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What is the Wear Ring on a Jet Ski? [Maintenance Guide]
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The wear ring on a jet ski is a plastic or stainless steel ring that tightly embraces the impeller. The tight clearance between these parts ensures high pressure in the pump, which is the key to high performance.
Additionally, the wear ring protects the pump housing from being damaged. As its name implies, this ring is a wearing part, meaning that it requires attention and replacement!
Would you like to know how to check a wear ring or how to replace it? Keep reading!
What is the Purpose of a Wear Ring?
The wear ring has two main purposes on a jet ski. The first is to seal the pressure leakage of water in the pump. To put it more simply, the wear ring ensures a tight fit around the impeller, which is the key to high pump pressure. The tighter the fit, the more power you have!
That’s why manufacturers try to keep this gap as tight as possible.
Another advantage of wear rings is they protect the pump housing from damage. This is because debris or even the impeller itself can cause severe damage on the internal surface of the housing.
And this is where the wear ring comes into play, as it acts as a protector between the metal surface and the impeller. This means that in case of malfunctions the impeller will only damage this ring.
And the good news is that wear rings are far cheaper compared to metal housing!
How Much Does a Wear Ring Cost?
The price of plastic wear rings ranges from $50-$100, while you must be prepared to pay $100-$200 for a stainless-steel wear ring. However, they are more durable! In contrast, replacing an entire pump housing can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the make and model.
Do All Jet Skis Have a Wear Ring?
Unfortunately, not every jet ski is equipped with this key part. In fact, only Sea-Doo offers jet skis with factory-installed wear rings! That’s why the wear ring is often called a Sea-Doo ring.
Are you wondering what other manufacturers use instead of a wear ring? Surprisingly, they use nothing to protect the metal surface of the pump housing!
What does this mean?
Simply put, it means that on other models the pump housing is also the wear ring. On these jet skis you have to replace this entire metal part in case of any damage.
Do WaveRunners Have Wear Rings?
No, to the greatest regret of many Yamaha fans, WaveRunners are also manufactured without a wear ring. Therefore, the impeller can easily damage the pump housing. To solve this problem, many Yamaha owners consider replacing the pump housing with an aftermarket part, which is known as s “WaveRunner Wear Ring Impeller Housing.”
The main advantage of this aftermarket housing is that it already features a replaceable wear ring! In fact, it’s a pretty similar solution to what you can see in the pump of Sea-Doo’s.
How Wear Rings Get Damaged
As we’ve discussed, the gap between the ring and the impeller blades is very tight. Since water flows very fast in this area, it causes some damage to the wear ring over time.
What’s more, the impeller can reach and accidentally damage the surface of the ring! How?
One common problem is when the shaft bearings get damaged or just wear out. This may cause a wobbling impeller, which can contact the wear ring.
If this happens, the blades of the impeller carve grooves into the inside surface of the ring. Another common problem is the pump continuously sucks up rocks, woods, or other debris from the water.
These objects can directly damage the wear ring, especially if they get stuck between the ring and the impeller. These issues can even cause a broken wear ring!
In the worst case, a jam can bend the blades of the impeller, which can lead to cavitation and additional damage to the pump.
Keep in mind that even mud and sand can cause significant wear and tear on the wear ring, especially on plastic rings. (Some wear rings are made of stainless steel.)
To prevent this, never operate the jet ski if the water is less than 3-feet deep. Don’t forget that the pump has a noticeable sucking force even at idle speed.
How do I Know if a Wear Ring is Worn?
If your jet ski’s wear ring is worn, you can expect one or more of the following symptoms:
- Cavitation in the pump
- Decreased top speed and acceleration
- The jet ski bogs down
- You can see grooves or other signs of wear and tear on the surface of the ring
- The gap between the ring and the impeller has significantly increased (more than .005”).
How do You Check a Jet Ski’s Wear Ring?
As a rule of thumb, the only way to check a jet ski’s wear ring is by removing the pump and visually inspecting its surface. Although there are many noticeable symptoms of wear ring damage like decreased top speed or cavitation, these can be caused by other malfunctions as well.
Therefore, there is no way to know other than pulling the pump out, even if it’s a hassle.
Once it’s removed, carefully check the surface. Grooves, cracks, or abrasions are all signs that the wear ring needs to be replaced!
Wear Ring Clearance
Also, don’t forget to check the clearance of the wear ring. As a rule of thumb, the clearance of a jet ski’s wear rings is about .001”- .015” depending on the year and model. With a new ring and a perfect impeller, you can expect a .001” – .005” gap, but it increases over time. The typical wear limit on older jet skis is .02”-.04”, but on a newer model, you must be prepared to replace the ring much sooner.
For the exact specification, you may want to check your craft’s service manual, or you can simply measure the wear ring clearance with a feeler gauge.
A tight clearance is essential to get the most power out of a jet ski. If the gap exceeds the recommended limit, it results in cavitation, which robs the engine of power and leads to further damage.
Therefore, the best practice is to keep your eyes on the pump and to regularly inspect it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
On the other hand, it’s good to know that even if this ring is a wear item, it doesn’t mean that you have to frequently replace it. The only reason to replace a wear ring if it’s damaged or worn out!
How do You Change a Wear Ring?
You can change a jet ski’s wear ring in 12 easy steps:
- Remove the iBR bracket (if equipped).
- Remove the jet nozzle.
- Pull out the entire jet pump and remove the impeller cover.
- Place the pump and the new wear ring into the freezer for 1 hour.
- Heat the outside of the pump quickly with a hairdryer.
- Remove the neoprene seal.
- Pull out the ring.
- Heat the pump again with the hairdryer.
- Remove the new wear ring from the freezer.
- Press/tap the ring into the pump carefully until it slides into place.
- Replace the neoprene seal and impeller cover.
- Reinstall the pump, jet nozzle, and iBR.
Here is a great video on how to change a wear ring on a jet ski:
Even if this process is pretty much the same on a lot of new Sea-Doo models, make sure to read your jet ski’s manual before you do any maintenance on it!
As a takeaway, we’ve gathered all the key info about this key part under one roof:
What is the wear ring on a jet ski? It’s a plastic or (sometimes) metal ring that tightly embraces the impeller.
What is the purpose of a wear ring? With its tight clearance, the wear ring ensures high pressure and maximum power from the pump. Additionally, it protects the metal housing from damage. The main advantage of wear rings is that they are much cheaper to replace than the entire metal housing.
How do you check a jet ski’s wear ring? The only way to check a wear ring is if you pull out the whole jet pump and visually inspect it.
How do I know if the wear ring is worn? A worn-out or damaged wear ring often leads to decreased performance and cavitation in the pump. You can also see abrasions and grooves on the inner surface of the pump.
How do you get a wear ring off? Place the pump into the freezer for an hour, then heat the outer side of it with a hairdryer. As the next step, pull out the wear ring with pliers.
Do WaveRunners have wear rings? No, WaveRunners come without wear rings, but aftermarket pump housings with wear rings are available for many WaveRunner models.