8 Essential Tips to Properly Break in a New Jet Ski [Video]

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How do you break in a new jet ski? – we often get this question.

Without further ado, here are our eight essential tips on how to break in a new net ski:

  1. Read the owner’s manual
  2. Don’t skip the pre-ride check or the after-ride care
  3. Warm up the engine
  4. Be light on the throttle
  5. Adjust your speed often
  6. Avoid tow sports
  7. Stick with the maintenance schedule
  8. Avoid performance mods

If you want to find out more about this process, keep reading.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this post!

Do you Need to Break in a Jet Ski?

Contrary to popular belief, the engine on the latest jet skis has to be broken in on its initial rides. This means that the machine requires more care and gentler treatment when it’s first being ridden.

Why do new jet ski engines have to be “broken in”?

The main idea behind this process is to allow the engine internals to be gently polished until they’re smooth. This gives the engine greater reliability and durability.

When you pick up your new ski at the dealership, the engine and its internals are new. There are many moving components inside the engine, but the key parts are arguably the cylinder walls and the pistons, which must be carefully broken in.

Although these parts look very smooth, they have microscopically rough surfaces. This roughness must be eliminated, which happens while the components are rubbing up against each other.

This is when the “break-in” procedure comes into play. Being light on the throttle allows the parts to polish each other for a perfect fit and get the correct tolerances. This process helps to improve the seal and reduce friction between the metal parts. Finally, it translates to better fuel consumption, more power, and increased durability!

Are you wondering how to correctly break in your jet ski engine? Keep reading!

How do you Break in a New Jet Ski?

Although every jet ski is different, there are some basic rules you should follow during the break-in period, which are as follows:

  1. Read the owner’s manual
  2. Don’t skip the pre-ride check or the after-ride care
  3. Warm up the engine
  4. Be light on the throttle
  5. Adjust your speed often
  6. Avoid tow sports
  7. Stick with the maintenance schedule
  8. Avoid performance mods

Let’s drill into the details and talk about these steps in detail!

Read the Owner’s Manual

Let’s face it, no two jet skis are the same. From the entry-level Sea-Doo Spark 60HP to flagship supercharged models, the engine and features on jet skis vary widely.

This is why you should carefully read your Owner’s Manual before your first ride. The exact break-in procedure is clearly outlined in this booklet, which you have to follow to the letter.

Clearly, the manufacturer wants the ski to be properly broken in, so the instructions are spelled out in the manual for good reason.

Note that supercharged engines require a more careful break-in process.

These high-performance power sources have higher tolerances than their naturally-aspirated counterparts. This means that their cylinder walls, pistons, and rings must be broken in more precisely to ensure the correct compression.

Therefore, if you have a supercharged ski, you should break in your ski very carefully!

Don’t skip the Pre-Ride Check or the After-Ride Care

The pre-ride check and the after-ride care should always be part of your trip, but they are even more critical during the break-in period.

Jet skis often come from the dealer with an empty fuel tank, so make sure to fill it with the appropriate gasoline. You can find the factory octane recommendations in your manual.

Before each ride, you should also check the oil level and the hoses and clamps for any loose connections or leaks.

Warm Up the Engine Before Your Rides

Jet skiers are prone to hammering their skis without first warming up the engine. Don’t be one of those!

Warm up the ski totally before you get on plane, which should include letting the ski idle near the dock and riding at no-wake speed for a couple of minutes.

Today’s skis often display the engine temperature on their digital dashboard; you may want to keep an eye on it!

Be Light on the Throttle

Sure, you are excited to ride your new jet ski very hard, but it’s critical that you be gentle on the throttle during the beak-in period.

Short adrenaline rushes are good and desirable but don’t reach the top speed in the first hour. Instead, you can accelerate and then return to lower RPMs.

General wisdom says that you shouldn’t exceed 4,000-5,000 RPM in the first hour. (However, the exact limits may vary from one model to the next.)

To avoid engine damage, many jet skis come with automatic engine limits. The ECU (main computer) of these skis is pre-programmed to electronically limit performance in the first couple of hours.

This practice is often used on supercharged jet ski engines rated at 230-300+ HP. These engines get faster and faster as the number of engine hours increases and offer unleashed performance as soon as the break-in period is over.

Vary Your Speed

One of the key tricks of properly breaking in your jet ski is to frequently adjust your speed.

Keeping the throttle at one speed for an extended period more does harm than good, so it’s not recommended. Why?

First, varying the throttle generates a stronger vacuum that pulls more oil into the cylinders. Besides, acceleration puts different pressure on the rings, which helps them seat properly.

This is why you should avoid using the cruise control mode on the ski or maintain the same manual speed for too long. Instead, your rides should include many accelerations, including short bursts with a wide-open throttle.

The exact RPM limits and recommendations may vary depending on the model but these are typically stated in the manual.

Also, contrary to popular belief, using the Learning Key during the break-in period is not a good idea either.

Avoid Tow Sports

Like touring at a constant speed, doing tow sports during the break-in period is not recommended.

Towing a wakeboarder or a tube not only puts more strain on the engine, but these activities also require you to ride at a constant speed.

Due to these risks, manufacturers don’t recommend doing tow sports until your engine has already been properly broken in.

Stick to the Maintenance Schedule

Jet skis typically have a stricter maintenance schedule at the beginning of their lives. This extra care usually includes frequent inspections and oil changes.

Experts at The Watercraft Journal recommend changing the engine oil after the first five hours and again at ten hours, even if it isn’t mandatory.

This preventive maintenance helps remove the accumulated contaminants from the engine. At the same time, fresh oil ensures optimum lubrication, which is also beneficial to the engine.

Some might say that this is a little excessive, but a little extra care never hurts!

As we’ve discussed, you should use the recommended engine oil and fuel per the owner’s manual.

Also, you should avoid using fuel and oil supplements that the manufacturer does not expressly recommend.

If you want to use a supplement for any reason, best practice is to consult with your dealer and follow their recommendations.

Avoid Performance Modifications

This may seem obvious, but it’s also extremely important to avoid performing any modifications on the jet ski during the break-in period.

Performance mods put more strain on the engine, which is undesirable in the first couple of hours. You should be gentle on the throttle during this time instead of trying to get the most out of the engine.

New jet skis come with hefty price tags, so it is not worth gambling with the engine!

How Long Does It Take to Break in a Jet Ski?

Depending on the make and model, the break-in period on a jet ski takes about 1.5-10 hours.

For example, Kawasaki and Yamaha suggest a surprisingly short, 1.5-hour break-in process for most of their skis. However, you can’t go wrong by following the procedure for safety reasons for an additional couple of hours.

In contrast, Sea-Doo Sparks require a much longer, 5-hour break-in period.

It seems that supercharged Sea-Doos have to be pampered for the longest time, as the break-in process on these skis takes a whopping 10 hours. The engine of these Sea-Doos is electronically restricted until 10 hours is reached, but the computer releases more and more performance during the process.

Conclusion

Internal combustion engines require a thorough break-in procedure, and jet ski engines are no exception. Breaking in a jet ski properly ensures the best performance, a longer engine life, and optimal fuel economy.

To break in your jet ski, you should be light on the throttle, vary your speed, and avoid tow sports in the first couple of hours. It’s also recommended that you follow the maintenance schedule and avoid performance mods. The break-in period typically takes 1.5 hours on Yamaha and Kawasaki jet skis, and 5-10 hours on Sea-Doos.

However, the exact process and duration are clearly stated in the owner’s manual. Make sure to read it carefully and follow your manufacturer’s recommendations!

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