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8 Most Common Problems with Yamaha WaveRunners [Video]

8 Most Common Problems with Yamaha WaveRunners [Video]

It’s safe to say that the eight most common problems with Yamaha WaveRunners are as follows:

  1. Supercharger issues
  2. Lack of a bilge pump and shut-off valve
  3. Overheating
  4. Electrical/ECU failures
  5. Loosened connections and ripped lines
  6. Timing chain failure (on mid-2010s 1.8L models)
  7. Old fashioned design
  8. Cavitation
If you want to learn more about these issues, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled the most common problems with WaveRunners under one roof!

8 Most Common Problem With WaveRunners

Yamaha WaveRunners have a good reputation for excellent reliability and durability. But just like any other vessel, these PWCs have specific problems that require more attention.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled these issues into this post. Let’s drill into the details and talk about them one-by-one!

1. WaveRunner Supercharger Failures

As a rule of thumb, supercharged jet skis are less reliable than their naturally-aspirated counterparts.

Although most Yamaha WaveRunners are powered by naturally-aspirated engines, you can also find some supercharged models in this fleet.

And unfortunately, the supercharger on these models is prone to failure. The general rule is that the more abuse the ski gets, the faster its supercharger fails.

This is because when the machine jumps out of the water, the supercharger hits high RPMs, which suddenly drops when water reaches the pump.

As you can imagine, these intense changes in RPMs are not very good for the supercharger’s clutch. Therefore, the most common problem with supercharged WaveRunners is arguably “clutch failure.”

This malfunction causes the supercharger impeller to spin freely in both directions. Also, it robs engine power as the supercharger can no longer force extra air into the engine.

To fix this issue, you have to install a new supercharged clutch, which is a costly repair!

But at least compared to Sea-Doos, WaveRunner superchargers are still not as dangerous for the engine.

Thanks to its design, the supercharger shaft on WaveRunners doesn’t protrude into the engine as a set of gears is what drives it.

Sea-Doo vs. WaveRunner Supercharger

2. Lack of a Bilge Pump and Shut-off Valve

Despite its importance, certain WaveRunners are still manufactured without a bilge pump. While some models are equipped with this key feature, others only have a much simpler bailer system.

The latter solely relies on the jet pump’s suction to siphon off water from the bilge. This means that the bailer only generates a vacuum when the engine runs at higher RPMs.

Therefore, this system can’t remove bilge water at low or zero speed, so even a little water leak can cause the WaveRunner to sink!Due to this risk, having an electric bilge pump is a must on each Yamaha WaveRunner!

The other key component missing from Yamaha WaveRunners is the shut-off valve required for high-speed towing.

It’s a mystery why this cheap valve doesn’t come standard on WaveRunners!

3. Overheating

It is common knowledge that jet skis are prone to overheating, and Yamaha WaveRunners are no exception.

Overheating issues are typically caused by a clogged pump, cooling system, or a fouled heat sensor.

Yamaha WaveRunners use an open-loop cooling system that utilizes raw water to cool down their engines, intercoolers, and exhaust. The main drawback of this design is that debris and build-ups can easily clog the intake or the cooling system, causing the ski to overheat.

4. Electrical/ECU Failures

As we know from physics class, electricity and water don’t mix well. This is why the electrical system on WaveRunners is prone to failure, especially if you ride in saltwater.

Since the engine compartment is not completely waterproof, the water can corrode wires, harnesses, and other electrical parts. As you can imagine, these can end in various malfunctions.

There is a main computer (ECU) in each WaveRunner, designed to control the ignition, fuel injection, and many other systems.

Just like other electrical features, this “brain” can also go wrong in many ways.

5. Loosened Connections/Ripped Lines

Battery terminals, wiring harnesses, and hose connections can also loosen over time. Besides wire issues, rubber hoses can also fall off the nipples or even rip, leaving these important systems without cooling or gas/oil.

For example, loosened and ripped oil hoses are common problems on vintage 2-stroke oil-injected WaveRunners. And a defective oil-injection system leaves the engine without lubrication, which typically results in instant engine seizure.

(Due to this risk, oil lines should be periodically replaced on every oil-injected, 2-stroke WaveRunner.)Unlike their vintage counterparts, the latest WaveRunners are powered by 4-stroke engines.

However, these power sources still utilize many hoses and wires, which have to be frequently checked.

A loosened connection can result in an expensive repair, or worse, it can leave you stranded on the water!

6. Timing Chain Failure

Timing chain failure was a common problem on WaveRunners in the mid-2010s.

This issue affected many Yamaha jetboats and WaveRunners with 1.8L engines manufactured in the 2014-2015 model years. (Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t only supercharged engines that were affected!)

On these engines, the timing chain was prone to snapping, causing further damage. The issue was fixed for the 2016 model year.

Therefore, if you are considering buying a used WaveRunner with a 1.8L engine, it’s recommended that you steer clear of the 2014-2015 models!

7. Old Fashioned Design

Good design is subjective to a degree, but many riders say that (especially entry-level) WaveRunners feature a slightly old-fashioned body and color schemes.

If we compare WaveRunners with Sea-Doos, we can see that the latter models have a modern design and stunning colors.

While many buyers fall in love with unique Sea-Doos, others find them too “futuristic” and prefer the classic style of WaveRunners.

Eventually, it all comes down to personal preference!

8. Cavitation

Like any other jet-propelled vessel, Yamaha WaveRunners are also prone to cavitating due to various reasons, including:

You can read more about these issues by following the links above.

This is our short compilation of the eight most common WaveRunner malfunctions.

We hope you find it useful!