What Does a Jet Ski Intake Grate Do? [Explained]

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What does an intake grate do on a jet ski? Simply put, the intake grate is a metal bar mounted on the bottom of the jet ski, in front of the water intake. The intake grate has two functions: it prevents debris from entering the pump as well as feed the pump with water.

If you want to learn more about this key part, this post is for you. From intake grate removal to modifications we cover everything!

Where is the Intake on a Jet Ski?

You can find the jet ski’s intake on the bottom of the hull, directly in front of the pump. In fact, the intake on a jet ski is a water inlet where the water can enter the pump. Inside the pump, the impeller speeds up the water and creates a fast-flowing water stream. Finally, the water squirts out from the jet nozzle, propelling and steering the jet ski on the water.

The intake grate is mounted in front of this area to block debris and ropes. This metal bar is also known as a jet ski scoop grate. This is because, thanks to its design, the grate “scoops” the incoming water into the pump.

Without the intake grate, less water would flow into the pump, leading to lower performance.

What is a Top Loader Intake Grate?

Top loader intake grates are aftermarket performance parts designed to increase the handling and power of jet skis. They come with better geometry like OEM grates and usually feature a center wing to supply the engine with more water. Finally, this results in better performance especially on choppy waters, as well as less cavitation.

If you are looking for a cheap mod to upgrade your jet ski, you can’t go wrong with an intake grate modification. On top of that, they also do a good job when the jet ski is used for propelling a Flyboard.

Unfortunately, jet skis are prone to sucking up ropes and debris from the water. Would you like to know how to remove these? Keep reading!

How to Clear a Jet Ski Intake

If you want to clean a jet ski intake, you have to place the whole craft on the trailer and try to clear the intake through the grate. If this doesn’t work, you will probably have to remove the entire jet pump.

Keep in mind that in most cases cleaning the intake in the water is not possible. That’s why it is recommended that you tow the craft back to land, even if it’s a hassle. Flipping the jet ski in the water is also not recommended, since doing it wrong can force water into the engine.

If you cannot clean the intake by any other means, you will have to remove the pump or even the intake grate. Let’s see how it’s done!

How to Remove the Intake Grate?

To remove the intake grate on a jet ski, you have to first unscrew the bolts, which can be tricky. This is because on many jet skis the bolts of the intake grate can be found beneath the engine. Thus, it’s not easy to access them! Once you remove the bolts, you have to pull out the grate. If you want to remove it yourself, be prepared for a hard time, as manufacturers typically apply some adhesive on it.

Here is a great video on how to remove a jet ski’s intake grate:

If you are considering removing the intake grate, beware that it’s not as simple as it seems. Moreover, it’s not completely risk-free! Why?

First, you have to be very careful not to bend the grate or damage the fiberglass.

Another issue is that the bolts of the intake grate should be completely sealed. If you don’t seal them properly while reinstalling the grate, you risk that water seeping into the engine compartment. In the worst case, it can sink your jet ski!

Because of these risks, best practice is to leave this process for professionals.


The intake grate is a key part of each jet ski. As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the FAQs about this unit under one roof:

What does an intake grate do? It feeds the pump with water and blocks debris (at least a great deal of them).

What is a top loader intake grate? An aftermarket intake grate to enhance the performance and handling of the jet ski.

Where is the intake on a jet ski? On the bottom of the hull, in front of the pump.

How do you clear a jet ski intake? Place the jet ski on the trailer and clear the intake through the grate. If you fail, remove the pump, or even the intake grate.

How do you remove the intake grate? Unscrew the bolts and pull the grate down. Be prepared for it to not be easy!

As a final word, it’s highly recommended that you refer to your jet ski’s service manual before you remove its intake grate or pump!

If you have no experience in servicing a jet ski or lack the required tools, best practice is to take the jet ski to a dealership.

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