How Long Can a Jet Ski Stay Upside Down?

Flipping over a jet ski can be a scary experience. After you make sure that you and your passengers are safe, you will want to flip the jet ski back over as soon as possible. While jet skis are designed to withstand a flip, you probably want to know how long a jet ski can stay upside down before there is irreversible damage.

How long can a jet ski stay upside down?

Your jet ski can stay upside down for around 30 seconds before there is a risk of damage. After 5 minutes, the majority of jet skis will have serious damage.

That being said, there are many factors that affect the damage of an upside down jet ski aside from just time. Below I will go into more detail on each factor.

Impact of the crash

If your jet ski didn’t hit anything and just flipped over due to some waves or you falling off, then your jet ski should be fine if you quickly flip it back upright. However, it’s a different story if your jet ski made an impact with something or was airborne before hitting the water.

If your jet ski makes contact with another object or hits the water very hard, there is a greater chance that water made it into sensitive parts of the engine. You also risk the chance of oil spilling or water getting into your oil, which will almost certainly cause damage to your jet ski.

Direction you flipped it back over

Many people are unaware that a jet ski must be flipped back over in a certain direction to avoid damage. It must be flipped back in the direction so that water in the exhaust does not spill into the engine.

Luckily, jet skis have a picture on the backside that instructs you which direction to flip it back over.

Freshwater vs saltwater

The damage to your jet ski will also depend on the type of water you are in. As you would expect, salt water is more corrosive, so a jet ski that is flipped over in saltwater has a greater chance of being damaged.

Stopped engine

Most of the time, your jet ski will automatically turn off when the jet ski is flipped because the safety lanyard is disconnected from jet ski.

However, sometimes a jet ski might still be running when it’s flipped over. This will cause more damage, as it increases the chance of water entering the intake and then making its way to the engine.

If your jet ski is still running after being flipped, try to turn it off as soon as possible after you make sure you and your passenger are safe.

Running the jet ski after the flip

After you flip your jet ski back over, you should not press hard on the gas. You should go at a very slow speed back to shore and assess the damage once back on shore. Going at a slow speed will help kick out water that is in the hull.

If you throttle the jet ski too hard immediately after a flip, you increase the chance of water leaking into the engine.

If your jet ski is having a hard time starting back up after a flip, don’t force it. Get a tow back to shore and then assess the damage.

If there is a lot of water in the hull, you should check out my article on how to fix a flooded jet ski.

Age of jet ski

Lastly, the age and condition of your jet ski will also have an impact on the damage after a flip. Newer jet skis will be more durable, whereas an older jet ski that is not in great condition has a greater chance of being totaled.

Also, stand up jet skis can typically withstand more time flipped over compared to sit down jet skis.

Why does a flipped over jet ski cause damage?

If your jet ski is flipped over for a long period of time, the water in the engine compartment will leak into the cylinders, which will cause serious damage.

A flipped over jet ski can also cause water to get mixed in with the oil. If this happens, you should perform a complete oil change.


Flipping over a jet ski I pretty common, and if you correctly flip it back over quickly your jet ski should be fine. At the end of the day, jet skis are personal watercrafts that are designed to get some water inside.

However, after 30 seconds you put it at risk of damage, and after 5 minutes there is a good chance your jet ski will have serious damage.

If your jet ski doesn’t start back up, you should take it to shore and try to remove the water. If it still won’t start, you will probably have to take it to a mechanic.
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