How to Avoid Jet Ski Explosion Accidents

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Jet ski explosion ranks first in the “most dangerous jet ski accidents of all” list. Why shouldn’t it; after all it is an explosion. And since it is an explosion, you see viral videos and news channels blaring headlines.

Let’s be real here. Jet skis are machines run by engines on top of which you sit.

Therefore, like any other internal combustion engine, it is also susceptible to breakage and more often than not, this breakage can lead to a loud bang before you know it.

To your surprise, jet skis are actually more prone to these explosions as compared to other engines because of their structure, consumption mechanisms, and fuel handling. What’s even scarier is the fact that you sit on the engine, which is almost like sitting on an explosive device.

You wouldn’t want that. So, let’s get down to the reasons or causes of these jet ski explosion accidents and see what we can do to prevent them

Why a Jet Ski Explodes?

We’re talking about a complete explosion here, not only on water or during your ride, but also on the shore at the docks, or when you’re carrying it on a trailer. Sometimes, these even explode on the first ignition.

The explosion is just the first step towards disaster. The real incident takes place when you’re tossed away, in which case you could land on concrete or hit another vessel. In any case, your chances of receiving deadly burns and injuries are formidable.

After looking into numerous causes of these explosions and thus, we were able to categorize them into four categories:

  • Improper maintenance
  • No active ventilation
  • Not reading owner’s manual
  • Jet ski engine’s performance

Let’s deal with them one by one!

Causes of jet ski explosion I: Improper Maintenance

Gas vapors

Every engine requires maintenance. If you don’t take heed of it, especially of a jet ski engine and fuel lines, you could end up in the hospital. That’s true!

In case of a failure gas vapors may accumulate in the engine’s compartment. Anything that causes a spark in them results in a massive jet ski explosion and this is not rocket science.

The spark is mainly caused by parts of the electrical system of the jet ski from the battery to the starter motor. This is obviously secondary.

The primary step in this process, which is the injection of gas vapors, is caused by a broken gasket, faulty inferior parts, holed gas tank, or other faults arising due to poor maintenance.

So, all in all, poor maintenance can lead to a disaster!

The electric system

PWC electrical systems have components with sealed connectors at their ends. This seal saves them from any moisture, corrosion, or contact with any other electrical component.

However, this does not mean that the larger units are sealed too – the battery, starter motor, and solenoids are all exposed inside the hull.

Now, if anything causes even slight corrosion of cables (or just simply loosens connections), a spark could generate.


Besides the causes stated above, poor cooling, a lack of oil, and water in the bilge could also potentially result in a malfunction or even explosion.

Your problems could be doubled if your jet ski is older. That’s because an old carburetor PWC has lots of hoses, which ultimately means more chances of leakage.

The answer to all these risks is proper maintenance. Ever jet ski needs regular maintenance and professional winterizing in every year!

As a jet ski owner, you might want to check your engine and the bilge carefully every time before you go on a ride. Reading manuals could actually help you in this matter.

Causes of jet ski explosion II: No active ventilation

Personal watercraft have a passive, inefficient ventilation system.

What is a passive ventilation system? Well, unlike all the other boats that have bilge blowers as per U.S.C.G., the jet skis achieve passive ventilation through its two openings of 3 sq. in. cross-section located opposite to each other either at the fore and aft sections of the engine compartment.

Since it is passive ventilation, it requires wind to flow through the holes and flush out all the accumulated gas vapors. When the PWC is stationary, obviously there would be little chances for the wind to get rid of the vapors. And that is when the hazard is likely to take place!

Owners of an engine boat are required to switch on this fan 4 minutes prior to starting it.

It seems that installing bilge blowers in a jet ski could have resulted in a lesser risk, although this is not common practice.

Keep reading to learn the most efficient way to remove these gas vapors!

Causes of jet ski explosion III: Not reading user manuals

Every machine comes with a user or owner’s manual and that too for a good cause. The manufacturers want you to go through them because it contains all the necessary safety and operational information.

