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Can You Turbocharge a Jet Ski? [Spoiler: Yes!]

Can You Turbocharge a Jet Ski? [Spoiler: Yes!]

Jet skis can be turbocharged by installing an aftermarket turbocharger kit, but it’s also wise to strengthen the engine internals simultaneously. Since it’s an enormous task, it makes more sense to invest in a supercharged model, which is available off-the-shelf. Turbocharging only makes sense for racing jet skis that are not available with forced induction engines from the factory.

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

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

Are There any Factory Turbocharged Jet Skis?

It’s a lesser-known fact that factory-built turbocharged jet skis were manufactured in the 2000s. To be more precise, Honda was the first and only manufacturer to offer jet skis with a factory-installed turbocharger.

Labeled as the AquaTrax X series, these machines were marketed from 2002 through 2009 but were discontinued without any successors.

The most well-known turbocharged Honda PWCs were the AquaTrax F-12X, the 2-seater R-12X, and the flagship F-15X.

To the greatest regret of Honda enthusiasts, the AquaTrax PWC family was canceled after the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, no manufacturer has built a jet ski with a factory-installed turbocharger.

This is no surprise since the PWC industry turned towards the more effective supercharged engines.

Are you wondering what the difference is between turbocharged and supercharged jet skis?

Keep reading!

Jet Ski Turbocharger vs. Supercharger

In a nutshell, superchargers and turbochargers are both small air pumps designed to force air into the engine.

Along with more air, more fuel can be delivered into the cylinders, which translates to higher performance.

But while a jet ski supercharger is driven by the crankshaft, a set of gears or a belt, a turbocharger utilizes the energy from the exhaust gases.

In a jet ski turbocharger, you can find a turbine wheel, which is driven by the exhaust gases. This turbine drives a compressor wheel that delivers the pressurized air into the cylinders.

Since superchargers fit better on marine engines and they don’t suffer from “turbo lag,” they became prevalent in the PWC industry.

The first supercharged jet ski engine debuted in the 2003 Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC SC. Since then, these forced induction engines have become standard power sources for Performance and high-end Touring/Luxury jet skis.

And no, factory turbo jet skis haven’t made a comeback.

Can You Turbocharge a Jet Ski?

As a rule of thumb, jet ski engines can usually be turbocharged, but in most cases, this modification is not worth the hassle.

Why not?

This is because non-supercharged jet ski engines are designed for a naturally aspirated operation.

Consequently, many of them wouldn’t be able to withstand the increased power unless their internals were strengthened. What’s more, many additional engine modifications may become necessary like replacing the injectors and air filters, or reflashing the ECU.

Let’s face it, replacing engine parts is an enormous job that involves a lot of costs and labor.

It’s also good to know that a turbo jet ski uses significantly more fuel and has an increased chance of failure. Turbocharged 2-stroke jet skis are especially known for extremely low reliability and durability.

Therefore, unless you are a racer and want to turbocharge a specific jet ski for racing purposes, turbocharging doesn’t make much sense.

Instead, you may want to choose a supercharged jet ski, which comes standard with a factory-installed supercharged PWC engine. These skis produce 230-325hp out of the box.

Your other option is to locate and purchase an old turbo Honda AquaTrax, which still appears on the used market.

How To Turbocharge a Jet Ski

As we’ve discussed, unless you want to modify a jet ski for racing purposes or look for a very expensive side project, turbocharging a jet ski doesn’t make much sense.

There’s a plethora of supercharged jet skis in the marketplace to choose from that offer amazing performance, even in stock condition.

However, certain models like the Rec-Lite-class Yamaha EX and Sea-Doo Spark are only available with naturally-aspirated engine options.

Even though there are many simpler ways to boost the performance of these skis, racers prefer turbocharging them.

This is where jet ski turbocharger kits come into play.

Jet Ski Turbocharger Kits

You can turbocharge a jet ski by installing an aftermarket PWC turbo kit on its engine. As the name suggests these kits are specifically designed for jet ski engines. Besides the turbocharger, they contain many other parts including mounting hardware, flanges, gaskets, joints, tubes, and pipes.

Complete stage kits often come standard with map sensors, aftermarket injectors, a performance air filter, and software/hardware for an ECU reflash.

For example, the Kommander TR-1 turbo kit can be installed on a Yamaha EX, which can hit an amazing top speed of 70+ mph with this mod.

Another well-known product is the VICTORY Turbo Kit specifically designed for the Sea-Doo Spark series.

This Sea-Doo turbo kit also ensures a performance of 160-180hp, which translates to a top speed of 70-75 mph.

Interestingly, RIVA offers complete Sea-Doo turbocharger kits for full-sized PWCs like the RXP-X 260 and the RXT-X 260.

How much does it cost to turbocharge a jet ski? You can expect the price of the turbo kit to be in the ballpark of $5,000-$8,000, which does not include labor costs.

Takeaways

Jet skis can be supercharged by installing an aftermarket turbocharger kit, but this modification is only recommended for racing purposes.

If you are not happy with the performance of a naturally-aspirated jet ski, you can choose from many full-size supercharged models.

These skis come standard with a factory-installed supercharger, which works best on these machines.

Unlike their full-sized brothers, Rec-Lite jet skis, like the tiny Sea-Doo Spark and the Yamaha EX are only available with naturally-aspirated engines.

These machines are sometimes turbocharged by racers, so they can get the most out of their engines.

Turbocharging a jet ski doesn’t just mean bolting the turbo to the engine. Instead, this upgrade involves many other performance modifications like an ECU reflash or upgrading the engine parts.

Since these kits and the installation don’t come cheap, think twice before you turbocharge your jet ski.

If you are considering such a modification, best practice is that you connect a reputable PWC tuner like the PWC Muscle, RIVA, or GreenHulk PWC Performance.