doing it wrong can lead to many problems or, at worst, an explosion!

Keeping safety in mind, we, at JetDrift, have gathered the most important steps on how to fuel a jet ski properly. Moreover, you can also learn some lesser-known ways of jet ski fueling!

They can come handy in many situations, especially if you consider jet ski fishing or longer tours, where the jet ski’s mpg is always critical!

How Full Should You Fill the Fuel Tank on a PWC?

It’s very important to avoid overfilling a jet ski’s fuel tank. The best practice is to stop filling when the gas pump nozzle stops. Never retract the nozzle to force more gas into the tank! If you fuel your jet ski with cans or another alternative way, make sure to stop filling your jet ski when the level of the fuel reaches 2 inches from the top of the gas tank.

Never top off your jet ski’s fuel tank as it may end in fuel spilling or leaks. This is because there’s always a risk you can overfill the tank accidentally.

Another problem is that the fuel expands because of the heat of the engine or the sun.

Due to these risks, never top off the gas tank, and also don’t store the jet ski with a full tank in the sun!

How full should you fill the fuel tank on a PWC?

How full should you fill the fuel tank on a PWC?

What is the Best Way to Fill the Fuel Tank On a PWC?

The best way to fill the fuel tank on a PWC is to stop at a roadside fuel station. Your other options could be filling at the fuel docks in marinas, or with cans, but if you dry your tank completely on the water, you can also refuel your jet ski from another vessel.

Let’s take a closer look at these options!

1. Roadside Gas Station

Probably, the most common way of jet ski refueling is stopping at a gas station. If you tow your jet ski on the trailer instead of keeping it on a floating dock, this is the best solution.

It’s always easier to refuel a jet ski sitting on the trailer like when it’s on the water. Moreover, you can expect better prices at gas stations than at fuel docks.

Make a habit to fill up your jet ski before your rides; in this way, you can be sure that there is fresh gas in your tank. When you stop at the station, make sure that the jet ski’s gas cap is close enough to the pumps to avoid fighting with the gas hose.

The cap can be located under the deck or lid, or even on the top of the deck depending on the model. You can usually unscrew the caps counterclockwise. Most of them have an attachment (plastic cord) so you can’t remove it completely.

If your cap doesn’t feature this attachment, put it somewhere safe, but never put it on the pump or the top of your car because you can easily forget it.  Always fill up the jet ski’s tank completely and don’t forget to fill the jerry cans if you have some.

Additionally, you may want to refuel your car as well.

2. Fueling a Jet Ski at Fuel Docks

Unfortunately, refueling a jet ski at a gas station is not for everybody. If you store your jet ski in a marina, you probably won’t struggle with jerry cans.

In this case, a fuel dock can come handy. It’s a very convenient way to fill up your jet ski if it’s on the water.   The only exception is when the dock is too high as it’s designed for huge vessels, or the water level is very low. In this case, you’ll need some athletic skills and effort to reach the top of the dock!

While you can find professional staff at many fuel docks, some others are self-service. If you have to manage the fueling process on your own, be careful.  , At first glance, it seems similar to fueling at a roadside station, but it’s easy to make mistakes which can result in many problems!

Fuel docks are known for being busy places, so you have to focus on the process. Although it’s recommended you fill up your jet ski completely before every ride, do it carefully.

Unlike at roadside stations, at the fuel docks, the pumps are often old and worn out. This means the automatic shut-offs are sometimes unreliable.

Because of this, it’s recommended that you don’t release the nozzle. Jet skis can typically hold 15-18 gallons of gas, which means you can fill it up quickly even if the pump is a slow-speed one. Also, keep in mind the exact tank capacity of your jet ski to know what to expect.

Once your tank is full, make sure to move your jet ski away, and remove the seat to ventilate the engine compartment.   In general, you can pay by credit card, while some marinas only take cash.Also, keep in mind that you can’t find fuel docks in every marina. You can locate and discover the nearest marinas and boat ramps with this locator!

3. Jerry Cans

What is a Jerry can?

Jerry cans are durable liquid containers made of plastic or metal. They are designed to hold 0.25-5.3 gallons of fuel on average, and can be moved by one person.

Let’s face it; jerry cans are probably the least convenient way to refuel a jet ski. They are hard to manage as lifting and balancing these heavy cans are always a hassle. Moreover, they’re dangerous and not environmental-friendly at all due to the high risks of accidental fuel spills and drips.