Jet skies, too, come with a bunch of paper and we highly advise you to read “Pre-ride checklist” in the user manual. In it, besides other important tips and tricks, you’ll find information on ventilating your jet ski engine and therefore, getting rid of any kind of gas vapors. We have a sample of Jet Ski manual below. Be sure to check it out and make yourself familiar.

Pre-ride Checklist:

“VENTILATE ENGINE COMPARTMENT – Remove the engine cover for several minutes to purge gasoline fumes from the engine compartment. WARNING! A concentration of gasoline fumes in the engine compartment can cause a fire or explosion.

BATTERY TERMINALS – Check the battery terminal screws for tightness, and make sure terminal covers are in place. Warning! Loose battery cables can create sparks that can cause a fire or explosion resulting in injury or death. Make sure the battery terminal screws are tightened securely and the covers are installed over the terminals”

This checklist is important to read as you can see. However, if you don’t have the manuals or have lost them, you can always look up on the internet. All you’d have to do is type your jet ski model and manufacturer and write “user manual” with it, Google will return dozens of search results.

Going through the manual will inform you about things you didn’t know before. That way, you could reap more fun from your jet ski rides.

Causes of jet ski explosion IV: High performance and modifications

When it comes to jet ski explosions and malfunctions, we have to mention the high performance of PWC engines – and the modifications as well.

For example, performance jet skis come with supercharged engines that can deliver up to 300 HP.

Any engine of that capacity is prone to failure if you keep on pushing it by riding it on top speeds. This is because the components are under constant stress. So, if you wish to not contribute to the risk, you may want to keep it slow, it means safer rides as well.

On top of that, refrain from any undue modifications that aim at increasing the performance further. We’re talking about air intakes, exhaust and pump components, turbochargers, speed control override modules, or installation of complete racing kits.

Even if you really have to modify your jet ski, then the best practice is looking for the highest quality parts available with ensuring immaculate installation.

Key Takeaways – How to prevent a jet ski explosion?

Will your jet ski explode if you don’t take preventive measures? The answer is simply yes.

It can very much explode if you don’t look for signs and don’t follow the preventive measures we are going to share here with you.

The foremost of them is, of course, maintenance. With proper maintenance, you can mitigate your chances of malfunctions and explosions as well.

Please follow the steps we have shared below to make sure your jet ski is taken care of, and thus, you don’t meet any jet ski explosion accident!

  • Read the owner’s manual carefully and always check it when you think you need information about something. Please refrain from suggesting solutions for a problem especially related to your engine; always consult the manuals or some expert.

  • The “pre-ride checklist” is the most important part of the owner’s manual. Never underestimate or overlook it!

  • No matter how tempting modifications are, avoid them for the best of your safety. Even if you think you cannot resist, always go for high-quality parts.

  • Do not forget about regular maintenance. Whether you’re going for a ride or not, keeping a check on the engine of your jet ski will always pay off in the long run. The primary things you should concentrate on should include checking:

    • Oil,
    • Cooling system,
    • Fuel lines,
    • Electric system.
  • Always check the bilge after fueling.

  • While it may sound unnecessary, carrying insurance on your jet ski can help you in case you meet any accident.

  • Before every start, don’t forget to remove your seat and look for signs such as gas vapors!

How to prevent jet ski explosion: remove the seat before every ride!

How to prevent jet ski explosion: remove the seat before every ride!

We talked about removing your seat above. On vintage models, it was hard to do that because the seat had two parts that had to be removed separately. Fortunately, now they usually come in one piece and they are easy to remove!

Once you do this, as we said above, check for signs such as gas smell.

In times when you forget to remove the seat and find your jet ski failing to start, stop immediately. This could be a warning sign of the accumulation of gas vapors in the engine compartments. So, remove the seat and check for the bilge immediately.

Always remember, gas smell emitting from below the seat is always a surer sign of malfunctions!  

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