Are Sea-Doos Reliable and Good? [Video]

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Contrary to popular belief, Sea-Doos are not unreliable. However, they do feature more complex systems than competitor models, and these require more attention and care. Because of this, Sea-Doos are often considered to be like German luxury cars, which are high maintenance but offer an outstanding driving experience. Something for something!

If you want to find out more about Sea-Doo’s reliability and durability, you’ve come to the right place.

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

Sea-Doo Reliability

How Reliable Are Sea-Doos?

Experts agree that with proper maintenance, Sea-Doos can be as reliable as any other PWC brand. Then why do you hear all these bad stories about Sea-Doos? The answer is poor maintenance and faulty operation, which often end in a catastrophic engine failure or even cause the machine to sink. But if you take care of your Sea-Doo and don’t abuse it, you can ensure proper functioning in the long run.

Let’s see what the experts have to say:

“So no, Sea-Doo’s don’t sink, but poorly maintained or incorrectly operated Sea-Doos with worn-out carbon rings can though. Proper use and regular service from certified technicians will ensure your Sea-Doo will continue to perform as the day you first picked it up from the dealership; it’s really that simple.”

Source: Kevin Shaw (The WaterCraft Journal)

“The good news is each Jet Ski or personal watercraft brand generally has excellent reliability – as long as they are properly maintained according to their individual service schedule. (…) So while you may hear horror stories about various brands, it’s worth asking yourself if that particular Jet Ski or personal watercraft was properly maintained – or was it abused or neglected, or not serviced correctly?

The reality is all three mainstream brands – Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki – have advantages and disadvantages over their rivals. (…)

Sea-Doo watercraft have excellent ergonomics and design. Their user-friendliness and general functionality are the envy of the industry.”

Source: Joshua Dowling (Watercraft Zone)

As you can see, the key is proper maintenance! Let’s drill into the details and take a closer look at which of the ounique systems on Sea-Doos require extra attention!

Are Sea-Doos High Maintenance?

Yes, due to their complex systems and high-performance engines, Sea-Doos are considered to be high- maintenance machines. In a nutshell, the key parts and systems that need more attention on a Sea-Doo are as follows:

  • Carbon ring
  • Supercharger
  • CLCS – Closed-loop cooling system
  • High-performance engines with worse HP/cc ratios
  • Other unique features (iDF, iBR, etc.)

Sea-Doo Carbon Ring Issues

The main reason for Sea-Doo reliability issues is typically neglected maintenance of the carbon ring.

What is a carbon ring on a Sea-Doo?

Simply put, it’s a seal on the one-piece driveshaft that prevents water from entering the hull. As the name suggests, it’s a ring made of a special carbon-graphite composite material.

This ring is fitted into a rubber boot that presses the ring against the support ring. The rubber boot and the rings wrap around the driveshaft, as you can see in this picture:

Sea-Doo Carbon Ring

Sea-Doo Carbon Ring

A perfect connection between these two rings ensures a proper seal – as long as the carbon ring is in good shape!

This is because the wear ring on a Sea-Doo is a wear item, which requires periodic inspections and replacement.

A carbon ring can be damaged in many ways, including:

Whatever the reason for the carbon ring getting damaged, it always results in water leaks. And if the bailer or the bilge pump can’t remove this water, it can easily cause the Sea-Doo to sink.

This is why inspecting the carbon ring and regular maintenance is paramount on each Sea-Doo! (Also, it’s wise to install an automatic bilge pump on each Sea-Doo for safety reasons.)

In contrast, Yamaha and Kawasaki jet skis feature a two-piece driveshaft that is connected with a coupler. This design has proven to be more durable and reliable than Sea-Doo’s carbon ring.

Supercharger

The supercharger on many Sea-Doos also has to be periodically inspected and rebuilt.

Although the manufacturer claims the supercharger is “maintenance-free” on their newest models, it’s wise to regularly inspect and rebuild them. Why?

