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Jet Ski With Outboard Motor – Is it Possible? [Video]

Jet Ski With Outboard Motor – Is it Possible? [Video]

If you’re browsing Youtube, you can increasingly find videos about jet skis with outboard motors. This solution is common in countries where there are no dealerships or jet ski service shops available.

If that’s not the case with you, but you think new jet ski prices are too high, you may want to build your own outboard jet ski as a side project!

This small vessel looks crazy, like a little race boat, and offers tons of fun! What’s more, you can even use it for jet ski fishing. But be careful, as these custom solutions could be dangerous in some ways, so there are some key factors you have to pay attention to stay safe and legal.

Now without further ado, let’s check out some jet skis with outboard engines, and some tips on how can you build your own!

Does a Jet Ski Have an Outboard Motor?

Unlike boats, which can be powered by inboard or outboard engines, jet skis are manufactured exclusively with inboard engines. That’s because if the jet ski flips over, the hull can protect the engine from the water.

Another reason is a safety concern: outboard motors usually come with propellers. These are fast-spinning metal blades with no protection around them, which would be dangerous for the driver or the passenger in case of a fall.

Instead of propellers, jet skis are propelled with impellers. Impellers are very similar to propellers, but they’re mounted inside the jet ski’s hull securely. They fit tightly in a short pipe called “wear ring” and are moved by the drive shaft.

In this way, they can spin really fast (several thousand times per minute). But are you still safe if you can’t touch it in any way?  Are there any drawbacks?

Since the impeller moves the water really fast, this propulsion is prone to suck items up from the water, which could be a hassle to remove! For this reason above, you can’t purchase a new jet ski with an outboard motor off the shelves.

This means if you’d like to own a unique combo like this, your only option is to build your own! But are you wondering what are the advantages of using an outboard engine on a jet ski?

What is the Meaning of a Jet Ski With Outboard Motor?

Despite the disadvantages, some owners power their jet skis with outboard engines. They usually do this for the following reasons:

Low Purchase Prices

If you’ve ever checked recent jet ski prices, you’re probably aware that new jet skis arrive with really hefty price tags. Let’s face it; not everyone can afford $10k or even $20k for a new ski, and the used models aren’t cheap either.

But if you’re watchful, you can find an old empty jet ski hull for a couple of bucks, and the smaller outboard engines are really cheap units as well, especially on the second-hand market.

In this way you can get a jet ski for a really low initial cost which still offers some fun and can take you anywhere on the water!

Low Maintenance Costs

Beyond the purchase price, the costs of owning a real jet ski can be shocking. It’s safe to say that you can spend at least $1,000-$1,200 in a year on your jet ski, but this sum could be several times more – depending on the model and the way you use and store it.Compared to real jet skis, a modified jet ski with outboard motor costs almost nothing.

A small outboard motor burns only 1-2 gallons of gas per hour, while a jet ski engine can burn as many as 20-25 gallons every hour!Due to the low maintenance costs and needs, you can manage an outboard motor’s yearly service during a coffee break–and for almost the price of a coffee.

What’s more, these outboards are extremely durable and they last for forever.

Availability and Servicing

The last (and probably most important) factor about why these combos are popular is their availability.

Let’s face it; in most parts of the world you can hardly find any jet ski dealerships or even service shops. In these areas, your only chance to own a jet ski is if you try to find an imported second-hand model, or import it yourself.

But even if you buy one, the service and maintenance issues could be a hassle due to the lack of parts and repair shops.

Due to these problems, in these countries, it’s a common solution to upgrade an old jet ski’s hull with an outboard motor. Servicing it isn’t a big issue and most of the owners can manage this easily.

So it seems a jet ski with an outboard motor makes sense! Are you wondering how you can build one and make it safe? If yes, don’t hesitate to read more!

Jet ski outboard motor conversion

How to Build Your Own Jet Ski – Outboard Motor Combo

Mounting an outboard engine to a jet ski is not rocket science, but it needs some skills and tools as well. If you lack these, it’s not recommended you start with this project as it’s not like assembling an Ikea shelf!

But if you’re determined to do it, you may have to consider these factors before you start:

The Hull

First you’ll need a jet ski hull of course; it’s best if you can locate and empty one, or find one with the wrong engine.

