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Losing a key is never a fun experience, especially if it’s the key to your Sea-Doo, but it’s not the end of the world like a PWC accident would be.
If you’re reading this article, odds are that you’ve either lost a Sea-Doo key, or you’re seeking a Sea-Doo key replacement.
There is good and bad news. The good news is that it is possible to obtain a Sea-Doo replacement key. And the bad news is that it’s not always easy.
Similar to cars and motorcycles, a Sea-Doo key has a built-in code so that no other key can start the PWC. So, you will have no choice but to get the new key programmed to your craft.
We at JetDrift have compiled some vital information on how you can obtain a new key as quickly as possible.
If you do not have a Sea-Doo, you can still find out how to get a new key for other personal watercrafts as well, so just keep reading!
How & Where to Get Your Sea-Doo Key Replacement
As you may have guessed, obtaining a Sea-Doo key replacement is kind of a hassle, but it certainly is possible.
Unlike standard metal keys, your Sea-Doo key must be specifically programmed for your PWC. They basically work just like a lot of “push-to-start” cars. For security purposes, only the right key will be able to start your Sea-Doo.
If your key is totally lost, you’ll have no choice but to get new keys, which must be programmed to your Sea-Doo.
This means that you will have to trailer
your PWC over to the closest Sea-Doo dealer.
You cannot just call the dealership up and give them the VIN number over the phone, and you can’t get your spare key duplicated. You have to go to the dealership in person with your PWC! If you want to see how this is done, watch this video:
This may seem overly dramatic, but you need to know how a Sea-Doo key works.
When the Sea-Doo is programmed to a specific key, the PWC has a digital code that specifically matches the key assigned to it. You cannot change this digital code without the actual PWC being there. In addition to the dealer needing the Sea-Doo present to reprogram it, the dealer will very likely check the VIN with a stolen boat database as a precaution.
Most Sea-Doos are allowed up to 8 different keys at once. People who own several PWCs often make their keys work on all their PWCs. This solves the problem of looking for different keys all the time and ensures that they always have a backup.
How much does a Sea Doo key replacement cost?
The cost to replace your Sea-Doo key will depend on a number of factors, which include the year and model of your PWC, plus the dealership you turn to.
Most dealerships will charge you anywhere from $50-$100, which would include the key replacement and the programming. Some places may charge you less while others may charge you more. We’ve heard from people who claim to have paid as much as $200 for a Sea-Doo replacement key.
You can search for a repair shop that uses aftermarket programmers to make your replacement keys. These places use very similar key programmers, which allows them to do most everything that you could get done at a dealership.
But because they do not have the costly overhead of a dealership, they are able to charge people less to replace a lost Sea Doo key, than an authorized dealer would. This is not a guarantee, but many times this is what happens.
It would be worth your time to call a number of dealerships and repair shops before deciding where to go to get your replacement key, so you can get this done for a decent price. This is the only way you can avoid paying too much for a Sea Doo key replacement. Just calling around to a couple of places won’t be enough. You need to find all your options and call every single one of them.
You should also try negotiating the price.Most people don’t ever consider this, but it certainly is worth it to try. There is no way you’re going to be offered a lower price unless you ask. You can use the prices offered by other shops as leverage. Dealerships and small repair shops alike may be persuaded to lower their price if they think you may go elsewhere.
In considering your options, you need to consider the distance you would be taking your Sea-Doo. If you get a lower price at a dealership the next county over, it would probably not be worth your time and/or the cost of gas.
How Sea-Doo Keys Work
There are two parts to a Sea-Doo key: a tiny magnet, plus a Read-Only Memory (ROM) chip. The magnet sends a signal to the PWC to turn the power on and then read the ROM chip, which has the digits. The specific combination of digits is among a million possible combinations of numbers. The specific number (digits) on the chip will never change.
When the key gets programmed to the Sea-Doo, the dealership is “telling” the PWC that it has permission to let these specific digits turn the power on. The PWC is also being informed as to which type of key it should be (normal or learning). All this information is stored on the Sea-Doo.
Up to 8 keys can be attached to one craft. When the key is removed, the Sea-Doo turns off because the magnet is no longer there.