This is because due to its design, the Sea-Doo supercharger’s shaft protrudes into the engine. This means the failure of a simple washer can deliver water debris into the engine oil.

This was a common issue on early supercharged Sea-Doos, which featured ceramic washers in their supercharger.

Another common malfunction on Sea-Doo superchargers is bearing failure. This failure causes the shaft to become unstable, which allows the impeller to touch the housing.

In a worst-case scenario, the housing grinds the impeller, and airflow delivers the metal debris into the engine. This is why Sea-Doo superchargers require more attention!

If you compare a Sea-Doo with a Yamaha supercharger, it’s obvious that the latter doesn’t protrude into the engine. Instead, the WaveRunner supercharger is driven by a set of gears, so it’s completely separate from the engine.

Sea-Doo vs. WaveRunner Supercharger

Sea-Doo vs. WaveRunner Supercharger

CLCS – Closed-Loop Cooling System

Unlike Yamaha and Kawasaki, which still use the industry-standard open-loop cooling system, Sea-Doo switched to closed-loop water cooling.

While the open-loop cooling system utilizes external water to cool down the engine, Sea-Doo’s cooling system works similarly to the radiator in a car as it’s filled up with a special liquid coolant.

There’s also a metal radiator (known as a “heat exchanger”) bolted onto the hull’s bottom, which is  intended to transfer the heat to the external water.

The coolant circulating in the system transfers the heat from the engine to the heat exchanger.

Although closed-loop cooling has its advantages, it’s definitely a more complex system than its open-loop counterparts.

Sea-Doo Engines

Let’s move on to the engines.

If we compare the available engines of the major brands, we can see that these Sea-Doo engines come with worse HP/cc ratios and higher compressions:

BrandEngine TypeccHPHP/ccCylindersSuper- charged
YamahaTR-11049100/ 110/ 12510.5/9.5/8.43No
YamahaYamaha Marine HO181218010.14No
YamahaYamaha Marine SVHO18122507.24Yes
Sea-DooRotax 900 ACE8996015.03No
Sea-DooRotax 900 ACE HO8999010.03No
Sea-Doo Rotax 1630 ACE1630130/17012.5/9.63No
Sea-Doo Rotax 1630 ACE1630230/3007.1/5.43Yes
KawasakiKawasaki 149814981609.44No
KawasakiKawasaki 149814983104.84Yes

The increased stress puts more wear and tear on the engine’s internals as well as the drivetrain. Because of this, Sea-Doo engines require more attention, and they also need a higher quality engine oil.

Other Unique Features

The more advanced Sea-Doo models are also equipped with many convenient features like the iBR (brake and reverse system), iDF (intelligent debris-free system), and so on.

Like other parts on the ski, these systems require attention and care, according to the service manual.

What is the Most Reliable Sea-Doo?

There’s no question that the most reliable Sea-Doos are the naturally-aspirated (non-supercharged) models with the fewest bells and whistles. These models are the entry-level Sea-Doo Spark and the larger “Recreation” GTI family.

FAQs About Sea-Doos

If you want to find out more about Sea-Doos, keep reading. We’ve compiled and answered the most frequent questions about this popular PWC brand!

What is a Sea-Doo?

Sea-Doo is the brand name for a personal watercraft, manufactured by BPR. If we take a look at all the competitor manufacturers, we can see that each has its own brand name for their line of PWCs. These are as follows:

StartedEndedBrand nameManufacturer
1968-Sea-DooBombardier (BRP)
1972-Jet SkiKawasaki
19781992WetBikeArctic Cat
19851993Wet JetKoronis Part Inc. (Sold to MasterCraft)
1986-WaveRunnerYamaha
19922004SeaLionPolaris
19931999TigersharkArctic Cat
19941997Wet JetMasterCraft
20022009AquaTraxHonda
20042006HydrospaceHydrospace (sold to Benelli)
2006 -BurrascaBelassi
2008 -KrashKrash Industries
2018 -Narke ElectrojetNarke
2018 -OrcaTaiga

Is a Sea-Doo a jet ski?

