How to Get Rope Out of Jet Ski Intake?

A great day on the lake or ocean can immediately go south if your rope get’s stuck in your jet ski. This is very common, as the intake naturally sucks water (and sometimes objects) into the jet ski. Luckily, if you follow the right steps, you should be able to get the rope out of your jet ski intake and ride again in no time.

How to get rope out of jet ski intake?

First, make sure the engine is turned off and tow the jet ski to land. Once on dry land, try untangling the rope. If that doesn’t work, use a knife to cut the rope.

If the rope is very stuck, you might need to remove the intake cover.

Below I will outline each step below on how to get the rope out of your jet ski intake.

Step 1: Turn off jet ski and tow to land

One of the most important things you can do is turn the jet ski off right when you notice the rope is stuck. The longer the engine stays on, the more tangled the rope will get. Once the jet ski is completely turned off and the key removed, you can try gently pulling the rope.

You should be very careful, as any strong tugs can cause damage to the intake propeller. If the rope won’t budge, you will need to tow the jet ski to land. Your jet ski probably wont be able to start once you turn it off.

Once your jet ski gets to land, you should perch it up either on dry land, or on a trailer. Make sure that wherever you put the jet ski, it is firmly in place and won’t roll or slide anywhere.

Ideally you should put the jet ski on the trailer so that you can get underneath it and access the intake. I don’t suggest flipping your jet ski over.

Step 2: Untangle or cut rope

cutting jet ski rope in jet ski

Once the jet ski is firmly on land, ensure it is completely turned off and the key is removed. Now, closely examine the impellor. If the rope isn’t too tangled, you should be able to remove the rope by unwinding it from the impellor. I recommend you put gloves on to protect your hands from the sharp impellors.

If the rope still won’t budge, you will need to cut it off. Use a sharp, long knife to cut the rope. If you have nothing else, you can use box cutters. Whatever you use, be careful that you don’t cut and damage the jet ski. I suggest using a flashlight to help improve visibility.

You should try cutting small pieces at a time. If there are visible knots, you should start by trying to cut through them first.

After you cut a piece, give the rope a light tug to see if more of it will come unraveled. Keep repeating this process until the entire rope is removed.

You should know that this process can take a long time. Just stay persistent, and as long as you keep cutting the rope, you should be able to get it out.

Step 3: Remove intake grate (only for experienced handyman)

removing rope from jet ski intake

If you have the right sized wrench or screw driver, you can remove the intake grate cover. This will give you more access to the intake and make it easier to untangle or cut the rope. Sometimes, you will be able to remove the rope with your hands instead of using a knife.

However, you should only do this if you have experience working on jet skis. Many jet skis have special bolts on the intake grate. If you strip the bolts, it can be very difficult to remove in the future.

You will also need to remove the jet ski intake if you get rocks stuck in your jet ski

Step 4: Take it to the shop

If you are still unable to remove the rope, you will need to take your ski to a repair shop or dealer that does repairs. They have extensive experience with removing ropes from jet skis and have specific tools to do it.

Depending on the area, you will pay probably anywhere from $75 to $300 for them to remove the rope.

What not to do

A common mistake people do is try pushing on the gas or reverse in order to remove the rope. You should never do this, as it will just make the rope more tangled.

Also, unless you are experienced with the mechanics of a jet ski, you should not try to remove or unscrew any part of the jet ski. Unless you are an expert, this will make the problem worse and can cause more damage to your jet ski.

How do I keep my rope from getting sucked up into my jet ski?

As with most things, prevention is key when it comes to ropes getting stuck in your jet ski. If you plan on doing any tow sports or towing a tube on your jet ski, I strongly suggest you invest in a shock tube.

Not only does a shock tube prevent the rope form going in the impellor, but it also helps reduce kick-back on the rope. You can learn more in my guide on the best jet ski accessories. If you want a cheaper option, you can try putting a pool noodle on the rope. 

Another way to prevent this in the future is to regularly clear and clean your jet ski intake grate. If there are leaves or other debris stuck on the intake grate, it can cause the rope to get tangled and eventually sucked up into the intake. To learn more, check out my article on how to unclog a jet ski.

Lastly, you should not turn your jet ski on until it is in at least 4 feet of water if you have a rope connected. Running a jet ski with a rope attached in shallow water can cause the rope and other debris to get stuck in the intake.


I hope this article helped explain how to remove a rope that gets stuck in your jet ski. It is very common for ropes to get sucked into the impellor, and there is no need to panic. Most of the time, you can remove the rope without having to pay to take it to a shop. Additionally, there are multiple ways to prevent this from happening in the future.