But when it comes to fueling a jet ski, jerry cans are still widely used. Are you wondering why?  The first reason are the high gas prices in marinas; the other is the availability.

There are many areas where you can’t find fuel docks nearby, and don’t even mention the long, offshore jet-ski tours. Even if struggling with jerry cans are always a pain, they come in handy when it’s your only option to refuel your jet ski!

When it comes to pouring, this can again be difficult, especially if you have bigger, heavier cans. The good news is that you can make the process easier with a siphon hose:

4. Auxiliary Jet Ski Fuel Tank

When it comes to long tours or jet ski fishing trips, it’s quite common to carry one (or more) jerry cans on the jet ski’s swim platform, or also attach them to the fishing racks. But if you want to refill your jet ski’s tank, this could be tricky, especially if have to do it on the water.

If you’re looking for something more convenient, then the auxiliary jet ski fuel tanks are for you.   In a nutshell, this setup means a larger capacity fuel can that connects to your built-in main fuel tank. This extra fuel tank is attached to the rear platform with straps or installed in a fishing rack.

This system can extend your jet ski’s fuel range dramatically, so you don’t have to be afraid of fuel spillage. But unless you’re a qualified mechanic, it’s not recommended you build this system at home, to avoid damage or even explosive accidents.

For the same reason, never store jerry cans in the jet ski’s storage compartments! Gas vapors may accumulate inside the hull which can lead to an explosion.

5. Fueling a Jet Ski From Another Vessel

If you run out of gas on your jet ski, rides can be dangerous, therefore, this must be avoided.  First, plan your trip carefully with the one-third fuel management rule in mind. It’s best if you do your research upfront to locate the marinas and other on-water gas stations along your ride.  Also keep in mind that the fuel gauges on jet skis are not so accurate, so they’re usually considered approximate guides. Finally, don’t forget to always fill up the jet ski completely before your rides!

But what you can do, if despite all safety precautions, you run out of fuel on a jet ski?   In this case, you have two opportunities to solve the issue. The most common is to tow the jet ski with a boat or another jet ski back to the dock.

If this is not an option for some reason, you can still refuel your jet ski from another vessel on the water. Although transferring fuel on the water could be a hassle and risky too, there may be situations where this is the only solution.

What is the best way to fill the fuel tank on a PWC?

What is the best way to fill the fuel tank on a PWC?

How to Fuel a Jet Ski Properly

As gas is flammable and explosive, always be careful when fueling a jet ski. Here are the correct steps for how to fuel a jet ski properly:

  1. Always shut off the engine before fueling;
  2. Driver and all passengers should be off;
  3. If you’re fueling on the water, secure the ski to the dock properly;
  4. Locate and unscrew the gas cap counterclockwise;
  5. Insert the nozzle into the filler neck;
  6. Fill up the fuel tank slowly to prevent fuel spilling;
  7. Never retract the nozzle to put more gas in it;
  8. Wait a little bit before you remove the nozzle to avoid drippings;
  9. Reinstall and rotate the gas cap clockwise. Make sure it’s fully tightened;
  10. Don’t forget to wipe off any fuel drippings from the deck; and
  11. Once refueling is done, always remove the seat to ventilate the engine compartment! Gas vapors are prone to accumulate in this area which can lead to an explosive accident.

Beyond the above, you may want to consider these other safety recommendations:

  • Always use the required fuel! Inadequate fuel can damage the fuel system or even the engine!
  • Never top off your gas tank and leave your jet ski in the sun! Fuel expands due to the high temperature and may overflow.
  • Always fuel a jet ski outdoors or in a well-ventilated area as gas is explosive and flammable! For the same reason, avoid open flames or smoking while you’re refueling a jet ski.
  • A fire extinguisher is always good to have on hand.
  • Always use fresh gas. If you don’t use your jet ski for a while (like out of season) always add fuel stabilizer to the gas.
  • Inspect the gas tank and the fuel lines frequently. It’s best if you do this before every ride!
  • If your jet ski won’t start, remove the seat immediately and check the engine compartment for leaking fuel or gas vapors!

What is the Best Way to Check for Fuel Vapors After Fueling a Jet Ski?

The best way to check for fuel vapors after fueling a jet ski is to remove its seat and smell for gas fumes in the engine compartment. Always do this before you start the jet ski’s engine! If fuel or fuel vapors are present, your jet ski needs to be fixed immediately.