If we use the term “jet ski” in the generic sense, yes, a Sea-Doo is a jet ski. But it’s good to know that the term “Jet Ski” is still the brand name of Kawasaki’s personal watercraft. However, over time this term became generalized and now it universally refers to any type of personal watercraft. The very same thing happened with Xerox, Matchbox, Hoover, Jeep, and many other famous trademarks.

How did Sea-Doo get its name?

Sea-Doo’s name surprisingly comes from the snowmobile industry. This is because Sea-Doo’s manufacturer, BPR (Bombardier Recreational Products) originally produced snowmobiles. The company wanted to name their first models “Ski-Dog,” referring to the dogsleds. But in one of the first brochures the name was misspelled and because of this their snowmobiles were labeled “Ski-Doo.” The brand name was carried over to BRP’s personal watercraft line, with the name “Sea-Doo.”

Who invented Sea-Doos?

Sea-Doos were invented by Clayton Jacobson II, but the original idea came from Laurent Beaudoin.

Mr. Beaudoin worked for Bombardier, a Canadian powersport manufacturer, and his vision was to put their snowmobiles on the water. He approached Jacobsen with his idea in 1967, and Jacobsen developed Sea-Doo, the first personal watercraft for Bombardier.

When did Sea-Doos first appear on the market?

The first Sea-Doos appeared on the market in 1968. These early models were powered with 18HP, 318cc, 2-stroke engines. As these power sources were cooled with air, they often overheated and had many problems. The following year, Sea-Doo replaced that engine with a 372cc, liquid-cooled engine. Unfortunately, the new power source didn’t solve all the problems. Because of poor sales figures, Sea-Doos were out of production from 1970 until their re-introduction in 1988.

Who owns Sea-Doo?

Sea-Doo is owned by BPR (Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.), a Canadian powersport manufacturer. The company makes many different recreational vehicles like snowmobiles, PWCs, boats, on-road and off-road vehicles. BRP also owns Rotax, which provides the engines for all of these amazing vehicles and vessels.

Who is Bombardier owned by?

Bombardier is owned by the Bombardier family (35%), Bain Capital (50%), which is an American private investment firm, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (15%).

What companies does Bombardier own?

Bombardier owns multiple companies and brands. These are as follows:

– Ski-Doo
– Lynx
– Sea-Doo
– Evinrude
– Rotax
– Can-Am Off-Road
– Can-Am On-Road
– Alumacraft
– Manitou
– Telwater

Are Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo from the same company?

Yes, Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo are from the same company, as both are owned by Canadian Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.

Where is Sea-Doo headquarters?

You can find the North-American Sea-Doo headquarters in Plano, Texas. Also don’t forget that Sea-Doo is owned by BPR (Bombardier Recreational Products Inc.) whose headquarters can be found in Valcourt, Quebec, Canada.

Where are Sea-Doos built?

According to BRP’s official website, Sea-Doos are built-in Querétaro, Mexico.  However, every Sea-Doo model is powered with a 4-stroke, Rotax engine, which is manufactured in Austria, Europe.

Does Sea-Doo still make boats?

Unfortunately, Sea-Doo jet boats are no longer in production. However, BRP the owner of Sea-Doo, has purchased some boat brands in the last few years: Telwater, Alumacraft, and Manitou. So, these boats are now being manufactured by the same company that makes Sea-Doos. Much to the delight of the fans, Sea-Doo has just announced its 2022 lineup, with the all-new Sea-Doo Switch pontoon boats!

What’s the difference between a jet ski and a Sea-Doo?

The difference between a jet ski and a Sea-Doo is that the term “Jet Ski” was originally the brand name of Kawasaki’s personal watercraft, while the brand name of Sea-Doo belongs to BRP. However, the term “jet ski” become generalized, and is commonly used for any brand of personal watercraft. That’s why Sea-Doos are often called as “jet skis” by the public and the media.