Since you’ll need the highest stability, try to find as big a hull as possible. As jet skis were much smaller and more agile in the past, try to locate a newer, more stable hull!

You also have to decide where you’d like to sit on your new vessel. One option is to sit on the saddle, like any other regular jet ski.

The other solution is to remove the seat and sit inside the hull. At first glance, this solution could be a little odd, but many owners prefer this method as this position offers much more stability and the unique “race boat” feeling as well.

If you can’t locate a good hull, you can consider building one from scratch. It could be a great side project for the long winter months! With this building plan, you can build a similar small vessel like this one:

Mounting the Engine

Beyond the hull, you have to purchase an outboard motor. Are you wondering how much horsepower you need?

In fact, there is no exact answer to this as it depends on many factors. But let’s check the most important aspects of this question. If you are looking for a small vessel to go fishing on a lake, and you don’t want to go far, you can choose a smaller engine, i.e. around 10 HP.

But please note: 10-15 HP may not be enough for a bigger hull! Because of this, many builders choose outboards around 20-25 HP due to their better performance.

On the other hand, always calculate the weight with the motor. Choosing a too-heavy model could be dangerous as it means a lot of extra weight on the stern which can sink your new vessel.

Your biggest challenge will be mounting the engine on the stern properly. While you do this, make sure that the prop is at the optimum height, as it should be deep enough to avoid cavitation. Beyond this, you will also have to pay attention to the size and pitch of the prop.

After mounting the motor, you also have to deal with the gas line and the steering as well!

Safety Concerns

When it comes to a jet ski with outboard motor, the most iportant factor you have to pay attention to is the safety. You can lose your leg easily by cutting it with the fast-spinning prop! Because of this, you may want some protection around it.

The most common solution for this issue is if you mount a “propeller guard” (known as a propeller protector as well) around the propeller.

These are typically metal frames and brackets around the prop. These are available in several shapes, or you can even make a custom one by yourself. Just make sure that it wraps around the prop completely and securely! The other solution is to choose an outboard motor with jet propulsion.

You should also keep in mind that you can’t ride your “outboard jet ski” as hard as a regular ski. No tricks, jumps, or too-sharp turns! It’s because if you capsize the jet ski, it will probably be the last day of your engine.

Unlike the classic inboard engines, your new outboard engine is not protected by the hull anymore. If your jet ski flips over accidentally, the water will meet with the hot engine immediately which can cause major damages.

So keep in mind this really important rule; never capsize a jet ski if it’s powered with an outboard engine!

Legal Issues

Another important factor is that after this engine replacement, your vessel is probably not classified as a PWC anymore. As rules and regulations for your new vessel may vary from state to state (and from country to country) it’s important to be informed in advance.

Do your research before you start your project to stay safe and legal!

Jet Ski Trolling Motor

Another interesting solution is using a trolling motor on a jet ski. What is a trolling motor used for?

A trolling motor is an extra power source on a vessel beyond the primary engine. They are typically electric motors or smaller gas-powered outboard engines that make less noise so they don’t alert the fish!

As jet ski fishing has become more popular, it’s not a wild idea to use a trolling motor on a jet ski too. This solution has two huge advantages.

The first is fuel efficiency. The gas consumption of the small outboard motors is around zero, so you can save a ton of fuel with this solution. Additionally, if your jet ski’s engine malfunctions, you still have a chance to get back to the dock on your own!

So this means even if a jet ski trolling motor seems strange at first glance, there could be many situations when it makes sense!


It seems there are many situations where a jet ski with outboard motor makes sense. If your country lacks jet ski dealers and repair shops, there may be a compelling reason to build your own outboard jet ski.

Beyond these situations, many fishermen who are looking for a jet ski for fishing purposes consider this solution. These unique vessels do a really good job on lakes are rivers, but are not the best for the oceans.

It’s because if you capsize your jet ski, the water can destroy the outboard motor immediately.

For the same reason, it’s not recommended you do tricks or jumps with these vessels due to the risk of flipping it over. Also, don’t forget to protect the propeller with a guard as the spinning prop could be dangerous for you if you fall off the seat.

Long story short, if you want to own a jet ski for just a couple of bucks, or you’re looking for a side project for the winter just for fun (instead of playing jet ski video games), you can consider building your own outboard jet ski!