Never overlook this inspection, as the vapors can be ignited by a spark which can have serious consequences!

How to Remove Old Gas from a Jet Ski

You can remove old gas from your jet ski with an electric pump or a manual siphon pump. You’ll also need a can to store the old gas. Another good trick is to remove the old gas from a jet ski by forcing air into the tank with an air compressor or even a manual air pump. Never try to suck the end of the hose with your mouth, as you may get gas in your mouth, or worse, swallow it!

Reasons Why You Need to Remove Gas from a Jet Ski

There could be many reasons why you want to remove gas from your jet ski:

  • you’ve filled the tank with the wrong type of fuel (e.g. diesel, or the wrong octane gas)
  • you’ve used the wrong gas/oil ratio when making the premix for a 2-stroke
  • the gas went bad during the winter
  • water leaked into the gas tank

Conclusion – FAQs About Jet Ski Fueling

What’s the best way to fill the fuel tank on a jet ski?

The best way to fill the fuel tank on a jet ski is to stop at a roadside fuel station. Your other options could be the fuel docks in marinas, or jerry cans, but if you dry your tank completely on the water, you can also refuel your jet ski from another vessel.

Do jet skis use gas?

Jet skis use gas (known as gasoline as well) just like many boats and cars. Always double-check the type of fuel before you fill up your jet ski’s tank, as jet skis use gas exclusively!

What fuel does a jet ski use?

Speaking of gas, different jet ski models need different levels of octane. The exact fuel type (octane) that a jet ski uses is clearly stated in the owner’s manual. It’s highly recommended to check it as using the wrong gas can lead to several problems!

Can you put premium gas in a jet ski?

While there are jet skis that are certified to operate on premium gas (typically, the performance models), others run on regular. Whether you can put premium gas in your jet ski or not depends on many factors. Again, check your owner’s manual for exact specifications.

Where do you put gas in a jet ski?

Every jet ski has a built-in plastic tank with a capacity of 5-20 gallons. The gas cap can be found under the lid, seat or on some older models, on the top of the deck.

Do jet skis use a lot of gas?

Yes, jet skis usually use a lot of gas due to their high-performance engines and the drag force of the water. The different model’s gas consumption varies widely and depend on several factors like their performance, hull’s shape, weight, and many others. As a rule of thumb, an “average” jet ski can burn around 10 gallons at WOT.

What is the oil-to-gas ratio for a 2-stroke jet ski?

Every 2-stroke jet ski model requires a specific gas/oil ratio, which is usually displayed on the gas cap, and also stated in the owner’s manual.  In general, this oil-to-gas ratio for a 2-stroke jet ski is usually 40:1 (or sometimes 50:1). The 40:1 mixture ratio means that you have to add 3.2 oz (ounces) of oil to every gallon of gas.

But again, always double-check your jet ski’s manual before you mix the fuel, as the wrong mixture can damage or even destroy your engine!

How do you mix jet ski fuel?

You can mix jet ski fuel in 5 simple steps:
1. Check your owner’s manual for the appropriate gas/oil ratio;
2. Take a clean jerry can to make the mixture. Never mix the fuel in the jet ski’s fuel tank;
3. Always add the oil first!  You will need 3.2 oz to one gallon of gas if the mixture ratio is 40:1;
4. Fill up the can with gasoline; and
5. Seal the jerry can securely and mix the fuel carefully.

How do you drain a jet ski fuel tank?

You’ve just realized that you’ve used the wrong gas/oil ratio, your gas went bad during the winter, or water leaked into your jet ski’s gas tank? There could be many cases when it’s inevitable you need to drain the fuel from a jet ski fuel tank, but don’t worry, as you can siphon gas on a jet ski simply with a manual siphon pump.

How do you clean a jet ski gas tank?

Tarnish is prone to build up in gas tanks, especially in older jet skis. For these cases, it’s good to know how to clean a jet ski’s tank properly:
1. Drain the gas completely’
2. Remove the tank (it’s removable in many models);
3. Use a pressure washer and Simple Green to clean the tank;
4. Let the tank air out, and make sure it dries completely;
5. Reinstall it; and
6. You may want to replace the fuel filter and the hoses as well!

If your tank isn’t removable, you can drain the gas and add an extra fuel filter to the system.

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