Does Yamaha own Sea-Doo?

No, Yamaha doesn’t own Sea-Doo, as Sea-Doo is owned by BRP Inc. Although Yamaha manufactures personal watercraft as well, their brand name for these products is WaveRunner. This means that Sea-Doos and WaveRunners are competing products on the PWC market.

What is the best Sea-Doo model?

The best Sea-Doo models on the market are probably the Sea-Doo Sparks, the RXT-X 300, and the Fish Pro. All of these Sea-Doos are designed for different purposes and have a large fan base worldwide.

When did the Sea-Doo move to fuel injection?

Sea-Doo moved to fuel injection in 1998. The first fuel-injected Sea-Doo was the 1998 Sea-Doo GTX RFI (Rotax Fuel Injection). This model was powered with a 782cc, 2-stroke engine. Just like the carbureted engine option, this power source produced 110 HP. Thanks to the innovative fuel injection system, the GTX RFI was more fuel-efficient and less polluting compared to the carbureted 2-stroke Sea-Doos. Finally, because of environmental restrictions, Sea-Doo retired its 2-stroke engines.

What year did Sea-Doo move to 4-stroke?

Sea-Doo moved to 4-stroke in 2002. The first 4-stroke Sea-Doo was the 2002 GTX 4-TEC. This PWC was powered with a 1494cc, 3-cylinder Rotax engine and offered 155 HP. This brand new 4-stroke Sea-Doo engine was cooled with a closed-loop cooling system. It’s an interesting fact that Sea-Doo is the only one exclusively using this solution in the PWC industry, since its competitors still use open-loop cooling.

Why did Sea-Doo stop having a suspension system?

Sea-Doo stopped having a suspension system on their models because of the new ST3 hull. According to the company, this hull takes the chop better and so no suspension system is needed anymore. But let’s face it, perhaps there were other reasons going on behind the scenes.

Although Sea-Doo’s suspension system provided very convenient and smooth rides, there were many drawbacks as well. These were as follows:

– The suspensions made the Sea-Doos top-heavy, so they were prone to tipping over more easily.
– Maintaining and fixing these models was much harder and quite costly. This is because removing the seat required much more time compared to the other models without a suspension system. This translated into more hassle and additional labor costs.
– Many say that the suspension system was over-designed, so if they broke fixing them was tricky.
– They caused added weight, further increasing the total weight of the already heavy 4-stroke Sea-Doos.

Can a Sea-Doo pull a tube?

Yes, every Sea-Doo can pull a tube without any issues. However, if you want to regularly enjoy tow sports, it’s recommended that you buy a Sea-Doo with at least 130 HP or more.

Can a Sea-Doo pull a wakeboard?

Yes, just like tubes, Sea-Doos can pull wakeboards as well. Even if Sea-Doo Sparks can tow a wakeboard, it’s best if you stick to the more powerful models. The company offers unique Sea-Doos designed for tow sports like the Wake and Wake Pro. If you are considering wakeboarding frequently with a Sea-Doo, these models are definitely worth a serious look!

How much weight can a Sea-Doo hold?

Sea-Doos can hold around 350-600 pounds of weight depending on the model. The entry-level Sea-Doo Sparks can hold around 350 pounds while the bigger 4-seater Sea-Doos can hold around 600 pounds. Don’t forget to check the stickers on the hull or the owner’s manual upfront so that you don’t overload your Sea-Doo. This is the right way to stay safe and legal on the water.

How big is a Sea-Doo gas tank?

Sea-Doos feature gas tanks that hold 8-18.5 gallons of gas depending on the model.

Do you need a boat license to drive a Sea-Doo?

Whether or not you need a license to drive a Sea-Doo depends on your age and your state’s regulations. You can learn more about Sea-Doo licenses here.

What do you wear on a Sea-Doo?