As you see in the video, it’s not a matter is duplicating the key like you can with a lot of cars. Each key has a totally different set of numbers than any other key and these numbers cannot be altered since they are coded into the key.
Potential Sea-Doo Key Replacement Problems
Most owners can get a replacement key for a Sea-Doo by trailering the PWC to a dealership and asking them to make the key. But in certain situations, there can be complications. There are several reasons why it may be difficult or even impossible to get a spare key made, as follows:
Stolen: As we discussed earlier, most dealerships will check the VIN number against a database of stolen watercrafts before making a replacement key. If you bought your Sea-Doo new from a reputable dealer, you won’t have a problem. However, if you bought a used Sea-Doo, there is a chance that it was stolen. This will make it nearly impossible for you to get a spare key made.
Old Model:Some owners have tried to get a replacement key for a Sea-Doo made but were told by the dealership that it was too old for them to reprogram. If you have an older model Sea-Doo, you may need to try another dealership, or perhaps a private boat repair shop.
No dealerships nearby: Depending on where you are when you discover your key missing, there may be no local dealerships. If you can’t find a local dealer nearby, your next option may be to look for a repair shop that has an aftermarket programmer.
Chances are they won’t charge you any more than a dealership would, but whatever the charges it may be worth it. If you can’t find a repair shop to make the replacement ski, your only option may be to trailer your Sea-Doo to the closest dealership.
Lost your Sea-Doo key? How to keep from doing that again in the future:
People are constantly losing their keys because it’s so easy to do. They’re moved from place-to-place all the time and they’re so small that they can slip into tiny places where they’re hard to find. But there are some things you can do to keep you from misplacing not only your Sea-Doo key, but your other keys as well.
To avoid the problem altogether, why not have a spare key made in advance for emergencies? Your Sea-Doo goes into the dealership once a year to be serviced and winterized, so while it’s there, ask them to make you a spare key to keep on hand just in case you lose the main one. It’s a whole lot easier to grab your spare key than to have to trailer your PWC over to the dealership.
If you have more than one Sea-Doo, you can have them all programed the same. Just ask the dealership to key them all alike when you purchase them. This way, if you happen to lose one key, the others will fit the Sea-Doo with the missing key.
You should get yourself a PWC safety lanyard, and the brighter the better. It’s a good idea to attach it to your life jacket. Lanyards make it a lot easier to hang onto keys and make them a lot easier to see as well. A safety lanyard will not only help you keep the key to your Sea-Doo on you at all times, it’s for your safety as well. For example, if you fall off your PWC, you can turn the engine off immediately so it will remain near you. In fact, this is one piece of safety equipment that the law requires.
Think about purchasing a key tracker, which is a tiny receiver that you attach to your keys. This will enable you to find your keys with an app on your mobile phone. This way if you lose your keys, you can find them rather than needing to get them replaced. You will also need to get a waterproof case for your PWC tracker, otherwise it will deteriorate in no time.
And finally, you should make it a habit to always keep your keys in the same spot. This is totally obvious, but it does need to be mentioned because many people do drop their keys in different places all the time. If you make a point of always putting them where they belong, you won’t get into this mess again because you’ll know where they are.
Replacing the D.E.S.S. Key Post
One electrical problem that is fairly common is failing D.E.S.S. key posts (a.k.a. emergency switches), but luckily these can be replaced quite easily. You can see how this is done in this video:
WaveRunner & Jet Ski Key Replacements
If you are the proud owner of a Yamaha or Kawasaki, obtaining a WaveRunner or Jet Ski key replacement would likely require a different process. In the end it would depend on which model you had and the year it was made. If you’ve misplaced the keys to your PWC, just call the dealer.
The dealership has probably had customers call about this in the past and they can tell you what to do, and perhaps even give you a few options. Remember, they are running a business, so be smart and call several dealers, some private boat repair shops, and ask for recommendations from other owners.
Also, don’t forget to buy a safety lanyard so you can keep better track of your key.
Whether you have a new Sea-Doo, Yamaha or Kawasaki Jet Ski, or an older TigerShark, Polaris or Honda, you can use a universal PWC lanyard because they have a lot of different hooks and clips that can be configured to work for your personal watercraft.
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