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Do you Have to Have Mirrors on a Jet Ski? [Explained]

Do you Have to Have Mirrors on a Jet Ski? [Explained]

Do you have to have mirrors on a jet ski? – we get this question more often than not, and the answer is “it depends.”As a rule thumb, by law mirrors are not required on a jet ski – as long as you don’t use the ski for tow sports. But if you want to legally tow a tube or a skier/wakeboarder with your jet ski, you must have rearview mirror(s) on it in most states.

If you want to find out more about jet ski mirrors, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know under one roof!

Why do Jet Skis Have Mirrors?

Except for the rare stand-up and few entry-level runabouts, most modern jet skis came with dual mirrors as standard. They are not only a great idea from a safety perspective but are also required by law in some states if you want to use your PWC for tow sports.

Jet ski mirrors do a really good job in busy waters where there are a lot of other vessels around you. Therefore, it’s wise to have mirrors on your jet ski even if you don’t want to tow with it.

Do you Have to Have Mirrors on a Jet Ski?

You only have to have mirrors on your jet ski if you want to use it for tow sports, and the law requires that you have mirrors on it.

But when it comes to the regulations for towing with a PWC, there’s tremendous confusion out there. Why?

This is because local laws vary widely from one state to another:

  • Some states require you to have an observer onboard facing the skier/wakeboarder.
  • Other states only require rearview mirror(s) of a certain size.
  • And a few states require both.
Yes, this means you can swap out the observer with a pair of mirrors in certain states.

(Again, the laws vary from state-to-state, so if you want to tow with your jet ski, make sure to check the local laws and regulations to stay legal!)If you want to install mirrors on your jet ski, keep reading. We’ve compiled the best ideas for jet ski mirrors under one roof!

How to add Mirrors to a Jet Ski

In a nutshell, the three best options for jet ski mirrors are as follows:

  1. Factory jet ski mirrors
  2. Aftermarket jet ski mirrors
  3. Universal mirrors
Let’s take a closer look at each!

1. Factory PWC Mirrors

There’s no question that the easiest way to get mirrors on your ski is if you invest in a pair of factory mirrors. Most of today’s jet skis came with mirrors as standard, while others offer them as an option.

OEM jet ski mirrors are designed to fit in the design of the ski, so they ensure a perfect match. They are always mounted on the side of the top deck in front of the operator.

However, it’s a lesser-known fact that the majority of factory jet ski mirrors don’t comply with the legal requirements in many states.

How is it possible?

Unfortunately, manufacturers design the mirrors to be small and sleek looking to keep the sporty design of the top deck. These sleek-looking but unfunctional mirrors are mainly put on the skis for aesthetics.

Let’s face it, large mirrors would look very odd on the side of a jet ski and make it look less appealing.

Factory mirrors are great for marketing purposes but don’t ensure a great view due to their small size and being in the wrong position.

Unfortunately, certain states require PWC mirrors have specific sizes and features. What’s more, some states don’t regulate jet skis separately and apply the same laws to them as they do boats.

Some of these states require jet ski owners to have large-scale mirrors on their skis if they want to use them for towing.

Therefore, the factory PWC mirrors in these states need to be replaced or upgraded.

This is where aftermarket jet ski mirrors come into play!

2. Aftermarket PWC Mirrors

Aftermarket jet ski mirrors are marketed in many shapes and sizes and come in handy if you want to upgrade the OEM mirrors on your ski. They also do a good job on older skis for which factory mirrors are unavailable.

Many aftermarket PWC mirrors mimic the factory mirrors, as they feature an ergonomic design and must be installed on the side of the top deck.

A huge drawback of these units is that many of them are as small as their OEM counterparts. However, if you do extended research, you can find a few larger PWC mirrors that comply with most states’ local laws.

Sadly, they look very odd on the skis.

3. Universal Mirrors

If you can’t find suitable mirrors that fit on your ski, your last option could be universal mirrors. These mirrors are specifically designed for powersport vehicles like ATVs, motorcycles, and boats.

Depending on the model, they can be installed on the top deck or the handlebars.

The key advantage of these mirrors is that they are available in a wide range of sizes. This means that you can find the best one that fits your jet ski and complies with the law as well.

On the other hand, they are typically a challenge to mount and often look very odd on the ski. While placing a large mirror is not an issue on a boat, it could be very tricky on a small jet ski.

But with some creativity, you can find a sweet spot for your new mirror. If you do your research, you can find plenty of ideas on Youtube and on online PWC forums.

General wisdom says that you should try to avoid drilling holes into the top deck. Instead, try to install the new mirrors using existing holes or fittings.

For example, you can install a large PWC mirror on a Fishfinder mount:

Last but not least, if factory mirrors are too small on your jet ski, you may want to modify them. All you need to do is purchase a pair of large glass mirrors that comply with legal requirements and stick them on the factory mirrors.

For the installation, you can use a heavy-duty double-sided foam adhesive.

If you want to remove them for any reason, just move a thin cutting wire between the two mirrors and carefully cut through the foam.

Takeaway – FAQs About Jet Ski Mirrors

As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common question on the topic!

Why do Jet Skis Have Mirrors?

Manufacturers market their jet skis with mirrors for design and safety reasons.

They are a safety feature and required by many states if the ski is used for tow sports.

Do you Have to Have Mirrors on a Jet Ski? 

The general rule is that the law does not require you to have mirrors on your jet ski unless you want to tow a tube or a wakeboarder/skier with it.

Unfortunately, local laws vary from state-to-state regarding PWC tow sports.

Some states require a spotter on board, while others only require rearview mirrors. In a few states, you will need both to legally tow with your jet ski.

Alos, keep in mind that factory PWC mirrors don’t comply with legal requirements in certain states.

Therefore, if you are considering doing tow sports with your ski, make sure to check local laws and regulations to stay safe and legal.

But having functional mirrors on your jet ski is always a good idea, even if your state doesn’t require them.

Are Jet Ski Mirrors Adjustable?

It’s safe to say that most modern middle-range and high-end jet skis come with manually adjustable mirrors.

In contrast, the mirrors on older and economy jet skis are typically not adjustable. This is a huge drawback, especially for taller riders who can often only see the footwells and the side of the top deck in the mirrors.

It’s also good to know that adjustable jet ski mirrors are prone to getting stuck over time, but they can be freed up with some lube.

How Much Does a Jet Ski Mirror Cost?

Unfortunately, OEM jet ski mirrors don’t come cheap. The prices of a pair of OEM Sea-Doo and WaveRunner mirrors range from $100 up to $300, while aftermarket kits cost about $50-$200.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Jet Ski Mirror?

You can fix your jet ski mirror for only a couple of bucks if you only have to replace the glass in the mirrors. Just custom cut the mirrors at your local mirror/glass shop and glue them onto black plastic mirror mounts with some marine-grade silicone.

(You can also cut the glass out from larger truck mirrors.)

However, if the mirror covers are broken, they are often cheaper to replace than repair and repaint. You can also find many used jet ski mirrors on eBay, as many owners part out their skis instead of selling them in one piece.