At a minimum, you have to wear a U.S.C.G.-approved life jacket on a Sea-Doo. Additionally, you may want to wear a wetsuit, gloves, shoes, and sunglasses/goggles for better protection. If you like wave jumping or doing other tricks, it’s also recommended that you wear a helmet.

How long is the warranty on a Sea-Doo?

The limited warranty on a Sea-Doo is 12 months. If you are looking for an extended Sea-Doo warranty, the good news is that you can choose Sea-Doo’s B.E.S.T. warranty as an option. This extended warranty offers 12-, 24-, 36- or 48-month coverage beyond the basic limited warranty.

Is the warranty on a Sea-Doo transferable?

Yes, the Sea-Doo warranty is transferable. What’s more, this does not cost either the seller or buyer any extra money.

Does Can-Am Make Sea-Doo?

Can-Am is not a PWC manufacturer as it’s a brand name of recreational off-road vehicles. However, both Can-Am and Sea-Doo brands belong to the same manufacturer, namely Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP).

When did Sea-Doo Start Making 4-Stroke Jet Skis?

The first 4-stroke Sea-Doo was the 2002 GTX 155 4-TEC, which made its debut in late 2001. Throughout the early 2000s, the manufacturer offered both 2-stroke and 4-stroke machines. To the greatest regret of many 2-stroke Sea-Doo fans, these machines disappeared from the market due to the 2006 EPA environmental restrictions.

Did Sea-Doo Stop Production?

It’s a lesser-known fact that Sea-Doo stopped production in 1970 after its first unsuccessful attempt at PWCs. But fortunately, in 1988 the Canadian manufacturer made a comeback with the all-new Sea-Doo SP. This tiny agile ski instantly became popular and made Sea-Doo the most well-known brand in the marketplace.

Is Sea-Doo Made in the USA?

No, Sea-Doos are made in Mexico while their Rotax engines come from Austria, Europe.

What are Sea-Doos Made of?

Sea-Doos are made of both Polytec or fiberglass, depending on the model. Polytec is a lightweight but durable plastic specially engineered for Sea-Doo hulls. This material debuted on the 2004 Sea-Doo Spark but later found its way to the higher Sea-Doo classes.

The hull and the top deck of flagship Sea-Doos are still made of high-quality fiberglass.

Are Sea-Doos Painted? 

Sea-Doos are not covered by regular paint. Instead, the fiberglass Sea-Doo hulls and top decks are made by a special Closed Mold Technology (CM-Tec), which is a blend of polyester resin and fiberglass. This shell is coated with a colored outer thermoformed acrylic layer.

When it comes to Polytec Sea-Doo hulls, they surprisingly come without any paint or other cover layers. This is the why every Polytec hull is only available in black!

Why are Sea-Doos so Expensive?

These machines feature advanced technologies, innovative systems, and extremely powerful engines, so this is why Sea-Doos are so expensive!

However, don’t forget that the simple Sea-Doo Spark is still the most affordable PWC in the marketplace.

What Brand is Sea-Doo?

Sea-Doo is a brand of personal watercraft (jet ski) manufactured by the Canadian Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP).

Conclusion – Is Sea-Doo a Good Brand?

Sea-Doo (BRP) is the market-leading manufacturer of personal watercraft, and with good reason.

The company is well-known for its continuous innovation and advanced features. These amazing machines offer extreme engine power along with all the bells and whistles you will need on the water.

On the other hand, many riders say that Sea-Doos are like German luxury cars. They offer an outstanding riding experience, but their complex systems require more attention and care. Because of this Sea-Doos require slightly more maintenance than competitor models, which is something to keep in mind.

When it comes to reliability, according to experts, Sea-Doos can be as reliable as any rival machine, as long as they are properly used and maintained.

If you are considering buying a Sea-Doo, don’t forget that these machines feature some sensitive parts like the carbon ring, closed-loop cooling, unique supercharger, iDF, iBR, and so on.

These systems require periodic inspections and maintenance to ensure their reliability!

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